That Middlesbrough, Barnsley, Sheffields United and Wednesday, Rotherham United, Doncaster Rovers, Bradford City and Harrogate Town all signed players but none before mid-afternoon showed where they sit in the footballing food chain, all forced to wait for others to do their business, or move players on before they could strike.
Still, at least they did not suffer the frustration of Hull City, seeing the deal for Regan Slater they have been hankering after since he returned to Sheffeld United at the end of his loan last summer collapse too late for them to sign an alternative.
Even Leeds United were only able to pull off the region’s biggest deal, Dan James’s £25m signing after Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to England.
A frugal summer focused more on under-23s left them able to act when a player Leeds have coveted for years became available and they could take their time yesterday to complete it, free of the stresses they endured when his proposed move from Swansea City collapsed at the very last minute in January 2019.
Many Whites fans would have liked a box-to-box midfielder too but Marcelo Bielsa, who tried to fill that hole with Michael Cuisance a year ago, is very picky – the right signing or none at all. When Conor Gallagher joined Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town’s asking price for Lewis O’Brien way exceeded Leeds’s, they opted to sit tight.
The Whites are taking a risk with a thin squad but Bielsa is a risk-taking coach who has pulled this off before. Even James’s arrival did not bolster the numbers, offset, with Helder Costa expected to join Valencia after the deadline.
Having limited themselves to just the 13 signings, Sheffield Wednesday’s Darren Moore was unable to resist a 14th. Saido Berahino was one of the window’s more eye-catching moves, risky given his chequered background but potentially rewarding if Moore can unlock what many others have failed to.
In getting everything else he wanted this season, Moore has probably deprived himself of football’s most valuable commodity: patience. Such an impressive overhaul with many signings acquired despite Championship interest will raise expectations but Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Morecambe was a reminder so many new faces will take time to gel.
Middlesbrough were busy too because Neil Warnock cannot resist a transfer. When James Lea Siliki joined on loan from Rennes, he too had brought in 14 players and could still look for a free agent left-back. His team has been strengthened from goalkeeper to centre-forward and the responsibility for its success or failure will be Warnock’s. Given his track record, it is not a bad place to be.
Barnsley were more restrained but with work permit issues holding up Aaron Leya Iseka and Obbi Oulare’s debuts and Claudio Gomes arriving last night, it remains to be seen if they have turned up more gems. A wing-back would have come in handy.
Huddersfield did their signings early – an impressive amount before pre-season – and having loaned Mipo Odubeko the previous evening, could sit back and let others scramble about. They were still hoping for a phonecall to take Isaac Mbenza off their hands, and whilst possible deadline-day extensions mean you can never speak too soon, when The Yorkshire Post went to print shortly after the cut-off it did not appear to have been made. Extending his contract to “protect their asset” will have the opposite effect on Huddersfield’s bank account.
It has not been a lavish window by any means but the squad is deeper for it. With O’Brien retained and three consecutive Championship wins, there is more optimism than when the campaign kicked off.
Aaron Ramsdale’s move to Arsenal meant Sheffield United were cash rich – though not all of the £24m fee seemed to make its way into the kitty – but time poor, and with Slavisa Jokanvoic making it very well known he had been promised three more signings yesterday.
Having seen James Garner, Tommy Doyle and others go elsewhere and Amad Diallo and Ronaldo Vieira get injured, he signed two quality players in Morgan Gibbs-White and Robin Olsen but having given the rest of the Championship (bar Nottingham Forest) a head-start, you wished they had acted sooner.
That, though, is so often the way in the window for clubs not rich enough to call the tune.
League One rivals Rotherham and Doncaster were fighting over the same much-needed centre-forwards in Will Grigg and Hull’s Tom Eaves.
Like Saturday’s game, Rotherham won the battle for Grigg but Doncaster signed winger Rodrigo Vilca as the board dug down the back of the sofa to back manager Richie Wellens, who has had a tough start full of bad luck.
Hull’s inability to sign Slater left them without a deadline-day signing and Eaves stayed but they have made an impressive number of signings for a club under embargo. The concern is that few have Championship experience, their big failing when they were relegated from the second tier last time.