Often Partisan

Victims of Our Own Success?

With just under two weeks until the transfer window shuts for the summer on September 1, Gary Rowett is now battling against the clock to bring in the two signings he wants to complete his squad for the Championship season.

It’s been a tough transfer window – we’ve seen Blues lose out on various targets after what felt like prolonged chases – but the signings we have seen come in to the club have in the main impressed in their first couple of games. There has clearly been a lot of work done on finding the right targets to bring in with emphasis on ensuring that they are the right players to fit into the tactical system employed rather than just “good” players.

One thing that struck me recently is how Blues might actually be victims of their own success. As an example, last season Blues ended up pushing for and finishing in high mid-table after a very rocky start. During that season Blues loaned players from other Championship clubs that added to the squad and gave impetus to push the club further up the table.

However – this season is a different proposition. There is a hope – if not an expectation – that Blues will be challenging at the right end of the table. All of a sudden other teams in the Championship will be more wary of Blues and the threat they pose in the race for the playoffs. Is it possible that because of that chance of additional rivalry for points other clubs in the Championship are less inclined to do business with Blues on anything but tough terms because they don’t want or need the additional threat?

For example – is it possible that Forest held back on Robert Tesche for reasons including that they didn’t want to do a deal that would help another team to fight them for a top six slot? Are Championship clubs asking for premium prices for players now because it’s no longer “troubled Birmingham City?” Prices in the Championship have grown ridiculous this season – Bristol City have had a bid of nine million pounds accepted for Andre Gray from Brentford while that same club managed to get 3.5million for Moses Odubajo from Hull City – and Blues cannot compete with these sorts of prices.

The options for Blues if they’re not going to shop in the Championship are three-fold. The first option is to look for the cream of League One – but even that might be rich for Blues’ blood. Teenage defender Mason Holgate moved to Everton from Barnsley for a fee reported in the region of 2million; striker Eoin Doyle went from Chesterfield to Cardiff for three-quarters of a million – neither fee a price I could see Blues playing.

The second option is to loan from the Premier League – a tried and tested route for Blues in the past and the source of one player already this window in Jon Toral. The loan route can be a very useful one for Blues but it comes with additional issues – whether a player will be recalled midway through a season; whether a player is worth bringing in only to be developed for another club – and whether a Premier League club will hang on until after the end of the summer window before allowing players to go out on loan as they need to sort out their own 25 man squads.

The third option is to look to the continent and it’s this one I think we’ll see more usage of. Despite not having a dedicated European scouting network Blues have been looking at the European market, taking Maikel Kieftenbeld from Groningen a few weeks back, and looking at German defender Emmanuel Mbende and German striker Peniel Mlapa on trial in the last few weeks. There are risks with buying abroad – how well a player will fit into English conditions being chief among them – but with the Euro being weaker of late there are options for bargains and if the right work has been done we could see more of this happen in the next two weeks.

One thing is for sure – these are all new challenges and issues for Rowett and it’s a test of his management skills as to how he meets them. I believe he can do it – that he can continue to improve Blues and take us up a notch again in the Championship but time is running out and I hope he is given all the help he needs to ensure he can complete the squad building process.

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48 Responses to “Victims of Our Own Success?”

  • Jamie says:

    Good article, I believe we need to work out on the defence, especially set-piece
    Gary is doing great
    I think we are in a better financial position

  • Walker says:

    Did anyone see the under 21’s game yeserday. If so did the guy deserve 2 yellow cards.

    I know you tube make the crapest player look like messi but he looks useful and could become a beat with morrison. tall, quick and powerful. I think he would fit in at championshp level

  • Mitchell says:

    Feet on the ground comes to mind Daniel on this.I for one will be grateful for survival this season as never before has so many ex prem.teams littered the Championship. All with huge parachute payments. To me there is no thin line in this division-more money you put into your first 11/17 then the top six always beckons. What we have is a lovable bunch of hard workers buying into what the respected manager(GR) has preached and earned. Nothing more or less. Our squad has talent make no mistake, but limited. When Bristol City attract one of the richest men on the planet and the clout they now have-it puts all into perspective. If only our ‘unpopular image of the Chinese connection’ were erased then perhaps we would be attractive bait for new buyers such as recent Bristol City acquisition.

