With the news that Dan Burn is very unlikely to return to the Blues, our squad’s wafer-thin-ness comes into sharp focus. It’s surprising, then, that very little has been made of the fact that we’ve drafted in Brian Howard, a midfielder from Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia.
The 30-year-old joined Blues this week on a short-term contract.
Lee Clark, speaking to bcfc.com said “Brian is a very good technician and passer of the ball and I just feel that certainly in some of our home games we’ve drawn too many and have lacked a little bit of guile in terms of our passing and someone to play that through ball and make things happen. We think Brian can bring that to the group and that’s what he’s in for. He’s a little bit different to the other midfield players, but we believe if we can get him in the right combination he can be a good player for us. He’s in good condition and we’ve got no concerns about his fitness. He’s 30-years of age and got a lot of experience in the Championship and he’s been over in Bulgaria and playing. He certainly hasn’t come here for the money. He’s come here to play and I’ve been impressed by his attitude and I would have no qualms about putting him in against Yeovil.”
There are some stand-out comments in there. The best one for me, is the fact that he sounds like a playmaker. We’ve lacked something in the final third in most matches this season. He’s fit. That’s a huge plus, as if you read the latest goings on at Villa Park, they’ve just brought in a jaded Grant Nolan from Wigan. The fans who think it’s too big a step-up at his age from a Championship club he’s only scored two goals for, don’t want him, and those who disagree, can’t understand the need to bring in a player who obviously isn’t yet match fit. Clark is already saying Howard’s likely to feature against Yeovil!
He’s scored nine in seventy appearances for Swindon, twenty seven goals in one hundred and twenty one matches for Barnsley and two in fifty nine for Reading, so his experience at this level is there for all to see. His availability on a free was obviously going to be a bonus, and the departure of Darren Ambrose to Greek side Apollon Smyrni was obviously going to free the purse strings a little for wages. To complete the picture, Howard has also featured to a lesser extent for Sheffield United, Millwall, Portsmouth and Bristol City before his visit to Bulgaria, where he managed only eleven appearances. Three career goals in the FA Cup could show promising signs assuming he’ll be available to face Swansea.
Career highlights would appear to be being offered a contract by Chelsea just as Abramovich took over, scoring the winning goal against Liverpool, when Barnsley knocked them out of the FA Cup in 2008, gaining promotion to the Championship with Barnsley in 2006 and being named their player of the season in 2007 as they avoided relegation, he was subsequently named captain and was part of the team that made the FA Cup Semi Finals. He was named in the Championship team of that season, and made seven appearances for the England Under-20 set up. He was denied the opportunity to play for Scotland’s first team, due to not registering his eligibility before the age of 21, as George Burley tried to ‘call him up’.
45 goals in 382 career appearances is a healthy return for a central midfielder, and he’s going to provide competition for penalty taker too.
Some would say we need a new striker with our indifferent form up front, but Brian Howard could be the final piece our jigsaw needs to provide balls to the strikers we already have in Novak, Zigic and Shinnie. Let’s hope so, and – perhaps – we get somebody else in to fill the gap left by Dan Burn.
Welcome to the club, Brian!
Keep Right On