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Championship Focus: Week 5

Harry raids Brentford, Sunderland strengthen, and a goal for the Reading striker that might have been...

Brentford v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Redknapp snaps up Brentford trio

It was no secret that Harry Redknapp was not content with the quality of his Birmingham City squad, letting rip in a frustrated interview with talkSPORT. The board at St. Andrews clearly listened. In a climactic end to the window, Birmingham raided Championship rivals Brentford, securing deals for three of the West London side’s star players - midfielder Jota, central defender and club captain Harlee Dean, and right back Maxime Colin.

Jota is perhaps the most impressive of the new recruits, joining for a fee of £6million. The Spanish attacking midfielder has been a big-hit at Griffin Park, during two spells at the club. Last season, Jota’s return from his loan spell at Eibar coincided with an improvement in Brentford’s performances, as he scored 11 goals in 21 games, and averaged a match rating of 7.41 out of 10 (WhoScored). This season, he has already notched 3 assists in 5 games, strengthening his reputation as one of the most creative players in the Championship.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Brentford. Financially, they are relative minnows in comparison to Birmingham, and simply cannot compete with the lure of higher wages elsewhere. Co-director of football Phil Giles told the club’s official website:

“This isn't the first time that we have sold one of our best players, and no doubt it won't be the last. When it becomes clear that a player has outgrown the financial constraints of the Club, then it is usually best that they move on for a better contract and for a transfer fee that helps to keep us financially viable in this division.”

For Birmingham however, this might be the beginning of a revival. They have fresh creativity, a plethora of new defensive options, including Dean and Colin, and now, surely, a confident manager for the season ahead.

Three new recruits to salvage Sunderland’s season?

Sunderland Unveil Callum McManaman Photo by Scott Heppell/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It was a busy deadline day for Sunderland, as they signed three top-flight players for the season ahead. Versatile defender Marc Wilson signed on a free transfer after a season with Bournemouth. Lively midfielder Jonny Williams, capped 17 times for Wales, signed from Crystal Palace on a season-long loan, and finally, Callum McManaman (above), the former West Brom winger, joined for an undisclosed fee.

It’s been another turbulent summer at The Stadium of Light. Sunderland finally succumbed to Premier League relegation last season, after a dismal campaign under David Moyes, and the fallout has not been pretty. Sunderland have lost thirteen of their first team squad, including goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to Everton and the prolific Jermain Defoe to Bournemouth, and with financial constraints tighter than ever at the club, very little of the transfer revenue is available to spend. Then, after an embarrassing 5-0 pre-season defeat to Celtic, midfielder Darren Gibson was recorded publicly questioning the quality and commitment of his team-mates in a drunken, foul-mouthed rant.

The club needed a fresh start, and recruited ex-Preston manager Simon Grayson to take the lead. Results have been mixed, a 3-0 drubbing at Barnsley undoing any of the good work in their 3-1 away win at Norwich, but on inspection, it seems as if the Sunderland fans are generally happy with Grayson’s influence. He’s inherited a mess, and on a shoe-string budget, he has restored some hope. His three deadline day signings will be crucial if Sunderland are to continue their improvement. McManaman and fellow new-boy Aiden McGeady will surely provide ample service to ex-Royal Lewis Grabban up front, whilst Wilson’s experience will help to sure-up their leaky defence.

Are the Black Cats dark horses for promotion? No, probably not - but their fans will be hopeful that this is the start of a resurgence under Grayson, and will look forward to seeing their new signings in action when they host Sheffield United this coming weekend.

Oliveira scores for Portugal

Denmark v Portugal - Group B: UEFA EURO 2012 Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Norwich striker Nelson Oliviera scored on his return to the Portugal national team, in their 5-1 win over the Faroe Islands. The frontman came on as a substitute with nine minutes remaining, and just three minutes later found the net. The Faroe Islands’ defence failed to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo’s drilled ball across the box, and when the ball landed at Oliveira’s feet, he made no mistake.

The Royals’ restless pursuit of Nelson Oliveira ultimately proved futile this summer. Having caused a stir at Carrow Road on the opening day, the unsettled Portuguese striker is facing at least a further four months at Norwich City. He has work to do to recover his relationship with Daniel Farke, but if he scores the goals that fire Norwich up the Championship table, all will be forgiven no doubt.

Coming up next week:

After a two-week hiatus, Championship football returns next weekend, as Reading host Lee Johnson’s Bristol City. Elsewhere, Tom Huddlestone and Curtis Davies face their former employer when Derby play Hull on Friday night, and there will be debuts for the aforementioned Birmingham trio, when they travel to Norwich on Saturday.