Often Partisan

Long Term Thinking

The official club website ran with a story today about how Gary Rowett is changing the club recruitment policy due to the removal of the emergency loan system in the 2016/17 season.

The scrapping of the loan window was due to come in this year but due to pressure from the FA it was extended for one more season, the second time it has been extended in recent years. As any Blues fan will know, Blues have made extensive usage of the loan window since their relegation although it has to be said the reliance on it under Rowett is much less than it was under Lee Clark.

It’s an interesting interview with Rowett for two reasons. Firstly, if one was cynical it could be seen as damning towards the current crop of Academy graduates – particularly the line:

and our U21s who I feel a lot of those as technically and as talented as they are, are perhaps not close enough to the first team at the minute.

which says to me that despite having a small, tight squad Rowett is loathe to trust any of the youngsters who fill in the gaps because they aren’t good enough.

The second thing that I thought was interesting was that he made it clear that recruitment has been with an eye to bulking up the u21s and making them a feeder to the first team rather than an extension of the Academy

“The biggest thing for me is the 21s rather than being an extension of the U18s team, have got to be a feeder for the First Team. That’s going to be a real challenge.

while at the same time acknowledging that there isn’t a vast amount of money to bring in players; something I thought was pointed at not just the first team squad but bringing in talented youngsters from smaller clubs.

I’ve long been a proponent of building infrastructure. I think in some ways the Academy has already saved the club somewhat; as pitiful as the amounts received for Jack Butland and Nathan Redmond in comparison to their talents, the fees received certainly kept the club on an even keel. Demarai Gray has ensured we have another “crown jewel” of an asset within the team and if Blues can keep producing these talents it will ensure it can build on self-sufficiency in the same sort of manner (although probably not as well as) Southampton did in their time in the lower leagues.

I think it’ll be interesting to see if Blues do continue to look to youth in signings; Alex Jones and Noe Baba have both arrived this summer and we’ve seen an extended trial now for Emmanuel Mbende already this season. I’ll go as far as admitting that if we manage to achieve Rowett’s aims, ie

“By next summer it would be ideal to have five, six or seven of that U21 group ready to play in the first team if needs be.

then I think we could be in a very good place next year. While its nice to build for promotion this season I think building the backbone of a Blues squad over the next few years is proper long term thinking – something we’ve not done for a while in B9.

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48 Responses to “Long Term Thinking”

  • alex hurley says:

    Spot on.


  • atko says:

    I think it’s also important to integrate the young players around the first team squad too & give them opportunities to make the step up. I’d like to see more players given the chance like Dimi was & now Solomon. Maybe play more of them in cup games like Man Utd used to do. It gives them a big match day experience in front of bigger crowds which can only help them. Just don’t start doing it on Tuesday though, lol!

  • chris says:

    On a wider basis only allowing loans in transfer windows i believe will mean more younger players stopping at their prem team rather than being loaned out as by Aug 31 their club may not be able to make the decision to loan them out or not.
    Championship and lower clubs will not want players on a one month loan either, they will want the player till at least Xmas with no recall option and again the higher clubs will probably not be able to agree to this, especially so early in the season.
    Many young english prem players are loaned out to get experience, now it looks like more of them will rot in prem clubs reserve sides.
    Will it mean larger squads outside the prem, which will again mean less players playing first team football and higher wage bills for clubs who are already struggling or lower wages for players?

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    More common sense from Gary. I think the contract extensions and pay rises were keep the squad settled and in place for a first automatic promotion push next season and a one year contingency to 2018. By then he’d be expecting Brown, Soloman-Otabor, Jones, Harding, Baba, Martin et al to be challenging to upgrade the current squad.

  • AussieBlue says:

    Yes, for sure. Only way to go and it also brings back the true spirit of football. The big-money chuckers can buy who they want from anywhere they want but there is no substitute for a deep-rooted club culture born of development at grass-roots level.

