One Linked In, One Linked Out

There’s a couple of links on Tribal Football today concerning a current Blues player and, if the Daily Mail is to be believed, a potential Blues player.

First of all, Tribal cites The Times as a source for the story of Steve Bruce letting current #2 goalkeeper Maik Taylor leave. Taylor has definitely dropped down the pecking order and is now back up to Colin Doyle. Blues also have promising youngsters Artur Krysiak and Adam Legzdins snapping away at Taylor’s heels.

Blues have been linked with Ben Foster of Manchester United and Scott Carson of Liverpool in recent weeks and the addition of either of these ‘keepers (not that I think either deal will happen) would surely force Taylor to look for regular football – or at least a chance of it – elsewhere.

Taylor joined Blues in August 2003 – initially on loan – from Fulham. The stopper impressed and was snapped up in a £1.5m deal several months later. In ‘03/’04 Taylor was named Premiership goalkeeper of the year. He has gone on to make over 150 appearances for Blues and has won 57 caps for Northern Ireland.

The player we’ve been linked with made me smile.

According to The Daily Mail, Blues, Everton and Middlesbrough have all been linked with Paul Robinson of Championship side West Bromwich Albion (not to be confused with the slightly nutty bloke from Neighbours.)

Robinson plays left back for West Brom and skippered the side in Albion’s loss against Derby County at Wembley in the playoff final last weekend. Albion’s failure to secure promotion has led many to believe that there’ll be a mass exodus from the club and manager Tony Mowbray has said that he will not stand in the way of anyone wishing to leave. Robinson himself admitted:

I’m still a West Bromwich player. I’m signed up for another two years. I’ll get my head down and work hard but I want to play Premiership football and sometimes you can’t take that from players if the opportunity comes up.

It’s a similar story with perhaps Albion’s most prized fit possession – Jason Koumas. He’s stated that he’s “desperate” to play in the Premiership and said that whether he does or not is up to Albion’s chairman.

Robinson is a no nonsense style full back who takes no prisoners and plays the game hard. He gets stuck in and is willing to… ruffle a few feathers in order to get the job done. Indeed it shows as Robinson has been yellow carded eleven times and sent off twice this season, one of those a straight red for what can only be described as ‘assault’ on our very own Damien Johnson in our 2-0 victory over the Baggies at St Andrews in October.

Steve Bruce was extremely angry over the challenge and condemned Robinson strongly stating that he knew exactly what he was doing when his forearm connected with DJ’s face, breaking his jaw in several places. Bruce refused to let it drop and the incident was brought up again before the return fixture at Albion. Bruce once again condemned Robinson but DJ went on to have the final word as he scored a left footed 20 yard volley with only a few minutes left. He celebrated like he meant it too!

Paul Robinson is 28 years old and has been playing for Albion for four years after a transfer from Watford for £250,000 in 2003. He played for Watford for seven years making just over 250 appearances. Thus far, his Albion career spans 153 games – with over 50 appearances coming this season alone.

I just cannot see this one coming off. Bruce would surely only want players on board who wouldn’t rock the boat and Robinson’s over the top style could be a disruptive influence in the dressing room, especially when you consider the history with DJ and Bruce’s strong criticism of the player throughout the season.

Besides, do we really want a player who will spend more time on the sidelines through suspension than actually playing for us? I’d like to see Bruce shut the door quickly on this one I’m afraid.

Two More Transfer Links

Blues have today been linked with two more players. Could they be the two players that were referred to in this article?

The first player is Charlton Athletic winger Jerome Thomas. A player, I must confess, that I kept getting confused with Cameron Jerome when we were first linked with Jerome upon our relegation last season. I’ll be absolutely beyond help should we actually sign Thomas and they play in the same side together.

Jerome Thomas is 24 years old and currently plays for Charlton Athletic. He started his career out with Arsenal where he made just three League Cup appearances, although he did win FA Youth Cup winners medals in both 2000 and 2001. He was shipped out on loan to Queens Park Rangers in early 2002 where he made 10 league appearances over the course of two loan periods. In February ‘04, Charlton Athletic paid £100,000 for the services of the player and he’s gone on to make 70 league appearances – bagging himself seven goals – primarily on the left wing for the Addicks.

The Charlton site (which, by the way, has to be one of the uglier official websites out there!) says that Thomas boasts “an array of tricks Paul Daniels can only dream of” and is “the offensive trump card in the Charlton pack.”

From what I’ve read elsewhere, Thomas can also deliver a good ball and may be able to go at least some way to providing the genuine width that we seem to have been missing since Jermaine Pennant decided to join Liverpool. Signing a talented winger will also free up Gary McSheffrey to play in his favoured position of striker, lessening the loss of the talented Nicklas Bendtner whose gone back to Arsenal.

