Often Partisan

Defensive Cover

Since the collapse of the signing of Rob Kiernan a few weeks back, Birmingham City have not brought in any defenders to strengthen their back line. Although Blues go into the season with four seasoned centre-backs, there are concerns among some sections of fans with respect to David Edgar, Jonathan Spector and Paul Robinson being up to the task.

I have to admit, I can understand the reason people think Blues need to strengthen. Taking the subjectivity out of the equation and not discussing player quality, each player has a concern hanging over their head.

Spector has not played more than thirty games in the last three seasons as a succession of injuries have hampered his Blues career; indeed, the Chris Hughton season was the only season in his career where Spector has managed more than 31 appearances.

Paul Robinson has been far less prone to injuries and even managed to cut down the number of yellow cards he was picking up last season but his age is definitely a factor; at 37 he’s no spring chicken and I for one doubt he’s going to be a first choice for many games.

David Edgar spent the second half of last season bombed out on loan at Huddersfield and while Gary Rowett has proclaimed a clean slate for all players I’m curious as to how the Canadian will fit back into plans. It’s reported that Edgar sees himself more as a defensive midfielder than as a defender and I can’t imagine that being forcibly played out of position (at least in his own mind) is going to be conducive to him performing at his peak.

What worries me more however is the lack of backup. There are no u21 defenders with any experience at all; both Nat Kelly and James Fry were released at the end of last season meaning first year pros like Wes Harding would have to step up – which would be a big ask. Jonathan Grounds could move across from left-back but we don’t really have cover there after Mitch Hancox either.

What I’d like to see Blues doing is bringing in a young centre-back in the same sort of spirit as Alex Jones; someone who is maybe a bit raw, maybe with a point to prove but also isn’t a rookie first year pro – someone who at 20 or 21 has matured a bit and maybe already spent some time out on loan.

I’d envisage them playing mainly development squad games but also training with the first team so that when injuries and suspension hits they’re ready as cover on the bench. I really don’t want Blues to loan in someone to do this because I think Blues need to develop their own players; and I can’t see Premier League teams being happy to watch their players sit on the bench and play for our u21s either.

Whether this will happen remains to be seen; there is still nearly a month left of the transfer window and plenty of time for Blues to find someone to help build defensive cover. While Rowett hasn’t said for sure that he will bring anyone else in, he’s not said he won’t either and I hope he’d see longer term sense in bringing some young blood in rather than “another body” or a loanee.

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89 Responses to “Defensive Cover”

  • fingles says:

    This is a real concern.If Morisson gets injured or suspended we are really in it.

    • Andrew says:

      ive been moaning about this all summer long, I personally think we need no less than two centre backs to be honest, if like you say we lose morrison we have nobody. We need one centre back as it is to partner morrison as i think you can write edgar off (could be proven wrong) i wouldnt play specter there at all as good as he is and dont get me started on paul robinson. That team is still weak and will leak goals before you even worry about strikers scoring them! no team gets good league positions conceding 2 goals a game.

  • Dave Mann says:

    If it’s not Edgar and Spector then bring in grounds along side Morrison and put Hancox at left back or bring Wes Harding in, not likely as it’s not been used in friendlies so the only alternative is to go out and get a left footed centre half in , sounds the obvious choice to me. Kro

  • Kav says:

    Personally I’m comfortable with what we have at the back then I am strikers, if Donaldson gets injured the thought of Novak trying to fill that loan striker role doesn’t fill me with optimism! We are very light up front and need someone who can hold the ball up if we are to make any impact this season.

    • Bluenosesol says:

      Hi Kav, defence were woeful against Leicester, not sure why you don’t see a problem there?

  • Alex says:

    Is Shane Lowry still a possibility?

  • Tony E says:

    Was surprised we didn’t show an interest in Tom Thorpe who has signed for Rotherham, so wouldn’t be on a big contract. Although he had rough edges I think he could be a decent player. Wasn’t great for us before, but that was in a team performing without any confidence. Think we may live to regret that one.

  • KRO says:

    Super Josh Martin too the rescue!…. In all seriousness though i am surprised we did not go in for Tom Thorpe before Rotherham snapped him up. He would have ticked all the boxes for me . I feel we are set to deal with very short term injuries or a couple of suspensions but a long term injury to Morrison could be disastrous.

