City endured mixed fortunes on the final day of January
The base requirement for any transfer window is to end it with a squad stronger than it was when you started, and in the case of Hull City, there can be little doubt that January has been a success.
How much of a success, well only time will tell on that front. The success of it should not be judged on whether or not City can gatecrash the play-off party come early May, but on how well Liam Rosenior continues to knit his squad together in the coming weeks with a view to creating a side capable of winning games consistently in what remains of the Championship season, with a view to building strong foundations for next term.
So far in his 11 league games thus far, the signs are extremely promising.
Rosenior’s task at the beginning of the month was to trim the fat off his squad, lower the member numbers and then add one or two quality additions, and in truth, he’s gone a long way to doing just that.
Having faced significant competition to sign Malcolm Ebiowei, Rosenior was able to convince him to come from Crystal Palace, and though he’s yet to train with his new teammates – of course, he was injured – the buzz around his arrival suggests there is reason to be optimistic.
Eyebrows were raised about Aaron Connolly’s appearance in East Yorkshire following a fairly disastrous spell out in Italy, and no shortage of negative press since breaking onto the scene at Brighton a couple of years ago.
His brilliant brace in Saturday’s win over QPR showed there is something in there if Rosenior can continue to keep the 23-year-old on the straight and narrow, confident and motivated.
City remained hopeful of clinching the signing of talented 21-year-old winger Konrad de la Fuente from Marseille right up until the deadline, and having spent seven years at Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, he’s clearly a player with something, even if his loan spell at Olympiacos this season didn’t work out.
Unfortunately, due to an administrative issue with Marseille, Olympiacos and the French Football Federation , that deal could not be completed and has had to be shelved for the time being, with City powerless to get it done.
Karl Darlow’s move was signed and sealed in advance of Newcastle’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Southampton, and his arrival will provide the Tigers with added competition between the posts following Nathan Baxter’s return to Chelsea.
City were also in extended talks with Hibernian to bring in highly-rated midfielder Murray Aiken. The 18-year-old is well-thought-of at Easter Road and has been on the Tigers’ radar for a while, though discussions cooled once a breakthrough with Chelsea was made over the permanent addition of Xavier Simons.
Yuriel Celi, the young attacking midfielder from Peru saw his switch confirmed, though he’ll remain in the country for the next year as he looks to build up enough points to qualify for a British work permit in 12 months’ time.
That signing is one from left field, but it shows the club are prepared to cast their net far and wide for talent, which must be seen as progressive.
After a year of health concerns and subsequent radio silence on his recovery, Josh Emmanuel clinched a move to near neighbours Grimsby Town, while James Scott’s nightmare three years came to end when he secured a one-and-a-half year deal at League One promotion hopefuls Exeter City.
Randell Williams was shipped out to Bolton Wanderers, Andy Cannon to the national media’s latest darlings, Wrexham, and there were loan moves for both Brandon Fleming and Tyler Smith to League One promotion dreamers Oxford United.
Harvey Vale and Nathan Baxter went back to Chelsea and Salah-Eddine Oulad M’Hand, such an exciting signing in the summer saw his loan agreement terminated and off he went back to Arsenal to continue his recovery.
Dogukan Sinik just has not settled in the UK following his move in the summer, so he’s gone back on an initial loan to home town club Antalyaspor, but City were able to keep hold of Ozan Tufan.
Tufan was on his way out of City until very recently with clubs in Italy and Turkiye keen, especially Super Lig side Besiktas. Ozan, though, after extensive soul-searching and talks with Rosenior and Acun Ilicali, decided to stay at City and give it a real go.
Interest in leading scorer Oscar Estupinan was warded off thankfully for City, while audacious bids for Keane Lewis-Potter and Harry Toffolo ultimately came to nothing, though you can’t fault the club’s ambition.
City’s squad remains substantial, particularly across midfield where Rosenior has a plethora of options. He also has the luxury of having Dimitrios Pelkas, Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, and Benjamin Tetteh return to bolster what is starting to look like a genuinely exciting attacking unit, particularly with the addition of Ebiowei.
It will take Rosenior time, and a couple more windows, to really hammer home his stamp on the squad, and there will be players moved on this summer in what will be another reshaping.
How many of the loan players he’s able to entice to stay for longer will also be interesting to watch, but having shipped some fringe players out, kept his big-hitters and added wisely, this must be considered a positive window at a notoriously difficult time in which to do business.