Often Partisan

The One That Got Away

One topic I’ve seen crop up on messageboards over the weekend has been a return to the old favourite – the one that got away. This time it’s been prompted by Sone Aluko scoring his third goal in his eleventh appearance for Rangers; something that has prompted me to think of other players who maybe were sold on before they had chance to make their mark for Blues.

Sone Aluko was sold in 2008 for £50,000 having only made one first team appearance – a twenty six minute cameo in a league cup win over Hereford United. I can’t remember much of him in the reserves but I do remember him looking a bit lightweight and I can’t say I was massively surprised that he was moved on. Even now I’m not convinced he would have done anything for Blues – whilst he’s done well in Scotland I think there can be no argument that the Scottish leagues are considerably weaker than the English ones and despite having a decent start for Rangers I don’t believe he’s one we’ve massively missed out on.

I asked the question on twitter about players who have got away and a large amount of people came back with the answer Andrew “AJ” Johnson. Now, AJ had made a few more appearances than Aluko when Blues moved him on – 104 to be precise. It’s true he moved on to greater things; eight England caps and fifty one Premier League goals in six and a half seasons for Crystal Palace, Everton, and Fulham isn’t too shabby. I think people also point to the deal which saw us give four million quid and AJ for Clinton Morrison, who didn’t exactly score a hatful of goals for the Blues. That being said, I personally am of the belief that AJ was never going to make it for us – in those 104 appearances he scored 13 goals and he seemed to be stuck in a rut (or running towards the corner flag) whilst he stayed at Blues.  Before he was sold I can’t remember there being as many convinced of how good as he was as those who now look back in hindsight and think it was a mistake to sell him.

For me, the one I believe Blues did make a booboo with was Steve Finnan. Sold for £300,000 to Notts County, Finnan played well at Meadow Lane before being picked up firstly by Kevin Keegan’s Fulham and then Liverpool in a £3.5million deal. Sixty two caps for the Republic of Ireland, a Champions League Final appearance and a record of scoring in the top five divisions of English Football all point to a player who rose to the very top. Whether he’d have done that with Blues is another story, I guess.

It’s very hard to predict whether a youth player will make it, and I think it’s easy to look back in hindsight to say “yeah, we should never have sold them”. For every AJ that made it to the top there is a Neil Kilkenny (now at Bristol City), Krystian Pearce (Notts County) or Sam Oji (Tamworth) who showed promise but never quite lived up to the billing. Right now it’s all about how long Blues can hold on to it’s current crop of stars in Redmond, Mutch and Butland; but I do wonder if we’ll look back in hindsight and think Blues should never have released Alpa Ozturk, Omar Bogle or Mitch McPike.

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25 Responses to “The One That Got Away”

  • Carl says:

    Players mostly have to move on to develop their careers, just like most jobs.It’s quite rare for players with potential to be given the development space at their parent club to turn that into consistent performances – the measure of a quality player.

    If we’d not been relegated and had little money to bring in more players this season then it’s very likely Mutch and Redmond would not be seeing as much game time.

    I don’t believe AJ would have become the same player coming off the bench at Blues – he had to move to the Championship.

    That’s why it’s key to be looking at the developing players at other clubs (look at Larsson when we took him on loan from Arsenal, he needed to develop consistency to his game). Which is an argument for the benefit of the loan system: why sell them on if you don’t need to.

  • I am one of those that felt we had been short changed by Crystal Palace concerning the AJ/Clinton Morrison deal and I still maintain that deal was a poor outcome for Blues. I believe AJ would have made it at Blues and we would have got a decent amount for him when we sold him as inevitably we would have. The problem as I see it with our academy kids has been that we have sent players out on loan as all teams do but then have repeated the process too many times. If you keep loaning youngsters to League 2 or League 1 sides over and over that is what they become. In the end the only way you find out is they are good enough is to play them in the first team but that takes faith and courage on behalf of management doesn’t it? It was certainly never going to happen with McJudas who was keeping highly paid transfers and loans on the bench whilst fielding people there to start with! The youngsters we had had no chance did they? It’s good to see one or two getting an opportunity now under a far more enlightened manager. KRO SOTV

    • almajir says:

      I present to you the other side of the argument – they weren’t good enough for the first team. Redmond and Mutch were the first two I’ve seen in quite a while who I thought would cut it.

