The business that has been completed this transfer window by Birmingham City has divided opinion amongst the Blues faithful. Departures were expected, but so were some incomings, so what squad is Cotterill left with after the most frugal of windows under new(ish) owners TTA?
The departures of some seem fairly straightforward. Storer out on loan to gain valuable first team experience was a simple decision to make for Cotterill. Similarly, Brock-Madsen leaving after only 6 first team appearances, was no surprise to anyone, and the player has been promised the move since Redknapp’s reign in summer.
However, the next few departures are difficult to tell whether they will be the correct decision for the squad. Cotterill eluded to the fact he needed to trim down his squad and “balance” in the right areas, especially with some speculation of a dressing room split. Nsue leaving to APOEL Niscosia was probably the right decision for the team. It left first choice Colin to play whilst Jenkinson recovered from injury – and since his recovery there is now a good level of competition for that place. Bearing in mind there is Dacres-Cogley also fighting for the first team squad on the right of defence and the fee we received, it was all in all a positive departure.
David Cotterill has had a turbulent time at Blues over the past 12 months, being told to leave last January by Zola, and spending the rest of the season on loan at Bristol City, it was not surprising to see him being allowed to leave by Cotterill in December. Record signing Jota, Maghoma and Boga were all competing for his place, and Maghoma has since stepped up to the plate to show why he deserved to remain ahead of David Cotterill. It was disappointing to see no fee taken for him though.
Probably the most surprising to see leave was Gleeson and Walsh. Arguably a congested area of the squad for us, but an area that Blues can’t string 3 passes together in. Gleeson had shown in recent games he could pass and maintain possession and Walsh looked like he was a natural on the ball. Gleeson has recently shed light on his urge to get away from Birmingham as under Redknapp he was not happy, and he was honest with the gaffer about his ambitions to play regular first team football. Cotterill was brutally honest and said he couldn’t guarantee that and allowed him a move away. A replacement for him would have been ideal and letting him leave on a free to a Championship rival raises serious questions about our transfer policy. However, I was most shocked to see that Walsh had been sent back to Everton as he did not warrant a game at Blues. In the limited playing time he had, he was everything we’ve been crying out for. A player in the middle of the park who could pick up the ball, drive forward and distribute to the wingers or up to the strikers. Sending him back after signing no one in this window will probably be a huge mistake for Cotterill and time will tell if we missed out.
The departures that Cotterill oversaw were mainly positive. Most needed to go, and with Financial Fair Play overshadowing the window, it has cut a stupendous wage bill down into just a large wage bill. Personally, my main problem with the departures was the lack of fees we commanded for our players. Free transfer for Gleeson? Releasing Cotterill in December, without seeing if anyone would bid in January? If we need to cut the wage bill that drastically, then our financial state must be dire and we should be seriously worried!
Arrivals is a little less exciting, and the fans concern could be taken seriously. Teams around us such as Bolton, Barnsley, Sunderland, Burton and Hull all signed players to improve their squads. Rumours were flying everywhere on December 26th, Cotterill himself saying he had 2 players in the pipeline but come January 31st, there have been no signings. Some will say this is the worst thing that can happen to Blues, but realistically we shouldn’t sign anyone unless it improves on what we have got, something we didn’t take note of in the summer spend. The financial results are already pretty poor and the need for signings isn’t as huge as it was 8 weeks ago, given the recent results. The return of Adams to fitness is almost like a new signing, and if Jota hits form then we also have the equivalent of a new signing in him. Lowe has also made a return to the team and could take the place of the aforementioned Gleeson in the passing department.
Rumours of a Devante Cole arriving dissolved almost as suddenly as they were first spread on twitter and rumours of Kasey Palmer towards the end of the window were quickly shut down by Cotterill in press conferences (and the man who must not be named has since signed him over at Derby). This was never a window in which we could sign players after the Swiss Ramble twitter dissection of our financial results.
As Mark Watson said in his article earlier this week, there is no need to panic. Keep the faith and Keep Right On. What’s left after this window is a balanced squad in most areas, with the grit and determination to fight to the end. But this window has also brought with it the burning questions of our financial state, a boardroom crisis and scepticism within the fanbase about the credibility of our ownership.
What are your overall thoughts on the window, does not incomings bother you? Let us know below or tweet us @bcfcfollowers!
Words by @chriswiiii