They’ve been in the offing for a few days, and today the sad confirmation has arrived that City have lost the services of both James Chester and Robbie Brady.
Sizeable fees have been obtained – some £7m from Norwich for Brady and £8m for Chester from West Brom, taking the Tigers’ summer sales over the £20m mark. However, the loss of Brady’s maturing talent and James Chester’s peerless composure in the defence is immense.
Chester joined City in 2011 from Manchester United for what now seems a preposterously modest £300,000 following a successful loan spell at Carlisle. Despite a much discussed lack of height, his superb reading of the game, unflappable nature and under-rated skill made him a fixture for Nigel Pearson, Nick Barmby and eventually Steve Bruce. Meanwhile, his Welsh mother enabled him to represent them at international level, and to date he’s turned out six times for his adopted country. He’ll always be remembered as an FA Cup Final goalscorer, as one of the finest players in the history of Hull City AFC and an all-round superb pro.
Another Man Utd youth product, Brady also made his City debut in 2011 on loan from Old Trafford. He was to have two loan spells at The Circle, during which he didn’t always convince. Remarkable as it may seem now, he was often seen as a lesser Cameron Stewart – abundently gifted but prone to poor decision making with a suspect workrate and a propensity towards greed. Nonetheless, City signed him permanently in 2013 and a refreshed attitude led to him finally harnessing those unquestioned abilities coupled with much greater maturity. International honours followed for the Republic of Ireland, with 13 caps and 3 goals to his name.
Both players represented the club well during their time here, and it’s hard to begrudge them the opportunity to remain in the Premier League following City’s relegation. We’ll miss them both, but it’s impossible not to wish them well.