Two things about pre-season transfers. Most take place in July and, in Sheffield Wednesday’s case, invariably when the owner is “in the building.”
A third thing where the Owls are concerned. There’s none of the exasperation felt by fans at this time last summer when the apparent inactivity proved to be highly misleading.
Wednesday don’t need to recruit en masse this time either. But, looking at the positions targeted and names linked, the eventual outlay could well equal or surpass the £7m or so expended on fees a year ago.
Of the names put up, Ross McCormack, Steven Fletcher, Stewart Downing and David Cotterill all have a certain ring of credible interest. Chairman Dejphon Chansiri has little time, and certainly no money, for players with L plates. All of the above are proven quality performers at Championship level. If you see others of similar calibre suggested then the chances are they will have been discussed at least.
Then there is the relatively unknown quantity of foreign talent considered.
But it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be as precise as supporters would like and, from experience, I’ll tell you why. First off, this column isn’t in the day-to-day news business (at least not any more) and thankful for that! Again, an explanation to follow.
In my earlier career, when I WAS at the coal face, I was grateful to receive the odd tip-off from a good number of Wednesday managers and also a few of the chairmen as well. That simply doesn’t happen under this regime. It’s not a complaint, it’s a fact.
Across 40 years covering Wednesday affairs I’ve never known tighter control of information. Again, not a complaint. Why would you flag up your intentions in a cut-throat market? What counts is not the method but the getting there and if the team is progressing, as is certainly the case, then all well and good.
Also in fairness, I think there are less nudges and winks from within football clubs generally than used to be the case. But, of course, the void has to be filled and there will always be speculation.
Added together, it all means that agents (of which this column knows barely a couple) are driving the rumour mill, on behalf of player clients and sometimes clubs. Some of the information is reliable, some of it fanciful and some of it just designed to plant a seed somewhere.
Of course, there are always people who know someone who knows someone. Which brings us on to the social media and any number of bogus “in the know” experts, although there are one or two who clearly have a reasonable source but cannot be entirely trusted by the official media who have to work with key people at clubs and can’t go out on a limb without being confident.
It’s hazardous territory, more treacherous than ever before. A story can be right without coming to pass. A reported interest in a player doesn’t suddenly become wrong if that player doesn’t end up signing.
All reasons why a column like this is glad to work around the fringes and trust instinct. McCormack (but not at anywhere near £12m), Fletcher, Downing (also barring silly money and wages) and Cotterill all feel plausible. Until I’m proved wrong, of course!