Often Partisan


If there is one player that divides opinion amongst the Birmingham City faithful, it is Cameron Zishan Rana-Jerome. To many, he is seen as a bit of a misfit; a striker who doesn’t score, who can’t control the ball well and a complete non-entity within the team. To others, including me, he’s actually alright – eleven goals last season points to a striker who can find the net; he’s still young at 24, and he’s still improving.

Sometimes, it’s easy to criticise Jerome. A game that springs to mind is the one against Blackburn, the final game of the 2007/08 relegation campaign. He was presented with an absolute sitter of a chance in front of the Tilton, and he blew it over when faced with an open goal. Yet the next two chances he had – a volley and a one on one with Friedel ended with the ball nestling in the net. It’s stuff like this that fuels the people who don’t like him; they see the misses and forget that he’s been our top scorer for the club in two of the last three seasons.

Another stat that I’m fond of recalling is that since Trevor Francis left, only two players have scored more league goals than Jerome; Paul Furlong (another maligned player), who got fifty in one hundred and thirty league games (mostly at a lower level), and Wayne Clarke who got thirty eight, (one more than Jerome currently) in ninety two appearances. Historically, we’ve never scored that many goals so for Jerome to have scored eleven in the Premier League last season without one coming from a direct free kick or a penalty in my opinion speaks volumes about just how prolific he is for us.

I will freely accept that Jerome isn’t (and probably never will be) England class, despite Jay Bothroyd getting a call up. He is an athlete more than a technically gifted player; I think if he was talented as well as possessing the pace and power he does, he wouldn’t be playing for us – he’d be with a top four team. For four million pounds, Jerome has (for my mind anyway) been a very good acquisition, and with the rules regarding homegrown quotas now in place has probably doubled his value. If he was to score eleven again this season, I have no doubt he’d be a £10mil plus player.

Unfortunately, I think Jerome is subject to the increasing fickleness of Birmingham City fans. I think our ninth placed finish of last season has spoilt us, and now some fans are expecting us to do better this season – and for all the players to push on as well. I think it will be ultimately very hard for Blues to do continually as well as they did last season, unless we do really well in the transfer market. What I would say is that Jerome is continuing to give us his all; is continuing to chip in with goals; and despite what many fans might say and think, I do believe he is still improving. It’s been said that strikers don’t hit their prime until their late twenties; something that is still a few years off for Jerome. I hope for his sake the fans get off his back; strikers thrive on confidence and I think it’s only when the fans truly get behind him that’ll you see the best from Jerome.

Talking Points sponsored by John Hicken Industrial roofing and cladding materials


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