The three best Championship signings so far this summer
To date, it has been a relatively quiet summer in terms of Championship transfer news. Perhaps managers are too busy watching the World Cup to care about such insignificant matters at the moment and the chequebooks will come out next week. In the majority of cases, the more obvious explanation would be that the chairman has conveniently mislaid all means of payment in these troubling economic times.
We have watched on with tired eyes as Neil Warnock continues his predictable pursuit of his old pals at Sheffield United and Crystal Palace. Just wait until Sunderland stop trying to sign half of the Paraguay squad and get a chance to answer one of Roy Keane’s pleading enquiries regarding every player he has ever worked with. Nevertheless, there have been a few interesting moves to talk about.
1. Kris Boyd (Glasgow Rangers to Middlesbrough)
It was only a matter of time before Boyd made his move south. Not quite as far south as Turkey, where former Rangers striker Shota Arveladze would have quite liked to have attracted the record SPL goalscorer. Kayserispor reportedly offered Boyd wages of around £40,000 a week to join them. Nor even as far south as Birmingham despite St Andrews seeming the obvious destination for the Scotland cap.
In the end, it was another former Old Firm manager that appealed to Boyd upon his departure from Ibrox. Gordon Strachan is developing quite the collection of SPL old boys at Middlesbrough and Boyd is the newly-installed jewel in the crown. A partnership with the busy Scott McDonald surely means goals this season for ‘Boro, particularly with the likes of Willo Flood and Barry Robson to create the opportunities.
They also have a few players who have never played north of the border, although Strachan appears intent on clamping down on this anomaly.
2. Andrew Surman (Wolverhampton Wanderers to Norwich City)
Although a promising youngster for some time with Southampton, Surman has not yet managed to fulfil the potential he threatened for so long. That could all change at Carrow Road, where Paul Lambert has fostered a winning mentality and an optimistic outlook for Norwich’s return to the Championship. Surman is another victim of the yo-yo curse that affects West Bromwich Albion as a club but also many players as well.
Mick McCarthy seemed to panic towards the end of last summer as the daunting Premiership season drew nearer following his side’s promotion. This can mean only one thing: millions spent on Championship players who may provide important squad depth but are equally likely to watch the entire campaign from the sidelines and pine for a return to the relative security of regular second tier football. Names such as Diomansy Kamara, Michael Chopra, Michael Tonge and David Healy spring to mind.
Surman will be expected to provide the Canaries with a goal threat from a wide midfield position and could be an outside bet to hit double figures this season.
3. Stephen O’Halloran (Aston Villa to Coventry City)
Aidy Boothroyd has a real job on his hands to turn Coventry City into a dynamic footballing force. Although they looked to be mounting an unlikely push for the play-offs at one stage last season, Chris Coleman’s side fell away badly to take a familiar position away from the end-of-season jostle for a top six place.
Coventry have some good young Academy players who will be aiming to make their mark over the next year or two, but it could be O’Halloran that shines this season for Boothroyd’s side. If he can stay fit, that is. The Republic of Ireland international has suffered an injury nightmare while out on loan in the Football League and was unable to make a league appearance for Aston Villa.
An attack-minded left-back, O’Halloran will be looking to emulate Daniel Fox’s impressive performances for the Sky Blues. If he or any of his team-mates manage that level of form, Ray Ranson and the Coventry board can only hope that Boothroyd replicates his Watford touch, meaning that fine individual seasons do not again lead inevitably to damaging departures.