    • Adam True Blue says:

      I know it is still very early in the season but its nice to see we are 13 places above a team with clout (Bristol City) and we have a game in hand. Kro

      • Bluepengin76 says:

        Hmmm regarding “Brizzel City” I’m sure there are rules in place about clubs spending more than their turnover on wages and squad strengthening?? Bristol are insane in my opinion! One or two players arriving on ridiculous fee’s aren’t going to give them any true strength in depth.

        I just hope this isn’t the dawn of huge spending by the majority of championship sides ,as we will never get back up!

        Blues need to cut our cloth accordingly,we all know currently we are in the bottom half of the “spending charts”, that’s not to say we can’t achieve a higher League position,its amazing what team spirit,organization and a decent manager can do for a side.

    • Sir Harry 1875 says:

      Totally agree Mitchell. Feet firmly on the ground for me too. To many people getting carried away. Anything above bottom 3 is still success whilst we are in limbo with ownership. Given whats happened in Hong Kong and our owner doing porridge i think its a miracle that we are still a championship club.

  • Paul Lester says:

    Given the events on and off the field over the last few seasons, we all crave success for playoff potential and more. However the club is in transition at the moment. Things are slowly taking shape in Hong Kong, but it will take lots of time to finally resolve. Rowett is sorting the playing side out and taking away the fear of relegation. It is only when these two elements are sorted and come together that we will finally be able to compete in the market for the players we really need to move us forward. I think Dan has summed up the current position and all fans need to be patient and just remember what a mess we are finally beginning to leave behind

  • Adam True Blue says:

    Have to disagree very slightly –‘ Bristol City have had a bid of nine million pounds accepted for Andre Gray from Brentford while that same club managed to get 3.5million for Moses Odubajo from Hull City – and Blues cannot compete with these sorts of prices. ‘ .
    Did we not have an offer on the table for DG for 9 million from Bournemouth, and whereas Bristol have had to accept we were in a position to turn down and keep hold of our assett?
    On that point I think £9 mil would have gone a long way bringing in, the couple of quality players that we need/desire to strengthen the ‘week area’s’. Kro

  • Richard Granfield says:

    What Blues’ would give to have an owner such as Stephen Lansdown of Bristol City.
    Educated in Gloucestershire, Bristol City fan and as of today has a net worth of $2 Billion dollars.

  • thomas naughton says:

    Interesting article. I am not sure about the conspiracy theory involving other clubs. I am of the belief that agents and then players decide who goes where with the club having little say.
    9 million is scary for a Championship player and i can see the same thing happening in the Championship as is happening in the premier league. i.e a few clubs with financial backing in the top 6 and the rest to fight for the remaining places.
    At the start of the season i made the decision to try not to take this great game to seriously. Tomorrow night i shall go down to the game and look for the good things in the game with the hope that a good result follows.

  • We are playing a waiting game to get the right players in ,and rightly so , the only problem is our spending power is that weak that we are missing out on players that could have aided us in our chance for promotion , in the fact that we can’t afford their wage demands , and the waiting game in it self is damaging our chance to actually sign players with so many clubs wanting something for nothing ,goldson another possibility has signed for somebody else , we are to slow which can cause a lot of damage mentally to the players we have got , the fact is this club should have a file on every player around even in Europe , if you want to beat the competition you have to have knowledge in a instant of who to go for and who else to go for if that fails ,but again it comes down to finances as possible signings will want to wait to see if some other club offers them more which once again can damage the club , which for me challenges the wiseness of choosing trillion trophy as a choice ,

  • DoctorD says:

    I think the European market is where it’s at. There are a lot of players, I believe, who would fancy a shot in the Championship as a shop window for the biggest league of all — the Premier League. They know our top division is paved with gold. Being one step down from that nirvana is no bad prospect for a player whose career perhaps has taken a bit of an erratic turn or who wants to move from a smaller nation or league.