Thomas has also represented England at Youth level, U20 level and England U21 level. This season, he made 24 appearances for Charlton and scored three times. He is yet to pick up a booking or red card.

Sounds like a fairly typical winger, then! Although on a serious note, Thomas ticks all the boxes. Young, hungry and talented. We could do worse for the reported £1.8m. Thomas has another year to run on his current contract with Charlton.

The other player Blues have been linked with is Stuart Parnaby

Parnaby is 24 years old and currently plays for Middlesbrough. He is primarily a right back and, barring a small loan spell at Halifax Town, has played all his career for Middlesbrough since turning professional in 2000.

Parnaby has racked up over 125 appearances for ‘Boro although his future looks far from certain. He is out of contract and already has been removed from the squads profile page on the official Middlesbrough website… if that’s not a sign of intent by ‘Boro, I don’t know what is!

This season he has made 21 appearances for Middlesbrough, picking up two yellows. Parnaby has represented England all the way up to U21 level, as captain on occasions. The one question mark over him could be his injury record. According to Wkipedia, he missed the whole of the ‘01/’02 season with injury and again missed 4 months of the ‘03/’04 season due to injury.

Honestly I don’t know too much about Parnaby. He seems to be struggling to break into the ‘Boro side and would probably have a job shifting Kelly here. Assuming that Bruce isn’t buying him to be first choice with the idea of switching Kelly over to left back should the signing of Paul Konchesky from West Ham United not happen… I sincerely hope this isn’t the case.

Or it could be that Bruce has finally worked out that you need natural cover for each position and is buying Parnaby to compete with Kelly for right back and nothing else. For free, we could do a lot worse.

Bruce Set To Sign New Contract

According to Colin Tattum in the Mail the Blues board are set to alter manager Steve Bruce’s contract from a five year deal to a rolling two year contract. Bruce currently has two years left on his deal and it is understood that this will now be turned into a rolling deal – similar to what Trevor Francis had, if my memory isn’t playing tricks on me.

One piece that didn’t quite add up – to me at any rate – in Tattum’s article:

That means Bruce would always have two years remaining on his contract, until such a time he parts company with Blues.

That seems a bit sketchy. What, so we can simply sack him at any point we wish without compensation or do we have to give him a couple of years notice, like? What’s the deal if we want to get rid of him? Is it going to cost £5m like it was reportedly going to last time it was talked about? Do we have to pay him 2 years up regardless of when we sack him?

Not that I’m begin negative and saying we’ll need to at any point during the next gazillion years, etc. I know how the more staunch Bruce supporters out there like to point out such negativity in my posts. It’s merely a simple question.

When it was all going so horribly wrong, many people blamed the board for giving Bruce such a long contract. Few predicted that it would turn so quickly and that less than two years into his shiny new contract, we’d all be calling for his head. Everything was rosy.

Newcastle United came calling for Bruce and the board made a decision to do whatever they had to do to keep ahold of their prized asset. Bruce was a man who’d delivered walk-on-water success in a very short period of time. I don’t blame the board for giving Bruce such a contract, even now – although hopefully, like Bruce, they’ve perhaps learnt a valuable lesson.

The headline I suppose is a bit misleading when it comes to all this. After all, he’s not really signing a new contract, just having his currently one slightly amended so that the anti-Bruce brigade can’t circle a day in their calendars two years from now and look forward to it with a fervour only usually reserved for derby day victories and promotion parties!

Anyway, speaking of the manager he’s been talking to Blues magazine this week about stuff such as having a clean slate and the club hopefully all pulling in the same direction from now on. You can read some of the quotes by clicking here.

I like the quote about people perhaps giving him a fair go from now on. As far as I’m concerned, this season has been one of the most difficult in recent memory. Not simply because the odds of coming back up are so wildly stacked against relegated sides with the same manager but for the majority of the season, the club seems to have been in turmoil with everyone having a different opinion on every single matter.

Bruce has led us through it – and at varying points the majority didn’t think he would – and ultimately leaves us standing on the brink of what can only be described as an exciting and outstanding opportunity to once again establish ourselves as a Premiership club. He deserves, at the very least, for people to back off and give him a bit of space to manoeuvre, to try what he sees fit, to make the odd mistake and to be given time to correct it.

He’s said that he’s learnt from his mistakes and I think he should be given the chance to prove just that. After all, the Championship was never going to be the doddle that we hoped it would be and I think it’s only really now that we realise how difficult a job getting back up was going to be and why so few managers actually achieve it.

The floor is yours, Brucey… take it away.

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You have arrived at the archive site of the Birmingham City blog Joys & Sorrows. If you were looking for fresh, meaty stuff then this way, please.

This section of the site covers the blog portion of J&S from 26th April 2006 - when the site returned after a catastrophic hosting failure causing the loss of over 500 articles - to 28th April 2008 - when I decided to have a prolonged rest from the site.

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