Both Birmingham City and Sheffield United made interesting loan signings over the summer.
The Blues brought in Gary Gardner to partner his brother Craig in midfield, while Sheffield brought in Oliver Norwood from Brighton.
Both are similar ages, both are similar positions, so let’s compare these two transfers…
Birmingham signed midfielder Gardner from heated rivals Aston Villa in August. This ushered the departure of cult hero Cheikh N’Doye back to his original club Angers, as manager Garry Monk thought he had his midfield sorted. Alongside brother Craig, and Maikel Kieftenbeld, these would be the players that would battle it out to start each week.
Gary looks to have won that battle for now, as he has consistently started for The Blues this season. However, he hasn’t been able to help his side out.
The Blues are one of two teams yet to win a game in the Championship so far this season, amassing six draws. In this time, Gardner has failed to produce a goal or an assist. Admittedly, that is not his primary role as a player, as he is much more defensively minded, but the club could certainly do with him helping.
The very fact that Villa would let a player go to their bitter rivals is quite an inditement on the player’s ability. Man City would never loan Kevin de Bruyne to Man United, and, although that is an extreme example, it shows that he isn’t particularly well regarded at Villa Park.
Overall, Garnder has become a mainstay in Monk’s team, meaning the transfer was quite successful, however, some players will be judged on the results that they produce, and there aren’t any yet.
TT Grade B-
Northern Ireland midfielder Norwood signed for Sheffield United in the middle of August. The Blades had lost their opening two games of the Championship and desperately needed a remedy. Since then, they haven’t look back.
The club have only lost once since Norwood joined them, and he has started every game. In those five games, he has bagged one goal and two assists, as The Blades sit in sixth in the table.
There’s no way that this signing cannot be seen as a success so far. He has dramatically improved his side since his arrival in August, and that is all he can be marked by thus far. He isn’t a permanent signing, so it is just a case of what he does presently, which is a lot for the club.
The fact that this is only a loan would be the most disappointing thing for Sheffield fans, as they would surely want to keep hold of him. But overall, this has been some very good business.
TT Grade A
With Gardner being 26-years-old and Norwood being 27-years-old, it is easy to make the comparison between these two players.
The similarities do not end there. Both player joined their clubs after a few games of the season, which makes it easy to compare the impact that both has had on their side. While Gardner’s impact has not been as much as he would have liked, Norwood’s has been huge.
With both being loan signings, it is hard to compare their potential. They will only be at their clubs for one season, so it isn’t a case of an investment, it is just the here and now- and with that in mind, Norwood is producing the goods.
It is hard to not give this battle to Norwood, as he continues to spearhead Sheffield’s successful season.