Often Partisan

Scouting Europe

It almost seems ironic that as Britain gets ready for a referendum on whether the country should remain a part of the EU, Birmingham City are pumping more money into scouting players that could come to the club under the freedom of movement rules.

As the English league market looks more and more inflated price-wise there seems to be more favour within the club in looking at the mainland to see if there are any bargains to be had. We saw last season with the signing of Maikel Kieftenbeld that huge amounts of money don’t need to be spent to bring in a player who will become a first team regular; unfortunately with Nicolai Brock-Madsen we also saw the perils of not getting it right with the Dane struggling to get near to the first XI.

I’ve long been of the belief that a good European scouting network could do us wonders. While it is true that some nations have contrasting styles to the rough and tumble of the English leagues I think some leagues are comparable. Kieftenbeld in particular showed how easy it had been for him to adapt to playing in the centre of midfield in England and his combative style won him many plaudits last season.

I’ve heard we might be looking even further afield this season, to places like Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Poland has been a rich hunting ground in the past for English league clubs with many players making the transition from the Ekstraklasa to the English Leagues such as Michal Zyro who but for injury was a successful signing for Wolves last year. The financial situation in Poland means that English clubs can afford to offer tempting wages without breaking the bank; for example I wonder how many are looking at 19-year-old Polish international midfielder Bartosz Kapustka while still playing for the relatively small Cracovia back in his home country.

It’s not like we haven’t looked that way before either. I remember in our dim and distant past Blues being linked with Robert Vittek of Slovakia and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski. We’ve also had young players come to Blues like Jakub Hronec and Artur Krysiak, while one of our current success stories is Romanian striker David Popa.

If Blues are to succeed on what is a probable smaller budget than most in the Championship then we need to be smarter with the players we are looking at to get value for money – and thus it is pleasing that as well as wages etc money is being put aside to improve things like the scouting infrastructure.

The appointment of Football Consultant Ewan Chester should mean it’s easier for Blues to co-ordinate their scouting efforts without having to pile another job onto the shoulders of Gary Rowett who surely will have his hands full getting the team back up to match fitness once pre-season training starts in the next couple of weeks.

As always, the proof is in the pudding. I’m kinda excited that this season it might be something a little bit more exotic than the staid English efforts we’ve become used to.

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48 Responses to “Scouting Europe”

  • Ian says:

    I also remember Arek Bak, Martin Latka and Piter Swiss-Cheese :)

    • almajir says:

      Good old Swierczewski, also known as Pete the Pole… and yes, I can pronounce his surname properly (six months in Poland didn’t completely go to waste)

  • DoctorD says:

    Britain should stay in the EU as walking away from our partners seems like throwing our toys out of the pram. We live in an international world and being isolated is ridiculous in my mind. Plus it’ll make it harder for Blues to get players in. So that’s a “Remain” for me. Let’s hope Ewan Chester can get stuck in.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    As I’ve said before, I care not where a player comes from, as long as he’s better than what we already have in that position. If he’s not, then it doesn’t matter where he comes from.

  • BlackCountryBlue says:

    Nothing wrong with having a network overseas but due diligence becomes even more important. Bringing players in from abroad presents a whole new set of if’s and maybe’s from style of play in the country they are used to down to how well will they settle/culture etc. – especially in the market we are fishing in. Lets not forget we also need to make sure we have a good handle on the non-league scene to make sure we are giving ourselves the best chance of a Vardy for example.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    The appointment of Ewan Chester as Football Consultant, bringing with him all his “Contacts”, should assist Gary with choosing from a far wider pool of players than hitherto.

  • BlackCountryBlue says:

    I see Brock-Madsen is off to the Olympics with Denmark – surely he must have more about him than many on here give him credit for, could next season be the making of him?
    I am sure we are scouting the Euro’s, it would be interesting to see what presence we will have at the Olympics where IMO there is more potential based on budget and standard of player we can reasonably expect to attract.

    • atko says:

      Those that criticise BM & Rowett for bringing him in are being unfair to the player. Personally I would have done what he did with Johnstone & sent him out on loan to get accustomed to the English game. I do believe we will get the best out of him but only when he is given a chance to play competitively and for me that should be on loan to a lower league club. He’s never played in the English game before let alone the competitiveness of the Championship. Blues hardly set the world on fire creating a ton of chances each game so expecting our strikers to score off the one chance they might get all game is asking a lot. BM came in for a lot of criticism when we saw him briefly in a Blues shirt & that was unjust.

  • atko says:

    If you think back to what GR has said about his squads you may see one problem arising from bringing overseas players in. Obviously the player has to improve the squad but a player also has to fit in to the squad & not be a disruption to the harmony of the squad. How can one possibly know if that will be the case? That obviously requires A LOT of background checking, maybe a trial at Blues (hence why we have had foreign players on trial here and sent them back without pursuing) but when we are looking at improving the squad in pre season, an overseas player (unless well known) is a bigger gamble than a player from within the home nations.

  • Royinamillion says:

    Seems that there is more to EU membership than we thought. I’m in incidentally. I remember having to apply for visa’s in a past life and what a pain that was so don’t want that back thanks.

  • Beadsy says:

    On the subject of signings nice to see Reece Brown has committed to another year. Looks like GR’s stance last season may well be starting to pay off. His talent isn’t in question and for the club to offer him a new deal after all that has gone before appears to point to him potentially having a bit of a change in attitude and knuckling down a bit.

  • Texas Pete says:

    England hasnt won anything since 1966. So why oh why do continental players have to get used to the “english game”? After last night typically frustrating competition performance, maybe the english game should be abandoned in favour of say, the welsh game.

