A mixed pre-season has been completely overshadowed by one signing. John Terry in the Championship, no matter how old, is a quite unbelievable signing. This has been backed up by solid, experiences acquisitions in Glenn Whelan and Ahmed Elmohamady. Bruce's recruitment has almost been in two stages. January was abpout the youthful buys like Bree, Hourihane, Hogan whereas the summer has been about complimenting that with 'been there done it' type Championship players. Grealish will miss the start of the season but when fit, he will be key. Kodjia and Hogan can both score 20 goals but they need a link between midfield and attack, Lansbury will probably have to fill that role in the mean time. So, a slow start culminating a nailed on playoff finish? It is such a Steve Bruce season.
Simply have to feel for Paul Heckingbottom. James Bree, Conor Hourihane and Sam Winnall sold in January with now Josh Scowen, Marc Roberts and Marley Watkins have departed as well as many more less notable players. However, they have spent. Just over £3million is some sort of intent but Stevie Mallan, Liam Lindsay from a properly sub-par league, a defender who finished 3rd in the National League last season, Zeki Fryers, a couple of hugely inexperienced loans. McGeehan, McCarthy and Isgrove are decent signings but the Tykes really need more. They might be saved by 3 worse teams but as financially ethical as they are, they will struggle.
Harry Redknapp said yesterday that if Birmingham don't get players in this week, they'll struggle. Now, I don't want to be blinded by my strong dislike of the man but this is unbelievably wrong. I cannot believe he hasn't retired. Surely he is bored of running clubs into the ground, if I was a Birmingham fan being linked with Ashley Cole and Robbie Keane, I'd be getting a bit panicked about where my club will end up post-Redknapp. Yes, he makes a good Twitter meme and his simplicity can be appealing to many supporters but his desperation to spend tends to be reflective of his managerial ability. Now, Birmingham will not be a calamity this season and Gardner, Stockdale, Roberts and N'Doye are very, very good signings. IF he gets it right then they might push for the playoffs but he is coming back into a league that has completely changed since his last spell.
Their last season at Griffin Park could be very special. Brentford could easily go on and win the league this season. Kamo Mokotjo is a sensational signing, Ollie Watkins is an exciting signing, Neal Maupay us a clever signing. A player I've never seen is Henrik Dalsgaard but The Bees don't spend unless they're certain. They have a successful manager with a team that has been close before. Their spine with flare players like Judge, Canos and Jota is just wonderful. Not only will they do well but they'll be very good to watch. Concern would maybe be how Maupay settles. He is coming from the very different Ligue 1 an that could take time however too caveat that, they have replacements like Lasse Vibe.
Last season, I predicted that City would sneak into the playoffs and by October, that looked possible. An utterly horrendous run meant a late escape away from relegation. They've lost their main source of goals in Tammy Abraham but have broke their club-record to sign Famara Diedhiou. He is completely unproven in the English 2nd tier and his goalscoring record in Ligue 1 last season was very unimpressive. One more addition in Eros Pisano of Hellas Verona, another odd one it has to be said. I fear that the project at Ashton Gate might begin its prolonged stagnation this season.