  • andy says:

    Blues do need to bring in a decent centre half, I like most supporters, am concerned about the defence, the left side of the defence is weak and must be addressed.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    It’s quite clear that we need another dominant centre back, one who can give us 35-40 games this season.My main concern is that we’ll ship goals in the first 3 or 4 games and be playing catch up as usual.. but I feel it will be a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

    • Bluenosesol says:

      My thoughts exactly Staffs. I am hoping to be surprised by a good performance against Reading but the signs are not good.

  • Fletch says:

    We need another top striker or we will go down,……Wilson from Man Utd on loan ?

    • KRO says:

      Out of our league mate, not to mention united do not have enough centre forwards to let him go.. Kind of gutted we did not bag a loan for for Chuba Akpom (Arsenal, looks like he will go on loan to hull) or Isaiah Brown (Chelsea, loaned to Vitesse). Both good young strikers and the latter would most likely have been a year-long freebie under the assumption he gets some game time… Maybe next year once Novak & Thomas are out of contract.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Fletch , I don’t think we’re go down with what we have now no way but your entitled to your opinion and only time will tell! Kro

  • Mitchell says:

    GR I feel has Was Harding up his sleeve. He took him to Marbella and reports suggest he is a future cult figure at Blues in the mould of John Terry. Wes is quick, brave and intelligent with ball distribution. Also a danger at set pieces. So I am not too concerned about an extra body for CH spot. Once Harding gets in he will be hard to oust. It’s the one up front that worries me and possible dire form of Don. I just feel we need a Phillips and a Don. Easy to wish I accept-just finding one is the key.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      It’s quite possible that 3-5-2 could be the answer to a lot of our problems… but it’s a bit too late to switch now. It’s probably going to be 4-2-3-1 as always.

    • Carl says:

      Mitchell – thats a good call saw Harding at Nuneaton and granted it was only nuneaton but he was dominant tall and quick could like you say be a cult hero who knows ……. i for one am optimistic and a top half finish is well within this teams grasp.

  • StevieW says:

    Forget the defence I think that can sort itself out.

    We are about to go to war without a gun and what I saw of Donaldson on Saturday I am not sure he is at the races. Please prove me wrong but unless we get another good striker in we are well in the mire.

  • Tony says:

    Still concerned about the lack of spending, its obvious what we need and Rowett should go out and get it for me its a left back and a striker.
    Wolves have snapped up La Fondre, where were we?.

    • atko says:

      How much money do you think we have available? Lack of spending? You do realize the state of the club right now? Whilst things are improving behind the scenes we have secured the better players of the squad plus brought in a handful of players too. Securing the players we have are like new signings in that I am sure they will be on increased terms so that’s more money we have shelled out as well as those brought in. I think we have done really well this Summer but there has to be a line drawn somewhere.

      I don’t see the point in bringing in players for the sake of it unless they improve the squad & unlike many fans out there, for me, just picking a name out that’s available is meaningless as they have to fit in to our style of player as well as be a better class of player than we have. The style of player is just as important otherwise they are useless to us! Likewise spending all the budget now then heaven forbid we pick up a long term injury in the season which requires a replacement. I think enough is enough, any players coming in now, I see as a loan maybe with a view to signing if they turn out okay. That’s the only way we will get someone to strengthen both the defence & up front.

    • Adam True Blue says:

      Tony, Perhaps La Fondre didn’t appear in GR’s plans and he has other signings on the horizon that he feels will fit in with the team we have!! Kro

  • Chris allen says:

    At the risk of being slated here. I would play spector at the back.we would still have robbo and Edgar as cover. I was at the game against leicester and thought spector was decent . I get what is being said about lack of games etc but we could still sign a centre half in Jan if things were desperate but I think we’d be ok until then . Kro.

    • Tony says:

      Agree Spector can play at the back, people forget he’s a premiership, player plenty of experience he will do for me. What is more concerning is a left back a Mark Dennis type would do nicely

    • Billy Gavin says:

      By January the bird could have flown the coop and we would be struggling against religion .need to sort it now ASAP.

  • Waycoolblue says:

    Was Harding is more than capable of providing cover . Shane Lowry could still be an option as wall.
    He is till available as far as I know.

  • blue says:

    what position does Edgar play in for Canada?

    You’d have thought 1st team football was more important than in what position he plays,if only to maintain his sharpness for international duty. especially if in a successful partnership at the back. seems unusual not to at least give it a go.

  • andy says:

    Donaldson has not looked at the races in any pre season game I have seen but I am sure he will show up this coming season, he is vital to Blues’ play whether scoring goals or not.

  • Quokkasskip says:

    Tom Thorpe….,, ha ha ha ha.

    Did you see him play. All I will say is that I think Blackett was better than him. Enough said.

