There was murmurs, then reports. Then it was off. Then it was on. Then Paul Warne said it was off for one and probably off for the other. Then it was very much on. For both. And now they’ve signed.
A week is a long time following Sheffield Wednesday.
After all that and a couple of twists and turns we’ve probably missed along the way, the double-signing of Rotherham United pair Michael Smith and Michael Ihiekwe is complete.
Both fit the profile of what Darren Moore has done so far in the transfer market. Big units, strong in the air with huge League One experience, they’ve been there and done that when it comes to third tier promotion.
This one will sting in Rotherham, have little doubt. Promoted ahead of Wednesday, losing two of their key men so late in the summer is a huge blow to their survival chances next time out. That the Owls have been able to pluck two of the crown jewels in their promotion crown is telling.
Genuinely, it’s difficult not to feel for a well-run club and in particular a very classy manager.
Smith scored 24 goals across all competitions in the last campaign. Ihiekwe played in 52 matches and often wore the captain’s armband. They’re integral players who appear to have been persuaded to drop a division. It goes to show that Wednesday’s pulling power still exists.
Part of that pulling power? There’s no point cowering away from the fact the financial prospects when moving from Rotherham to Sheffield Wednesday are much improved.
Speaking earlier this week, Warne spoke about the ages of the pair and the fact they had ‘one last big contract’ in them. Wednesday are understood to have upped their offers to bring the players to Hillsborough – a handsome tip of the cap should be made to Dejphon Chansiri for backing his manager in terms of grabbing targets.
That financial clout comes in no small part due to the size and standing of Sheffield Wednesday.
Attendances and commercial opportunities are one thing – the financial windfall from the latter doesn’t dwarf that of competitors as much as it perhaps should – but more often than not, the backing of someone such as Chansiri comes for a club such as Wednesday. In football as in life, they say, size matters.
It’s a club that has been in the doldrums too long and it’s high-time it drew on it’s heritage and comparitive wealth to build something.
Coupled with the standing of Darren Moore within the industry the Owls have real, genuine pulling power. It’s pulling power that is as powerful as anything in this division.
The signing of Will Vaulks – another former Millers fan favourite – proved that earlier this week and this double switch proves it beyond all doubt. Transfer windows past have seen Wednesday scramble a touch. This one feels to have a blueprint to it.
They did it last season, assembling a ‘Championship-quality’ squad despite restrictions and came oh-so-close to an immediate return to the second tier.
You get no trophies for pulling power of course and it’ll be fascinating to see if they can make it count with promotion. They certainly seem to have started brightly. Only time will tell.