Often Partisan

Grounds for hope?

Birmingham City yesterday confirmed Oldham defender Jonathan Grounds has agreed to sign for the club on a Bosman free transfer. 26-year-old Grounds can either play as a left back or a left-sided centre back and has signed a two-year deal at St Andrew’s which will begin on July 1.

Oldham had offered Grounds a new deal after a good season with the Boundary Park club ut the Thornaby-born full back rejected it to step up a division and become Blues first signing of the close season. Clark has worked with Grounds before when both were at Norwich; Grounds on loan from Middlesbrough while Clark was assistant manager at Carrow Road.

From what I’ve seen fans seem split on the signing of Grounds; for some it’s evidence that Blues are stuck with their current ownership and will continue to struggle while for others it’s evidence of investment into the club. From a personal point of view I think it proves neither; despite what is happening off the pitch the club has to carry on with what it has and new players have to be brought in; hence Clark has brought someone in that the club can afford that he thinks will be able to do a good job in the coming season.

I can’t realistically comment on Grounds as I’ve not seen him play; Oldham fans on the OWTB forum seem to think he’s solid and consistent and are unsurprised he’s stepped up a level. From reading their comments he appears to be good defensively but not as good going forwards; there are comments about having shaky distribution but a good cross and corner on him in set piece situations. I think we’ve lacked defensively at left back somewhat since Murphy’s injury – I like Mitch Hancox but he  has had injury problems and I think he’s better going forwards than he is defending and I think Blues need to be more solid in the backline.

The signing of Grounds also gives us a bit more cover at centre-back; I’m sure we will bring in a couple of proper centre-halves too (in addition to keeping Packwood) but I don’t think it hurts to have cover in what is a key position – I’m fairly sure Blues suffered as much as they did last season due to a lack of consistency in defensive positions.

With a bit of luck Blues will continue to add to the squad over the next few weeks even with all the ownership hokey-cokey going on around them; if Blues are to do better than avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth they will need to have the bulk of the squad sorted for pre-season training at the end of this month. I’m sure Clark has other irons in the fire but he needs backing from whoever to ensure that he can complete deals and get the squad into a healthier state.

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77 Responses to “Grounds for hope?”

  • EddieBirmingham says:

    Clark needs to know whether or not he has a job under the new owners or whether he keeps his best finds for his new position wherever that may be

    • Tony says:

      Yes its vital we get the management issue sorted ,the longer this saga drags on the more likely we are stuck with Clark.
      We dont want a situation where a new manager comes in and has to deal with Clarks buys something needs to happen fast new manager his choice of players.

      • tmsblues says:

        I agree and this all shows Bihl are getting themselves deeper in the doo doo ! They can’t assume the deal is done it could collapse. So they can’t give Clark a brief on how to proceed or confirm his future (as I guess new investors would want a change) and so they can’t promote st sales cos there ain’t going to be any amazin signings in their budgets just lower league freebies. Best hope on this signing front is that Ziggy and Burke re sign but I reckon they too are waitin for the ownership issue to be resolved then they’d sign on at 10 k+ add ons I guess cos they are both family happy in brum rather than the 5 on offer .!

      • Rob Field says:

        Current situation is – No new owners.
        Lee Clark has been told £5K a week max if we’re to believe what’s written in the B’Ham Mail. No transfer fees!!
        Lee Clark has his hands and feet completely tied. Most people would walk away from this sort of situation!!
        He’s doing his best of a bad lot I feel

      • Chris W says:

        No one can appoint or sack the manager until the ownership and overall control issue is sorted.
        I am not a great fan of LC but at least he is carrying on and doing something for BCFC, as someone pointed out most would have walked away before now, in fact didn’t both AM and CH make a quick exit.
        Maybe LC is not the best manager, but at the moment he is the best we have.
        KRO+DNM

        • Tony says:

          No Chris he will not walk he wants the pay slip at months end, and thats all .Do not confuse this guy with a football manager he is a clown, quicker he goes the better.

          • Chris W says:

            I know he won’t walk, he knows where his bread is buttered, at the moment he probably has the safest job in football and the longer the fiasco carries on the longer he will reign.
            KRO+DNM

          • Tony says:

            Chris no one ever said a truer word. Apart from myself who said it 18 months ago

          • Chris W says:

            I can’t remember that far back these days, missus reckons I struggle with 18 minutes, unless it is getting ready for the match or anything Blues.
            KRO+DNM

    • paule says:

      Tysley tip & he can take his rubbish with him.

