Often Partisan

Cover for the sake of it

Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett has confirmed that the injury to Michael Morrison may not be as bad as first feared, and although the former Charlton vice-captain will not be able return immediately he should be back in action sooner rather than later.

With Blues not recruiting anybody permanently in the latter weeks of the transfer window, there has been some worry among fans that cover at the back is light, particularly with David Edgar departing until the end of the season on loan to Huddersfield. It’s a view that’s understandable, with Paul Robinson and Jonathan Spector being relied on to play in the heart of the Blues defence for the last two games with only Jonathan Grounds for cover due to the aforementioned injury to Morrison along with Will Packwood long-term absentee Gavin Gunning.

Not signing anyone is a risk taken by Rowett, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s not just a calculated one but a shrewd one as well. Without going into too much detail, I don’t buy into this belief that some Blues fans have that the squad is small; if anything, I see shipping out players like Neal Eardley, Mark Duffy and Olly Lee as proof that there is a bit of deadwood in there and it was in need of pruning. While I can understand that we’re a bit lighter at centre-back and that Spector has in the past appeared to be made of glass, I think he’s done well enough in the last two games. Will Packwood is now fully fit again – I don’t think Morrison is too far behind him – and then we’ll be back to a point where we have enough cover at centre back. If we had signed someone in permanently, then we would probably be overstocked again – which on a limited budget isn’t a great plan.

Taking a player on emergency loan is different; rather than signing someone until the end of the season we can take them for 28 days – which is extendable should cover be needed  to 91 days – and barring a catastrophe a loan signing would probably suffice. With the transfer window now closed for Premier League clubs, there will be some scope for them to move out younger and fringe players who need game time – with the possibility that Blues won’t have to pick up all their wages either.

Longer term, I think we need to accept that Rowett’s transfer strategy is markedly different from Clark; rather than flapping and bringing in “cover” and “bodies”, Rowett seems intent on bringing in quality – and if he can’t get it, he’s not signing someone for the sake of it. Blues were chasing an international centre-half from the continent on deadline day – who I understand wasn’t Marcus Nilsson – but for whatever reason that deal didn’t happen. I would have understood it then if Rowett had gone to a plan b and tried to make a quick swoop for someone to fill the position, but it appears Rowett is calmer than me and has decided to keep his powder dry – and on reflection, I’m pretty sure that’s the right thing to do. Signing people for the sake of it can clog up the squad somewhat – and if they are signed permanently leaves us with the issue of what to do when they aren’t needed as cover any more.

I do believe if this had been Clark in the window he’d have lambasted from all quarters – including by me – but I think this is because of the lack of trust I had in Clark at the end to do anything right. Results on the pitch have pointed to the Bromsgrove Mourinho getting it right and I’m willing to trust his judgement for a while longer – but like everything, this is a test of his management. Come the end of the season, we’ll know if he’s got it right or not – but right now my bet is that he will have.

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33 Responses to “Cover for the sake of it”

  • Poppa999 says:

    Morrison, Packwood and Gunning back very shortly. Have faith.

  • Dave Mann says:

    I’ve said on earlier conversations that if he was gonna sign someone they would have to be good enough to push for the first team and not be a stop gap… With packwood back and Morrison only a week or two away then there was no need to panic and as I thought Mr Rowett didn’t and fair play to him for that, as it looks now were not going down and were not going to make the playoffs so ime really looking forward to an exiting rest of the season (I say in a sarcastic tone) so roll on Fulham and a win to get out of this rot were in (no win in 3 games) and take us to 40 points!! Kro

  • KRO says:

    Personally i prefer the trimmed down squad with consistent selections. A huge squad is not much use if half of them are no better then our youth playing in the U21s…

  • Swedish Bluenose says:

    There is too much money involved in today’s football business and you never know if a manager at the top levels is a good manager because he has owners that allow him to bring in so many players at extremely high salaries. If, for example, Harry Redknapp or José Morinho should be responsible for Birmingham City under the same conditions as Gary Rowett works, I am not sure they would do anything better than Gary has done.
    He has really shown his managerial talents by handling a squad of players that need to have limited wages and he has no money bag for bringing in players. He has just done it the old way, when you need to get a team to gel and play for each other. I am so much impressed by the work he has done in such a short time and I really, really hope we can keep him as a manager for many years to come.

  • pieman1979 says:

    GR’s true test will be next season, this one is all about getting enough points to survive. If we’d have had him rather than LC at the start of the season I believe we’d definitely be pushing for the playoffs by now. A mid table place would do for me this season. Keep Right On.

  • Jazzzy786 says:

    The problem with having no cover is if we get any more injuries or Robbo gets suspended we are up shits creek without a paddle. An option naybe to blood youngsters like Josh Martin and James Fry.

  • eric says:

    Please drop the “Bromsgrove Maurinho” label – I cannot stand the arrogance of Maurinho and our man is certainly not that!!! Thanx….

