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Lafferty and the evolution of Blues
Birmingham City wrapped up the final emergency loan window with the signing of Kyle Lafferty from Norwich City until May 31. The 28-year-old has only made 45 minutes worth of appearances for the Canaries this season and will be looking for regular football ahead o Northern Ireland’s participation in Euro 2016.
I’m going to be honest and say that I was pleasantly surprised we’d signed Lafferty. The word was his wages were high, other teams were interested which is normally code for no chance so it represents a significant capture for both Panos Pavlakis and Gary Rowett. Although Lafferty has barely made an appearance for Norwich his performances as a lone striker for Northern Ireland give me hope that this signing is the one I personally wanted to take some of the pressure off Clayton Donaldson.
I know that there has been talk around that bringing in Lafferty will see Blues depart from playing one main striker but I do not believe that is true myself. Rowett has been consistent tactically since he started at Blues – and with small wonder as the 4-2-3-1 tactic he has routinely used has been more than effective for us. What I think is more likely is that with eight games in a month Rowett will now have the opportunity to switch strikers to keep players fresh and on their toes – being picked week in week out can lead to complacency and I think this is the right thing to do.
While I know I’ve been guilty myself of not liking Rowett’s “effective football” and wanting something a bit more passionate – after all, would one rather be known as an “effective” lover or a passionate one – I’ve had cause to think more about that and about my own misconceptions. The truth is, the whole “beautiful game” thing has changed over the years – and what people see as beautiful is normally football that provides goals and wins… in other words something that is effective. Whether it’s Total Football of Johan Cruyff (RIP), the Tiki-Taka of Pep Guardiola or the rise of the counter-attack as we’ve seen so effectively at Leicester, the so-called beautiful game is an idiom for teams that find a way to continually win.
When Rowett came in Blues were in the pits, and I think the first few months the relief of having a manager who wasn’t erratic and who could win games was palpable. As Blues won more and more it was harder to shake off the feeling that we’d been blessed with a managerial messiah in a v-neck jumper. Of course as time has wore on the whole “not Lee Clark” thing has faded somewhat, expectations have risen and now I find myself being more and more miffed that we’re not winning more than we should be – and I’ll admit, I thought we needed a plan B.
However, a chance conversation with a former pro footballer (and holder of a UEFA A coaching licence) has made me realise it’s not about having a plan B, but about being able to develop and evolve tactics as teams find ways to combat Blues’ effectiveness. If Blues are to push on it’s not about bringing in players who are going to radically alter the way we play, but who will compliment it and give us slightly different options – and I am a believer Kyle Lafferty fits into that bracket.
I still think the playoffs are beyond us, but I’m not giving up hope yet. Here’s to Lafferty getting his Euro2016 preparations under way with a few Blues goals and wins… and the miracle of St Andrews to return once more.
Tags: Kyle Lafferty