CAST your mind back to Saturday 19 September 2015.
It’s 4.45pm and Sheffield Wednesday have just beaten Fulham 3-2 in a season which will lead us all the way to Wembley (and play-off heartbreak at the hands of Steve Bruce).
Wednesday’s match winner on that late summer’s day at Hillsborough? A certain debutant by the name of Michael Turner.
Turner did little else that season and hasn’t been on the radar of Wednesdayites since – or until this week at least.
You may have spotted him coming in at number two on The Star’s list of Bruce’s most expensive signings, at a whopping £13.6m. Kinda hard to believe looking back, isn’t it?
Unsurprisingly, he’s also one of the players the new Wednesday boss made his biggest loss on.
At Owls About Stat, we’ve been examining Bruce’s wheeling and dealing record in some depth. It really matters – we all know we’re in a tricky position with FFP.
You’ll have had people tell you Bruce likes to splash the cash. And they’d be right. He’s spent £322m since taking over at Birmingham in 2001.
But unlike Sheffield Wednesday in recent years, he’s not adverse to moving players on. In that same period, his sales come to £211m.
Do the sums and you have a net spend of £111m.
What does this mean for us? Well, arguably not that much. It’s unlikely that we have any significant sums of money for him to spend anyway.
He’s a boss who’s shown time and time again that he tends to change his squads. He’s made a total of 287 transfers. That’s one every 20 days that he’s been a manager.
Can he do it without a huge outlay? Let’s look at Villa as an example. He spent £30m at the Midlands club, but brought in £33m, so made a profit. More than half of their current squad are Bruce signings, and two-thirds of the appearances made at Villa this season were by players signed by him.
At Wigan, they turned a profit of £19m on the players he bought and at Hull £13m. His main losses were at Birmingham and Sunderland.
Some of his signings have proved big hits and made healthy profits: Antonio Valencia, Sam Clucas, Wilson Palacios, Harry Maguire, Simon Mignolet and Andrew Robertson to name a few – all bought for £2m-£3m, three going on to play in a Champions League final and one in a World Cup semi final for England.
But then there’s the flops: Asamoah Gyan, Michael Turner, Abel Hernandez, Craig Gardner, Gary McSheffrey, Moses Odubajo and Hugo Rodallega all selling at a heavy loss.
The trend shows Bruce tends to spend on immediate changes to his squad, but he understands the need to sell players – and create value with his transfers.
The evidence suggests that he’ll want some money to spend to reshape the current squad. If that happens, the question becomes where it comes from and how the club have sidestepped FFP.
If the money isn’t available, this could be Steve Bruce’s toughest challenge yet