As the clock struck a minute past eleven on Wednesday night, every single Birmingham City fan breathed a sigh of relief – we had survived the transfer window – just! It seemed everybody in the squad had been linked with a move away in the final week of the window; interest came in from Wigan for fan’s favourite Jean Beausejour and usually loyal left-back Liam Ridgewell gave everybody a scare by handing in a transfer request late on Tuesday night. As expected, he was linked with practically every Premier League club on Wednesday but ended up staying at Blues after the club rejected his transfer request.
We weren’t completely free of moves though and as expected Cameron Jerome left for Stoke City for the fee of around £4 million whilst Scott Dann fetched around £7.7million as he moved to Premier League strugglers Blackburn. Both decent players who would have been great assets in the Championship but expected to move all along in the window, joining Roger Johnson, Craig Gardner, Kevin Phillips, Lee Bowyer, Maik Taylor, Martin Jiranek, Barry Ferguson and Sebastian Larsson through the St Andrews exit.
The sceptics are already professing doom around the place as our Carling Cup winning squad – and relegated squad no less, has been dismantled to its very bones but Birmingham haven’t been quiet in bringing people in. OK, we haven’t spent much money but we did fork out around one million to bring in former Barnsley striker Wade Elliot and ex-Albion defender Pablo Ibanez late, late on Wednesday night. The former looks an excellent addition to a squad as he can play comfortably in any attacking position at the front of the park, providing the kind of flexibility that Jonathan Spector was also brought in for. What’s more, Elliot is an out and out Championship striker. Like Marlon King, he knows the division well and will provide the kind of experience we are currently lacking in the final third.
Pablo Ibanez is an interesting signing and following Foster and Myhill’s loan swap, shows that we are developing an excellent relationship with West Bromwich Albion. In fact, with Chris Wood signing another month’s loan deal with us today, we are not far off fielding Albion’s reserve team! Ibanez is an accomplished Spanish international who was greatly admired by the Baggies – to the point where many were asking just why he was allowed to be sold to us! Added to that the signing of Jack Deamen from Wrexham, who will be developed through our reserve team and it seems that Hughton is looking to comprise a squad built up with a healthy balance of experience and youth.
The Premier League names may have left the good ship St Andrews but let’s not forget that many of those players were in the team against Fulham towards the end of last season where we couldn’t muster any effort to take anything out of a crucial game. We are already seeing more attacking play from Chris Burke and starlet Nathan Redmond than we ever experienced under Alex McLeish – we even scored three goals in Europe – I can’t remember the last time we won a game and scored more than twice!
Let’s not forget the players we have locked in the treatment room. Unbelievably we have managed to keep hold of Nikola Zigic and as the transfer window is now closed for all domestic leagues, no loans are available worldwide so we can’t ship him out to Spain to have his wages paid by somebody else. Our league bucks the trend whereby we can loan players but only Championship teams would be able to loan a player from us – no club bar Leicester City could afford to pay Zigic’s high wages so until January, he remains a Blues player.
After Dann’s rumoured injury that saw him mysteriously pass a medical at Blackburn, we receive news today that Marlon King is close to a recovery from injury – a partnership between Zigic and King would instil fear in any defence in this division and with the hard work ethic of Rooney and the potential of Wood, not to mention Elliot’s experience, Birmingham for the first time in a long time have what looks to be decent strike options.
Whether or not Ridgewell and Zigic will still put the effort in for Birmingham remains to be seen. I would expect Zigic to continue to put the effort in we saw from him towards the end of last season when we saw him putting himself about a bit and scaring defenders. Zigic certainly has a point to prove that he is worth his £6 million price tag and his high wages so I think he will come good in the Championship. Ridgewell on the other hand hasn’t looked interested all season so should he decide to stop putting the effort in and become a sulker looking for a move away from St Andrews, I doubt we would notice so much. Murphy may have his defensive leaks but is already looking a decent replacement for Ridgewell – he’s even scored for us!
Let the scaremongers continue to tell you Birmingham City have failed in this transfer market but our squad compared to others in the league still looks as good as any. Of course, you could always look back to this time next year when Birmingham fans were getting over excited about the signing of a certain Alexander Hleb….I’ll take Wade Elliot and a squad who want to play for us over forgotten has-beens any transfer market…….