Often Partisan

Competing with the big boys

Birmingham City might consider themselves unfortunate to only have come away from the Riverside with a point following the admission from captain Michael Morrison that he really should have scored a 90th minute header.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the result on Saturday. Middlesbrough are a good team and have an impressive home record, and with injuries adding to recent woes in form I really did worry that we were going to take a tanking but credit to the team – that didn’t come close to happening.

One thing that did surprise me over the weekend was some of the comments with respect to Blues looking at Weston-super-Mare striker Bradley Ash. The 19-year-old has fourteen goals in the Conference South in 13 starts and while the step up to the Championship may be a huge one it’s easily possible that Ash could be one of the pieces that help fill in the gaps at u21 level.

Most people see this sort of trial the same as me – if the kid has something in his locker, he’d be a very cheap addition to the squad and potentially one that could be part of the first team next season – especially as there are no emergency loans from next season. However, I’ve seen some people see it as a sign Blues “have no money”, that Blues “will be in the wilderness for years to come” and that until Blues can spend millions of pounds on players in the same manner as some teams in this division all is woe.

Have we really become like this as football fans? Have we really been corrupted by the dollar sign so much that anything less than a multi-million spend is terrible? It’s true that Blues won’t be spending that much for a while yet – but I don’t see this as a bad thing. What money Blues do spend in the window will come from TTA, who are at this moment only loaning money to BIH (as that is all they can do) – the money will have to be paid back. Do we want to be in massive amounts of hock?

Without wanting to get all ranty, it’s like the way people ignore how much effect player wages have on the club. If Blues spend nothing in the transfer window on fees but bring in a player on wages of £15k+ a week, I have no doubt people will still moan and say that the club have no money and can’t compete even if the team is laying out nearly £400k in basic wages for a player over six months. Without a billionaire backer (or access to a huge tv deal) Blues have to be self-sufficient – 400k is a fair few season tickets worth of money.

While spending money is more likely to bring success it’s not a guarantee – as Blues proved this weekend we can compete with teams who have spent lots even with a thin squad and a semi-injury crisis. Yes, there has been a wobble in the Rowett Revolution of late but things are still much better than they were. After all, we could have gone fifteen league games without a win…

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67 Responses to “Competing with the big boys”

  • terryfied says:

    I watched the games progress with one eye closed as I expected a bit of a bashing. What a score line very happy at that kro

  • John Ramsay says:

    Good piece Dan. It seems to me people forget the dire straits we were in 12 months ago. There has been a massive turnaround both on and off the pitch. Personally I don’t want multi-million pound signings, I’d like to see more of the Michael Morrison type signings.
    Great point on Saturday, like you before the game I was expecting the worse. I guess the Boro’ fans were expecting an easy three points. Need to keep this going now at Preston and particularly on Friday against Cardiff. We so need a good performance and a home win.

  • steve says:

    I would just like to say im happy with a couple fings realy the first and most important is blues are only 2 points off play offs we dont concede many goals but we aint scoring at mo but that will happen again and lastly im looking at the bottom of the premiership and i see the bottom team ther as 6 points oops .lmao

  • Dave Mann says:

    I was happy with the draw Saturday but still a little disappointed we didn’t win it , even the Boro fans were happy with the draw more so than us so that tells you all about our away form .. Finances are tight and the squad down to the bear bones but we’re still in there and Mitchell is right about Preston tomorrow , that will tell us a lot about out chances of top six though for me and every other fan it’s this home form that needs addressing , Cardiff Friday on sky is our biggest game of the season up to know in my opinion , at home on tv and a win would give all of us a lift and give us that belief that we might just have a chance , play like Saturday and we’ve a chance , play like we did against Huddersfield and it’s not happening . Kro

  • Waycoolblue says:

    I don’t see it like that I Agree with you Dan you can compete without spending big money. But you say that the little amount Birmingham have spent or will speed is only a lone that will have to be paid back. Well what I don’t Get is TTA are buying the club so how is any money they put in just a lone and would any money they put in not just be deducted from the final price paid for the club. If

    • almajir says:

      The clue is in the announcements made to the HKSE which say loan, and the mortgage against Stans with them as the people holding the charge.

      It MAY transpire that they eventually deduct it from a purchase price – but don’t count chickens…

    • Strettonbluenose says:

      If you bought a car from a dealer, you wouldn’t expect the dealer to spend the money on improving the car. When Carson bought the club, the club never saw any of the £81m he paid – it all went to Gold and Sullivan. It’s the same with BIHL – the money from the new owners will go to the old owners, after Ernst and Young have taken their cut, of course.

