THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE AVERAGE: REVISITING THE CHAMPIONSHIP SUMMER SIGNINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
We’re into the second week of February and the 2020/21 Championship season has passed the halfway mark.
Back in October I reviewed five of the best deals in the summer window and here I’ll be assessing them and their performance so far this season.
Ivan Toney (Brentford – A+):
It was feared that the loss of stars Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma to the Premier League would leave the Brentford attacking line blunt this season. But Ivan Toney has certainly put those fears to bed.
The 24-year-old has been instrumental in what has been yet another brilliant season for the Bees as they sit top of the Championship through 28 games.
Brentford have had a well-documented knack of producing top strikers in recent years.
Both Neal Maupay and Watkins scored over 20 goals in the last two seasons respectively and Toney, has now followed in their footsteps.
After signing from Peterborough in the summer, Toney has now scored an impressive 23 goals in 28 appearances being the leading top scorer with Blackburn’s Adam Armstrong next with 17.
Toney has carried on his vein scoring form netting three times in the last week grabbing a brace against Middlesbrough, followed by a goal against Reading on Wednesday.
But it’s not just the goals that Toney brings to the party. He’s also notched up nine assists and has been hailed as a massive overall influence in Thomas Frank’s side.
Brentford narrowly missed out on play-off glory against Fulham last term but if Toney continues to shine in West London, the Bees may be on for a return to the topflight for the first time in 74 years.
Harry Wilson (Cardiff City – B-):
When Cardiff City captured Harry Wilson on loan in October, it was widely regarded as one of the best deals in the summer transfer window.
However, it hasn’t been all rosy for Wilson and the Bluebirds this term with ex-City manager Neil Harris leaving last month on the back of six games without a victory.
Wilson hasn’t quite hit the height of his ability at Cardiff despite his still impressive stats. The 23-year-old has showed his class at times this season attributing three goals and eight assists.
The arrival of Mick McCarthy has made City and Wilson more of a threat going forward with the Liverpool loanee assisting three of the seven goals scored since McCarthy’s arrival.
Wilson gave a brilliant account of himself in the recent Severnside derby assisting the first goal and tormenting a depleted Bristol City side.
Wilson alongside fellow Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo have impressed in recent weeks swarming around behind talisman Kieffer Moore, who is the league’s 4th top scorer.
City are now unbeaten in four under new manager McCarthy and if Wilson can produce his best stuff on a regular basis, he may help the Bluebirds mount a late play-off push.
Not been at his very best but has shown some real quality in parts. B-.
Ovie Ejaria (Reading – A-):
As I said back in October, I slightly cheated with this one as Ovie Ejaria is now in a third season with Reading. However, the Royals splashed out £3.5m to sign him permanently in the summer.
Ejaria has been brilliant in Berkshire since he arrived at the Madejski in 2019 and he’s been a massive part of a Reading side who have done very well so far this season.
Reading currently sit 5th in the league and Ejaria’s input has attributed massively toward this success.
Despite only recording two goals and five assists this term, Ejaria’s silky footwork and skill is an essential cog in that Reading midfield.
With players like Lucas Joao, young Michael Olise and Ejaria going forward Reading have been lethal possessing the joint third best attack in the Championship.
The 23-year-old had one of his best games of the season a few weeks back grabbing an assist as they swept aside a fellow play-off challenger in Bournemouth.
Reading have struggled since their Wembley defeat to Huddersfield back in 2017. But looking revitalised under Veljko Paunovic, can an in form Ejaria help the Ding cement a play-off place come May.
Integral part of an impressive Royals attacking force. A-.
Ryan Manning (Swansea City – C):
This next transfer is a tricky one to navigate. Ryan Manning has made just six league appearances since he traded West London for South Wales.
I mentioned back in October about Manning coming in to battle for the left back berth with Jake Bidwell and its Bidwell who’s been favoured by Steve Cooper this term.
Manning has made just six appearances in the Championship this season but played every game of Swansea’s FA Cup campaign, recording three assists in three games.
The Irishman was handed a heap of praise after the Swans’ exit from the FA Cup by the hands of a Manchester City on Wednesday, being regarded as one of the best players on the night.
Many QPR fans have voiced their dismay at letting Manning go for the lowly £250,000 sum of which they did, especially with the 5 at the back they have played this season.
Massive benefit for Cooper’s side however buying a relatively young left back who is already very established at this level.
Swansea look right in the mix for an automatic promotion place come May and Manning will be hoping to play a much bigger part in the second half of this campaign.
A good player who simply hasn’t played as much as he’s deserved to. Middle of the road C.
Jeremy Ngakia (Watford – B):
For his young age of just 20, Jeremy Ngakia has had a very impressive first full season in professional football since his move from West Ham in the summer.
Ngakia broke into the Hammers side last season post lockdown but was offered no assurances at the London Stadium with Vladimir Coufal playing 19 of 23 games for David Moyes’ side this season.
The Hornets currently sit 4th in the Championship with Ngakia playing 22 of Watford’s 28 games so far this term.
Ngakia has averaged 2.6 tackles a game this season in a Watford side who have lost just one in their last six.
Watford are currently the second-best defensive team in the Championship conceding just 20 goals in their 28 games. Ngakia has been a massive part of that.
Ngakia hasn’t had the most stable season this year with Vladimir Ivic making way for Xisco Munoz in December but has done brilliantly to play so many games with established full backs Kiko Femenia and Adam Masina to contest with.
The boys from Vicarage Road are looking for an immediate return to the Premier League after relegation last season. Ngakia will for sure be hoping to get there and set up a return to his boyhood Hammers.
Impressive and consistent in Hertfordshire this campaign. Its a B for Ngakia.