    Spector is a really good championship player, but is brittle.

    Would love a big bruising CB to partner Morrison, but so would ever other champ club. Agree a young buck with development prospects would be good, but again don’t grow on trees. Think that was the idea with Kienan.

    As for ip front. The Don never gets injured and we are skinted. He will have to do( and was amazing last year)

  • Tony says:

    Donaldson’s game is based on running and hard work, he does a good job but he will tire, leading the line on his own would be soul destroying for the reason we need a partner for him and play 442 in my opinion.

  • KC says:

    Personally I think at times we have looked defensively very suspect across the whole back four in the friendly games. We know Caddis has his defensive limitations but makes up for it in his all round game, Morisson cannot do it all by himself, and we seem so easy to expose down our left hand side. With regard to the attack Thomas and Novak contributed nothing last season and in a perfect world they should be replaced. it would be a shame to see the attacking skills from Gray and Cotterill wasted assuming Cotts is on top of his game. Hopefully the new guy from Sheffield Wednesday can make a meaningful contribution and the timing must be right for Arthur to make a break through. Donaldson needs to be at his very best that he demonstrated under GR rather than his previous inconsistency and even with his goal tally misses some sitters. The modern football 10 role is so important for Blues. Fabbrini was superb and I hope the new guy from Arsenal can fill that role as Shinnie needs to add add a lot more impact and again consistency in to his game. However when it all comes together Saturday…….. KRO

    • atko says:

      Consistency is the problem across the whole team. In your post you have picked out certain players & mentioned about their consistency yet what you have listed is half the team. That’s the main problem with Blues, we need to show more consistency. We know that players like Shinnie, Cotterill, Gray & even Donaldson himself can do a good job but they lack consistency. Even Donaldson himself went off the boil towards the end, although I suspect he was probably burnt out! There has been talk of us pushing for the playoffs this year but that is a definite non starter! Why? Because assuming we get the best from Donaldson again this season, he will end up burnt out towards the end of the season again & that will be when we WOULD need him towards the run in to maintain any kind of chance. We haven’t really anyone for cover. At best we can expect similar to last season if we get a good run going.

  • Kingstanding Maximums says:

    Centre forward is a priority I feel. If Donaldson takes a knock or off form we are snookered. We need to offload Novak and Thomas and bring in someone who is more of a threat in the box and to take the pressure off Donaldson.

  • andy says:

    Just remember GR has been praising Novak during pre season and he is the perfect answer if Donaldson gets injured

  • Kingstanding Maximums says:

    Andy. I have seen Novak all pre-season and the last 2 seasons and he is not the answer to fill in with all due respect. There has to be better and there is better out there. He has very limited ability, no goal threat, also the same can be said about Thomas. They have served the club well but I feel that we are a couple of notches above the Lee Clarke era now, so releasing them and there wage bill would enable us to get a genuine centre forward in.

  • andy says:

    Well whilst under contract, Thomas and Novak will not be going anywhere unless someone wants to buy them.

  • Kingstanding Maximums says:

    That’s what I am saying. They should be sold, even if for small nominal fees it is still money in the club, wages off the bill to be used for better player/ players.

  • Blues fan says:

    Gary Rowett done a fantastic job last season but if he doesn’t bring a central defender in and a striker he obviously needs his head seeing to all of our defenders apart from Morrison are very suspect and just not good enough if he thinks they are then he’s not the manager we think he is or blues are in a worse state than we think.

    • atko says:

      He has obviously seen enough from the players to put his trust in them. The problem is they have to put that in to practice on the pitch. It’s not that players cannot do the job, All the Blues back four can do the job, Caddis, Morrison, Spector, Grounds can all play in that back four & do a good job. As can Edgar, Robinson when called on. What is the main problem is a lack of consistency not capabilities. Often it is one moment of lack of concentration that results in us conceding a soft goal. Of the initial four, the only suspect one is Spector from a fitness point of view. I think this is a big season for him because he needs to step up or he will be out the door. Players need to be available, they are no good on the treatment table & I’m sure GR has no room for sentiment.

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        As Bruce and McLeish said, you have to have defenders you can trust. Trust to concentrate for 90 minutes; trust not to make unforced errors; trust to shackle their marker. It looks like only Morrison fits the bill. While the other three are there the play-offs won’t be reached.