      The new owners may also choose to put some money into the club, like Carson did. We may be lucky and get a sugar daddy like Abramovich at Chelsea and Mansoor at Man city but I can’t it happening to Blues! So if the new owners “invest” they will want their money back with interest. The best we can hope for is decent owners that don’t cream off too much interest and a decent manager that can get more out of the team than the individual players as well as discovering gems from lower divisions.

      On a positive note, it’s not just the Blues that this applies to. The only reason a bloke from Brooklyn, New York who used to own MBNA credit cards would buy the villa is to make money. I think his investment is down the tubes and Randy Lerner is going to get a financial haircut in the near future.

    • chris says:

      TTA as Dan says along with BIHL state this is a loan, no one would invest in a club when they don’t own it or any part of it.
      They have loaned BIHL money not BCFC which is secured against the ground at % interest so that in itself is a debt we probably can’t afford.
      Even owners want their money back like Golds, Sullivan and Lerner so it would be a massive gamble to hock the club on a long shot of promotion after the club has spent the last four years trying to run the club without further debt.
      Now BCFC is virtually running in the black some fans want to load it with debt again, where do people get their financial brains from, have we learnt nothing from relegation or the banking crisis?

  • Paul Lester says:

    I am getting a little tired of the negative press and comments that are being directed at Rowett and his team every time we fail to win a game. People need to understand what is happening within BIH and that money is in short supply.
    That brings limitations and that is reflected in the playing staff and the options Rowett has for tactics. Give Brock Madson a chance, he is young and inexperienced and was being asked to play in a position many experienced strikers would struggle with.
    For those with a Goldfish memory check the records and see how we were doing over a year ago, then reflect on the current position and the fact that true supporters are looking forward to seeing Blues play

  • KC says:

    3000 drop in attendances must be making a difference to the finances. Therefore even more why we need to get something happening at home. Brilliant Saturday but need to put away more of the set piece chances.

  • BlackCountryBlue says:

    Excellent comments. IMO the last thing we need are players who come in on inflated money (and/or ego’s) who will upset the things that have got us this far- resilience through togetherness and everyone doing their job. GR isn’t daft, he knows the score and knows it is a project and what an opportunity he has to build something from the foundations up – and it tales time. Yes, we do need to do better at St Andrews but overall we have moved forward immensely over the past 12 months and we need to remain patient for a while longer.

  • Waycoolblue says:

    If TTA want to take the club forwards they need to look after there investment. and not have it full apart before they ever get their hands on it.

    • Mitchell says:

      TTA are only loaning us money. They are not our owners and probably never will be.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        They’re in it to get us on an even keel, then sell us on. Obviously, they’re going to do that by spending as little as possible. To think they’re going to chuck hundreds of thousands at the team is a little naive. It’ll be the bare minimum, as it has been for the last few years.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    Guys, TTA aren’t buying the club they are intermediaries. We have run the two best teams in the league very close. We just need to win a home game and we will have normal service restored.
    I am still delighted by our standing at this stage even though I admit we are “carrying” several under par players due to our financial status. Need to get behind Rowett as there will be more management sackings at Christmas and GR may feel that fans are trying his patience with unrealistic expectations and unwarranted criticism. KRO.

    • almajir says:

      Aren’t they?

      • Mitchell says:

        Daniel. It would be nice to know if you feel TTA will eventually be our new owners? No credibility lost either way.

      • Bluenosesol says:

        I quote you Dan…..”As I have stated on many occasions previously, it is my belief that TTA has been set up as an investment vehicle purely for this transaction. It’s something that is commonly done to protect privacy of shareholders and to be tax efficient due to the tax neutral status for companies in BVI.”

        • almajir says:

          That doesn’t mean they’re not buying the club… It just means it’s an investment vehicle potentially to buy the club.

          Not sure what you’re missing here mate.

          • Bluenosesol says:

            Dan, previous commenters are discussing TTA as if they need to protect and nurture “their” “investment” and hence that may be the path by which investment will come into the club. My point is that TTA are acting as an intermediary for unnamed purchasers who have yet to purchase the club and hence the expectation that TTA might invest any time soon is an unrealistic expectation.

  • DENNIS says:


  • StaffsBlue says:

    I don’t give a monkey’s what a player costs, as long as he can do the job. Being in the premier league turns some fans into proper snobs where spending money is concerned.

