A good day's work
WEST Bromwich Albion concluded an excellent day`s work at a few minutes before midnight last night by finalising loan deals for Czech goalkeeper Michal Danek and South Korean midfielder Kim Do-Heon, completing the full transfer of Ishmael Miller and agreeing a pre-contract deal for Scottish winger Graham Dorrans.
Baggies fans might have been hoping for more, a permanent deal for Roman Bednar and a new central defender for instance, but overall it has to be viewed as a satisfying day`s work.
The transfer window has seen Richard Chaplow and Ronnie Wallwork move on, John Hartson released and Tininho, Stuart Nicholson and Luke Daniels disappear on loans deals, which means that in terms of squad numbers the overall playing strength is little changed.
The £900,000 spent on Miller and the £200,000 on Sherjill MacDonald is largely balanced out by the £800,000 received for Chaplow, a good indication that chairman Jeremy Peace is maintaining a tight rein on spending at The Hawthorns.
During the January window, the 24 Championship clubs between them made 99 signings during the window, 42 of them as loan deals. At the same time, 107 players were sold, loaned out or released, an indication perhaps that clubs are not being as free with their money as they might appear to be on the surface.
Officially, clubs spent nearly £17.5 million on a total of 28 transfers. A further 23 deals were completed without the fee involved being disclosed, so it seems safe to assume that the real total is well over £20 million.
Quite what impact all these changes will have on the promotion battle only time will tell, but they will certainly add spice to the race to the line
The new Baggies signings are unlikely to have much of an impact on the team for a while yet.
Both Kim and Danek will need time to adapt to life in the Black Country, to new training methods and to their new team-mates, though manager Tony Mowbray may have already pencilled in the fifth round FA Cup tie at Coventry in two weeks time as the ideal opportunity to give them their first taste of English blood and guts football.
Nothing happened in the transfer window to change my view that Stoke City and Crystal Palace will be the main threats to Albion`s Premiership ambitions, though the way results have been going this season any of the other top ten teams who can put together a winning streak could emerge as challengers.
With only ten points separating the Championship top ten, it`s clear that every point will have to be scrapped for over the next 17 games.
Injuries and suspensions will inevitably take their toll on some clubs, just as they did to cause Albion`s season to fall apart in the run-in last year.
But at least the Baggies are masters of their own destiny. We can`t afford too many more slip ups -we`ve lost eight games already this term and we can`t really afford to lose more than another four. And we certainly can`t afford any more performances like the one at Preston on Tuesday.
It`s never easy being a Baggies supporter and no doubt there will be plenty of ups and downs between now and May 4.