The transfer window has closed with Premier League clubs spending almost £2bn to put their squads in shape for the next few months.
Managers must now go with what they have, whether it is the mega-spending seen at Chelsea and Manchester United or the shoestring existence of Leicester City.
So what are the big issues after that one final transfer spree on Thursday?
- Premier League spending reaches record £1.9bn for summer window
- Check out the deadline day deals in one place
Tuchel must justify Boehly backing
Chelsea’s new ownership under American Todd Boehly wanted to make a statement that ambition and spending would not be reeled back in the post-Roman Abramovich era.
Boehly ended up making several statements by spending more in one transfer window than any other British club in history, £255.3m according to financial services firm Deloitte.
Now the pressure is on manager Thomas Tuchel to deliver, the temperature turned up by a disappointing start to the season which has included defeats at Leeds United and Southampton.
The £10m signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona was the final flourish on a window that brought in Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella and Wesley Fofana in the most high-profile deals.
Boehly’s policy has appeared scattergun at times, a long-touted deal for Everton’s Anthony Gordon failing to materialise, but no-one can question his commitment to strengthening Tuchel’s squad.
Tuchel now has the materials, expensive ones, and must make them work.
We do not know yet if Boehly is as ruthless as Abramovich when dealing with managers who fail him but Tuchel can be under no illusions that expectations are now sky-high.
Can Forest survive after spending spree?
Nottingham Forest signed more players in one summer than any club in British history and it must now be justified by Premier League survival because the alternative is unthinkable after such an outlay and squad churn.
Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has delivered an incredible 21 new players to head coach Steve Cooper and might have signed more, with a deal Michy Batshuayi falling through.
The club have a point in saying such a rebuilding process was required when seven of the 14 players who figured in the Championship play-off final win over Huddersfield Town left over the summer but the transformation and integration required of so many new faces is still unprecedented.
Forest have had a mixed start to the season, impressing when beating West Ham United and even when losing to Tottenham. They were thrashed 6-0 at Manchester City but they may not be alone in that fate this season.
Cooper is a fine coach but it is still a tough task to mould so many new players and personalities together in one dressing room. And it needs to be done quickly.
Forest now have home games against Bournemouth and Fulham to come, with a visit to Leeds sandwiched in between, and these are the fixtures likely to be significant in defining their standing this season.
Has Ten Hag got the Manchester United he wants?
‘He brings creativity’ – Ten Hag excited about Antony arrival
Manchester United are a much calmer club after three wins steadied the ship following the opening home loss to Brighton and the 4-0 debacle at Brentford.
Manager Erik ten Hag was in optimistic mood after Thursday’s victory at Leicester City, which followed wins over Liverpool and Southampton.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s situation will need delicate handling after a summer when it seemed he wanted to quit United but elsewhere Ten Hag’s team looks to be taking shape after more expensive ventures into the transfer market, the £214m summer outlay breaking their own spending record.
Lisandro Martinez has settled in defence after his traumatic experience against Brentford’s Ivan Toney led to his half-time substitution – although he has not faced a striker of similar power and stature since.
It does leave serious questions over captain Harry Maguire, so clearly now marginalised and with a World Cup on the horizon. It does not look good for the England defender.
Christian Eriksen has eased his way into midfield but it is elsewhere where Ten Hag will look to the new arrivals for a major impact.
Casemiro, at £70m from Real Madrid, showed trademark calm when he came on at Leicester while £83m forward Antony, well known to Ten Hag from Ajax, carries high hopes and much excitement.
United may feel they needed another striker but the mood is markedly different from three weeks ago.
Are they title challengers? Of course not. Top four must be the aim.
There is no doubt, however, that Ten Hag has started to put his stamp on United.
Antony: Manchester United’s £80m man who grew up in Sao Paulo’s ‘Little Hell’
Are Everton a striker light?
Everton owner Farhad Moshiri told discontented fans to judge him at the end of this window. The jury remains out.
They brought in eight players as well as keeping the prized Anthony Gordon out of Chelsea’s clutches and much of their business looks smart.
Conor Coady and James Tarkowski provide experience and leadership in defence. Amadou Onana is the most expensive acquisition at £33m but shows great promise while the return of the hugely popular and quietly effective Idrissa Gueye and the arrival of the highly-rated James Garner widen midfield options.
And then we get to the questions.
Everton desperately needed a striker, probably two, with Richarlison sold to Tottenham and Dominic Calvert-Lewin regularly plagued by injuries.
Neal Maupay has arrived from Brighton but no other forwards pitched up on deadline day.
Is this enough to cure a chronic goals shortage? If it is not, then the judgement on Moshiri and those who do the deals in Everton’s boardroom may yet be an unfavourable one.
Gerrard and Rodgers under scrutiny
Leicester will keep fighting – Rodgers
Leicester City versus Aston Villa at King Power Stadium on 10 September. Stick a red ring around this game on the calendar.
It is a fixture that has all the hallmarks of a pivotal one for Foxes’ manager Brendan Rodgers and the inspirational leader who was his captain at Liverpool, Villa boss Steven Gerrard.
The pair are under scrutiny after poor starts to the Premier League season.
Their summer transfer activity has been markedly different, with Leicester City creating barely a ripple and Villa’s ambitious owners throwing their weight behind Gerrard.
Rodgers could barely contain his disappointment at his inability to work the markets this summer; the only transfer fee they paid was the £15m to Reims for Wout Faes, a defensive replacement for Wesley Fofana, sold to Chelsea for £70m.
The manager cut a downcast figure after Leicester’s fourth defeat in five games, at home to Manchester United, left them bottom of the table.
Rodgers clearly wanted to do more but could not. What will be the eventual cost be for the club and their manager?
Gerrard was able to bring in reinforcements on deadline day, with Belgium midfielder Leander Dendoncker arriving from Wolverhampton Wanderers while defender Jan Bednarek came in on loan from Southampton to cover for the damaging loss of big summer signing Diego Carlos, who has suffered a serious long-term Achilles injury.
Villa also stuck rigidly to their stance that midfield man Douglas Luiz was not for sale despite Arsenal’s concerted efforts to sign the talented 24-year-old Brazilian.
Gerrard has had the backing of Villa’s board but performances have been poor. He needs summer signings Boubacar Kamara and Philippe Coutinho to settle to their task – the latter was a real show of faith from the manager after an underwhelming loan spell, and has been a disappointment so far. The manager must also hope that the deadline day arrivals add something extra.
- Leicester ‘not the same club’ after Man Utd loss and transfer woe
- Aston Villa reject two Arsenal bids for Brazilian midfielder
Southampton mix and match
Southampton adopted an intriguing approach to the transfer market by targeting outstanding young talent with potentially high sell-on value, topped up with a touch of experience.
Manchester City have provided a rich seam of youthful potential for Saints as keeper Gavin Bazunu and teenage midfielder Romeo Lavia were joined by England youth international Samuel Edozie and 18-year-old attacking full-back Juan Larios.
City have protected their investments in the quartet with assorted buy-back and sell-on clauses but this is now a clear Saints philosophy.
The experience came with a loan deal for Arsenal’s Ashley Maitland-Niles and Croatia defender Duje Caleta-Car from Marseille on a permanent deal.
It’s an imaginative approach – and despite the setback of Lavia’s hamstring injury, set to keep him out for six weeks – manager Ralph Hasenhuttl must be satisfied by how it has turned out so far.