With only 3 weeks until we set off for the delights of France, I needed to work quickly with Ben to ensure that the 25 players going there were the players I was set on using for the season itself. This meant we had to say goodbye to some players but it also meant arrivals.
Charlie Taylor (£6m to Watford)
It was hard to get rid of Charlie as he was arguably our most talented player but with 12 months on his contract left and him not wanting to negotiate terms on a new one, it made sense whilst the transfer budget remained so low. A number of clubs - namely Celtic, Sunderland, West Brom and Stoke - were interested but it was Watford who won the bid as they were the only club prepared to pay the full balance upfront. We went our separate ways and I told Charlie that when we're back, he'll be someone I come after and he'll be one of the first names on my teamsheet. This boy WILL play for England.
Marco Silvestri (£1.8m to Toronto FC)
I had no intention of keeping Marco. I didn't want him on that plane to France and he wasn't in my short or long term plans. The laughing incident only cemented his exit from the club. We're okay on the Goalkeeping front at the moment and the money raised from his sale was good business for someone who I saw as a bit part player, nothing more.
Giuseppe Bellusci (Season long loan to Empoli)
Member two of the laughing gang would be spending this season in his native Italy. I'd been told by many that he was a nasty character - to hear the same opinion from so many people this early into my reign meant I knew he'd only be trouble. We've got better in the position and hopefully he'll impress meaning it's easy to get rid of him when his loan finishes in 12 months time.
Toumani Diagouraga (£1.4m to SM Caen)
Toums told me his family wasn't happy here and wanted a move back to France. In that circumstance, I couldn't stand in his way. He's a big, talented bloke but I can't have an unhappy, big, talented bloke. That's nothing against Toums - his and his family's happiness has to be the priority. I was disappointed as I felt we could have got more money but I wanted a deal done quickly.
Luke Murphy (Season long loan to Nottingham Forest)
Luke wanted out, I let him go. His 10k a week wages are being covered by Forest so it makes savings on that part of things. He's in a position that we have plenty of depth in, he actually wanted to leave and he's hardly a stand out player in this league so I was quite happy that we managed to get rid of him. Like Bellusci, if he can have a decent season and we can sell him on next Summer, I'll be very happy.
After the club had taken their share of the income, due to the finances not being that great, I had roughly £5m to spend with £35k a week in wages available. I moved fast to bring my targets in.
Matt Smith (£375k from Fulham)
My first signing was Fulham's Matt Smith for £375k. I was quite happy with this piece of business. We really lacked strength in the air up front and that's why I've signed Matt. He's played for us before and did well so he's a bit of a fans favourite. He's huge, works hard and is an intelligent bloke; he offers us a different dimension in attack and we can use his size and aerial threat to our advantage for set pieces. For that price, it's a good deal.
Francesco Migliore (£900k from Spezia)
Selling Charlie Taylor was quite easy. Looking for a reasonably priced replacement was not. After scouring the offers we'd received from various agents and looking at the shortlists the scouts had recommended, I had nothing I really wanted. We then used a recruitment piece of software and one player sprung up. Francesco Migliore. On his record there was clips of his play, heat maps, stats - all the bits of kit to persuade me to fork out for him. Ben met with officials from Serie B's Spezia and agreed a £900k fee for Francesco. At 28, he's the ideal age for a young team that needs a bit of experience in it. He's quick, fit, works hard, is mentally strong, great defensively and is an excellent crosser of the ball. I'm very happy with this deal and I'm looking forward to seeing how he performs.
Nikolay Bodurov (Free - contract expired)
With Bellusci gone, I needed an experienced replacement to take my number of centre backs to 4. Nikolay Bodurov was recommended to me by all of my scouts and the recruitment software so I made a move for him. He had a behind closed doors game and I was immediately impressed. He was extremely strong, so brave and hunted his opposition forward every time he got the ball. That's exactly what I felt was the missing piece here. At 30 years of age, I feel he still has a lot to offer and I had no hesitation in giving Nikolay a 3 year deal. To some, that's excessive but I'm certain I'm onto a good thing - plus he's a Bulgarian international and that experience will be essential to our younger players.
Gedion Zelalem (£650k from Arsenal)
Gedion was a player recommended to me by my assistant Pep Clotet. I told him I felt we needed a bit of flair to link the midfield to the attack and he told me he knew from his contacts that Gedion was available for the right price. I spoke to Arsene Wenger and to his credit, he was honest with me. He told me he thought Gedion was an excellent player with a lot to offer but he'd reached the point where he just couldn't find an opportunity to blood him into the Arsenal team. We shook hands on a fee of £650k rising to £950k depending on bonuses. I'm very excited to see how he develops here and it's a signing that the fans of the club have reacted very positively to.
Diego Poyet (Free - Contract expired)
We initially looked at Diego and discussed terms with him and his agent but I felt he was being unreasonable. In my opinion, he was only looking to use the club as a stepping stone. So talks broke down. However, yesterday Diego approached me himself and told me he was desperate to start talks again. He was more reasonable this time. We agreed a deal and here we are. Diego is an excellent player and I'm shocked that he was available on a free. He's a good rotation option with Eunan O'Kane and has enough quality at this level to develop in line with the club. It's another deal that I'm very happy to announce.
Michael Kightly (£700k from Burnley)
This is a fresh deal that has literally only just been completed within the last two hours. We were lacking a bit of depth on the right wing and I felt the workrate in our attack would be low with the players we already had. After shopping around, I noticed Michael Kightly was surplus to requirements at Burnley. It took me all of about 5 seconds to make a decision on buying him. A fee of £700k was ideal. Michael is someone that has bags of experience at this level, works very hard and can take a man on all day long. It was a no-brainer.
With around £1.6m and 9k per week left to spend, I've decided to keep it in the kitty until January. We have the likes of Jansson, Sacko, Hernandez and Bartley all on loans with a view to a permanent deal and if I feel the need to make their deals permanent, I want to have the cash to do so.