  • Mitchell says:

    Key here is down to the intellect of the manager. In GR you have a thinking man who plans for the future and cares for youth development. If he were a Prem. manager then it would be totally different and he would walk a tightrope if he blood young guns that backfired. Football in short is split dramatically in two- Premier league and the rest of the 72. Simple as that. Trouble is that nearly all gifted 72 club young players end up in the Prem.within two seasons.

  • Lee says:

    rowett is going places, proper manager

  • Tony E says:

    I would love it if the club could achieve a modicum of success with a team the core of which is home produced players. It’s a pipe dream, but a core of Gray, Arthur, Brown, Adams, Viv S O et al would be brilliant.

    • Mitchell says:

      Nice thought Tony but all those you list would have a short tenure if they became successful. Hate it as we do- Prem and Sky rule.If we could possibly get promoted this season-just imagine the sensational breakthrough this would resonate throughout football. Not just for us to wildly celebrate but to make a moral point that average players with desire at a relatively pittance wage can achieve.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I would love us to breed our own players, it’s the best way to go, but if those young players are going to be anywhere near regulars next season, then they have to get chances this season. I’m afraid 5 or 10 minutes at the end of the odd game ain’t gonna cut it. Give them game time and let’s see if they have it in them to become first teamers. It’s this season that we need to find out if they’re going to be good enough for next season.

    • KeepRightcroydOn says:

      I agree. This is where I think McLeish and Bruce could have done more. In bringing through players from the development sides. They were quire timid about this.

    • atko says:

      I agree Staffs with the young players and the 5 or 10 mins here or there comment. As I said earlier in the thread I’d like to see the young players played in the cup games. IMO a first or second round tie full of young players then start weeding out the ones that look like they cannot cut it as the bigger clubs enter the competition and depending on who we draw if we progress. Man Utd did it & what a team they had when the Beckhams, Scholes, Butt & Nevilles came on the scene. GR’s tactics is a double edged sword to be honest. A trimmed, regular team with few changes is great for consistency but those who aren’t in that first team squad know they are unlikely to make the break unless they do something spectacular on a regular basis….but they need opportunities to do that though! Is this scenario also another reason why we struggle to get players to sign for Blues too? If you’re not given the opportunity to play, you ain’t gonna sign!

  • KeepRightcroydOn says:

    To me this seems obvious. What is the point of an Academy and U21 side if the purpose is not to feed the 1st team.

    • Mirkwood55 says:

      See under “Chelsea.” Famous football stat that the last player to come through their youth and academy system and establish himself as a first-team regular was John Terry. What happened to all the others??

      • KeepRightcroydOn says:

        Indeed. Problem at Chelsea is rich owner funds expensive signings and would not want to see him languishing in the reserves while an academy player plays in the 1st XI.

  • ChrisG says:

    I would like to see Mitch Hancox given a chance and move Grounds across into the centre of defence, Grounds has played well but I think we’ve missed that bombing up & down the wing type & I think that Hancox could be the answer

    • KeepRightcroydOn says:

      Hancox seems to be the forgotten man.

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        On the contrary. Every week Gary checks of Grounds is fit and if he is decides not to choose Hancox

        • almajir says:

          There is a reason for that Julian.

          Grounds has been quite a decent fullback in the season and a bit he’s played for us.

          Hancox has been absolutely shocking every time I’ve seen him for the reserves.

          I know you don’t like Grounds and don’t think he’s very good – and you’re entitled to that opinion – but I’m also entitled to think you are incredibly wrong.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I think the problem with Hancox is the defensive side of his game. It’s not really improved much in the last couple of years. No one could fault his commitment or attacking skills. Then again, Caddis is great going forward, but his defending leaves a lot to be desired at times. So, I don’t really know why Mitch hasn’t been given a chance.

      • ChrisG says:

        You could be right staffs but surely GR is the man to give him some pointers

        • StaffsBlue says:

          You would have thought that the manager, more than any of the coaching staff, could bring the defensive side of Hancox game up to a decent level. I fear for the lad’s career at Blues if he doesn’t crack on this season.

