The January transfer is often a time 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 terrible 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!
WORST JANUARY BUYS
5. ROWAN VINE
The signing of Rowan Vine was as a typical Blues striker transfer. Striker in form, scoring for fun in the same division with a smaller rival, of course the obligatory recent goal in a 2-2 draw at St Andrews as if to scream come and sign me! Everything points to a good piece of business.
However, Blues have seen many a striker come to us and fail to find the same form. In the end, signing the striker from Luton Town did at least weaken a rival whilst Blues went and clinched automatic promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking under Steve Bruce.
Record that season: Luton – 26 appearances, 12 goals and 1 assist.
After signing for £2.25 mil -17 appearances, 1 goal and 1 assist.
4. TYLER BLACKETT
The first loan signing to make an appearance, but would a worst of be complete without a Lee Clark addition? Tyler Blackett came to Blues at a time when our manager appeared to have reached breaking point, (Lee Clark’s selection bingo anyone?) and may have not helped young Tyler. However, he never looked comfortable playing at Blues either at left back or centre half, and he still went on to make actual appearances for Manchester United under Louis Van Gaal.
3. ROBBIE BLAKE
Another 1 goal striker purchase, Robbie Blake came from Burnley having consistently scored goals in the Championship for Burnley. £1.25mil was the fee paid by Steve Bruce, and he joined our forward line of Dwight Yorke, Emile Heskey, Clinton Morrison and found it hard to make an impact. He was always to be on this list, for doing the somewhat typical footballer comment of taking a step down but still claiming that ‘he’s joined a bigger club’ in Leeds United.
Blake would return to Burnley and secure his folklore at the club, scoring in their first ever win in the Premier League, at home to Manchester United in a 1-0 victory.
Alex McLeish helps secure this spot for Michel, purely for the fact of how hard he pushed for the player across 2 transfer windows. Michel came as the heir apparent to Barry Ferguson, signing from Sporting Gijon. However, he did little to dislodge Ferguson and did not hang around long enough to see the end of Ferguson’s time at St. Andrews. Within the year, he was leaving England for a Greek adventure at AEK Athens on loan, missing out on the Carling Cup success of a month later.
1. MARTIN LATKA
The image of Marlon Harewood ripping through Blues at Upton Park was something which he did rather regularly when playing against us for various clubs, but the torment he caused Martin Latka on a cold Monday evening, on the sky cameras, help secure his place as the worst January purchase in the last 15 years. In a season when Blues had renowned premier league performers, such as Emile Heskey, Nicky Butt, Maik Taylor, the club would see their 4 year stay in the big league come to an end. Our 2006 January signings did little to suggest at one last throw of the dice to survive, with a FA Cup hero DJ Campbell and Chris Sutton signed to score the goals, but our defence struggled with injuries to Matt Upson and Latka was just not up to the standard of the Premier League.
Honourable mentions are required for a few (un)fortunate to miss out, Ferdinand Coly having to make his only Blues appearance against one of the best sides to visit St. Andrews, Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord and Dennis Bergkamp inspired Arsenal. For all of Bruce’s masterstrokes in January 2003, Ferdinand and Piotr Swierczewski were the forgotten signings who failed to make any impact whatsoever. In more recent times, another Lee Clark signing Albert Rusnak, who was touted to be our saviour, only to be bombed completely after 3 appearances.
Do you agree with this top 5 and are there anymore you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comment section below.
Look out for our Top 5 Best January Transfers!