Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
The early transfer deadline didn’t mean quite as much in the EFL as it did in the top flight, but Thursday was still a frantic one for Championship clubs. With huge pressure to fight for promotion, getting deals over the line was key for second tier sides.
While there’s still room to make loan signings up until August 31, we did see a lot of key deals done on Thursday. We’re analysing the fallout from those deals, which could have a major impact on the 2018/19 campaign.
Also see: Championship Team by Team Guide
Big Statement From Aston Villa
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish1) August 9, 2018
Aston Villa made their final summer signing the day before the window, but they finished up deadline day with a huge boost. Their deal for John McGinn from Hibs looks like a smart piece of business to bolster their midfield, and the new signing will now be lining up beside Jack Grealish this term, after Villa took a stern approach to Tottenham’s approach for their most creative talent.
Villa had been set to sell off Grealish earlier in the window, as they needed the money to stay afloat. Spurs’ £25million bid probably would have got the deal over the line back then, but Villa’s takeover ended their issues. They were able to up their price, and they ultimately decided to hang on to Grealish. That move can’t be underestimated, as it has made a huge impact on their season.
Villa were only ever going to be play-off contenders with Grealish on board. They couldn’t replace a player of his quality in the Championship. In fact, no one in the second tier can rival his profile. It would have been ludicrous if the EFL lost a star player due to their own over the top FFP laws. Instead, Villa keep their man, and the Championship has an exciting, potential England international on board, for a few more months at least.
Villa have got through a difficult summer with a strong move right at the end. Rather than cashing in on their biggest asset, they’re focusing on a push for promotion. As a result, the outlook at the club has changed. That move has to see Villa as the biggest winners on deadline day. It’s becoming a cliché, but keeping their best player was the best piece of business they could do.
Stoke Continue Spending
In that sense, this is a coup for Stoke. They’ve obviously got an eye on promotion, which has been matched by their big spending so far. They made smart loans for Ashley Williams and Benik Afobe, while they had spent over £20million on four players before going after Clucas. The Potters have more than enough in their squad to chase promotion, meaning Gary Rowett now has to finally deliver.
They’ve brought together the remains of last season’s Premier League squad, while clearing a few bad influences. That has been topped up with Championship experience, and some talented additions at this level. Few sides in the division have had quite as much success as the Potters in the window.
Restrictions at the Liberty
While Stoke are looking to push for success, their rivals Swansea are in a very different boat. Deadline day brought a single signing, full-back Declan John. He moved from Rangers for around £1million, which hardly matched the £6million fee for Clucas. They were set to reinvest that in Brentford’s Ryan Woods, one of the Championship’s star midfielders.
However, the Woods deal fell apart as Swansea haggled over £500,000, refusing to pay a little more than they did for Clucas. Meanwhile, Federico Fernandez headed north for Newcastle, bringing another £6million in to the club. They also slashed their wage bill, thanks to Jordan Ayew’s switch to Crystal Palace.
The Swans have brought in around £45million in this window, so you’d imagine they could stretch to an extra half a million. While such restrictions may appear sensible to some, they haven’t been explained. The club shouldn’t need such a drastic fire sale, while Sunderland and Hull have shown the dangers of doing that without making moves for replacements.
Woods was the perfect Swansea signing. A technical talent who would suit their style, manager and fans. He was desperate for the switch, and he’d have lifted morale around the club. It would be a statement of intent, along with a way to placate the supporters. Instead, the Swans have gone in to severe cost-cutting mode already, just imagine how bad they’ll be when the parachute payments aren’t around the corner.
Boro Rejection Leaves Pulis Short
Middlesbrough attempted an audacious deadline day double signing, as they approached Millwall aiming to sign Jed Wallace and George Saville. The move came as Boro were left reeling by exits, and that is something they failed to make up for. They saw £43million worth of talent depart in recent weeks, yet that money hasn’t been spent by Tony Pulis.
Losing Patrick Bamford and Adama Traore does leave Middlesbrough short. They need proven Championship quality going forward, and they could have got that in Saville and Wallace. The pair were integral to Millwall’s play-off push last season, and they would have added goals to this functional Boro side.
Instead, the pair stay at the Den, while Yannick Bolasie’s move didn’t materialise. Now the club are under pressure in the loan market, with big moves needed to keep their promotion push going.
Wigan Make Steady Progress
The Latics picked up a talented goalscorer in midfield, an experienced Championship forward and a familiar face in Connolly. After a loan spell with the Latics, he featured 36 times for Ipswich last season. That is solid business, and Paul Cook should guide them to safety as a result.
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