Often Partisan

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.

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80 Responses to “Lafferty and the evolution of Blues”

  • Dave Mann says:

    Coming from someone who is accused of being to optimistic I can’t see it myself being the difference between 9th and 6th as for the reasons I gave earlier this morning , yes we can rotate but Laffertys goal record is no better than Donaldsons so I can’t see any miracles at St Andrews in the next six weeks , sorry ! KRO

  • oldburyblue says:

    Football is more about hope than expectation. You never know…..Lafferty might just be the spark we need. If not……at least we tried, so credit to GR.

  • peter bates says:

    I think Clayton has been a very lucky man indeed that we have not had a ready made replacement for him within the squad but I suppose with the injuries to others he has had to play and in some games he hasn’t looked fit himself I also think Dave we missed David Cottrell not for scoring goals but for assists and creating chances I don’t think we will make the playoffs myself but look forward to a summer with new owners coming in and then investment to make us a lot more competitive for next season kro

    • Dave Mann says:

      We did miss Cotterill peter but he hasent done a lot since coming back from injury and with that and our lack of goals were gonna fall short . KRO

  • DoctorD says:

    Where does this leave the Brock?

    • Russ says:

      When Brock-Madsen was brought in, he was one for the future. It was only injuries and the loaning out of Thomas and Novak that meant he had to be thrown in. He’ll need to step up next season but Lafferty’s arrival until the end of May should have no bearing on Brock-Madsen’s future. I think Lafferty is a great signing. KRO.

    • Dave Mann says:

      As the loan shark I would think .KRO

  • Jaffa says:

    Last throw of the dice.Hope it works.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    What we need is our wingers to get to, or close to, the byeline and cross. This makes it so much easier for the strikers coming in facing goalwards and much more difficult for the defnders to defend facing their own goal. It’s not rocket science, it works, it always has done. Rowett needs to tell them to hit that byeline and get it across (Caddis too.)

    I think Lafferty will do well for us… given a decent chance. 10-20 minutes towards the end of the match is absolutely pointless, as has been proved with Vaughan.

    As for counter-attacking football, it’s nothing new really. Back in the 50s/60s etc, teams would get the ball out to the winger, the winger would attack the full back at pace, cross the ball and the rest of the forward line would be busting a gut to get on the end of it. You could go from defence to a goal in 10-15 seconds… and no, it wasn’t route one football. Some systems are exciting, others utterly boring.. but both can bring success.

    • almajir says:


      The thing is we don’t play the kind of game where wingers cross from the byline, it’s not the way we play under Rowett – and I hate saying this, but it doesn’t always work – you have to have the right personnel and I don’t think we have.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        All I’m saying, is that it makes the striker’s job a lot easier when he’s facing the goal, instead of constantly having to play with his back to goal. Surely, that’s half the battle.

        • almajir says:

          Very, very old-fashioned way to play Staffs…

          • StaffsBlue says:

            Well, I’m very old. :)

          • Gary R says:

            90% or something like that of goals are sourced from crosses. With the likes of Maghoma and Viv and even Cotterill, we have players that are capable of getting to the by-line. Against Fulham, there were plenty of times when Cotterill went past 2-3 of their players, got to the by-line but we just failed to get that final touch. Hopefully someone like Lafferty will get on the end of them and finish them off.

            Realistically, I think we need about 6 wins. It’s not impossible, but it’s very difficult. In terms of WHICH 6 we could win, I look at these 5 to start with: Charlton (A), Reading (A), Leeds (H), Preston (H), Huddersfield (A). Then, if we can secure wins in those, or the equivalent of those, then we’re needing a bonus win somewhere – maybe against someone like Brighton, or a last gasp win at Cardiff on the final day.

            I personally don’t think we have anything to lose. I don’t mean go gung-ho and get spanked, but I think, personally, that we need to be a bit more “dynamic”. That’s why I was disappointed with the Fulham game, if we’d played in the first half as we did in the second, we’d have probably won that game 2 or 3-1.

          • atko says:

            That very old fashioned way of playing you see in the Premier League every single week from the likes of Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea all who play that way but all seem to want to walk the ball in to the net as well.

