Often Partisan

Contracts

As the 2010-11 season draws to a close, eleven Birmingham City players are in a position where they don’t know what club they will play for next season. Under the Bosman ruling, they are free to talk to any club outside of the English League system about a contract for next year, but will have to wait until June 1 before they can discuss terms with another English team. I thought I’d take a look at those eleven players in a bit more detail.

Maik Taylor and Colin Doyle

Northern Irish international Taylor is the current longest serving player with the club, having signed initially on loan from Fulham in 2003, before completing his permanent move a season later. With the arrival of Ben Foster for £6million in the summer, coupled with his advanced age Maik has been somewhat on the sidelines and you would have to think at 39 his days at Blues are numbered. However, with ex-trainee Colin Doyle also out of contract at the end of the season, and the uncertainty about what division Blues will be in, it can’t be said for sure if both goalkeepers will be released. My opinion is that Taylor will more than likely released in any eventuality. As Taylor is 40 in September I can’t see that he has any future with the club, and I think he would be better served with dropping down the divisions if he is still looking for first team football. Doyle is a bit more complicated – for European purposes, he counts as a player trained through the Academy which is important as there aren’t many in the squad that will qualify for that. I think in his case it will come down to him and which division we’re in – if we go down he’ll more than likely stay; he may even get to be first choice as I can’t see Foster playing in the Championship. If we stay up, I think we’ll look for a young stopper to compete for the understudy jersey, and it will be down to Doyle if he wants to be in that position or if he wants to play first team football somewhere else.

Stephen Carr

There were vague rumours on various social media sites that our Irish club captain was contemplating retiring (again) at the end of this season – I can’t see it myself. Despite the fact he is thirty five in August, I think Carr has a lot to offer us still, and I do believe he will be given another year if he wants it. I think again, it comes down to personal desire – how much longer does Carr think he can go on, and if we drop a division is he happy to stay with us bearing in mind there have been rumours of offers from other Premier League clubs. I hope he does stay for another year, I believe he’s been talismanic for us at times and given his celebrations at Wembley I think he enjoys playing for us.

David Murphy

Whilst Murphy has been in and out of the first team over the last few weeks due to injuries to other players, I think June will see the end of the Hartlepool-born left back’s three and a half year stay with the club. With Liam Ridgewell firmly esconced in the left back slot, Murphy has been left to try and either get a game when other players are injured, or to slot in to give us more protection from left midfield. Murphy isn’t much of a crowd favourite, and whilst I think he’s done a job for us, I won’t be surprised if he’s turned loose.

Stuart Parnaby

From what Stuart has been saying on twitter, he’s not been offered a contract as of yet, and I don’t believe he is that hopeful of being offered one. I think it’s a shame, Parnaby has never complained about being out of the side to the press, and whenever he’s come in he’s done a job. His versatility means he’s a good squad man, and in the last twelve months it appears he’s got over some of the injuries which have blighted his early Blues career. Should we drop out of the top flight, or Stephen Carr contemplate moving on or retiring, I think Blues have to give Parnaby at least another year as he would offer us depth to the squad that would be difficult to replace.

Martin Jiranek

If you had asked me on New Year’s Day if Czech international Martin Jiranek would stay with us after this seaosn I’d have replied in the negative almost immediately. However, after Scott Dann suffered his season-ending injury Jiranek has come in and he’s been simply magnificent. As I’ve alluded to before on this blog, he reminds me a lot of Kenny Cunningham, and it’s no surprise that in the last month Alex McLeish has indicated he wants to keep him on board. I sincerely hope we do; I have a suspicion that blues will lose one of Roger Johnson or Scott Dann in the summer and we’ll need the big man as our rock at the back.

Lee Bowyer

At the turn of the year I’d been given the impression that Lee Bowyer was another player who’s Birmingham City days were coming to an end; but again, it’s something that is still up for discussion. It did look for a little while like his legs had gone, but he has shown this year that with careful handling, he still has a role to play for us. Again, he’s another player who’s age goes against him – he’s 35 in January – but I think it comes down to how we play him. With Craig Gardner also in the squad, we have cover for his specific sort of role and thus we’re not over-reliant on Bowyer playing every minute of every game.

Sebastian Larsson

Seb’s contract saga is of epic proportions now, and as he enters the final few months of the four year deal he signed back in 2007 to make permanent his loan transfer, the big money he has wanted still hasn’t materialised. Despite rumours of moves abroad in the last few days, nothing else seems to have come out and whilst I do think Seb will leave us for foreign shores come July 1, I harbour this faint hope that we’ll convince him to stay. I know he’s not the most pacy of footballers, but he’s been consistent for us and we’d find it difficult to replace him fully – look at how hard David Bentley has found it to slot into the team. I think it’ll be dependent on what league we end up in; relegation and he’ll be gone, stay in the Premiership and he might stay.

Kevin Phillips

Despite the clamour from some fans for Blues to start with Phillips in the Premiership, I have the belief that his career with us is pretty much over. At the age of 38, you can see him struggle when he’s given a start after about sixty to seventy minutes, and I think Kev in his heart of hearts wants to continue playing first team football. Should we be relegated, I think then maybe we could and should hold on to him, but if our Premiership status is secured I think it really has to be so long, and thanks for the memories.

Enric Valles

Young Spaniard Valles signed a one year deal on a Bosman back in July, and despite some promising appearances in pre-season games out in China, he’s never really come close to getting a first team spot, with just two appearances in the League Cup. Having suffered a broken foot at the turn of the year, which has ruled him out of a loan move, it would appear that Valles’ Blues career will end this summer without having ever really started.

James McFadden

Unlike the previous ten players mentioned, James McFadden has a two year option on his contract in our favour, and despite being out for most of this season it would appear that Blues are likely to take this option up. Prior to his injury I was in the “he’s talented but doesn’t do enough for us” camp; since he’s been out it’s been easier to see what we have missed without his presence and I believe whichever division we end up in, a fit James McFadden could do us a job.

With nine games left in the current Premiership season, there are bound to be twists yet for Birmingham City to encounter, and until we’re entirely sure of where we are going to be next season, I don’t think we will completely firm up our decisions about most of these players. It’s something that will no doubt provoke discussion, and I intend to revisit the situation when the season ends to update on how things have panned out.

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