    • beegeeblueboy says:

      We aren’t getting new owners.

  • dave mann says:

    maybe by getting grounds in though there was no fee involved is a sign that the new
    investors( sorry for calling them owners yesterday) may have faith in lee clark and
    gave him the ok to do the deal,…. i would personally start with clark this season comming and give him till xmas then if were struggling at the bottom having got a few players in over the summer then his times up and a new manager has to come in weather we all like lee or not because we cant be 12 mins from relegation again like
    last season..no way!!!! KRO.

    • Steve says:

      Only BIHl can give the ok.It,s nothing to do with any new owners that might be coming in.

  • Gary says:

    Nice to see blues bring a player in but it looks like nothing is going change concerning money and new owners I think it’s going to be a repeat of last season a relegation fight.

  • dave mann says:

    when i said 12 mins that was when the legend and man of the match nicola scored
    in the 78th min….we were actually 3 mins from league one… never again. KRO.

  • Luke Bowen says:

    Just looking back at ‘Summer 2014 Squad Analysis Pt 1′, I see this brings us to seven pro defenders (plus Jonathan Spector), if you include Nathaniel Kelly and assume WP signs up. In the worst-case scenario of no new owners, you could argue that Blues now have enough players to start the new season. Cue ‘The Great Escape’ soundtrack.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Dan;, Are we aware of contract talks with our ” existing players “.

  • Mineheadblue says:

    I think you’re spot on Dan. Clark has no choice but to continue to build and do his job until he/we know something different. I suppose the issue down the line if there is a new regime/manager is whether or not they fancy any signings made?

  • mark says:

    Brian farmer I personally not simpler with this player…abit before my time…rip

    • Steve says:

      I disagree with you Mark.

    • Luke Bowen says:

      I’m guessing you mean ‘not familiar’ with this player. Me neither (he’d retired from playing before I was born), but he played 118 times for Blues so a thank you to him and, as you say, RIP Brian Farmer.

      • Tony says:

        Farmer was unfortunate in that he was behind an England right back Jeff Hall and another good one in Ken Green

  • Steve says:

    They’re still doing due dilligance aren,t they?BIHL still own us.Clark has to carry on as if there is no change of ownership.If new owners come in,then hopefully there will be some money for a new manager to spend.

  • beegeeblueboy says:

    .

  • dave mann says:

    lee clarks record at blues, which his fair to say, is very poor to put it mildly but hes worked tirelesley, honourably and showed plenty of passion for the club and its fans
    in his time as manager under circumstances which have been disgracefull and down
    right laughable if it wasent so serious for all staff and fans alike…..weve got to be carefull what we wish for here because if theres gonna be a change weve got to get it right and get someone in with the same work ethic as lee but with greater knowledge of systens, formations and playing players in there natural positions………and a home
    win would be nice!!!!. KRO.

    • Peteflamingo says:

      well balanced comment Dave agree 100%

    • tmsblues says:

      Right all round Dave. Enthusiasm and a strong work ethics alone won’t make Clark a manager. Your final comments about systems, tactics, and positions are pretty fundamental skills a decent manager should possess. Even my sons Sunday league manager didn’t make the strange erratic and inconsistent choices undertaken by Clark. Surely a new investor will want to make clear statements of change at management and player levels otherwise we have to doubt their credentials too.

    • bluenoserob says:

      i agree with much of what you say Dave in the effort that LC has put in and the passion that he has shown, but the “with greater knowledge of systens, formations and playing players in there natural positions” is pretty much what football managers do , LC is a top bloke , but i think we need a better football manager . if nothing else we need to be able to start next season with a positive mind set , the last game against bolton will help with that , but the boost of a new manger is what we need IMO

    • Blooflame says:

      That LC is passionate is without question. As most have said, his decisions were strange throughout the season, Burke out for a large part so never had a good run, this was rewarded with a season poor rating! Indeed the vacillation in formations / tactics game to game showed desperation.”One swallow doesn’t make a Summer” so if it goes wrong after one game don’t change for changes sake. The only way to familiarise yourself with a technique,style or formation is to keep at it…drilling! Anxiety is infectious, soo his role is to Manage and have a calm manager as a Captain on the pitch.

