Jose Mourinho may have completed his spending but the transfer market cantered on yesterday with the Premiership's slow starters who were frantically trying to complete their squads before the transfer window slams shut on 31 August.
The managers of Birmingham, Sunderland and Portsmouth were able to sleep easier, having secured potentially significant signings, but those of Wigan, Fulham, Newcastle and Middlesbrough, the other clubs in the bottom third of the embryonic table, are still searching for that elusive missing piece of jigsaw.
Portsmouth's Alain Perrin was the first manager to announce a new recruit yesterday having acquired Brian Priske, a 28-year-old Denmark international defender, from the Belgian side Genk. Priske may play against Aston Villa tonight if his international clearance comes through. Perrin, though, is not finished yet. Having seen his team manage one goal and no points from the opening two matches he is also hunting a striker with a £2m bid expected for Chelsea's Carlton Cole.
Mick McCarthy, whose Sunderland team are also without a point, then confirmed the impending arrival on Wearside of the French midfielder Christian Bassila from Strasbourg. Assuming he passes a medical and agrees personal terms the 27-year-old, who had a spell on loan at West Ham in 2001, is expected to sign a two-year deal.
Next up was Steve Bruce, of Birmingham, who celebrated the hiring of Chelsea's Jiri Jarosik. The 27-year-old Czech, who has been pushed down the ranks at Stamford Bridge by the arrival of Michael Essien, has joined on loan until the end of the season. Jarosik was given the No 14 shirt vacated by Darren Anderton, who has moved to Wolves on a free transfer. Bruce then turned his attention to the promising youngster Curtis Davies but he could face competition from Fulham, Tottenham and West Brom for the Luton defender.
Elsewhere, however, there was only frustration. Nowhere is that emotion more frequently felt than on Tyneside where Graeme Souness's pursuit of Albert Luque, the latest in a glittering list of yearned for strikers, hit a snag. The problem appeared to be a dispute over the value of Hugo Viana, the makeweight in the £10.2m deal. The Deportivo La Coruña president, Augusto Cesar Lendoiro, said Newcastle valued Viana at £2.7m, twice his estimate. At least, unlike Michael Owen, Luque wants to join Newcastle and, unlike Nicolas Anelka's Fenerbahce, Luque's club appear willing to sell.
But if Souness can be optimistic in his striker hunt Wigan's Paul Jewell continued to work the phones. He admitted Norwich City had refused to entertain his interest in Dean Ashton, then Bryan Robson, the West Bromwich Albion manager, had changed his mind about offering Robbie Earnshaw. "Things are ongoing with other players," said Jewell. "We need one striker, if not two." One of yesterday's more outlandish reports suggested Wigan were attempting to sign Owen, the bait being a guaranteed first-team spot and the promise that they would release him in January if a bigger club came in.
A less improbable transfer was being lined up by Fulham who were reported to be preparing a £4m bid for Stilian Petrov, Bulgaria's captain and Celtic's longest-serving player. Petrov is seen as the putative replacement for Steed Malbranque who is being earmarked by Lyon to fill to shirt vacated by Essien.
Middlesbrough may yet be able to land Rodolph Douala, Sporting Lisbon's Cameroonian winger, despite negotiations breaking down at the weekend.
Not many of these players are household names and there is a whiff of panic about some of the transfers. Perrin, doubtless speaking for many of his peers, denied Priske's purchase came into that category as he said: "We know there will be a late scramble to sign players but we will make our choices at the right time."
Maybe, but the perils of rushing to market are clear. Last August deadline-beating deals included Birmingham's singing of Dwight Yorke, Calum Davenport's arrival at Spurs and Ricardo Fuller's move to Portsmouth. They made 17 subsequent starts between them.
"Some clubs panic," said the former Tottenham manager David Pleat. "They think they have to do something but at the end of a window you tend to overpay. Unless you do your homework you can get lumbered with someone for three years. Clubs go to market rather than trust a player who's come through their academy. If he's not good enough you can still buy at Christmas and you would have had time to target and assess someone."Reuse content