Transfer deadline day is one of the most hyped up and exciting days of the football season, unless you happen to be a Reading fan that is. Reading let August 31 slip by without so much as a youth loan out as Brian McDermott stuck by his statement that there would be no activity at the Madejski on deadline day.
OK so Sky Sports News' presenters weren't camped outside Hogwood being mobbed by a horde of screaming kids but Reading have never been ones to leave it till the last minute and personally I'm happy about that.
Truth be told there was no major area that was in desperate need of strengthening and I don't think it's a bad thing that we got all of our major deals done nice and early this summer. It's a bit like Christmas shopping, yes you might get a late bargain or awesome present if you head out Christmas Eve, but doing your shopping in early December means you have more choice and can more carefully choose the right gift. Brian McDermott shopped for eight gifts this summer and considering that those players have played a major part in all six of our goals this year, you can't ask for a lot more.
Below the jump we'll round-up the summer dealings and ask whether we've done enough.
Who Arrived & What Have They Done For Us So Far?
We made our opening signing just weeks after promotion was confirmed when Nottingham Forest's player of the season Garath McCleary arrived on a free-transfer. The winger has already made a decent impact, winning a penalty against Stoke on the opening day as well as assisting Pog's goal at Chelsea.
Danny Guthrie also arrived on a free transfer from Newcastle with the midfielder quickly winning praise from Royals fans. Guthrie scored our second goal at Chelsea and was similarly impressive as Peterborough were beaten at the Madejski earlier this week.
The jewel in the summer signing crown was undoubtedly Pavel Pogrebnyak, with the Russian international arriving on a free transfer following a prolific loan spell at Fulham. The Pog has already scored twice, with his goal at Chelsea a stunning header well worthy of the Premier League.
Reading fans knew all about Nicky Shorey when he was re-signed to provide some competition for Ian Harte at left-back. He became our fourth free transfer signing of the summer and while he hasn't played for the senior side yet, he looked in decent form in pre-season and captained the U21 side to a 6-1 win over West Brom last week, scoring a trademark free-kick.
Centre-back Adrian Mariappa and full-back Chris Gunter arrived on the same day at a combined cost of close to £5 million from Watford and Nottingham Forest. Both had prior Premier League experience and Gunter has played in each of our three games so far, opening his Royals account in the 3-2 win over the Posh. Mariappa has had to bide his time as Alex Pearce and Kaspars Gorkss have retained their places but he's more then adequate cover and if our defence continue to leak goals he could be in the team sooner rather than later.
The others to arrive were youngster Pierce Sweeney from Bray Wanderers for a nominal fee while goalkeeper Stuart Taylor arrived on a free transfer after leaving Manchester City, neither are expected to be heavily involved this season.
Have We Done Enough?
That's a question we won't be able to answer fully until the final whistle at Upton Park on May 19th but the intial performances of our new signings have been good, while in general the team hasn't looked out of it's depth in the top division.
Against Stoke we were never overwhelmed and look comfortable until Federici dropped a clanger. To take the lead at the home of the European Champions is no mean feat and few would have argued with us drawing or even winning that night. Peterborough wasn't the most clinical of performances defensively but up front McCleary, Pog and Guthrie looked very dangerous.
Second Lowest Spenders In The Premier League
A fair few supporters have argued we've underspent, with only West Brom spending less than us on transfer fees this summer. Fans have been pointing to the sums that Southampton and West Ham have been shelling out, to say nothing of teams like Stoke and QPR. It's true that we've spent just under £5 million on transfer fees but that fails to take into account the value of the players we've been able to sign on free transfers, not to mention the wages we'll be paying them. If Steven Fletcher is worth more than £10 million, and Jarvis £7.5m how much would teams have paid to sign Pogrebnyak, Guthrie or McCleary?
The notion that your spending is directly equal to transfer fees is an outdated notion in today's Premier League, where wage spend has long since outstripped transfer spending. For example, Pogrebnyak may have been a free transfer but how much will he cost Reading over his four year contract?