  • Texas Pete says:

    It is exciting to be checking Newsnow every day for news of a signing of one of the two identified puzzle pieces. We know that as the end of the transfer window approaches, clubs starts loosening up on releasing players. GR says he is not going to act in desparation but I will enjoy seeing one of those two players arrive. It will happen and with just one addition we so much closer to making the squad complete.
    I dont get that excited about loans, it is hit and miss and if it is a hit then the player is more likely to be recalled Even at season’s end, will break up the team. GR is working on the long term plan looking at investment in younger players for all levels of the club. I believe a big defender at 20 could hold his own in the team as a partner to Morrison. Spector is doing 110% but he isnt 6ft 5.
    The goal must be a playoff position and that is because the best players would not be staying if mid table or the so depressing “survival” were the outlook. So high caliber players are just over the horizon and money will be paid if that is the only way. I do think though that GRs statistic method for identifying players will bring us a low cost Young Peter Crouch.
    Of couse in two weeks loaning someone will be the next option.
    This is going to be a really good season as long as GR is there (and Panos) . Looking at the table blues at 9th, after other teams have all played one more game, is the tiger position for mid season. It is early days but Friday we could lose and drop down before others games, or draw but if we win with two goals we go top for a day. One goal would be a great result but two would be heaven and still with the prospect of two new players coming.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Can’t say I’m a fan of the loan market (except in emergencies.) I think it’s been abused dreadfully over the last few years (i.e. Watford.) I’d much rather have our own players, even if they are brought in on free transfers/Bosmans. Loan players have nothing to lose if things go tits up.

    If I had to choose only one area to strengthen, I would have to go for centre back. We’re desperate for someone who can head the ball out of defence first time. We’re getting punished over and over because we don’t react to the second ball/flick ons. A big, strong 6 feet + player, in the mould of Bartley would do me.

    • Mirkwood55 says:

      On the other hand the 2006-07 promotion season owed much to the three loanees from Arsenal – Bendnter, Mwamba and Larsson with the last two opting to join us on a permanent basis.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        I see your point… but in the “2006-07 promotion season” we had the money to bring in decent loanees. We’re scrounging from a different pot these days.

        • Andrew says:

          plus we had mcsheffery, jerome, forssell, david dunn and even mathew upson till jan. now we cant even get the money together to buy second or third rate players that we desperately need just to fill the squad out. I dont buy this small squad bull, given the opportunity rowett would bring in 10 players not just be in for one or maybe two.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Centre half an absolute must and to add to that Morrison & Toral could miss the Derby game tomorrow night .. A two goal win takes us top and this happens , about par for the coarse for us me thinks . Kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      As I’ve said before, we’re going to leak goals this season. With Morrison in, we can restrict those goals against to maybe one or two, but with a Spector/Robinson partnership… well I’m nowhere near as confident.

  • oldburyblue says:

    If only GR and his staff had the skills and knowledge of some of my fellow contributors to this site! Ouch….I must remember not to chew whilst my cheek has my tongue in it!!

  • Mark H says:

    Good read. What Rowett said about bringing in at least two more players is, perhaps the club will surprise us with a third! I know GR has keep the cards close to his chest, as he doesn’t want to make promises he can’t keep. Even after two games, there is a belief around the club, that maybe we could do a mission impossible. Heck, after the way results are going in the Championship, I fancy us to edge Derby on Friday. It looks like this season could be closer than last. KRO.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Blues’ have started the season well and hope is high, but we are only 2 injuries away from selection problems.
    E.G.’s Morrison and Spector………Donaldson and Thomas…….Toral and Shinnie.
    Rowatt knows this of course, but has he the financial muscle to bring in adequate reinforcements?

  • Dave Mann says:

    This league will be as tight as any I can remember this season , 17 ex premier teams , big names , money flying around … I just hope that we can upset the trend and show fans that you can beat teams and push up the league with limited finances .. It’s all about coaching and management and I believe we have one of the best around so why not ?! Kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      As long as Rowett continues to bring in solid players, I see no reason why we can’t compete (on the pitch) with the megabucks ex-prem teams. Yes, the monied clubs are bringing in players of £6-9m etc… but they’re probably only worth half that. It’s desperation to get into the premier really, so the mad clubs will spend any amount they have to. I’m quite happy our club’s sensible approach… for now.

