As the transfer window closed this week, a gentle breeze blew it back open long enough for Albert Adomah to sneak through. It was the last signing of the summer and with the change of regulations regarding loans, the last until January 1st 2017 at the earliest.
The list of permanent moves is:
|Pierluigi Gollini||Hellas Verona|
|James Chester||West Bromwich Albion|
|Mile Jedinak||Crystal Palace|
|Ritchie De Laet||Leicester City|
|Jonathan Kodjia||Bristol City|
|José Ángel Crespo||PAOK|
|Ciaran Clark||Newcastle United|
|Joe Bennett||Cardiff City|
|Jores Okore||FC Copenhagen|
|Joleon Lescott||AEK Athens|
The only name missing on the list of players to shave from the squad – or perhaps the only glaring omission – is Gabby Agbonlahor. Even that was down to his choice; “Flabby Gabby”, as the Sun called him, turned down a deadline day loan move to Reading, who it’s claimed, were offering him first team football. Money is more important to him it seems as he trains with the youths.
That’s the narrative which has been set and it will be interesting to hear from him why he rejected the move. Certainly, on the surface it seems that he is content to be our Winston Bogarde, picking up his salary until his contract runs down. Rejecting a move to a Championship side, one whose base is within an hour of Birmingham, is odd, almost inexplicably so.
The downward trajectory of his career is so steep that it’s hard to see a League One club taking a chance on him at the end of the season. A wasted talent, that’s for certain.
But he’s not important. Ciaran Clark and Idrissa Gueye were the two on the list of departures that I wanted to keep; the rest were replaceable.
And we did. It was slow going though, probably not helped by the uncertainty over the change of ownership not being resolved until mid-June.
So, how does the squad look? The biggest issue is mental frailty, a hangover from last season’s abysmal performances. That was evident at Bristol City and in other matches but over the next few days, we’ll look at the opening matches and the month until the next international break.
Player wise, the addition of Tommy Elphick has been the outstanding signing; a natural leader on the pitch, he has taken over the captaincy, I think, without letting his performances drop. He and James Chester have, for the most part, looked like there is a decent partnership in them.
Pierluigi Gollini is probably the unluckiest goalkeeper in the league at the moment but the aberrations are outweighed by the good points. However, I’m sure Roberto Di Matteo is looking at the situation and wondering if he needs a lucky goalkeeper rather than a good one.
Of the rest, it’s too soon to form a lasting judgement. Ross McCormack needs a goal or two to come before firing on all cylinders but the final signings are the ones which whet the palate. Jonathan Kodjia nabbed 20 goals in his debut season at Bristol City and could be a massive boost to the squad whilst Albert Adomah received rave reviews in Middlesbrough’s promotion season.
It’s promising. The task for RDM is to gel them into a fighting team. It’s early days yet but I expect good things from what looks to be a decent squad, a nice blend of youth and experience, crucially at this level. Is the depth there? Up front, I think so but midfield concerns me although Mile Jedinak did solve the problem centrally.
Overall, it was a good summer. Whether that translates onto the pitch, we’ll look at another day.