    For example, look at Jamie Vardy’s rise to the top. Released by Sheffield Wed at 16, went to Stocksbridge Park Steels > Halifax Town > Fleetwood > Leicester City. He cost a million and it’s the best million spent by any club in the last 5 years imo. There are countless examples of players being bought for mere hundreds of thousands and going on to have a good career.

    At the end of the day, buying players cheaply is a win-win as far as I’m concerned. If it doesn’t work out, you’ve not wasted much. I’m all for it.

    • Trevor Honnor says:

      I completely agree with you.

      In this country and especially in the lower 3 divisions we have grafters who obviously have talent, athleticism and something that sets them apart from the rest of us on a football pitch. None of them get paid to play by accident.

      For me, (one of) the biggest factor is the Manager and what extra he can get out of a player. GR has shown that he can get more from players than anyone I’ve ever seen. This is why Blues are on a fairly even keel with every team in this league.
      A recent run of bad results, so what? We have this every season, every team goes through a patch sooner or later. In fact I look forward to the new year, I always think Blues do better in the run-in anyway.

      By contrast look what Van Gaal has done with £300m worth of players at Man Utd – Yes they are 4th in the league but the football is abysmal and that’s coming from Man Utd supporters. They called Di Maria a flop last season, I can’t help thinking that the manager and his ‘philosophy’ was the reason for this, not the player.

      If GR has spotted a striker with an eye for goal in the lower leagues, if his attitude is right, I say get him. He’ll be hungry and eager to impress. He will listen and GR will improve him. That conference is full of brutish, physical units in the back four, much like the Championship. Got to be worth a gamble.

  • ChrisG says:

    What surprises me Dan is that your surprised by the negative comments, i’ve seen nothing but that for months now & it’s doin my head in. You yourself could write anything above on your blog, it wouldn’t matter cos you know nothing, the negative know-it-all morons know better, that’s if they do actually read what you write, I think there’s a lot of commenters on here just come on for an arguement.

    • Bluey says:

      So anyone who doesn`t see things in a positive light is a moron? That really is a pathetic point of view.I think when you`re looking at players from Weston-Super Mare i think it`s fair for anyone to temper optimism with reality.Although throwing money on the playing staff doesn`t guarantee anything it definately helps if the manager has a sporting chance in the transfer market.For the record i don`t hear many people moaning or being negative but maybe are a bit frustrated with the boring takeover saga and living on peanuts.Finally you say you`ve seen nothing but negative comments for months.Strangely i`ve mainly seen mindless optimism and ridiculous talk of promotion.We`re all entitiled to a view.

      • Mitchell says:

        I know you have had your fair share of criticism from certain bloggers. I do also feel as a moderate,fair minded person that you have always tempered the way out optimism with caution. It is always easy to get carried away and just as easy to get deflated-but that’s par for the course being a bluenose. In truth we have been battered and bruised over the last few years and the drawn out business with TTA etc.does not help. Hang in there and with a bit of luck good times will come.

      • Dave Mann says:

        And if we’re optemistic were mindless yes , cheers Bluey . Kro

        • Singapore Brum says:

          To be fair to Bluey, the pessimists on here (and you can include me on that list), are being called morons. That is an attack on a group of people who simply don’t swim with the tide.

          Bluey on the other hand has called the comments of the optimists on here as mindless. That’s an attack on the comments themselves, not on the individuals making those comments. A subtle difference.

          Anyway, thankfully the talk of automatic promotion has died down with only something like 5 points out of the last 24 being won. A good run over the festive season and we could start pushing for a top 6 position again and as the season starts drawing towards a conclusion, perhaps more of us will start to truly believe.

      • ChrisG says:

        Bluey, tell me something, what is the point getting all stressed & frustrated over the takeover,( which WILL sort itself out in time ), when there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it?, what fans can do is channel their energies ( and this is not aimed at you in particular) into supporting the team, that is the one thing as fans where we can make a difference. The players need us more than ever now as they try to change our fortunes at home.

      • Tony says:

        Hear Hear, anyone who does not agree with this guy is a moron.

        • ChrisG says:

          Tony if you don’t like what I have to say don’t read it. You’ve actually just proved my point about people coming on here just to argue. The way you’ve answered a lot of my posts you make out you’re a lot older than me so you must be 55+ why not try acting it? we’re all bluenoses here so what’s your problem?, am I not entitled to an opinion like everyone else?.

