Championship flop Gayle

Middlesbrough, Stoke City stars among six summer signings who have flopped in Championship

Middlesbrough and Stoke City have underwhelmed in the Championship this season, so their inclusion here is no great surprise.

We are only 13 games into the 2022/23 campaign, so this list may look quite different in a few months.

But putting my neck on the line in the risk of looking daft, here are six summer signings who have failed to hit the ground running at their new clubs…


Ian Poveda (Blackpool)
The flashy ex-Manchester City winger was unable to hold down a regular place under bucket-sitting enigma Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United.

The West Yorkshire outfit hope that the 22-year-old will eventually come good at Elland Road, but the early signs are not great.

A loan spell at Blackburn last season was marred by injury and he now finds himself playing under Michael Appleton at Blackpool.

Poveda showed in flashes at Leeds that he can be dangerous when in possession, but for Blackpool, you would be forgiven for thinking he has not played at all. He has in fact started three games in the Championship, but he has been unable to do anything of note.

Poveda was an unused substitute last time out against Watford and that really says it all about his start at Bloomfield Road.

Leeds United have more talented players coming through the ranks than most and at right now, Poveda is at risk of being left behind.


Jack Rudoni (Huddersfield Town)
The Terriers spent £1.37m on Tyreece Simpson and Rudoni. £846,000 of that went on the latter as they ended up 21st in the Championship net spend table.

Rudoni’s performances for AFC Wimbledon in League One in 2021/22 led to him winning the club’s Player of the Season award so the fee  initially felt justified. The 21-year-old was a great asset for the third-tier side last term and 17 goal contributions in 41 league games was a brilliant return for a midfielder.

Perhaps more impressively, the youngster’s versatility was on show for Wimbledon as he played in various roles all across the midfield.

While the standard in the Championship is not what it once was, the step-up from League One is still a steep one. And Rudoni has found this transition difficult.

Huddersfield have used him in a more reserved role with most of his outings so far coming through the middle of the pitch. Though he would have wanted more goal contributions than the one in 12 that he has.

This is one pick where perhaps I’m being a tad harsh. You could argue that Rudoni is being hampered by Huddersfield’s overriding struggles, with them currently second-bottom in the Championship.

It would not be a shock at all to see Rudoni grow into the season and prove to be a worthwhile addition, but for now, he is in unwelcome company on this list.


Alex Mowatt (Middlesbrough)
Steve Bruce’s ill-fated spell at West Brom has come to an end and it’s about time, too. One of his disputed decisions in the summer was to let Mowatt join Middlesbrough on loan.

Newcastle United’s favourite ever manager stated in pre-season that this was done to “balance the books” so they could pursue a striker.

It is hard to say where Mowatt would be better off at the minute because Boro and West Brom are both in and around the relegation places. But it is clear that Mowatt has not made the impact that Middlesbrough would have expected.

The ex-Leeds United starlet has shown in the past that he is capable of being one of the best players in the division when he’s at full tilt with that exquisite left foot.

Yet in truth, the midfielder has not been great since he peaked in Barnsley’s surprising play-off push under Valerien Ismael in 2020/21.

Mowatt is part of a squad at Middlesbrough that should be contending for promotion. But they are currently managerless and eleven points adrift of table toppers Sheffield United. Gulp.


Tom Eaves (Rotherham United)
The ex-Hull City striker had big shoes to fill this season at The New York Stadium. He was one of the attackers the Millers recruited to step in for Michael Smith.

His 19 league goals pushed Rotherham United towards yet another promotion to the Championship but he left to sign for Sheffield Wednesday on a free transfer in the summer.

Finding someone who could net the goals Smith scored was always going to be difficult for Rotherham considering their limited budget.

Eaves felt like a solid signing, especially on a free. He was never a consistent scorer for Hull, but there was a feeling that he could thrive at Rotherham if they played to his strengths with teasing crosses into the box.

I certainly felt that Eaves-Rotherham was a good fit, but this transfer has not yet worked for either party.

Eaves missed much of pre-season through injury, but he has not exactly set the world alight after finding his way into the team.

If Eaves ultimately fails at Rotherham, he will struggle to find another Championship club that want him. Meanwhile, the Millers’ lack of goals in recent weeks has become a worry as they steadily slip towards the bottom three.


Dwight Gayle (Stoke City)
Just like Harry Kane (not Erling Haaland) is a cheat code in the Premier League, Gayle has been just that for Championship teams in the past.

59 goals in 112 Championship appearances is superb, and this compares to 26 in 145 in the Premier League.

Just like Cameron Jerome (who to my shock is still playing), Gayle will be remembered as a potentially prolific striker who never quite cut it in the top flight.

That being said, Gayle was considered a guaranteed success in the Championship. But this image is gradually eroding as Gayle has made an uncharacteristically dross start to a season in the second tier.

Gayle failing to score in 12 outings is unheard of for the ex-Newcastle United star at this level.

His poor form is one of Stoke City’s many problems as Alex Neil’s disjointed team have yet to find any consistency, which is illustrated by their four wins, four draws and five defeats.


Ashley Fletcher (Wigan Athletic)
Fletcher is only aged 27 but his career has been puzzling to say the very least. Spells at West Ham in the Premier League and New York Red Bulls in the MLS are on his résumé after progressing through the ranks at Man Utd.

The striker has never fully lived up to expectations wherever he has been, though there is no doubting his ability.

You have to go back to 2019/20 to find his best season on a personal level as he netted 11 league goals while at Middlesbrough.

He was a baffling Watford signing ahead of their return to the Premier League in 2021. To the shock of no one, this did not work and he is now on loan at newly promoted Wigan Athletic.

And to date, this is not going well either. He has only played 14 minutes for the Latics in three substitute appearances.

Wigan have Will Keane, Charlie Wyke, Nathan Broadhead and Josh Magennis to choose from in attacking areas; Fletcher’s arrival came across as being pretty pointless and the player is not doing anything to alter people’s perceptions.

READ MORE: Paul Ince is the shocking inclusion in this season’s five best managers in the Championship


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