  • Tony says:

    God their are times I despair of Staffs, he is such a luddite his belief in wingers getting to the by-line whipping in crosses and a big number 9 nodding them in are long long, gone.It worked in the 50s,60s and 70s but not now football has moved on.
    Back in the day Mathews would perform his comical dribbles almost mesmerizing the left back, today he would end up in row z.
    To think that On the day one of the four greatest players ever to grace the field passes away we are still advocating this crap is sacrilege

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I’d be more concerned with your blood pressure if I were you. :)

      • Tony says:

        Think you have more health issues surrounding you Staffs than I do.

      • Texas Pete says:

        Oh the young people of today. Of course wingers are still a major part of scoring. When Maghoma is bought on he attacks and scares the defence. Cotteril the same because of the accuracy of cross balls. But Don cannot head the ball. Rowett wants that big CF that can do it, hence Brock investment. According to many on here our season was done and we were missing an essential CF and GR is lacking in his decisions, moan grumble groan. Now Lafferty has arrived out of the blue! Or rather into it. Iread Bcfc followers blog about Fading away and a minute later we had a miracle after Sheff Wed had all but sealed the deal. We have new hope for an exciting end of season and if we finish 7th it will have been a success. Lafferty is only here 2 months loan so lets give Don a rest, look forward to an intense 4 weeks and wish our team the best come what may.

        • StaffsBlue says:

          We need a change from the one-dimensional stuff we play, that even the poorest of teams in the division have worked out how to stifle. If Lafferty has been brought in to slightly alter that system, then I’m all for it. If it’s a straight swap, Lafferty for Donaldson, in the same rigid system, I can’t see much changing tbh.

          • steve says:

            Not much wrong with the system. The main problem is not putting away the chances we create. Donaldson should be the divisions top scorer by now.

    • Dan Hickman says:

      You mate, are a wally. There are many ways to play the game and this is one of them. Just because it was used a long time ago doesn’t mean it can’t work today. You mention Cruyff, watch the penalty he won against W Germany in the first minute in 1974 world cup, ye knew about turning defence into attack. I like counter attacking football and it takes a great deal of organisation, concentration and skill to do it well. For what it is worth my opinion ref wingers is that you should always keep the full back guessing, play it square, cut in, whip an early cross, look for the full back on the overlap and hitting the byline should all be used, keep him on his toes and buy yourself some space

    • atko says:

      Not sure what football you are watching Tony but wingers (they’re not actually called wingers these days though) are very much part of the game. The difference is they seldom cross to the forwards head they typically cross to the forwards feet. There are few forwards who can actually head a ball with any decent acuracy these days. As I stated earlier in the post, Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea all aim for the byeline. Unfortunately it is the modern game for many of these teams to actually try to walk the ball in to the net too but it starts with a cross from the byeline as a rule.

  • swissjonny says:

    Amazingly I met Johan Cruyff at St Andrews in the 70,s as a kid.My Dad and I had season tickets in the row behind the old Directors box. Johan was sitting in the back row of the Directors box right in front of me.It was an evening game -guess he was playing for his club side against the Vile and wanted to see some proper football whilst in the area. He gave me his autograph and chatted to my old man.A truly modest and very pleasant bloke.RIP

  • At 1 goal every 4 games and being a good goalscorer tells me that lafferty often heads the ball down for others to score , which tells me he is best sharing the goals with a fellow striker , looking at our goal tally we will need around another 30 goals to go up automatically , and to be good enough to stay up from the quality of where we are now as a team , can we go up YES ,but we will have a job staying up unless goals start to flourish , having one striker gives us no chance of scoring 80 goals unless we have 2 Frank Lampards in midfield or £ 100 million to spend ,, I think blues have done well in the goals department considering that we are a bit down to others on the total attempts at goal , Rooney and many other strikers can play in midfield as well and still have a high amount of shots at goal , why because as a striker he thinks goals , shots from midfielders are usually from outside the area mostly which gives the keeper an extra second to move to save and are about 10% less in goals scored compared to goals scored in side the area, which are mainly scored by strikers , a strikers brain will get you more goals than a midfield players even when playing in midfield , 2 strikers please GR…

    • atko says:

      Whilst nobody wants to be relegated, I’m sure most clubs want to get in to the Premier League this season with the money rocketing due to the tv deals. I think even if you get relegated next season then you should still be financially streets ahead of the rest of the division. I agree, money cannot buy you success but it can go a long way to getting you the right players.

      • Andrew says:

        Money definitely buys success. No special formula to it. A la man City are a prime example of this amongst many.

