An exhaustive summer of bargaining came to a typically anticlimactic conclusion yesterday (regardless of Sky Sports’ desperate attempts to convince us otherwise), with Watford emerging as the most prolific purchasers.
The Hornets padded out their squad with no fewer than 15 players, clearly viewing quantity, not quality, as the key factor in a successful survival bid.
It’s a strategy frequently adopted by those vying to beat the drop over the previous three years, but the dreary fortunes of the bulk buyers suggest their modus operandi may well be flawed.
Hull filled their trolley with a league-high 11 first-team recruits in last summer’s window as they prepared to embark upon a maiden voyage into Europa League waters.
This signing splurge backfired in spectacular fashion, as the Tigers were eliminated from the continent’s consolation competition in the preliminary round and their league standing deteriorated from 16th in 2013/14 to 18th.
Crystal Palace and Sunderland each bought 14 players to take the most active recruiter laurels ahead of the ‘13/14 edition under the respective stewardships of Ian Holloway and Paolo Di Canio.
Had they not sacked their managers inside nine games, relegation was all but assured, with the four points they had combined with eight fixtures played out still four shy of the side in 17th.
New gaffers stepped into the breach and, subsequently, saved them from demotion, with Tony Pulis guiding Palace to 11th and Gus Poyet hauling Sunderland up to 14th.
The 11 players apiece West Ham and QPR each parachuted in leading up to the 2012/13 season made them the league’s busiest buyers.
Were the Hammers benefited from this transfer policy, finishing tenth, it didn’t work out so well for the R’s, who ended the campaign in last place having wound up 17th a year before.