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    Every challenge that has been thrown at GR since he walked through the door has been dealt with admirably so who are we to question him. If it’s a response from a heavy home defeat or being 2-0 down at half time he always seems to find a way. He’s probably riding his luck a bit on the injury front and I thought he’d made a mistake letting Edgar go but how can we be critical when you look at the league table. I think one thing in his favour is the fact that there’s not so much pressure from a relegation/playoff perspective. At the same stage last season we are 7 points better off after 28 games (GD -2) but only took another 14 points from our remaining 18 games and it’s hard to see us doing that again.

  • andy says:

    We have to remember that Gary Rowett is a young manager and he will make the odd mistake and will learn and benefit from that. So far, what Rowett and his players have achieved is nothing short of incredible.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    If Blues’ have an objective to return to the Premier League they need to gradually improve the quality, not the quantity of the playing staff. Only 2 or 3 of the existing squad have the potential to hold there own in the Premier League.
    To increase the squad’s quality sufficiently needs money for both transfer fees and salaries, money the club hasn’t got.
    Blues’ lost all their quality players quickly in 2011/12. To recruit quality players will take much longer.

  • Beegeeblueboy says:

    I fear I am going to witness one of Spector’s rickets today

    • BeeGeeBlueBoy says:

      One or two scary moments but no rickets today.

      A thoroughly enjoyable game and some great attacking play. Anything between 3-1 to 5-1 at half time wouldn’t have flattered is

      Taking off Shinnie always seem to signal a message of passing the initiative to our opponents though

  • swissjonny says:

    It really is a treat to hear GR’s intelligent after match interviews and comments.We have a good man here.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Enjoyed the day generally yesterday with a boat trip on the Thames and a very good game of football BUT not happy with dyer starting ahead of gray on the left and shinnie being substituted when he was clearly the best player on the pitch so should have won the game by half time and two points dropped in my opinion but maybe ime being a bit over critical so two home games coming up and six points up for grabs so all is not lost and still a sniff at the top six though it is and I do understand gonna be very difficult but one thing is for sure if we win Tuesday its 14 points clear of the bottom three and that will be safety Guaranteed no argument !! Kro

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I thought the inclusion of Dyer was justified and his performance proved that. he can only get better with game time. For me, the substitutions stopped us winning the game. Shinnie should never have been taken off.. and if Gray was going to come on, it had to be for Cotterill or Dyer… he ain’t no number 10. Imo, Thomas should have replaced Donaldson, to keep the pressure on up the pitch (he must have peed in Rowett’s pond to be so under-used. :) )

    We need to start turning some of these draws into wins, or we won’t climb any higher. I think four consecutive draws have effectively put paid to any tilt at the play off positions. Still, when all is said and done, we’re unbeaten in the league this year and sitting comfortably in 11th place, so we can’t complain too much.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Yeah I agree but when we play as well as we did in that first half and have Gray, Thomas and zigic on the bench and Morrison to come back and being able to take our best player off when were drawing must mean that if not this season but next season we will be good enough to push properly next season… But then it’s all down to our wonderfull owners if that’s to be a reality !. Kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I think that basically Dave, Rowett is still assessing the squad as he goes along.. but I’m pretty sure that, by the end of the season, he’ll know exactly who he wants to keep and who won’t be good enough for next season. We’re pretty much safe now (it would take a collapse of premiership proportions for us to be relegated) so let the assessment continue and make the best that we can out of this season.

  • atko says:

    My only concern with not having a great deal of cover at the back whilst Morrison is out is the games we have coming up. We have 4 games in 14 days, or 3 games in a week almost from Wednesday next week. Whilst he can’t come back soon enough for us fans, hopefully he won’t be rushed back for any of those games unless he’s 100%. Credit where it’s due though, Spector is playing well at the moment which just goes to show that bringing in a new manager in GR was like bringing in a completely new squad with him. He knows how to get the best out of his players that’s for sure!

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I agree. Although Spector is playing well – and has to be commended on that – he’s not the long-term solution. He can’t be relied on for a whole season, or even most of it. He’s a competent stop-gap, but a permanent replacement needs to be brought in at some point.

  • Dave Mann says:

    To be honest since Morrison got inured we’ve had two clean sheets and conceded just one goal so Spector as been a welcome stop gap and that’s good for blues if he can stay injury free but the loan market opens this week and we sure do need another centre half but he has to challenge to play alongside Morrison in the first eleven and not just cover for covers same because with packwood back fit and the form of soector if certainly is not panic stations by any stretch of the imagination so millwall tomorrow and a win a must after four league draws in a row but this also could be a banana skin so we’ve got to be on the ball and play attacking football.kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Millwall may be a different proposition compared to pre-Xmas. Holloway shipped out quite a few players in the January window and brought 7 or 8 new players in. Maybe we’ll catch them before the new players have gotten used to each other. If we can play like we did on Saturday, but put the ball in the net.. I can see a decent win. I just hope that if we fire as many blanks as Saturday, Rowett has the sense to change it (but not with Zigic please.) A draw at home to Millwall would be a poor result. IMO of course.

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