        • atko says:

          Really? The only trophy they will end up with this season is the League Cup so I disagree. Not even narrowly missing out either!

          • Andrew says:

            Still in the CL. Will finish the season in European qualification. League cup? Well I don’t remember blues fans felt too disheartened when we took that! May not be their best season but still up there competing for things which is a direct result of investment.

  • Jonathan Garrett says:

    Many a year blues have needed to act,and done nothing, so it was refreshing to see Gary be proactive and go and get another striker in, at the least, a new player can give the team a lift, we have suffered from our perennial problem this season (not scoring) so let’s see what happens.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Kyle Lafferty is a welcome addition to bolster our striking options.
    Rowett must have promised him playing time as the only reason Lafferty joined would have been to get match fit for the Euros. This means Donaldson will be bench warming.

  • Teams are moving away from the 4+2+3+1 system for if you have fast attacking player up front you leave yourself with a big gap between the defensive midfielders and the front men which is not the way a team should move , it should move backward and forward as a unit so the experts say …4+3+3 seems to be the aim ,.we need goals , we have no fear of relegation ..two strikers needed up front with cotts ,

  • ChrisG says:

    It’s interesting that you mention the effective rise of counter attacking football they play at Leicester which is how we try to play, but don’t Leicester still play 4-4-2?. I wouldn’t have a problem with our 4-2-3-1 system if we had more goals contributed from the wingers.
    I have to be honest, i’ve not seen much of Lafferty since his days at Rangers where I thought he was pretty useless, but that was 8 or so years ago, he’s matured & his goal scoring in the Euro’s looks useful. But I have 2 worries about him, his match fitness will be lacking, watching the Wales vs NI game last night I was concerned when Cottrill chased him down & dispossessed him very easily!!. It also worries me that he can’t get into a struggling Norwich squad. What I will say though is i’ll give him a chance & I hope he can contribute to a few goals being scored over the next 9 or so games.

  • Dave Mann says:

    My worries to Chris but we’ve nothing to lose so let’s hope he has the best 9 games ever by a Birmingham city player because that’s the only the way we will reach the playoffs .KRO

    • ChrisG says:

      Well Dave the one thing Lafferty has got going for him is the fact he is almost certain to be on the plane to the Euros, he will obviously want to get into a goalscoring frame of mind which can only benefit us. I would imagine he has been guaranteed a starting place at blues because of the Euros & that would’ve been what swayed his decision to join us & could really work in our favour if Lafferty had the first 70 mins or so & then bring Don on for the last 20 mins.

  • Gastank says:

    I don’t think we need to change too much in the way of tactics, we only need someone to knock those chances’ in that Donaldson has been missing, hope Lafferty is the one to do it.

  • Bluey says:

    Hope GR goes against the grain and puts 2 up top. Throw everything at the opposition and see where it takes us.We have absolutely nothing to lose. And what is wrong with playing wide men to cross to a target man? It may not be the modern way but it`s hard to stop when it`s done well.That`s why so many goals are scored from set-pieces.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Bloody hell Bluey if we carry on agreeing like this it’s gonna start rumours that were actually on the same wavelength .. Seriously though your right and couldn’t agree more with the fact we have nothing to lose . KRO

  • AdamTrueBlue says:

    We are all saying we were lucky to get KL because of the opposition that also wanted him, and now we are getting adverse comments about him and he has not played yet!!! Lets have a bit of faith and see where the next few games take us, for sure we can not moan at GR for not trying. Kro

  • Dave Mann says:

    We are not ALL saying we’re lucky to get KL Adam , for me he’s very average but as you say lets see what happens . KRO

  • bhamcityjulian says:

    Now let’s play our best players and give Donaldson a rest

    K: CMRG; KG; F; TLB



  • bhamcityjulian says:

    Buckley and Fabbrini both need to in team. Look at their intelligent play for the latter’s goal against Bolton

  • Dave Mann says:

    Julian , stop repeating yourself .KRO

  • MA24 says:

    Just curious.. Who was the ex pro and current coach you had spoken to?

  • Can’t wait for GRs next team selection , and sea what he as planned for the final drive …

  • Lich Blues says:

    I am glad we have signed KL and hope he makes an impact. For me we need to just go for it now. Two up front and go for the jugular. We are safe, have absolutely nothing to lose so let’s be entertained and live in hope of just sneaking into the play offs. I don’t think we’ll do it but i’d love to be wrong.!!!


