The Big Debate: How Successful Have the Summer Signings been?

Here is another article by Lauren.

When a non-bluenose discusses Birmingham City, the context of the conversation is usually and stereotypically negative. As an outsider, they’re normally quick to touch on the relegation rather than the fact we won the League Cup or that the majority of last season’s players have found the exit door instead of congratulating us on being in the Europa League. One thing that bothers me in particular is that they always choose to ignore how Blues have coped with the loss of some of our players by making some quality signings this past summer with limited resources. The Blues have signed players who have the skill, determination and dedication to send Blues back up and to silence the doubters.

Alex McLeish is a name that many Bluenoses don’t have a good word to say about (myself included) but our former gaffer did bring in a man that we have plenty of good things to say about; the hardworking and often the difference maker in a match, Chris Burke. Admittedly, I did not think much of his signing at first, (although I did see it as form of progress from the situation we were in), as I didn’t feel he had made the biggest of impacts in football with respect to his work at both Rangers and Cardiff, I’m more than glad to say however, that I’ve been proved 100% wrong. Scotsman Burke joined the Blues on a free (the Bosman Ruling has been a kind friend to the Blues this summer) from Cardiff on 8 June after spending two years with the Bluebirds, the first summer signing for Birmingham and right now I’m one of the many Bluenoses singing his praises.

Burke is a player who can bring a game to life, this was apparent when I watched the 1-1 draw against Barnsley back in September. It’s fair to say the match was mediocre, and the tone of it was increasingly dull until Burke’s stunner of a goal sent St. Andrews into a swarm of gratitude and passion voiced in the cheers of the Bluenoses. Burke has been one of the new faces that has instantly made an impact and is proving himself a firm favourite with the fans (it also seems Burke is hitting the peak of his career as of late, and questions whether he deserves a call up back to this national side abound). Burke is never shy of confidence; some long range efforts on goal provide evidence for my point, and combined with his skill demonstrates why Burke has been a fantastic signing for the Blues and exactly why he was nominated for Championship player of the month recently. It is safe to say that I certainly at first overlooked what an integral part of the Cardiff side Burke had been but I will definitely not be overlooking his efforts for the Blues.

Another Scottish summer signing, pulling his weight for the Blues is the reliable and experienced centre back Steven Caldwell. The Stirling born defender joined the Blues on 7 July on a free from Wigan, with Bluenoses knowing Caldwell would soon be filling an empty space left in defence by our want-away defenders of last season; whose moves were unfortunate but inevitable. The former Burnley skipper, in my opinion was seriously undervalued at Wigan and since he has arrived at St. Andrews he has shown nothing but hard work and awareness as centre back and leadership at times when taking the armband in a couple of Europa League ties. I commend him not only for the above attributes but also for his no fuss and fearless attitude as defender (Caldwell has already broken his nose twice this season).

The strong-willed defender who has been Blue’s fifth signing of the summer, also hasn’t been afraid to have a few efforts on goal this season, the one that comes to mind is in the qualifying first leg of the Europa League away at C.D Nacional, when Caldwell’s header regrettably hit the post. Caldwell has been exactly the kind of the defender the club has needed, I’m sure the strong and sturdy Scotsman will continue to be an asset for the Blues this season in both our Championship and Europe campaigns.

Although not a permanent signing, every Bluenose has to be thanking West Brom loaned striker Chris Wood for the encouragement and tenacity he has brought to the table for Blues so far this season. Signed ahead of Blues’ Championship opener against Derby, the assertive and gifted centre forward has made a significant impact on Blues’ development this season. Wood in an initial two month loan deal has scored eight times in eleven games, an impressive statistic considering Craig Gardner was our top goal scorer last season with eight goals (10 in all competitions). Wood’s progression at the club has left Bluenoses thrilled and the news of the young Kiwi’s loan being extended until January 2012 has only pleased us further.

Among other fresh faces this summer were new attackers Marlon King, who like Burke was snapped up by McLeish before his departure, joining from Coventry. King was joined in attack by Irishman Adam Rooney from Inverness CT; both players have potential to do well for the Blues that is yet to be fully unleashed. King has netted three goals for Blues in all competitions this season, whilst Rooney has found the back of the net on two occasions in the league this season, but to be fair both players have done considerably well as they have both combated injury this season. Another loan signing, also from West Brom, Boaz Myhill joined us in goal for the season and is currently proving himself a useful replacement for Ben Foster who has gone the other way as part of the loan deal. Although not the most agile of keepers, Myhill is continuously improving and has made some fine saves for the Blues that deserve some recognition.

The big Spaniard defender Pablo Ibanez (also attained from West Brom, but on a permanent contract) has looked productive in both the league and in Europe and his concussion in the match away at Club Brugge was an unfortunate incident that stopped him in his tracks. The new midfield signing Morgaro Gomis on the other hand still has a lot to prove in my eyes, the Senegalese signing from Dundee United is yet to play to the best of his ability and needs, I feel, to step up his game when he returns from his groin injury, the same is to be said for former West Ham man Jonathan Spector (who I prefer in midfield to defence) and loan signing Guirane N’Daw (although I highly praise N’Daw for his tremendous long range effort on goal against Club Brugge in our second meeting).

A few months ago, pre-season looked fairly dismal with the numerous departures and now it would seem that the Blues are rising thanks to some resourceful signings, combined with some old faces and a terrific new manager (who by the way won Championship manager of the month, last week, justifying my point). The Sorrows are over for the Blues and the Joys have once again begun.

Lauren Round

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3 Comments on The Big Debate: How Successful Have the Summer Signings been?

  1. A great blog, Lauren. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head for most of your article. Any thoughts on Wade Elliott??

    Keep Right On!

  2. To be honest Russ, Wade Elliot has blended in so well with the team that I had forgotten he was a new arrival, he’s been a great signing for us and has been playing tremendously well most of the time.

  3. I think that’s no excuse. Only Steven Carr isn’t a new arrival this season, isn’t he?? 🙂

    You’re right about Elliott, though I’m not sure he’s played too many games for us, so far. Fahey, Gomis, (Mutch was before he arrived I think!) and N’Daw (and Spector, when he’s not in defence!) have all been rotated in, so he’s not been given too many opportunities…

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