  • Jaffa says:

    Look at Bolton!

  • Mineheadblue says:

    With regard to Bradley Ash, I’m excited that we might be picking up a raw talent. To me it’s a win-win situation, if he’s good we will have picked up a gem for peanuts. (I dare say there were Leicester fans who had doubts about Jamie Vardy when he came in).
    Really good point at Boro but would love to see us have the personnel to play an effective 442 when required…….lone striker clearly isn’t Vaughn (or Brocks) strength.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      That’s the only way you’re ever going to see 4-4-2 down StAns… is to bring in the personnel to change it. I think most of us would agree now, that we don’t have decent enough central midfielders to be able to play that way.

  • micko says:

    Absolutely right Dan. The prudent approach is the ONLY way to proceed until we are bought by Roman Abramovich (maybe not) or whoever. I agree with Jaffa – to those who want Blues to spend zillions of pounds on fees and wages, there are only two words – BOLTON WANDERERS !

  • rhees says:

    Only 1 thing to say re bradly ash. “Jamie vardy ”
    Great point on Saturday kro

  • StaffsBlue says:

    We have absolutely nothing to lose by bringing in Bradly Ash.

  • Little Al says:

    Realistic comments by Dan as is normal. I don,t understand why people on this site are quick to slag off others who have differing opinions, stick to comments relating to BCFC every one is entitled to their opinion. I am quite happy at the moment with Blues position, we are not down the bottom of the league, hiccups do occur with every team, look at Chelsea, Man City, Man U, mega bucks spent, does it guarantee success no. The sign of a good manager is to build a team on a realistic budget, Rowett has shown he is quite capable of doing that. The board have been quick to act on the speculation that Rowett my leave as they can see he has what it takes to take the club forward. Fans have to be realistic no amount of moaning is going to change the position regarding the present or future ownership .
    Look at the lot over in Aston how many managers have they had over the last few years, they have been riding their luck for a number of years but this year reality has come home to roost! They have spent millions without success, it is the norm now for managers of so called elite teams to splash the cash on foreign players, it does not always work. There is only one reason they come the vast rewards available, on the whole they are not bothered re the team they play for , or the fans.

    Give me good hard working players who have a connection to the club they play for and feelings for the fans who support them.

    Hopefully we can win a few home games starting with Cardiff, if we get in the play offs, great, if we don,t so be it, we are still in a better position than last season.

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    When I was a kid I worked at a car dealership and had the pleasure of dropping Ron Saunders home as we were servicing his Jag.He hadn’t been a football manager for some time and I asked him what he missed most about it.He said he missed the excitement of going down into the lower leagues and finding the Mortimers and Mcnaughts and developing them into stars,adding that these days it’s all about “bloody chequebooks”.Much to our dismay the Vile won the European Cup with them.
    It’s not all about money and Liecester will probably beat reigning champions Chelsea tonight with the form they are in,it would be interesting to compare how much each of their squads cost wouldn’t it?

    • KC says:

      Bit of a misery face but what a great manager who also picked up some great talent for the Blues in difficult circumstances if I remember right didn’t he end up under Ken Wheldon at the Blues ?

      • Hillfield Blues says:

        Saunders was off to the Baggies 2 weeks after Whealdons arrival and replaced with John Bond.
        Agree he had a face like a slapped arse but was a lovely bloke to talk to.

        • RichardM says:

          I see a fair few similarities between Ron Saunders and Gary Rowett, like Rowett he had bugger all money and had to mold a team on freebies, loans and knock-downs to keep us up. He found some gems in Harford, Blake, Gayle, Seamen, Hopkins and the like – and kept us up for a couple of seasons before the inevitable. Don’t forget that was in the top flight rather than the second tier. I think with more money he could have turned that team into something special.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    The BM insists Blues need to sign Vaughan who had an excellent game versus Boro. Not sure what his contract situation is but cannot see Huddersfield asking less than £500k which I cannot see us being able to afford. The u21’s play Crewe later today and it’ll be interesting to see how Bradley Ash does. I agree we need to be self sufficient. We may not be able to buy a player for £3m but we can produce one and reinvest the money back into the team.

