Often Partisan

Grounds for Replacement

Jonathan Grounds made his 100th appearance in a Blues shirt on Saturday against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Despite being much maligned since signing on a Bosman free contract from Oldham, the left-back has been one of the most consistent selections in the Blues team.

I have to admit it, I’m one of those people who have maligned Grounds. I’m one of those people who have been vocal about Blues’ need to sign another left-back; ideally one who would displace Grounds from the starting eleven.

With Shane Lowry being signed and then shipped off to Australia last season and Mitch Hancox becoming the squad’s invisible man Grounds has had no competition for his position for some time and I think that lack of cover has hurt Blues big time.

To give him credit, Grounds is consistent. He rarely gets injured (touch wood), he plays to about the same 6 out of 10 standard every game and while he rarely excels I don’t think like some he is the sole reason for Blues shipping goals. His career at Blues I think is a microcosm for the team as a whole; good enough to play in this division but mediocre enough to not really compete at the top end – stability and not much else.

I actually don’t envy Gary Rowett trying to bring in a left-back as competition. I think Blues have spent much of their spare cashola on Adams and Stewart and now it’s all about who can come in on loan. I’ll admit my knowledge of left backs isn’t quite up there but I think it’s going to be hard to find someone who can come in and perform to the required standard who will be available at a price we can afford.

I mean, while we know Grounds isn’t brilliant he is consistent; I think it will be difficult to find a Premier League loanee who can be consistent to the same level. I know people will say “oh, but young player x would obviously better” but I think it’s difficult to say that with any certainty; if you know the future that well you should skip predicting football and try your luck at the casino to make some dough.

You only have to look at Reading signing Tyler Blackett; I know for a fact that in a choice between Grounds and Blackett I’d go for Grounds every time. Blackett couldn’t make the Celtic team consistently last year and ended the season playing for their reserves; Manchester United could have recalled him after their own left back issues but decided not to. Yet prior to coming to Blues Blackett looked like a player – tall, athletic and quick; it took his actual playing for us to discover his lack of football nous.

I think we will bring a left back in before the window… but as to whom I have no idea. I’ve been impressed with the signings of Che Adams and Greg Stewart and hopefully Rowett can pull it out of the bag again.

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