YOU could be forgiven for feeling short-changed by the summer transfer window after Wanderers failed to get involved in the all-singing, all-dancing drama of deadline day.
Despite getting more action that anticipated with Jermaine Beckford’s potential move to Fulham, interest in Greg Halford and Owen Garvan, and some speculative calls from Premier League clubs about Mark Davies, the end result was precisely what Dougie Freedman had predicted after the 1-0 defeat at Leeds United.
No new signings; little to raise sapping morale after a dire start to the campaign.
How the embattled Whites boss could have used something else to talk about over the international break, which will now be used exclusively to pick over the failings of the first five games and speculating over his own position at the club.
Manchester United’s Nick Powell was one of the players Freedman had hoped would still be available in the loan window, which re-opens in a week’s time.
It was known well before deadline day, however, that the former Crewe striker was on his way to Leicester City alongside Old Trafford team-mate Tom Lawrence.
After his PR own goal at Leeds on Saturday, Beckford’s proposed move to Fulham looked at one stage to be a simple solution to everyone’s problems.
Seemingly triggered by events at Elland Road, where his controversial salute to his former club’s fans prompted an incredulous reaction from the away end, a move to West London may have sounded appealing to the former Everton front man.
Back at Wanderers, Freedman did not want to lose another striker and did not see one of the options presented to him – Nottingham Forest’s Greg Halford – as a viable replacement.
Beckford’s departure would have given him more scope to sign players in the loan window but when Fulham diverted their attention to landing Leeds’ Matt Smith early in the evening, Freedman had resigned himself to the status quo.
Owen Garvan could yet end up being a Wanderers player. The Crystal Palace midfielder has an eye for a pass, and could be a useful asset if he can agree the right deal in the coming weeks.
A wider look at the window shows that Freedman actually signed 13 players, 11 of which were permanent deals.
The amount of cash spent? Virtually none.
While nominal fees were agreed for youngsters such as Kaiyne Woolery of Tamworth, Quade Taylor and Ross Fitzsimons of Crystal Palace and Ryan Sellers from Wingate and Finchley, the last actual transfer outlay made by the Whites remains the £150,000 fee agreed with Millwall to loan Liam Trotter in January.
The mainstay of the manager’s signings were those who, like Trotter, had worked with the club before.
Neil Danns, Liam Feeney, Kevin McNaughton and Joe Mason returned, the theory being that they would avoid the settling in period that often affects a new signing’s form.
The downside is that fans craving some inspiration were left short-handed, not least when the club lost out on top target Lukas Jutkiewicz to Premier League Burnley.
Dean Moxey and Dorian Dervite were canny bits of business on free transfers but Freedman knows full well that in missing out on the Middlesbrough striker, he had also missed out on a golden chance to give fans something to smile about before a competitive ball was kicked.
Instead, his side were grumbled off the field at half time in their only pre-season friendly against Dutch side Vitesse.
Freedman still has designs on two more attacking signings but with Powell now out of play and cash still chronically tight, they are by no means guaranteed by the time the Championship season reconvenes with a home double header against Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United.
Heading out of the Macron Stadium doors this summer were 19 players, three of which were on loan.
Two transfer fees were received, for Marvin Sordell and Cian Bolger, at a cost of around £575,000.
Andy Robinson actually managed to count in both columns, with his short career with the Whites lasting just a few weeks before being released. But it was in ridding themselves of the big earners –Sordell, Tyrone Mears, Chris Eagles, Zat Knight, Andre Moritz and Keith Andrews – that the biggest financial difference was made.
It has, we are led to believe, brought the club in line with Financial Fair Play regulations and helped Wanderers avoid a transfer embargo in the New Year.
Little of that windfall has been passed Freedman’s way, however, and the manager continues to see signings slip through his grasp as a result.
Liverpool winger Jordan Ibe was the latest example, forcing the Scot back to the drawing board as he tries to add a little sparkle to his struggling side.
It is a grim reality to face and in no way an excuse for under-performance. One wonders whether Freedman and the Wanderers fans are going to have to get used to this barren feeling.