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NEW ARTICLE: League One's Promotion Hopefuls and the Transfer Window

With the window now closed, Wallin58 looks at the business done by the key runners in the League One promotion challenge.

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So the January transfer window draws to a close once again.

Last season, Deadline Day saw some frantic top of the table business, resulting in two of the most expensive transfers in British history. This year, the final day saw some fraught deals from some of the clubs who feel they have something to prove. The biggest movers appeared to be West Ham and QPR, for slightly different reasons. QPR invested heavily in Fulham’s in-form striker Bobby Zamora, and ex-Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse. West Ham also did their bit to liven up what on the whole has been a fairly muted January, signing Nicky Maynard, Ricardo Vaz Te and Ravel Morrison..

But what of the clubs in League One? How has their January business been?

For Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Huddersfield and MK Dons, the end of January indicates very clearly that the second half of the season is well and truly here. We look at some of the names that hope to take two of those five clubs up and out of League One in May.

Gary Megson last week voiced his frustration at the lack of completed business that Sheffield Wednesday had managed. Stoke midfielder Ben Marshall returned to his parent club after a successful loan spell, and Megson has been searching high and low for a replacement. To many, he was one of their best players in midfield, and his five goals and twelve assists support that. Towards the end of the window, Megson’s search finally came to the end with the capture of Spurs midfielder John Bostock. Bostock was at Hull on loan for the 2010-2011 season, and it’s fair to say that his time there was fairly unsuccessful. His move to the Owls is coupled with the signing of fellow midfielder Mike Jones from Bury. Jones, who has proven himself in the lower levels for four seasons with The Shakers, joined on a two and a half year deal.

The Owls have conceded 36 goals in the league this season though, significantly the greatest of any of the top five. So it is surprising that Megson chose not to strengthen his defence other than the permanent signing of Miguel Llera.

With a rumoured fire-sale failing to materialise, the window proved more successful for Sheffield United than most Blades fans were expecting. Blades old-boy James Beattie, who returned to the club in November, has extended his contract with the club to the end of the season. Whilst he may not be the deadly striker he once was, his experienced head (and impressive grip!) will certainly count for a lot as we enter the business end of the season. Striking options were further bolstered by the Deadline Day arrival of Will Hoskins on loan from Brighton, who scored seventeen goals in League One for a struggling Bristol Rovers last season.

Danny Wilson has also expressed his delight with the permanent signing of Reading defender Marcus Williams. Williams made 14 appearances for the Blades during his loan spell, and impressed enough to secure a long term move. With consistency being the key over the next few months, this should keep Sheffield United fans confident as they push for automatic promotion.

As we all know, Charlton Athletic are sitting pretty at the top of the league, and it is difficult to see where Chris Powell would need to strengthen. The right-back position, currently occupied by youth product Chris Solly, poses the most concern as there is no natural replacement for Solly.

Powell has kept his hands relatively tight in comparison to the vast number of transfers during the summer, concentrating on supplementing his squad rather than improving his starting XI.

Leon Cort, already on loan, was snapped up on a free transfer after his contract was cancelled by Burnley. Fellow loanee Darrel Russell also extended his stay, this time until the end of the season. Whilst neither are first-team regulars, Russell in particular has had his part to play over the last couple of months, and is a welcome capture for the Addicks.

The two other signings for Charlton were that of strikers Danny Haynes and Leon Clarke. With Paul Benson departing to Swindon, and Hayes seemingly out of favour, the signings indicate Powell won’t be afraid to shake things around in the final third of the pitch, as seen by his resting of BWP versus Bury. In fact, Powell himself suggested that the team’s lack of pace was part of the reason behind bringing Haynes in, and the different style may play a big part in the latter part of the season.

Combined with the return of Dale Stephens from injury and the contract extension to Bradley Wright Phillips, Charlton’s January has focused very much on consistency and squad enhancement. It is this consistency and diligence that has got them to where they are, and if that can continue, they look confident of securing promotion at the third attempt.

continued......

Comments

  • When you hear Huddersfield, you immediately think Jordan Rhodes. A revelation this season with 29 goals, it appears that Lee Clark’s biggest success during the transfer window was retaining his services. Whilst Rhodes in no way guarantees the Terriers promotion, his goals have certainly played a massive part of getting them where they are, and will continue to do so.

    Huddersfield also secured the signings of Falkirk duo, defender Murray Wallace and striker Kallum Higginbotham. Whilst Wallace will remain at Falkirk for the remainder of this season as part of the deal, Higginbotham joins immediately, and will no doubt play an impact role at the club, similar to that of Haynes at Charlton.

    Huddersfield’s other significant capture is that of Sean Morrison from Reading. The 21yr old defender spent time with the Terriers last season, but didn’t make an appearance. Lee Clark believes that his arrival at the club will, if nothing else, put more pressure on the rest of the defence, who have conceded 3 times in the last two games. Once again, the idea of consistency has been proven at Huddersfield, their large unbeaten run goes some way to proving that. It’s now about staying the course, and hoping that this time they manage to get one of the automatic spots.

