How do the new signings shape up?

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    The recent transfer spending spree was one of the busiest windows in recent history. Departed manager Harry Redknapp had cash to splash and went about it with all the frivolity of a rich Malibu beauty queen at the mall with her daddy’s credit card. Harry brought in 14 new faces and skipped through Brentford’s training ground like Veruca Salt singing “I Want It Now” in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. (Google it kids)

    Blues play their 20th game of the season against Wolves on December 4th so what better time than now to take a look at the newest signings and see how they’re getting on? We’ll kick off with the permanent arrivals and move on to the loanees afterwards. As always, the following ratings and opinions are my own and I welcome opposing views. By all means tweet me @MarkWatson1875 or the guys @bcfcfollowers and let us know why you agree/disagree.

    Jose Ignacio Peleteiro Ramallo. AKA “Jota”
    From: Brentford Town
    Fee: £6m

    Speaking of disagreement, we’ll start with the most controversial of my opinions. I know he’s fast, I know he good with the ball at his feet and I know he looks like a playmaker. But I sometimes wonder if Harry thought he was signing the Jota in the orange shirt instead. For me, he has yet to live up to his reputation and he’s far from playing at the level you’d expect our record signing to be at. It’s great that Jota likes to take the opposition on, but what’s the point in dribbling round 2 players, only to get tackled by the third? Jota does have skill on the ball, that’s evident, but he needs to be floating crosses into the box instead of trying to run the ball in all the time. With Gallagher and N’Doye on the pitch, we have two of the tallest players in the league, so let’s get the ball above head height and create some chances.

    Aside from improved decision making, I think he needs to show a bit more willingness to play for the badge. Jota seems very introverted on the pitch and retreats into himself when things aren’t going his way. He’ll be a great player to have once the team is set up correctly and we’re in a better league position, but currently we don’t have the luxury of carrying passengers in the side, no matter how skillful they may be.

    Current performance rating: 5

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    Marc Roberts
    From: Barnsley
    Fee: £3.6m

    I think Marc has slotted into the first team reasonably well. He’s a tall, strong guy and is reliable when defending set pieces. When looking at how our defence has performed this season, it’s easy to find faults but one aspect they cannot be faulted for is their organisation during corners and free kicks. We’ve only conceded one goal from a set piece this season, which is quite remarkable considering our league position. This is testament to Cotterill’s training routines as well as the players’ ability to follow instructions. An argument can be made that Marc has been our most consistent centre back lately and the falling apart of our defence at times is hopefully more as a result of unfamiliarity of team mates, rather than ability in the position. With a bit more communication at the back, he may become the replacement for Shotton that we so desperately need right now.

    Current Performance Rating – 6

    Harlee Dean
    From: Brentford Town
    Fee: £2m

    Speaking of replacements for Shotton, Harlee is really starting to come into his own. He was a brick wall against the Blades and owned one of the most memorable moments of the game, when he dived head first into the path of Lundstram’s shot, blocking what looked to be a very good chance on target. With only 10 appearances so far this season, it seems to have taken some time for Harlee to break through to the starting line up. However the passion shown on Saturday night should hopefully have earned him a more permanent ticket to the big leagues. Anyone that was at the home game against Brentford can see how hard it must have been for him having to sit on the bench whilst his former fans goaded him like Romans taunting a lion in the Colosseum. I’d wager that may have reignited his fire and the Bees may live to regret those songs on the return leg. I think Harlee has a big part to play in the current setup and if he’s willing to fight his way to the front of the team sheet, I’m willing to support him every step of the way.

    Current Performance Rating – 7

    Maxime Colin
    From: Brentford Town
    Fee: £3m

    The third former Bee on this list, is probably the pick of the bunch. Vassell getting injured was a huge blow to us, but losing Maxime has proved somewhat disastrous! In my opinion, he’s the best signing we made during the window and one of the best in the past 5 years. Colin knows his position better than I know my own wife and he fulfils his role perfectly. Most significantly, he understands the importance of tracking back after pushing forward and he knows when it’s appropriate to join the attack and when it’s necessary to hold the line and anticipate the counter. For my money, he’s the most accomplished reader of the game we have and I’d feel confident with him and Grounds taking care of the flanks. Here’s wishing him a speedy and successful recovery because Nsue’s determination to be a winger is becoming a liability.

    Current Performance – 9

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    Cheikh N’Doye
    From: Angers
    Fee: Free

    Of all our signings, N’Doye was one of the most high profile. I personally hadn’t heard much about him before, but he seemed to be creating a buzz around the fans upon his arrival. What were my impressions of him? Well, let’s just say it’s a good job I’m writing this after 19 games, not 5. Initially, I likened N’Doye to an oak tree. Big, solid and barely moving. How such a big man looked so small for the first few games, I have no idea. I’d seen the clips on the internet before his signing and he showed signs of being able to devastate opponents with his strength and height but Cheikh just looked lost in the middle of the park.

    However, over time something magical happened. That big, solid oak tree began to look more mobile. It stood up straight and proud like the great Hyperion Redwood (again, Google it kids). It began to blossom and this analogy completely fell apart. N’Doye is now a loud, proud adopted son of the great city of Birmingham and has one of the highest work rates on the pitch. He wins the ball in the air, holds off defenders and is a one-man blockade at the back. His passing leaves a little to be desired still, but the improvement since his debut is pretty astonishing, I don’t believe he’s the finished product yet either. N’Doye’s got a powerful shot on him and is a great target man to have in the box. Once he opens his account at St Andrews, he could be the danger man we’ve been waiting for.