          • Richard Granfield says:

            I think what is holding Hancox back is his height, which he cannot do any thing about.
            The Championship is full of 6′ plus defenders and if Hancox played instead of Grounds the average height of our back line would reduce considerably.

          • StaffsBlue says:

            Surely, Richard, Caddis isn’t much bigger than Hancox? I think that, when you’re not a six-footer, it all comes down to positioning and anticipation. Gary Neville was only about 5’7″/5’8″ but what a full back. I’ve always been of the belief that you are personally responsible for improving your own weaknesses.. but a little help from more experienced players/coaches goes a long way.

          • StaffsBlue says:

            Just checked it out. Caddis is 1.7m, Hancox is 1.78m… and Gary Neville is 1.79m.

          • ChrisG says:

            Look at the last 3 left backs for England, Cole, Shaw & Baines, I don’t think any of them are over 6 foot

          • Richard Granfield says:

            My point was that the Championship is full of 6′ defenders. The Premier League is different. There they don’t lump the ball into the box so often as in the lower leagues.
            International football is similar where they don’t play the high ball so frequently.
            When Caddis lines up before the game he looks like one of the mascots. To add Hancox as well would leave us short in every sense of the word.

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        I have a feeling that if Eardley regains his confidence he could be chosen

  • Toby says:

    I’ve watched a couple of 21 games and saw the team train a few times and as much as it pains me to say it I think hancox has actually gone backwards in his development.Unfortunately with our first team back 4 I still think we have only one decent defender in Morrison and I never go into a game expecting us to keep a clean sheet.

  • chris says:

    It’s ok saying you want youngsters to come through and improve the team but how many clubs outside the prem and without rich owners or parachute payments (our situation) have done that with quality products and actually kept them to consistently finish around the top 6 or get promoted?
    It’s a big ask to find talent that can perform at 18 and many are moved on too early at so many clubs, then are a success around 24 years of age and over.
    Sears has spiralled downwards and now clawed his way back up via Ipswich, Donaldson didn’t make it till he was 30 !!!
    It needs to be a consistent production line with top scouts around the country and with top people at the academy who also don’t get poached.
    I know we have had two recent recruits to the coaching academy staff , but I would like to know more about the club’s scouting system and how they intend to improve and expand it.
    I do also like the approach that we take out of contract potential like Johnstone and Jones who are slightly older than the academy players but who may develop at an older age, but i guess that is more expensive as older players will think they should earn more even though they haven’t yet made it.

  • zxcv says:

    I really don`t think a full back has to be 6ft or over, I think it`s a must for a centre half, but its more important for a full back to be pacey. I personally think Spector and Grounds could do a straight swop with each other as grounds is so much better in the air and specs likes to bomb on bit like Grainger did. Gary should know if Hancox has what it takes as that is his position and I recon that has gone against him and tbh I can`t recall him ever being affirm regular altho he has had a spell or two and obviously failed to impress.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Top five occasions:

    1 CCFC2011
    2 Bruges away
    3 POF2002
    4 AVFC home 2002
    5 WCF 2001

  • Mitchell says:

    Ipswich game will tell us volumes about how we are at present. After Forest defeat we expect a response and to be honest I don’t see it tonight. With the hype of the Villa game looming I am afraid everything concerning the league has taken a back seat. This is sad as I am certain had we drawn an unattractive team next week then full focus would have been given to Forest game.What a difference a decent result would have made. My hope is that the Rotherham game will kick start again our season. Dearly hope I am all wrong on this but past experiences haunt me as to the predicted outcome. IMO the Villa draw was not good news.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    I don’t think it was the cup game. Bristol are a lot weaker team than Forest that’s all

  • The Flying Pig says:

    Just back to the concerns about Caddis raised by Staffs, in the past two home games he’s been exposed by balls played inside of him and that has resulted in goals for Bristol and Forest. Taking the point about weaknesses, he needs to put in some work to iron that out.

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