Championship round-up: Bentley's chance, Le Fondre's step up & McClaren's sighs

Every year, as the end of the August approaches, transfer business done by Championship clubs tends to be overlooked amid the frenzy generated by Premier League signings.

Leicester’s Martyn Waghorn, for example, will have to resign himself to the fact that his short-term loan to Hull is never going to generate the same attention as Raul Meireles’ £12-million move from Liverpool to Chelsea.

Nonetheless, there were plenty of interesting players preparing to awkwardly hold aloft a Championship team’s shirt with their name on the back in the last week of the window.

West Ham probably conducted the division’s most high-profile business, mainly thanks to the sale of Scott Parker to Tottenham for £6 million. But they did recruit some big names too, bringing in Papa Bouba Diop on a free and ‘England international’ David Bentley on loan.

It’s hard to predict what impact Bentley in particular will have at West Ham, apart from maintaining the club’s quota of 1950’s haircuts now Parker has left.

DB8 – as he almost certainly doesn’t refer to himself – could be a great provider for Carlton Cole and Kevin Nolan, both of whom like to get on the end of a cross. And, as Bentley himself said in an interview with The Sun, the move is a chance for him to ‘rebuild’ his career.

If that sounds worryingly familiar, it’s because he said exactly the same thing about last season’s loan spell at Birmingham, where he continued to give the impression of being only partially interested in football. But West Ham offer Bentley a better chance of rediscovering the form that prompted Spurs to fork out £15 million for him in 2008. In addition to getting a clean break by dropping down a division, he won’t spend games watching the ball fly over his head in the way he sometimes did at St Andrew’s.

Not satisfied by the close-season signing of David Nugent, Sven Goran Eriksson spent most of the summer publicising his desire to bring another striker to Leicester. Despite the club’s jumbo-cheque sized budget, that man turned out not to be Carlos Tevez or Neymar, or even Rangers’ Nikica Jelavic, but Everton’s Jermaine Beckford.

Beckford was signed for the relatively big price of £2.5 million – possibly rising to £4m – and is a strong addition to their squad.

Although he was hardly prolific during his time at Goodison Park, he scored 25 goals in League One when Leeds won promotion to the Championship, and has a good chance of recreating that form if Leicester can live up to the hype their money has generated.

Reading and Coventry both signed strikers with big lower-league reputations. The Royals brought in Adam Le Fondre, who scored 50 goals in 92 games for Rotherham in League Two. Coventry, who had a bid for Le Fondre rejected, signed Cody McDonald, who scored 25 goals in 41 games for Gillingham while on loan from Norwich.

Coventry desperately need McDonald to adapt quickly to the demands of a higher division. They’ve only scored twice in their five league games so far, with both goals being bundled in by Lukas Jutkiewicz, who was reportedly a target for Middlesbrough.

The hard-up Sky Blues financed the deal for McDonald by selling Ben Turner to Cardiff for £750,000. Perhaps a better solution to their goal-scoring crisis would have been to keep hold of Turner and play him up front – the central defender is an big aerial threat and scored four goals in fourteen games last season.

Ipswich’s start to the season has been uneven to say the least – they beat Bristol City 3-0 on the first day of the season, but have since conceded five goals against Southampton and seven against Peterborough. Paul Jewell – enjoying a Schwarzenegger moment – diagnosed their problem as being ‘mentally weak’.

His two experienced free signings, Jimmy Bullard and the Senegalese international Ibrahima Sonko should go a long way to countering that problem. Both featured in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Leeds, who themselves sold Max Gradel to former European Cup runners-up (and indie-dance outfit) Saint-Étienne.

Scott Parker aside, the biggest loss to the division was probably Scott Dann, who completed a move from Birmingham to Blackburn. The Blues also sold Cameron Jerome to Stoke. Although they should have raised around £9 million from the sale of both players, it must count as a blow to their prospects for automatic promotion.

But it was undoubtedly Nottingham Forest who had the worst of the final week of the window. Their total inactivity resulted in an early face-off between the board and manager Steve McClaren, with the former England boss eventually being forced to publicly state that he wouldn’t leave the club due to a lack of investment.

Forest’s chief executive Mark Arthur has tried to dismiss the tension between the board and the manager as ‘teething problems’ typical of any ‘new relationship’. For Forest fans, that’s not actually a very comforting analogy.

Plenty of relationships are at their sweetest during the honeymoon period. It’s when reality bites that they turn sour. So this is potentially the best it’s going to get for McClaren at Forest.

It’s all downhill from here, Steve.

Topics

SHARES
comments