  • tmsblues says:

    Think your review and commentary is about right but You’ve headlined it grounds for hope whereas I commented earlier it might be grounds for concern. First concern is that Clark is actually making decisions about the roster. Second that if the squad is to have a 5k wage cap then league 1 upgrades will be all that can be expected. Third is that this is just Bihl possibly giving a little crumb to the manager and more importantly a prompt to fans to encourage st sales. Fourth concern is if this is an indication of any new investors intentions to reinforce the squad it doesn’t appear that encouraging. Grounds is as far as we know a reasonable lower league full back but hardly a Marquee signing to get the season ticket sales throbbing. I suspect the st office is very quiet right now as so many supporters await news of what the future might hold on both the ownership and management fronts. We can’t be expected to sign up for another record breaking losing lottery of team selections by LC and neither can we be expected to have confidence in the player / squad budgets available from the current ownership! We need a commitment to reinforced foundations to replace the shaky grounds we currently occupy.

  • edd77 says:

    We can speculate about owner change manager change etc, but yesterday was the 1st reality of the summer, signing Jonathan grounds nice to see a player with a good age 26 good height and with something to prove to himself and bcfc, not some kid who comes from the prem on loan whos not that bothered with our club ,so I for 1 wish him all the best!

  • dave mann says:

    fair enough if you know so. KRO.

  • dave mann says:

    cheers peteflamingo. KRO.LOL.

  • dave mann says:

    cheers tmsblues. KRO. LOL.

  • ian says:

    i don’t think lee clarke can be judged,
    it puts me in mind of the lou macari era,
    we actually tried to play some half decent football, but
    as most of the fans had more money in their pockets than
    macari had to spend in transfers, it was impossible to judge.
    now compare last seasons squad to chelsea,
    how would the special one cope, if
    chec, terry cahill,cole, lampard, hazzard were all sold and not replaced.
    now i am not saying butland, murphy, burn, bartley, redmond and mutch
    are in the same league as those above, but the impact on the squad is the same.
    if you replace the spine of any team with loan signings, it is a disaster waiting to happen, if those loans signings are recalled early, doubly so.

  • dave mann says:

    a little of the point here but anybody that went to bolton and witnessed what only can be described as one of the proudest momments ive ever been as a blues fan and that incredible support from the fans makes me privelidged to be associated with this great club of ours……how any new potential new owners could not be impressed with the
    fan base this club can attract and the volume of noise that day generated with peakys everywhere is beyond comparisson…….it was trully remarkable…we just need an owner and a team that deserves the great support our away fans in particular give
    on there travels….lets start making a noise at st. andrews and maybe next season may not be as bad as what some of us might think. KRO.

    • Tony says:

      Agree Dave was inspiring ,unlike that Bolton goal Randolph let in at his near post and through his legs annnd he was one of our supposed gems.

      • mark says:

        what about all his inspiring and shunning saves he;s made throughout the season, obviously you did not manage to go too many games then Tony?…..you only pick up on grafs..so he made a individual mistake obviously you never made one by all accounts..no surprises there…
        imo he will get better with a more solid defense line in front of him..i think his understanding with burns and bartley was spot on….As for a gem done alright for me and the team kro….

      • Small Heath Blue says:

        Surprise Surprise, more negatives from Tony. You really are a sad man.

      • Pete says:

        You talk rubbish. Name the best keeper you have seen down Blues and name a game where he did not make a mistake. Randolph played over 40 games and by my reckoning had 3 games where he made any errors. We would have been relegated had not been for his performances.

        • Chris W says:

          All keepers make errors as do all players, keepers errors usually end in the back of the net.
          I believe Randolph had a good 1st season for blues and saved us on more than on occasion with some fine saves and 3 or 4 man of the match performances. I do think he was responsible for some very soft goals and needs to improve on a couple of areas, his ability to come and punch on crosses and his positional stances and wall building for free-kicks.
          If I had been Clark I would have probably given Doyle a run, it worked with out players who were deemed to have put in a poor performance.
          I think Randolph will be better this season, but they say a keeper is only as good as his defence and he was left somewhat exposed in the second half of the season.
          KRO+DNM

        • Tony says:

          You need reliability in a keeper someone who keeps mistakes to a minimum, he came from the Scots league and it shows we need a better keeper. To be beaten at your near post is unforgivable if its through your legs oh dear. He would not do for the premiership

          • Pete says:

            What rubbish. Schmeichal, Shilton, Hart, Seaman are all great keepers who have made mistakes of letting in at their near post. Clearly they are unforgivable and not up to scratch.
            What difference does the league he came from matter, so long as he is good enough. And as you say keeping mistakes to a minimum- 3 games he made an error in over 40.
            Finally, get your head out of the clouds. We might need a better keeper for the prem but we are not there or anywhere near are we!