  • Dave Mann says:

    If we can get in a centre half and an out and out striker of the calibre of kieftenbeld in is position for £170,000 then were all be happy . Kro

  • Bluenosesol says:

    Still think we need to at least cover Grounds or get in a replacement and Grounds can cover for him.

  • David L says:

    The daft thing about the Bristol City situation (and no disrespect meant here to fans of the ‘other ‘ BCFC) is the way in which money has affected what seemed to be a great little set up.

    They won Div 1 in some style and by some distance last year, and when I saw them at Wembley, their play was of a high standard. OK, it’s a step up to the Championship, and they’ve lost their first 2 league games…but £9mill on a championship level striker? Really ?? And haven’t they made a coupe of other panic-y “big buys”…all of which seems guaranteed to disrupt what was a hugely successful squad last season.

    I’m glad we don’t have a moneybags and that we can make our way with honest lads who seem to want to play for the shirt as well as for their bank balance.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Agree with all of that!

    • Hillfield Blues says:

      Good point. I remember when Blues reached the promised land of the premier league after years of playoff failures and although the novelty of having star billing and being able to spend millions on players was fantastic,I kind of missed the excitement of the championship and felt we lost our identity a bit. When you start to get big time Charlie’s walking into a club on silly money it ruins the dynamic of what your doing and it doesn’t automatically buy you success.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        Most clubs formed their identities in the Football League.. long before the premier was dreamed up. I too prefer the Championship. I haven’t watched a live premiership game in about 2 years.

    • BhamCityJulian says:

      Lansdown will realise that spending money in business may bring success but in football it needs more than that. Bristol City will be in a relegation battle as per usual.

  • JBfromOz says:

    I’m astonished at the acceptance by most fans of the present financial position.
    Club taken off the market or quarantined for 2 years.
    So if Donald Trump fancies buying us there would be no deal to be done.
    My business partner used to work for Ernst & Young and PWC in Australia on Mergers and Acquistions.
    He smells a rat and i do also when the club is taken off the market by administrators who hare also racking up significant fees.
    Tomorrow we have Morrison & Toral who most likely cannot play and we have no back up plan from what I can see.
    We have no money and no reason to attract decent players as we cannot pay comparable wages to what other clubs are paying.
    This TTA deal is a sham….who are they ????

  • atko says:

    From a player or manager point of view I’m sure the goal has to be promotion….automatic or playoffs…as obviously no player wants to settle for a nothing season or admit their goals aren’t high enough! From a fan aspect though I’d settle for safety every season until we are sold. I’m not too interested in playoffs or whatever, just happy to remain in this league until we are able to bring in the quality players this club deserves without having to count the pennies or check down the back of the sofas for any loose change. I’ll happily take each game as they come, chalk off the points needed as we get them & see where we are at the end of the season. I think it’s important to be realistic, praise where praise is due such as for the great start to the season we have made but always remember to keep our feet firmly on the ground & not get carried away.

    Re signings….one thing to remember about foreign signings is they are subject to work permits which can prove to be a problem. As far as other Championship clubs preventing players from coming to us, I don’t think clubs have got that much hold over players anymore. If a player is interested in a move to a club that shows interest in him, he simply won’t perform if his club tries to block it. They lose out as they still have to pay him so not in their interests to do that. Players hold all the cards these days.

    • Hillfield Blues says:

      Whilst the realist in me says mid-table security,my optimism says play-offs. If Rowett had started as manager last season instead of that bad start we had,we probably would have got there.

  • Mitchell says:

    Only a few years ago Derby And Blues were pushing hard for promotion-now it is only Derby. Prem.money continues to drive club owners insane with the ‘pot’ getting fatter by the passing on each season. Managers under constant pressure to get those two automatic places rapidly become ‘aged men’ with no time to enjoy this game of football. For GR however it is totally different. He is in a relatively comfort zone with no ‘axe’ to fear and no top six minimum target to hit. Only when a monied owner is installed will GR feel pressure. I like Gary but don’t feel too sorry for him not having the money to spend-purely of what I have said. Many managers would like his scenario I am sure.


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