Sheffield Wednesday: Owls’ deadline-day frustration

Gareth Bale, right, challenges Wade Small in an Owls game at Southampton in 2007
Gareth Bale, right, challenges Wade Small in an Owls game at Southampton in 2007
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Who would have guessed that the nippy 17-year-old left back playing against Wednesday at Hillsborough a few years ago would become the world’s most expensive player?, writes Paul Thompson.

He also picked up the first booking of his career that day - a 3-3 draw between the Owls and Southampton in December, 2006 - and played in the return match that season.

It was the £86m man, Gareth Bale, whose transfer dominated the national news in an August transfer-window climax that left Wednesday frustrated.

Fans too were understandably disappointed that the deadline passed without further new players to follow the emergency signing of right back Jordan Spence two days earlier.

It was not for the want of trying: I understand that the club were very active as the deadline approached on Monday but in the end it proved impossible to engineer ins or outs.

That was not simply because other clubs did not want Wednesday players. If someone elected to stay at Hillsborough rather than take a move that was on offer, then the Owls had to accept that decision.

Another of the issues facing the club may have been that to sign even one player of the right calibre may have necessitated two or three going.

It was a pretty unexciting deadline day across the Championship.

Maybe the Financial Fair Play regulations have had an impact across the country, and a transfer kitty of millions did not guarantee success: Middlesbrough, where the Owls picked up a good point last week despite injury problems, made a couple of signings but were unable to land the goal-scoring striker that they have sought all summer.

The emergency loan market opens at the start of next week and will offer the Owls further scope for ins and outs.

United’s investment deal no doubt has set Wednesdayites wondering what is going to happen at Hillsborough.

But the two outcomes will almost certainly be different: the Blades’ new backer has acquired a 50 per cent stake in the club. Milan Mandaric will be selling the ownership of Wednesday, and I think it is a question of when and not if.