          • Tony says:

            Pete there are quite a few aspects to being a good keeper ie command of your area, knowing when to come for a ball and when to stay on your line, lining up your wall, distribution of the ball. With respects Randolph fails on all these qualities.
            He is an average shot stopper thats all, shot stopping is in many ways the easiest part of keeping.

          • Pete says:

            All different points you are now making to the one made before. So now letting in a goal at your near post is not a sin? Now you recognise that we are not a prem side? Now you recognise he was generally reliable last season with only 3 poor games?
            In addition to this I have not seen any issues with his coming off his line, something that Doyle and Butland were both poor at with us, and his kicking is far better than that of Joe Hart. You know the goalkeeper for England…. ? Lining up his wall has been a problem, when? Also, Tony please try to stop sounding like a top pundit…. or it could be argued that you are just unknowledgeable and blame goals conceded on the keeper with no real foundations, and cannot understand the quality of defence he had protecting him.

          • Tony says:

            All parts of goalkeeping Pete old bean in addition to the points i have previously raised he was all to often caught in no mans land. May i refer you on any future comments on this topic to Chris who has played the position to a reasonably high standard.

          • Pete says:

            Tony- Again completely avoiding points made. I will agree to disagree. However my points to Chris W are about to be noted.

          • Chris W says:

            I played keeper for a good number of years up to semi pro level, I benefited from some coaching from a former Blues keeper. I too have criticised Randolph on occasions, as you mention he has failed in certain areas.
            I recall at least three goals direct from free kicks questioning his positioning with relation to the wall.
            Many keepers position themselves to bluff a player to put the ball where they want, it can make the keeper look good when it works. If it fails, you look a complete idiot to put it mildly. Randolph needs to work on these areas. English football is more about technicality than Scottish, the same with his command of the box, at times he really flapped at crosses. Shot stopping, he is very good but does seem to spill too many shots that puts him under undue pressure too.
            KRO+DNM

          • Pete says:

            No offence, but a semi-pro keeper means not good enough to play at the level of Randolph, so I am not going to bow down to this knowledge. I have mentioned, yes, that he let in 3 bad goals. He also made the point that all good keepers have had errors. Seaman, Schmechial have made them. Jack Butland never came off his line and Joe Hart could not kick right. According to you he can not do anything, and the one thing you give him praise for you manage to still slag him off. I do not understand why you do not get down there and you can take your semi-pro experience to help improve him or maybe even get a game yourself…. Sorry, but it seems some people just want to slate him rather than recognise he was playing behind absolute dross and he had no idea what his centre halves were going to do, and he had no consistency in front of him.

          • Chris W says:

            No offence taken and I don’t profess to be as good or in the same league than Darren Randolph.
            I merely pointed out that he needs to work on his walls and positional sense. I wish I had had the benefit of video replays and look at my positioning at times. You recall a game from memory and analyse each goal in your head, I hated coach journeys after conceding goals and even more so when losing.
            Darren came down from Scottish football which is slower and a lot less technical than English Football.
            He had some exceptional games, made some world class saves, and as every keeper before him, made some howlers.
            I am actually looking forward to watching him this season, I do study that position more than others. Darren knows his weaknesses and will work on them, the transition period is over, he will be settled in the area and can concentrate on his development.
            A keeper is as good as his defence, lets face it he had to work with so many different players in front of him that it would be hard to form an understanding, you could see the benefits when Burn/Bartley/Randolph were settled and setting up for set pieces.
            It will have made him a better and stronger keeper but he will need to work with a settled and regular back line, whether it is three or four in front of him.
            KRO+DNM

  • Thongs says:

    Grounds for Hope? I’d rather we had the embargo back than sign this sort of dross!

    • Small Heath Blue says:

      Really! Great supporter you are mate, bet you boo our players too!

      • Art says:

        Are you The Voice of Reason in disguise?