  • Tmsblues says:

    I think cover at cb is there one way or another using Spector Edgar or Grounds but whichever they need time to work alongside one another to cement a playing partnership.
    A striker is a priority for me and even though under contract Thomas and Novak won’t be earning so big that other clubs wouldn’t take them if needs be on loan for shared wages that should give us 5 k start towards a decent 10k per week striker.
    I realise Donaldson was everyone’s player of the season but I think they are too easily impressed by his tireless work rate. He is not that skilled, is easily dominated in the air by half decent centre backs and misses loads of opportunities. I think we should have let him go at £1m + but instead we have given him a rise, and made him comfortable till the age of 34. Already in pre season he is showing signs of his comfort and looks out of form or less interested and hungry.
    I really hope I am wrong but if the don does fall short then we have nothing to replace him at present.

    • pete says:

      Preseason ie meaningless. Tells you nothing. Judge him after half a dozen games before questions attitude. Some people can’t be pleased, if we had sold him for £1m we would have been criticising just as fans would had they let his Contract expire.

    • Adam True Blue says:

      Donaldson was our player of the year not because he was outstanding but because he performed better than the rest of the team, if they all put in the same effort that Donaldson did, then we would be a much better team all round and that would provide more opportunities for Donaldson to be on goal, instead of wasted by the time he got to striking distance. Kro

    • BhamCityJulian says:

      Re: Donaldson you may well be right. Being dropped might be the wake up call he needs.

  • Blue Steve says:

    We have quite a few players who are not even close to the first XI namely

    Eardley
    Robinson
    Edgar
    Hancox
    Thomas
    Novak

    It would be great if some of these left but the truth is nobody wants them even for free. They would not want to leave to be on a contract where they earn less money than then do right now (to be fair who would!) But that leaves us with 6 player earning good wages that aren’t really going to compete for a first team place which is a shame for the club as that money could go on players who could make a difference.

    • Dave Mann says:

      Nobody wants them mate. Kro

      • pete says:

        If we lose grounds Robinson or Hancock would not get a look in? Edgar or Robinson are not back up for suspensions or injury? Likewise what I’d something happens to Donaldson? Can’t say I would not like stronger playerws here but they are valued squad players who have a part to play. It us not about a first 11 and nobody else.. .

  • I feel that if we had started with the most likely starting team from the off with tweaks we fans would have seen the weaknesses a lot earlier , and perhaps problems would have been solved.

  • KC says:

    I think the view on Thomas and Novak is pretty well accepted. I’m sure GR is aware and would never have brought either of them in but hands now tied by contracts. Novak against West Brom in the cup said it all. Hope the lad from Sheffield Wednesday makes a meaningful impact ?

  • Tom says:

    People moaning about Hancox his crossing ability is excellent, Novak and Thomas are decent.. Edgar isn’t to bad if he wishes to play CB! I’m not worrying believe in Rowett there will be more signings

  • JTF says:

    I heard that we might be in for Jake Buxton at CB from Derby Co, if we could get him I think it would be fantastic, He gives 100% a proper no fuss get on with it player and can get the odd goal. I’d drive Bucko to the ground to sign.

  • Mitchell says:

    Taking just a few seconds to reflect. Isn’t it refreshing to debate the positional pros and cons of our team, when only February/March we were only discussing the thought of possible points deduction and the dire need to get those extra 10points more than Millwall and Wigan. Had EY failed and our manager cherry picked by another club we would be debating an entirely different scenario. We are at a decent state now and a couple of good additional players would please us all-no more than me, but with Panos/EY/GR and of course TTA we are indebted and shouldn’t be forgotten. Just the occasional reflection if only for a few moments is important.

  • Dave Mann says:

    We’re talking about football again and it’s a lot more entertaining than talking about the owners and the off pitch antics , lovely jubbly . Kro

  • ian h says:

    Talking about centre halves, it has gone quiet on the Buxton rumours. Could see him fitting in well along side Morriston. There was talk rowett was looking at him and Derby have since signed shackle from Burnley. Give me more confidence than starting with spector

    • almajir says:

      I don’t think he was ever a target – I think it was just rumours, nothing more.

      • Carl says:

        Dan – i live in Woodville Derbys and the consensus of the Derby fans was GR was after Buxton and he would love to come…. but equally rumours do go round this way too lol.

  • As I have said before football is a game of two ends , you stop goals at one end and score goals at the other , with a strong spine, which is what pavlakis has been telling us he is going to strengthen,and yet the two most weakest areas are the most important , in front of the goals ,

  • swissjonny says:

    I am concerned that without a new centre back and a goal scorer we could be up against it.We need need to act now else I fear a few disappointing early results and the usual panic stations.With a good start and St Andrews rocking we could impress.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Rowett has stated that he’s quite happy with the defenders at his disposal. I wish I shared his confidence. I’m trustingt he knows something we don’t know… but at this moment in time, I can’t for the life of me think what it might be. I hope he proves us all wrong and we get off to a flier.