    Current Performance Rating – 7

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    Isaac Vassell
    From: Luton Town
    Fee: Undisclosed

    What a revelation Isaac was when he first came onto the scene. Fast, strong and full of energy. We can but wonder what position we’d be in right now if we’d had him fit and playing over the last few games. He’s got goals in him and needs to be starting every week. Coming from a lower league club, I think opponents have greatly underestimated Vassell. To be honest, I did too. Come to think of it, so did Fifa 18 since his stats are miles off where the should be! Isaac doesn’t look like he would be as fast as he is and that’s what catches teams off guard. I’d suggest that a few of the loanees and signings that found their way into the Blues dressing room are no better than those players they replaced but with Isaac, Harry really found himself a gem. Maybe the injury will allow us to keep Vassell as our ‘best kept secret’ for a while before we unleash him on the second half of the season. Maybe he’ll score against the Villa as Davis takes a chunk out of Hutton as payback too. We can but dream.

    Current Performance Rating – 8

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    David Stockdale
    From: Brighton & Hove Albion
    Fee: Free

    Of all our signings, this was the biggest surprise for me. David turned down a contract offer from newly promoted Brighton and decided to join the Blues instead. Whether this was to work with Harry, or because Brighton were looking to bring someone new in, or whether Blues just made him a Don Corleone style offer he couldn’t refuse from a financial standpoint, no one seems to know. Whatever the reason, obtaining his signature was a really coup and a promising signal of intent from the board. Unfortunately, as with many other boys in blue, injury has plagued David and we haven’t had the chance to see much of him yet. Early signs look good though and he has a cracking track record. For me, as long as he doesn’t kick the ball straight out of play at least once a game like Tommy does, he’s my number 1.

    Current Performance Rating – 7

    Sam Gallagher
    From: Southampton
    Fee: On Loan

    Strongly fighting the urge to write “Send him back” and just leave it at that; I don’t think Sam has shown much promise. Maybe it’s because he’s not settled, or maybe he’s being played out of position. I’m not sure. I don’t think he’s a good fit for the club though, and certainly don’t see him as a competent winger. As a target man up front Sam may have his uses but I don’t see him being a mainstay once others around him regain their fitness. Sam Gallagher hasn’t brought anything of value to the table so far and other than his height, I don’t think the aforementioned value’s arrival is imminent either. As a winger, we need someone with more pace and as a striker, we need someone more clinical. I sincerely hope he goes on to prove me wrong and make me eat my words though, as he comes across as a decent lad.

    Current Performance Rating – 4

    Jeremie Boga
    From: Chelsea
    Fee: On Loan

    Why, oh why, oh why does Boga not play every week? That’s a genuine question. A question which I am certain there’s an answer to but I’ll be damned if I can work it out. It was clear to every fan in the ground that Boga was a talent right from the start. Anyone that follows him on Twitter also knows that he’s constantly tweeting about the club and his desire to perform for us. So why has he been benched for so long? I’ve heard a rumour, and I really must stress that regardless of the reliable source it came from; I have seen zero proof of it, that Jeremie may have upset a few of the lads with his attitude around the dressing room. Personally, I don’t see any hint of this from him in interviews or his work rate on the pitch, but perhaps that could be a reason for it?

    After Boga’s stunning goal against Sheffield United and subsequent stella performance, he HAS to be a fixed starter for the foreseeable future. In my opinion Boga is what Jota is trying to be. I’ve heard Chelsea have sent him to us to improve his decision making, well he’s one of the few that have taken a shot this season so that’s good enough decision making for me! Though, like Jota, Jeremie can also fall victim of trying to take too many players on at once, I at least have faith in his ability to do so. We have him on loan for the full season and need to be making the most out of his time here. He will be important in our fight for survival and certainly gives the impression that he’s up for the challenge.

    Current Performance Rating – 8

    Carl Jenkinson, Liam Walsh, Jason Lowe, Cohen Bramall

    I feel it’d be unfair to pin a rating on these 4. One has already gone back to his parent club, one has been injured for the majority of the season and the other two are victims of circumstance; namely there is so much competition for their positions. Walsh looked decent in his short spell and is one for the future and Lowe has a promising track record that will hopefully serve us well later on.

    So that’s it, that’s my feelings on the new recruits. Was it long? Sure. Was I wrong? Well, why don’t you let us know…

    By Mark Watson
    @MarkWatson1875

    1 COMMENT

    1. Don’t see the Blues that often on the TV down here in Melbourne; but from what i have seen the CBs Roberts and Dean look like good value buys and seem to be on the way to forming a good partnership. I haven’t seen Maxime Colin but I hope to soon as the reserve RB is a liability; Roberts & Dean need support from out there as well as from the imposing N’Doye, who has been good I think. we have had very good players called “Roberts” in defence before of course – Harry or John anybody?. Everyone seems to like Vassell so hopefully he will be back in soon as the hard working Jutkiewicz needs a mate; that isn’t and win’t be Gallagher and I think we ask rather a lot of Che Adams who is pretty young still. Wasn’t really a Clayton Donaldson fan but I could not understand why we sold a bloke who was reliable for a dozen goals plus a season and who could be effective in a number of different formations; besides selling the leading goalscorer (unless you get a 5hitload of money for him [eg Francis Latchford (R), Burns]) never really makes sense. Jota doesn’t seem to be a Birmingham City player to me; we love – and need – runners and tacklers – hence we have always loved guys like Malcolm Page, Savage, Ferguson or Fahey and currently Kieftenbeld who can pass decently as well as do those things. Selling the German bloke was also an error. Not expecting too much but then I have just finished watching the game at Bramall Lane; it was a desperately poor match but Sheffield didn’t look too much better than us and they are way up the table. So I think we will do OK but not great while Cotterill holds a season long try out to see who can play and who wants to be at St Andrews. KRO & NSD!!!

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