The January transfer is usually one that can save a team’s faltering season, whether it is a new manager putting his stamp on the club for the first time after taking over mid-season, or a manager’s desperate attempt to improve their chances of maintaining their divisional status. As Bluenoses, we’ve seen both with mixed success.
From the joys of the Steve Bruce era, where in the final minutes of the January 2005 window securing a never before seen Mehdi Nafti on a loan, to the successful mid season transfers which added Prem experience in the shape of Jamie Clapham and Stephen Clemence, who allowed us to survive our first foray in the top division for 16 years.
Why only the last 15 years? We’ve had some great signings way before that you say…merely the fact this was the first time Blues were forced to sign players by 31st January deadline, otherwise it would be a no contest and Oliver Tebily would win this like that 50/50 with no boot at the Den!
Recap on who I chose as the worst 5 January purchases can be found here: http://bcfcfollowers.com/featured/top-5-worst-january-transfers-in-the-last-15-years/
TOP JANUARY BUYS
5. Federico Macheda
This may appear to be a strange choice, however when you assess just how important Federico’s goals were in helping us survive the drop that fateful day at the Reebok in May 2014, we would have been relegated weeks before! In 18 appearances, he fired in 10 goals, including braces in a 2-0 win away at Charlton and a 3-3 draw with Burnley. Throw in the late leveller vs. Derby County and you have 5 additional points. Who knows where we would be now if it wasn’t for Macheda?
4. Lee Bowyer
Despite protests ending a possible transfer to the Blues a couple of years previous, Alex McLeish was not to turn down the opportunity to bring in Lee Bowyer to aid Blues return to the top flight in 2009. He would go on to become a big fans favourite, certainly helped by making a scoring debut to rescue a 1-1 draw at home to Cardiff City. He would be a key part of the team which stayed up the following year, breaking club records for unbeaten top flight games, and who can forget the mass roar of St Andrews as he crashed in the first Blues goal of that second leg of the Carling Cup against his beloved West Ham? His contribution to the club’s success should not be understated.
3. Matt Upson
I already touched upon January 2003 in the beginning of the article, and in truth both Clapham and Clemence are hard done by not to be in this list. However, Matty Upson was the ideal partner we needed alongside Kenny Cunningham and so it would prove for the next 2/3 years before we succumbed to relegation. His signing from Arsenal was arguably more important than that of a certain Frenchman. Sadly for us and Upson, injuries soon came back to haunt him as they had to stunt his progress at Arsenal, and I still remember seeing him limp down the Tunnel at Villa Park and that being the crucial blow to our chances of survival in 2006.
2. Obafemi Martins
Now yes, Obafemi Martins features high on this list, yet his appearances were limited for us. But would any of you really swap the joy of 27th February 2011 for anything? And when you answer No, we owe it to Obafemi being in the right place at the right time. For that same reason, the man who now has his own day amongst the Blues fans, has his name sung long after leaving the club at many an away day, just had to appear in this list. To justify the argument further, we saw Birmingham City play in Europe! As a 28 year old I have seen the Blues during our best ever period of history, and Obafemi alongside every member of that Carling Cup Final day will always be remembered!
1. Christophe Dugarry
Birmingham City, and more so Steve Bruce, enticed a World Cup winning striker to St. Andrews to come and score the goals to help us stay in the Premier League. He made his debut appearance against one of the best sides to visit St. Andrews, Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord and Dennis Bergkamp inspired Arsenal, and I vividly remember him doing a Zidane spin against Chelsea at home, which despite leading to us losing the ball and a goal seconds later, was still appreciated by the Blues fans for being here to do so.
His start was in fact devoid of goals, he had to wait until April to finally break his duct, but just like buses, they then came with frequency. Having opened the scoring against Sunderland with a header, he then went on to score an elegant back heel away at the Valley in a massive away win, before the Southampton game where he took it upon himself to tear them apart in a 3-2 victory. Five goals in four games and his legend amongst Blues fans was there for all to see. An injury hit and form lacking second season would not darken that impact he gave to us, and helped steer us to the comfort of 13th position on our return to the Premier League.
Honourable mentions go to Walter ‘el rifle’ Pandiani and Jermaine Pennant, who both began with a flurry on their debut at home vs. Southampton, Pennant being arguably the best crosser of a ball I have witnessed in my time as a Bluenose however Pandiani faded badly in his second season as we were relegated. Mauro Zarate, was another striker who came and was arguably too good for us, used mainly off the bench by McLeish as we again slipped out of the Premier League.
As the window draws to a close for this January, and the noise out the club being we won’t sign anyone, what we’d take for one of these 5 players to come and inject fresh impetus into our season.