    • Alex T says:

      ‘If you keep loaning youngsters to League 2 or League 1 sides over and over that is what they become’
      I agree with that 100%…. or if I was a footballer, 110%!

  • Berkshire Blue says:

    The ‘one that got away’ for me was Nigel Winterburn. One unused sub appearance for Blues at Brighton under Jim Smith and then released by Ron Saunders ….eventually achieving much greater things. Not the only player misjudgement by Ron as I recall.

  • Stevie Blue says:

    Including players we’ve had on loan what about Scott Sinclair? Not good enough to play regularly for us 3 seasons ago, now looking a quality player at Swansea! I was also one of the ones who protested at the sale of AJ. 104 appearances yes, but how many were starts? How often did he play in his preferred position? Other loan players came in an partly impeded his development as well (e.g. Mark Burchill). What bugged me at the time was Steve Bruce’s reasons for swapping him they were all totally negative and short term. The overall point is though that Blues have a very poor record of producing players (remember the very short term thinking of Brady/Sullivan who closed down the academy?). Hopefully starting with Mutch et al we can begin to reverse that trend. It certainly makes sense with all our financial uncertainty.

  • RichardW says:

    Wilson Palacios made Wigan a lot of money after leaving Bues on the cheap – an early misjudgement from McL !

  • skareggae72 says:

    David Seaman,we sold him to QPR for £225k in 86,two years later he went on to get his 1st England cap under Bobby Robson and never looked back(apart from the time he got chipped from the half way line!)

    • Julian says:

      Remember what Ron Saunders said after pumping a few shots at him on the day he signed? “I’ve made a mistake. He’s even better than I thought he was”. TBF he was sold only because we needed the money.

  • I Roth says:

    Nicky Forrester, Was one I thought should have stayed. Scored goals everywhere he went.

  • nick says:

    that figueroa lad was another one maybe

  • Spud says:

    Bit harsh on Oji, who was released after career threatening injuries. He’s only just back to fitness now with Tamworth

  • jeff says:

    is that kenny augstein the same fellow who was at blues.?playing for swansea now

  • bluenoseneil says:

    Here’s 3 players we won’t miss: Walter “The Rifle” Pandiani, Emile “Where’s The Goal” Heskey and Christian “Chucho” Benitez.

    All of them will go down in history as the “it’s not what he scores, it’s what he does for the team” category but as Strikers they were all monumental disappointments, and continue to be (Pandiani – average 6 goals per season, Heskey – 4 per season, Chucho – 15 per season). Perhaps only the latter would’ve been worth keeping….if the standard of our football in England was comparable to that in Ecuador…ahem…

    • almajir says:

      Chucho plays in Mexico.

      • bluenoseneil says:

        …and The Premier League it ain’t, right Almajir???

        • almajir says:

          It’s a different league, yes. But most foreign leagues are different to the PL in that there tends to be more time on the ball for skillful players and thus players with high technical ability rather than athletic prowess tend to excel.

          Look at how players from La Liga struggle in the Premier League – and vice versa.

    • Bluenosejohn says:

      Is that the same Benitez who in the 21 Premier League matches he started we got 40 points in??? Shame McJudas shared your view.

      One can add Mauro Zarate to our Scottish friends list. More time on the bench than the pitch but since then good enough for Serie A.

      Or Wilson Palacios, discarded on the basis of a Birmingham Senior Cup viewing despite an Arsene Wegner recommendation.


  • jazzzy786 says:

    I remember seeing Luciano Figueroa in a pre season friendly and thought the Guy looked the mutts nuts. He had great pace, skilful and great positional sense. I never understood why he never got a chance to play for us. Does anyone know what happened to Njazi Kuqi who was supposed to be a deadly goalscorer.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    Ricky Otto, we should never have let him go!

  • bluenose08 says:

    bryan hughes was one of my favourites who i thought we should have kept longer. last i heard he was with accrington stanley.

  • noobloo says:

    Players go through peaks and troughs in their careers. Andy Carroll and that forgettable bloke who cost £50million.

    Sometimes a player would never flourish at a particualar club due do the management team there or the system they play, so i dont see the point of even worrying about this guy.

    To flourish at B/ham now then the current management team need to see hard work in training and that obviously wasnt happening enough to merrit a new contract.

    We need to have faith in the currentmanagement team to reaise future potential and not cry over people who have gone

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