Often Partisan

Scouting for Blues

The Birmingham Mail reported yesterday that Birmingham City chief scout Paul Montgomery has been relieved of his duties. Whilst this hasn’t been confirmed by the club as of yet (probably due to severance being sorted), I thought it was worth looking at what this means to Blues.

It has to be said that Birmingham City’s track record on signings recently has not been good. There have been quite a few expensive loan signings that just haven’t worked (eg Hleb, Bentley); and some mid-range signings that have barely played (for example Michel). I heard from various sources as the season came to an end that the board weren’t happy with seeing a lot of money either not playing or sat on the bench; the lack of return on investment coupled with little resale value has in all probability annoyed the Chinese. I’ve racked my brains trying to think of the last signings made that weren’t that well known, and yet have played a fair proportion of first team football, and I’ve come up with Jean Beausejour (although he had had a decent World Cup in fairness), and Keith Fahey. Montgomery is reputed to be a very good scout, yet there does seem to be a lack of good players brought in that others wouldn’t have known.

The problem for Montgomery is that Blues were in a catch-22 situation. After finishing ninth, there was calls from many people for the club to show ambition in the transfer window. We chased some players for them to change their mind, or in the case of Charles N’Zogbia their demands. Had Blues made a host of signings in the million pound bracket, there would have been a lot of outcry from a section of the support that demands multi-million pound signings. In January, even I said that the club had to show ambition in bringing in a couple of players to push us on – and I said on here that I was happy with who we signed. Yet with hindsight, I wouldn’t have touched Bentley with a bargepole.

So where do we go from here? One thing I hope for sure is that we don’t go down the West Ham road of relying on agents like Barry Silkman. I think from past experience with Sullivan et al in charge of Blues we can remember some of the dross that these kind of agents tried to foist on us. It’s all well and good looking good on a DVD, banging in goals in the Argentine leagues whilst wearing white boots and an alice band, but the Premier League is a different kettle of fish. This isn’t Football Manager, and signing players like that can cost you, as Wigan found out with Mauro Boselli.

Over the last few months, Blues have had quite a few players on trial. I think we have to expand that, get players over who want to play, give them a go and if they have potential, give them a deal. We could end up playing sixty games next season easily, so we’re going to need a huge squad to prevent burnout. Furthermore, Eck has to trust in these players – relying on experienced pros got us relegated last season. Fans in the main will give younger exciting players more time to settle, and forgive more errors. Remember Jose Dominguez – he’d take on three players, fall over and get a standing ovation. People have complained about the lack of attacking football – we now have a chance to change the squad for the better into a more pacy, more dynamic, younger unit.

This summer is going to be difficult, and it’s not going to get any easier having gotten rid of an experienced head of football recruitment. Yeung and co have decided he’s the goat – he’s the one who is going to get the blame. Now it’s time to move on, and show us how we’re going to do it right. Failure in the transfer market this summer could condemn us to a major winter of discontent.


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