        • mark says:

          No I don’t think he is art..I am sure SHB is his own man.but he right though..fickle fans never give up moaning….

          • Pete says:

            Agree with Small Heath Blue- how can you really support a player in such a negative way when he has not even kicked a ball for us. As for wanting a transfer embargo- pure stupidity. I am not one who liked Voice of Reasons stupid wind ups, but this is the same stupid bashing OF OUR OWN PLAYERS.

          • mark says:

            agreed pete some really nonsense negativity……

        • Small Heath Blue says:

          Does it matter wtf I am Art, do you think it’s acceptable describing a new signing as dross before he’s kicked a ball?

          • Geoff S says:

            I think you’ve made a very valid point there, Small Heath Blue.

          • Art says:

            No I don’t think its acceptable and if you cast back to any of my posts I have never critised the players.The manager is responsible and accountable for the team and frankly he’s just not good enough in this league.I also think its pointless to have any further debate about Clark because under new owners he will be fired.There is no way they will trust Clark with transfer money or to lead a team out of this difficult division.

          • mark says:

            why is it pointless art debating Clark he’s our manager……
            admit it you been rumbled the player not kick a ball…..
            your still bitter because Clark not gone, and is continuing to have influence over players coming and going……….and still it not to your satisfaction…..he still here…well get over it and support the boys…..kro you got me going there art they are new investors shame that…………

          • paule says:

            Well said Art, i agree we shouldn’t knock our players & that Clark is jointly accountable for the rubbish we have watched the last 2 seasons, I’ve read posts about these so called Gems he’s picked up, where are they & why are bigger clubs not coming in for them? What he has got is a set of players that give 100% but most of them lack the quality for this division, Clark has worked with very little help from our owners & that hasn’t helped but has done himself no favours with his poor decision making & poor managerial knowledge, personally I think we need a clean sweep bihl out & Clark out then we can move forward.

  • Raymondo says:

    Correct me If I’m wrong by all means, but doesn’t the transfer market open on 9th June? If so we have less than a week to get this “due diligence” sorted and something starting to happen. It must be quicker to watch grass grow!

  • Brian Kenwrick says:

    I really hope LC can get some good group of freebies in, I dont care who they are so long as they can give 100% and keep the club a couple of places above safety.
    In my opinion it is going to be some time before we see any proper investment into the playing side due to the sale of the club being implemented in the way it is,
    I also worry that once that 25% is sold that something will go wrong, either BIHL and the new guys fall out, or the new guys lose their backers – because no matter how difficult you think the sale is now it would be 100% more difficult with two sets of owners trying to sell.

  • mark says:

    Hang on a minute we just going to buy a striker for 10mil one from the world cup ,25 goals a season for the next two years….oh gosh better get down the stans must buy my ticket…..I love the blues, the greatest team in the world, how. I love the blues when we spent millions, players can be on as much as they like…….come let’s be real……support the blues

  • AussieBlue says:

    Dan, Have I been put on a watch list for moderation or are you moderating all comments now? No problem mate – it’s your site; just wanted to know.

  • AussieBlue says:

    If your algorhytms are picking up keywords and flagging comments for moderation; I’ll bet it was the mention of ‘Bovril’. Promise I won’t use this heinous word again ;-) [actually I'll bet it was Ess Tees]

  • mark says:

    what i like about Clark he is possibly getting in players who can play in several or more positions. Grounds scored 3 goals from CH. IMO i believe football has moved on tremendously thereby players should adapt to doing different roles… which Novak did well to good effect once he settled in the team…….

  • Andy W says:

    So, we are a week further into the process since the announcement of the ‘bidders’, and we are still no clearer. LC has to continue to do what he’s doing whilst still being in the dark about his own and the teams future. I too cannot comment on Jonathon Grounds as I’ve never really heard of him let alone seen him play, but until anything changes, this is once again an indication of the reality that we find ourselves in? I wonder what information about our financial forecast for the season has been passed to the Football League? Wasn’t that due on 31st May? Seems to me that no-one publicly connected to the club at this point has any money?

  • Chris W says:

    It is obvious that LC is carrying on where he left off, he knows we need to strengthen the defence and has bought in a left sided defender who can also play CH, might not be a Louis or Terry, but it is a start.
    Just remember that LC is working as much in the dark as we are, he is still operating under strict financial constraints. He is not even sure he will be there come August but is carrying on for the club.
    KRO+DNM


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