  • kirkus says:

    This could be a absolute game changer or possibly not!!! Ps it’s now over 20 years since the vile won a major honour!!!

  • It’s the prospect of a new set up for blues but using the tried 4+3+3 system , defensively the best all round player for left back for me would be would be kieft ,. That would allow fabbrini’s very good passing and dribbling skills to play to the left of the all action high stamina Davis to play in the centre of midfield where the pitch is roughest towards the end of the season, with the skillful play of gleeson to the right in a play maker role , with caddis at right back on the overlap moving up the wing to cotterill to cross to the 2 best headers in the attacking squad Lafferty and Donaldson , with toral coming on for Donaldson on 60 minutes , grounds is a very important part of the squad though , and should be kept ..So the team would be ,…….Kuz…….Caddis..Morro..specs.kieft…………….gleeson..Davis..Fabbrini……………cotts..Lafferty.Donaldson .

  • Dave Mann says:

    Never in a million years William , sorry mate. KRO

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Donaldson will still play the lone striker role and Lafferty will see little action. We need to bring back VSO and Maghoma on the wings as the team really lacks pace leaving Donaldson isolated. Could we play both Fabbrini and Toral in the same side by dropping a defensive midfielder?
    Kuszczak Grounds Spector Morrison Caddis Davis Maghoma Toral Fabbrini VSO Donaldson

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Three ways to shoe-in both Toral and Fabbrini.

      Spector Morrison Grounds
      Caddis Fabbrini Davis Toral Maghoma
      Vaughan Lafferty

      Caddis Morrison Spector Grounds
      Cotterill Fabbrini Toral Maghoma

      Caddis Morrison Spector Grounds
      Gleeson Davis Maghoma
      Fabbrini Toral

  • I thought that would raise a few eyebrows Dave

  • 2 strikers up front for England , Hodgson leads the way .,

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I was listening to Phil Neville on MOTD a month or two ago and he said that very few teams across Europe use 4-2-3-1 anymore. It’s all 4-3-3 and 4-4-2.

    • Andrew says:

      Formations can be talked about all day and debated but if the individuals aren’t up to scratch your going to struggle

  • Dave Mann says:

    Against Charlton I would love to see this team :
    Caddis, Morrison, Spector, Grounds
    Cotterill, Kieftenbeld , Davis, Maghoma
    Toral, Lafferty.
    4-4-2 with two out and out wingers and two up top ,
    Why not with nine games to go ? KRO

  • Managers have to move with what systems are being played to avoid a run of defeats, England were two different teams last night , when they played two clinical finishers they were winners, before then they were losers,.

  • Dave Mann says:

    It must be said that England in that last half hour were very good , passing , movement and the goals were majestic , a great win but we all know that the Germans always turn up at major tournaments ..2 up top and England win , hope you were watching Gary !! KRO

  • Part of the problem Dave is the dreadful way managers are treated nowadays , they daresnt stick their necks out , unless they have nothing to prove like leicester manager , ,KRO

    • StaffsBlue says:

      It makes you wonder how much Man Utd would have won if they’d sacked Alex Ferguson before that cup game.

  • Dave Mann says:

    How much does he thank Mark Robbins for , the rest is history as they say .KRO

    • StaffsBlue says:

      You don’t build a dynasty in 6 months, or 20 games, which is all some of them get nowadays… even in the Premier.

  • Dave Mann says:

    If there lucky staffs . KRO

  • Dave Mann says:

    Julian , please don’t go down that road mate it’s cheap ok . KRO …. “Buckley and Fabbrini both need to in team” .. Where’s “be “and “the” ? .. See , none of us are perfect including yourself , stop being picky please understand !

  • Fabbrini is probably the best passer of a ball in the squad and should be in the team , his balance is a bit suspect so is easily brought down , which is probably why he was picked on the left for Italy , to keep him out of the mud and away from the cloggers where he is free to control , Buckley is good enough Dave but I’feel we have to much of a like and not enough of the likes of if you know what I mean I also think we need to sign a striker at the end of the season first but if he is free he is worth signing , THEYRE you go ……………..sorry julien

    • Dave Mann says:

      I wouldn’t have Buckley or Fabbrini in the team William , not like julien, no sorry Julian .. Come on William get is name right please . KRO.. he he he .

  • You seem to be standing in the corner more than Cotterill Dave …..he he he

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