  • andy says:

    There are a generation of supporters who have been spoilt and not tasted being a Birmingham supporter when money is very tight and fees not reaching anything above £500,000. Some have only seen the Gold/Sullivan era, splashing out some big salaries and a £6 million David Dunn signing, along came Carson and things looked even better, winning our first Major Trophy, the sky is the limit. Then came the car crash and those generation of supporters moan and groan and some just stay away. The message to those supporters is, some of us, prior to the arrival of Gold/Sullivan, have been through a lot worse when there literally was no money and the club looked like folding at one point. Dan is correct, it isn’t that bad at the moment, it could be much worse. KRO

  • Dave Mann says:

    Great point andy , teenage blues fans have seen us win a major trophy and vile teenagers have seen there team win nothing , were lucky because we support Birmingham city and that I thank god for that privelage so we’re luckier than we think . Kro

  • atko says:

    Good points made, Dan. Jamie Vardy was playing in the Northern Premier League just 5 years ago and now he’s a record holder in the Premier League. Just goes to show what can be discovered. Good on Blues taking a look at Bradley Ash hope it works out.

  • Mitchell says:

    I cannot let the day pass without reference to Ron Saunders by KC and Hillfield Blues. Saunders destroyed any creativity that Blues had when he walked through the door. He ripped the heart out of us with his biggest,cruelest move of all by pushing one of our greatest players and showman of all time in Frank Worthington out of the door. Within a week of his arrival he swopped him for Byron Stevenson of Leeds. Leeds were in heaven and we were in despair. Never forgotten that- but I still have the privilege of seeing Frank at regular intervals. He delights everybody he meets with or without his fedora hat.

  • Tony says:

    Frank Worthington was everything Saunders hated, he was as you say a Showman, an individual, and above all an entertainer.
    Saunders never wanted that. he just wanted regimented robots who would conform to his system and play the way he wanted .Frank gave more pleasure to people in 90 mins than Saunders did in the whole of his career

    • Mitchell says:

      Thanks Tony. When my family had to escape Rhodesia in the troubles I used to take them to Stans.and they loved Frank. Great cricketers my family (Colin Bland etc) and for them to drool over Frank was wonderful.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Absolutely agree with the above two comments. Going from watching Jim Smith’s team, to watching Saunders team was the biggest contrast you could ever dread to see. He might have been a nice man, but I was glad to see the back of him as a manager.

  • Mitchell says:

    Chris G. interesting that DM was your neighbour. During the evacuation of Rhodesian farmers and their families literally fleeing for their lives after decades of giving homes and employment to the very people chasing them with machetes etc.- tells its own story. On the sporting side SA had a fantastic cricketing team that could never play England etc due to as you know- Apartied. They did tour England once under a ‘different name’ and used Knowle Cricket Ground in Bristol for their games. Again politics ruined this sporting decade and denied us of a very talented SA team. After they returned home I went into politics myself on the back of this and ended up serving Human Rights with the Home Office. As regards DM,Desmod Tutu,Mugabe etc. very powerful men. Apologies to Daniel for straying off BCFC.

    • ChrisG says:

      Just shows the hypocracy in them Mitchell, I was regularly in their house as I was friends with one of the sons, I often had meals with them & DM himself gave me a signed copy of his book Rhodesian black behind bars…..to my good friend Christopher etc etc….and i’m white!!!

  • Zimblue says:

    Mitchell, I am always interested in anyone who lived or still lives in Zimbabwe.
    I lived in Rhodesia for 13 years and Zimbabwe for 24 years and some of my children and grandchildren still live there. How????? I don’t know.
    But I have been a Bluenose for much longer than that.

  • Tony says:

    Talking of Worthington is what makes it hard to accept the present state of affairs, he had more talent in his big toe than the whole of our squad put together.
    He with Archie Gemmil, Howard Kendal, Barry Bridges, Bob Hatton, Trevor F rancis, Bob Latchford ,Alex Govan. the list goes on and on and on.
    When you think of those days and look where we are now its tough to accept.

  • chris says:

    Too many fans are too impatient and want change and transfers now just like the must have (loan) society we have in general, instead of saving up for something and paying cash.
    GR is building and i don’t expect any finish above 10th this year, then maybe next season when a few have left this summer out of contract or sold he will build again and next year we may make the play-offs or about 8th then the season after we maybe ready for a real push.
    All this talk of promotion or even play-offs is pie in the sky when teams are coming down better run than we were when we got relegated and can invest 10 or 20 million.
    very few teams can compete with this except Derby, Borough, Brentford, Sheff Wed or Brighton who either get big crowds or have rich owners or both, most of the rest have parachute payments except Ipswich and us

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