  • Blue lizard says:

    Agree that the defence looks like it will leak goals and that upfront we wont be ripping up trees! We were told a few back that we would be surprised at the quality of players being bought in? well 2 dodgy keepers replacing 2 dodgy keepers,a bloke who was playing for Sheff Wed reserves because he couldn’t get a game in the first 11 and a Dutch bloke who it’s going to cost a fortune to have his name put on a shirt (seems quite good) is hardly surprising me or inspiring confidence…maybe the boss thought more of the TTA money was coming his way ?who knows? but as said a rocking Stans is worth an extra man, but a couple of defeats and the ground goes like everyone is shi**ing themselves which spreads to the pitch…looks like it’s loans from here on in.
    KRO

  • Dave Mann says:

    I’ve got a feeling that rowett thinks that Wes Harding can make that centre half position is own this season and move up to the plate , Spector is favourite at the moment but Harding looks like he’s worth a shot for me so maybe our manager as something up his sleeve and if it comes off we will all lord him and say what a manager but if it doesent…. Then it’s back to the loan market . Kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      If that was the case Dave, wouldn’t he have taken a bigger part in the friendlies? He might get the odd bench-warming chance, but I’d be surprised if he took a bigger part than that. It would be nice for another one of our own to come through though.

  • Ian Smith says:

    I think we are over looking Edger and Spector. Both are very experianced and internationals. We do not have the funds to bring anyone else in so I would treat Edger like a new signing and give him a crack. Spector is versitile and has a good footballing head. Eardly and Caddis are the RB and Grounds and Hancox at the LB’s. With the young lads we have the cover. Stop panicking. Rowett knows. It is up front we have problems.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    We have problems up front really, because of the way Rowett plays. To be fair to Novak and Thomas, It’s basically Donaldson or no one. Novak is decent at what he does. He isn’t a main goalscorer.. never was. Thomas, as we all know, frightens defences with his pace. But neither of those are ‘one-up-front’ type of players. In a two-up-top, I think both could be useful to us, but it ain’t gonna happen, so they’re of no real value in the system we play. I’m not sure an out-and-out goalscorer (in the vein of ALF) would be much use in our system, so, what we need is another player like Donaldson. Whether that could be Mlapa, God only knows.. or someone like Matt Smith.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Edgar could well be the answer to our problems, but it depends on a) where his head is at concerning his preferred position and b) whether Rowett and him have kissed and made up. If both those things are positive, the CB position is sorted.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    F/T: Blues 4-1 Tottenham |Hotspur (Davis 51, Robinson 53, Toral 55, Thomas 81)

    Legzdins; Eardley, Edgar, Robinson, Hancox; Brown, Davis; Maghoma, Toral, Arthur; Thomas. Subs: Trueman, Harding, Bernard, Solomon-Otabor, Cooper, Jones.

    • Geoff S says:

      Staffs.

      The report on the club website claimed Jon Toral scored a hat-trick in that match. Who cares who scored ’em? What a good result (even if it was against a largely U21 Tottenham side)!

      You made the point recently about when the new squad numbers would be announced. It seems Gary Rowett likes to leave things as late as possible (unless I have missed something).

      • StaffsBlue says:

        Apparently, they’ll be announced tomorrow. Rowett comes across as a ‘little bit’ of a ditherer tbh. Signings, the captaincy.. now squad numbers. It would be nice if he could be a ‘little bit’ more decisive.

  • Dave Mann says:

    It seems to me that our second 11 have done better than our first 11 in these friendlies , just makes picking Saturdays team a bit more of a dilemma me thinks!! Kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I would be very surprised if there are any shocks in selection. We could probably all pick 9 or 10 of the team for Saturday.. and we wouldn’t be far wrong I don’t think.

  • Foledog says:

    Paddy McNair

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Sounds like Toral has just played himself into the first XI for Saturday and Thomas will replace Donaldson for the Rovers game

  • Jazzzy786 says:

    I don’t share your concern over Harding making the step up Big, powerful , pacy and good in the air. He should be in first team alongside Morrison now. Spector has looked good pre season but Edgar and Robbo don’t fill me with confidence. I hope Koby is given a decent crack at no 10 role. He looked really good there versus Benfica.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Gavin Gunning has signed a short-term deal at Oldham. I wish him well and hope he gets a fair crack at it.


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