Talking football: Caldwell has real selection problems now!
For a transfer window that was supposed to be relatively quiet, Gary Caldwell once again got through some pretty serious wheeling and dealing.
Having completely overhauled the playing squad last summer, and watched his new-look group win the League One title at the first attempt, it looked like evolution rather than revolution would be the buzzword this time. Not a bit of it!
Another 14 players coming in, with 12 moving out, continued the revolving-door policy at the DW Stadium.
But it wasn’t business for the sheer sake of it.
And the main thing is that the squad looks stronger than it did at the start of the window.
We can all debate the individual merits of certain deals.
I certainly wasn’t the only one surprised to see Jason Pearce and Sam Morsy in particular being allowed to leave the DW.
But boss Caldwell has got far more right than wrong in terms of recruitment since taking over last year, and has certainly pulled another few beauties out of the hat this time.
Nick Powell and Jordi Gomez would walk into most if not all Championship sides, while Adam Bogdan, Jake Buxton and Stephen Warnock add real quality to the backline.
Bradford-supporting pals have already provided glowing references for Reece Burke, while Nathan Byrne’s arrival from Wolves concludes a chase that started over a year ago during his Swindon days.
Arguably the biggest impression made so far has been that of Alex Gilbey, who has taken his superb form from pre-season into his first taste of the Championship, and really hit the ground running.
Indeed, when the whole squad is fit and ready to go, it’ll be a tough task for Caldwell to select his first XI every week – and not one I’d relish one bit!
Considering he only started four games for Wigan Athletic, French frontman Andy Delort certainly made his mark at the DW.
Two years ago, Latics seemingly pulled off a real coup by beating off competition from a number of big clubs to sign the free-scoring striker from Tours.
However, the dream move soon turned into a nightmare, with both Uwe Rosler and Malky Mackay not deeming him worthy of a regular run in the side.
He was quickly loaned back to Tours where, surprise surprise, he rediscovered his shooting boots.
Gary Caldwell became the third Latics boss in a year to not fancy Delort, who was sold on to French outfit Caen at a massive loss, seemingly drawing a line under a hugely-forgettable episode.
But Delort wouldn’t go away just yet.
He continued banging in the goals for fun at Caen which, according to the gossip columns, attracted the interest of Premier League champions-elect Leicester last January.
That move didn’t happen, but Mexican side Tigres were sufficiently impressed to put their money where their mouth was this summer, for a deal believed to be in the region of eight million euros.
Or around 10 times the figure Latics reportedly accepted to cut their losses last summer.
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.
Because it transpires David Sharpe and Jonathan Jackson had the foresight to install a sell-on clause that means Latics are still quids in on the deal.
And it’s not at all surprising to hear Sharpe admit this week that he wants sell-on clauses put in every deal from now on.
The £9million cheque winging its way from Everton to Barnsley following Manchester City’s capture of John Stones show just how important the small print of a contract can be in the increasingly uncertain financial climate that lies ahead.
Twelve months ago tomorrow (Friday), Marcus Rashford came on as substitute for Manchester United against Rochdale in the first round of the Lancashire Senior Cup.
This week, he smashed a superb hat-trick on his debut for the England Under-21s against Norway.
Having scored two goals on debut for United in both the Premier League (against Arsenal) and the Europa League (against Midtjylland) last term, and another for the full England side against Australia just before the Euros, it seems nothing fazes the young man.
United’s capture of Zlatan Ibrahimovic appeared to cast a shadow over the immediate future of Rashford at club level.
But if he keeps scoring goals, such as the crucial last-gasp winner at Hull last time out, it could be other, more high-profile colleagues – for club and country – who are the ones sweating on their places.
Peter Shilton reckons Wayne Rooney should hang up his boots at international level.
Nothing at all to do with Rooney fast-closing in on Shilton’s record of England caps, I’m sure...
Speaking of Rooney, much was written at the weekend of his contribution to the 1-0 victory in Slovakia.
Personally I thought he played well and is still worthy of a pivotal spot in the side.
Unfortunately. the post-match comments of Sam Allardyce – which seemed to suggest Rooney could play wherever he wanted – did little to fan the flames of the ‘drop Rooney’ brigade.
While Wigan Athletic didn’t have a game last weekend, there was a very big game going on in the rain over at Brocstedes Park.
And fair play to Ashton Athletic for booking their place in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup thanks to a magnificent 7-2 triumph over Mossley.
That sets up a glamour tie against FC Halifax Town and, as this town has already seen in the competition, who knows what might happen next...
This one’s going to run and run for quite some time yet.