If the reported £40k a week wages are to be believed (and that's a reasonable rate for an international who's played at a major championship) Pogrebnyak will cost us around £2,000,000 per year without bonuses, that's £8 million over the life of his contract. There would almost certainly have been a signing on fee as well, especially for an in demand free agent. Those such fees are rarely disclosed but let's slap a conservative estimate of around £500k on it, bringing Pogrebnyak's cost to about £8.5million
Lets contrast that to say Jay Rodriguez, who you'd think would be on considerably less coming from the Championship. We'll say Rodriquez is on £20k, with his transfer fee around £7m. In those circumstances, Rodriquez is going to cost Southampton just over £11 million over the life of his contract.
So suddenly a £7 million gap in transfer spending is whittled down to a difference of about £2.5m. Again those are only roughly calculated figures but they help show the true cost of a player can be hidden. It's that differences in expected wages that's the reason clubs are prepared to pay slightly bigger fees to clubs for players that they know they can cost control. It's precisely the reason you see established strikers like Dimitar Berbatov go for £3 million less than a Championship striker like Rodriguez.
Despite the above, I can't sit here and say I'm not envious of the ability of a club like West Ham to go out and splash millions on transfer fees and wages for players like Jarvis and Andy Carroll. It's certainly safe to say that Reading have gone for a conservative and low risk strategy with their recruitment, realising that they don't generate the type of income to support too many big names should relegation occur. The Royals also haven't had the type of Premier League income, nor parachute payments, that teams such as West Ham and Stoke have been enjoying over the past few years.
Some will argue that you have to speculate to accumulate, while others have fiercely defended the club's spending policy as it prevents the club from sharing the fate of Bradford, Southampton or Portsmouth. It's a tightrope that is walked by every new Premier League club and one that only a select handful ever get right for a long period of time. Bolton and Charlton were long lauded for sensible spending and slow building but both have been through relegation and in all nine of the current twenty Premier League clubs have spent time outside of the top division in the past five years.
What Reading have done well is ensure they've bought players that can develop and enjoy their peak years at the club. Mariappa, Gunter, Pogrebnyak, Guthrie and McCleary join a core that consists of Adam Federici, Alex Pearce, Jem Karacan, Jimmy Kebe and Adam Le Fondre who all are either coming into their peak or are riding it at the moment. That core is well supplemented by veterans like Stuart Taylor, Ian Harte, Kaspars Gorkss, Mikele Leigertwood, Jobi McAnuff and Jason Roberts, who have all been in the game a long time and can pass on their experience to the younger guys.
If you were building a team on paper, you couldn't ask for a better blend and few would doubt the immense team spirit that seems to exist around the present squad. as the 2005-2008 side showed, team spirit and attitude can play a big, big part in a team's success or downfall and Brian McDermott has certainly seemed to have preserved a good spirit with this summer's transfer dealings.
Would a Shane Long, Jordan Rhodes, Jermain Defoe or Wilfred Zaha have disrupted that team spirit? Perhaps not, but it does remain to be seen whether their signings would have been significant enough to justify the risk to morale and the money spent on wages and transfer fees.
Elsewhere In The Premier League
I'm sure you've heard most of the major deals but if you want a recap, check out this video from the SB Nation mothership, where Ryan Roseblatt has put together this review video.
EPL Transfer Deadline Recap (via sbnation)
As mentioned, we'll not know whether we've really done enough until the end of the season. If we stay up it's been a good summer, if not and fans will be wondering why TSI haven't used their financial muscle to sign the extra one or two that could have proved crucial. Our summer dealings have given us genuine competition at every position while there still remains four weeks in January for us to make further additions if results stutter over the coming four months.
Personally I'm happy with the business though the extra insurance provided by another proven Premier League striker wouldn't have hurt. Hopefully we've got enough goals in the squad but I wouldn't be at all shocked to see Brian dip his toes into the transfer water again in January.
So what do you think? Did we have a good summer or did we not do enough?