    The final club in the top five, MK Dons, made perhaps the marquee signing of the transfer window as far as League One is concerned. In fact, both of their main pieces of business focused on players called Smith.

    Spurs recalled Tottenham defender Adam Smith, who impressed in his 17 appearances for the Dons this season. Karl Robinson moved quickly to cover the loss, bringing in James Tavernier on loan from Newcastle. Tavernier is starting to know League One well, with previous loan spells at Carlisle and Sheffield Wednesday already this season.

    However, it is the signing of Alan Smith that has perhaps provided the most interest Now 31 years old, Smith is most famed for his career at Leeds United, where he helped them reach the Champions League semi-final in the 2000-01 season. After six years, he moved to Manchester United, and then Newcastle where he has been employed as more of a midfielder than a striker. Out of favour with Pardew, his signing at MK Dons is an interesting one.

    Where Robinson chooses to play him will be the first decision. For a career that has been played in the upper echelons, it will be interesting to see how Smith copes with the small crowds and the different playing style. If Smith applies his trade, then everyone knows that he is a talented player. The reaction of fans, both of the Dons and opposing teams will certainly be mixed, but he could be a particularly dangerous player at this level. Paul Slane was also brought in on Deadline Day on loan from Celtic, and the pacy young midfielder will help provide a different option.

    As we approach the final third of the final third of the season, Charlton very much remain the team to catch. Sheffield Wednesday have been forced into finding replacements, and it remains to be seen how some of the changes will affect their performances. Huddersfield have kept hold of Rhodes, and with a couple of shrewd signings, could be extremely dangerous through the remainder of the 2011-12 season. Sheffield United have similarly strengthened with the signing of Hoskins, and if MK Dons new impetus proves successful, they could finish the season right up amongst it.

    There’s still plenty to football to be played in this run in !
  • well thats calmed the nerves .... NOT
  • Good summary. Let's hope we don't slip up! down!
  • James Tavernier was awful when we played Carlisle if I remember correctly. Hopefully cost them a few goals.
  • Just goes to show how tight money is in this league with so little being spent to be able to make a noticeable difference to your squad.
  • Been quiet overall in this transfer window. I think £9m was the highest fee paid by any club.
  • Great summary - very useful. Thanks.

    Wasn't Megson supposed to be spending some of Milan's millions this transfer window? Maybe he just couldn't secure the targets he wanted - could mean a lot of frustration in the blue half of Sheffield...
  • V helpful thanks. Actually thought Tavernier kept plugging away well when we drubbed Carlisle even if he was given a torrid time. Hoskins should score a few for Sheff. Utd. and might just give them the edge over Weds. Whether that'll be enough to see of Huddersfield with Rhodes remains to be seen.

    Feel that - as long as we can hold on to first place - Hudds & Sheff. Utd. prob deserve the other two places. Weds under Megson are a bit too direct and Milton Keynes should be plying their trade in some local league in Bucks, trying to work their way up like the real Wombles have done.
  • Five live now saying that Lee Clarke is Ken Bates' number one target for the Leeds job.....I thought Warnock would have been a shoe in! Whether it may happen or not is debatable, but if it did, it could affect Hudds promotion charge....
  • Said in one of the papers that Warnock wants £15000 a week and Grayson was on only half of that
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  • Really think Sheffield Wednesday are the biggest losers of the window, they have a key player, and not really strengthened like everyone else.

    I reckon Sheffield United will power past them into second place as they have quality throughout their squad, and Hoskins should score a load if played.

    Interesting moves by MK Dons, Smith will kick opponents and not do much else. But his experience could make a difference in the playoffs.

    However Huddersfield keeping Rhodes is the best work of the transfer window though. Like us, it means they can continue in the same vein they started the season with, and not disrupt their team.
  • @bigstemarra: "Wasn't Megson supposed to be spending some of Milan's millions this transfer window? Maybe he just couldn't secure the targets he wanted - could mean a lot of frustration in the blue half of Sheffield..."

    I've said before that I don't believe Mandaric has the millions. Who can name the successful businesses that would generate them? He's a wide boy, like Arry.

  • Combined with the return of Dale Stephens from injury and the contract extension to Bradley Wright Phillips, Charlton’s January has focused very much on consistency and squad enhancement. It is this consistency and diligence that has got them to where they are, and if that can continue, they look confident of securing promotion at the third attempt.

    Lets not forget Chris Solly signing a new contract. Probably our best bit of business in January.

  • Wasn't Megson supposed to be spending some of Milan's millions this transfer window? Maybe he just couldn't secure the targets he wanted - could mean a lot of frustration in the blue half of Sheffield...
    Yeah, they were going to spend about £100 million or something equally as ridiculous. Deluded northern mugs.
  • Bournemouth bought Matt Tubbs from Crawley - the deal is said to be worth £800K.
  • edited February 2012
    Hud worry me after reading that, or prrhaps the sheffields shud be worried
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