  • Walker says:

    Romaine Sawyers
    Tom bradshaw
    Robert Tesche
    Jake Buxton

    Anyone else agree with the above?

    Raheem sterling – NO THANKS!! :0)

  • swissjonny says:

    My first real memories of an overseas player at Blues was the extraordinary Alberto Tarrantini. I seem to recall that he just decided to quit one day and jetted back to Argentina. I cant really recall any further foreign lads until we went Dutch with Toin Van Mierlo and Bud Brocken. I think however my two favourite overseas players have to have been Christophe Dugarry and Jose Dominguez. Both great entertainment, although Forssel was on fire for a season. Happy days. Sorry for the old git ramblings!

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Eamonn Dolan has died from cancer, aged just 48. RIP.

    • RichardM says:

      Very sad. I met him once at a hotel in Bristol, recognised him, told him I’d watched him at St Andrews and struck up a conversation with him. “You couldn’t have been that impressed!” he joked with me. Really nice fella. Bad news indeed. RIP Eamonn.

    • Walker says:


      Just been watching some 1990 season goals. Overson, dolan, dean peer, taity. How empty the ground was but how the players had passion for the shirt.

      Poor football but players I looked up to.

    • Walker says:

      Why would rowett chase a player like tesche for so long and then change his mind when hes a free agent. as for him having an injury didnt he play a lot the 2nd half of the season

  • Dave Mann says:

    The most talented , gifted, natural and St Andrews filling player we’ve ever had and will propably take a lot of beating … Dugarry wins hands down for me .. You were exited to go to home games then because with him in the team along with savage , Dunn , Stan and King Kenny along with the horse it was magic days . KRO

  • Tony says:

    Agree Dugarry was a joy to watch

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Chile progressed to the Copa America semi-final with a 7-0 win over Mexico.
    Out old friend Jean Beausejour featured throughout.

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    It would be a travesty if we didn’t sign Tesche imo.Our midfield is crying out for a player who can give us better ball retention and he was brilliant for us last season.If there are other factors stopping a deal then fair enough but GR would be mad to pass up the chance to get him.

    • Mitchell says:

      Not the player we knew Hillfield. Sadly bad injury has marred his talent. I know many Forest fans who know the situation and he is just not able to keep up the Championship level. It would be unfair to him to expect the standard he first showed with us. I am sure GR is aware.

      • Hillfield Blues says:

        He cracked a bone in his foot Mitchell,hardly a career changing injury.

        • Mitchell says:

          Broken foot actually,but when fans vote for him to be released it doesn’t feel right for us to sign him. Fans,like us are not daft and we know our players. If he signs for us,I will obviously back him-but history of his time with us shouldn’t cloud the reality of what Tesche is like now. Interesting to google Robert Tesche injury and Forest fans voting him out. As said previously GR must know the scene.

          • StaffsBlue says:

            I think we should be going forward now, not back. Teshe would have been a great addition at the start of last season, but I think we should move on to different targets this summer.

  • bluebag says:

    personally dont think we need tesche never a first team regular at forest . gleeson / keiftenbeld did good 15/16 and weve got cover. need some strength at the back and up front to get the goals we will need next season.dugarry for me class act.

    • Hillfield Blues says:

      Tesche wasn’t making the squad at Forest when we signed him originally so why is it important what Forest or their fans think?
      We do need strengthening in defence and up top but for me our midfield is very weak and although Gleeson and Davis have good days,they’re not good enough and need replacing.

  • Andrew says:

    We need a Darren purse and a Darren carter this season to improve the quality of the team, sign two like this and we will be able to offer better football. anything else is a bonus

  • Perhaps jay Spearing if not Tesche…

  • swissjonny says:

    You know this season is a real challenge for GR and his new consultant. As i have said before there are championship teams with ambitious owners who are going to spend and fail. When they fail maybe its lights out. Better to play the long game this season. I know its tedious but better 14th or somesuch than 7th and lights out.

    • AndyW says:

      I kind of agree with you Swissjonny. I believe the Championship this year will be harder than last year, as it always is? Without doubt, Newcastle under Benitez will be a major force, and the other relegated Premier league sides, together with those that missed out last season i.e. Derby, Brighton, Sheffield Weds etc. will be in amongst it. The promoted teams from league 1 will also be hard to beat. We cannot expect massive investment before the start of the season, and maybe not in January either. I think we should measure our expectations, allow the new regime to settle in, hold our own again this season, and then be in a position to go forward next year? I remember posting on here some time ago that the “takeover” would be elongated and so it has proven. I think we need to give it another season to really see the potential of our new owners?

  • swissjonny says:

    Bang on Andy. Measure our expectations.

    • Mitchell says:

      It is fine to measure the expectation level but do it with a bit of bravery as well. Easy to rely on the usual plodders and grafters but much more required with imo talent in house. Brown,Adams,Maxwell and VSO need blooding and what better at this stage to do it. Obviously GR needs to pick the matches etc.but we fans can do our bit in backing a few of them. Perhaps start with Brown at the onset with MK and Davis alongside. Pace is what fans like and Brown and VSO have it.Bit of bravery needed GR. Trust as well.

    • Bluey says:

      Great to see a bit of realism being put forward. This season will be another one of consolidation imho.

  • Royinamillion says:

    Clocks ticking and still no sign of new players. We will not get away with same players as last year and may struggle if we don’t get a decent centre back, left back, forward who can score and a quality playmaker.
    Consistency is our problem and results at the back end of the season were ordinary at best. Unless we can dominate teams and stop giving the ball away cheaply we are not going to improve.

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