FEW ON Wearside will celebrate the return of Djibril Cisse to the Premier League.
Yet the completion of the enigmatic Frenchman’s £4million switch to QPR was perhaps the highlight of a deadline day which preached austerity rather than dramatic, last-gasp big money moves.
Last January, £85million swapped hands in the twilight hours before the window snapped shut on Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll alone.
But this year it was the turn of the top flight’s lesser lights to piece together the final few pieces of the jigsaw in the hopes of staving off relegation or ensuring the sanctity of mid-table.
Even Harry Redknapp, perhaps understandably pre-occupied with his court case, was subdued – restricted to a shock, and slightly baffling, loan move for Everton hitman Louis Saha as the constant speculation surrounding Roman Pavyluchenko finally materialised into an exit.
Pavyluchenko had almost become Sunderland’s Robbie Keane, such was the frequency of being linked with the Black Cats, yet the Russian returned to the Motherland with Lokomotiv Moscow, with Tottenham further reducing the burden on their wage bill by offloading fellow fringemen Vedran Corluka, Sebastien Bassong and Steven Pienaar.
South African winger Pienaar’s return to Everton signalled a hugely positive day for the Toffees, not least boosted by a 1-0 victory over Manchester City.
In Pienaar and Rangers hitman Nikica Jelavic, Everton have bolstered an attack which had come to look tired and laboured.
But there were few other conclusive winners on deadline day, particularly in the Premier League’s doldrums where the January window has been surprisingly quiet.
QPR spent big, particularly on wages, in landing Cisse (pictured) and Bobby Zamora yesterday – with the latter offered to top-flight clubs throughout the window for the princely sum of £50,000 a week wages.
There has to be a suspicion, though, that Mark Hughes’s men needed more wholesale surgery if they are to decisively move away from danger.
Cisse, who spent 2008/09 with Sunderland, will look a million dollars for half-a-dozen games before fading lazily out of the picture, while Zamora provides a focal point to the attack, yet sees his goals come in fits and starts.
At the back too, surely QPR needed more additions than the reliable, if expensive, Nedum Onuoha?
Bassong had been on QPR’s radar during the summer and his loan arrival at Molineux is an astute signing by under-pressure Mick McCarthy.
Wolves arguably have the strongest side on paper of any at the bottom of the league and Bassong at least should improve their brittle defence.
But it was Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan who needed significant strengthening and they failed to do so.
Blackburn brought three players in, none of whom are of proven Premier League calibre, while Bolton’s capture of Watford hitman Marvin Sordell sparks a sneaking suspicion of a striker eminently capable of scoring goals in the Championship.
Perhaps common sense has been the priority for those involved in the basement scrap, rather than putting their club’s finances further into the red ahead of potential relegation.
It’s an ominous strategy.
As for Sunderland, deadline day revolved around finding experienced players capable of plugging gaps until the real transfer work begins in the summer.
Both Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Wayne Bridge offer the top-flight experience O’Neill sought and he will relish the prospect of restoring the stock of the latter, in particular.
Ideally, a striker would have been added to the fold, but like last January, Sunderland kept their powder dry rather than succumbing to the price tags of a seller’s market.
O’Neill’s remit for a hitman was an experienced performer, who would not break the bank. Those who fell into that category had too many pound signs in front of their name.
Thankfully, Sunderland are better-equipped numerically up front than they were this time last year and Nicklas Bendtner is hardly a long-term absentee.
Like many other clubs in the Premier League, Sunderland’s deadline day captures won’t necessarily get pulses racing, yet they address a deficiency at the right price.