With Blues’ pre-season campaign just over a month away, Gary Rowett will no doubt be assessing his squad, deciding which areas need to be strengthened, trimmed or overhauled completely.
Whilst the news that Rowett will receive a cash injection this summer has gone down well amongst supporters, there seems to still be the issue of resolving the future’s of the rest of the squad. Some are vital to the club, whereas others still have a lot to prove to the manager in terms of solidifying their name on the teamsheet week-in, week-out.
And one of those names is James Vaughan.
Looking down the Birmingham City squad list, it seems that Gary Rowett’s first-team striking options are looking a little light. With all loanees now returning to their respective clubs, this leaves Rowett with Clayton Donaldson and James Vaughan as the only recognised forwards in the squad. Whilst you could claim Nicolai Brock-Madsen is up in that category, we’ll leave him aside for now as he hasn’t made that many first-team appearances just yet.
Unless Rowett brings in another striker or promotes one of the youngsters to the senior side, realistically its these two battling it out to be number one at St Andrews next season.
Whilst we know what Donaldson brings to the side and the services and skills he offers, it’s a little more difficult to place a finger on what the former Huddersfield man can bring to the squad in terms of definitive results. He failed to wield a goal in 16 appearances last season and finished with just an assist to his name.
But this isn’t about slating the 27-year-old, it’s about looking at what he could offer, and lets face it, he was a little unlucky to not get his name on the scoresheet at all last season. A glaring penalty miss and a couple of off days resulted in the grim statistics, which are a little harsh on the striker.
However, we did see elements of Vaughan’s play that could definitely help the side going into next season. His work-rate is absolutely second to non, and his off-the-ball running was superb on the occasions he did feature. His movement, which is a lot more dynamic than Donaldson’s, also helped bring other players into the game on a number of occasions
Statistics provided by WhoScored suggest that based on shots per game, fouls, goals, key passes, offsides, assists, dribbles and dispossessions, that Donaldson only edges Vaughan slightly when it comes to overall performance. WhoScored gave Donaldson a rating of 6.8 for the season, and Vaughan 6.27. Whilst the number of games should be taken into account (Donaldson featured 41 times, Vaughan 16), this also gives the player the opportunity to both rise and fall in terms of overall performance, basically meaning Donaldson had the opportunity to perform higher in these categories more often.
And this should credit Vaughan rather than knock him. If he’d scored more goals, his rating would have been a lot higher and this is obviously where he needs to improve. I suspect if he’s given a chance in the first-team with some creative players around him, Vaughan could quickly knock in some goals.
The stats show it, and we’ve seen it from the paddocks- Vaughan has got something- otherwise Rowett wouldn’t have signed him. Here’s to hoping the local-born lad can find some form next season.
Images- EuroSport, SportalNZ.