Often Partisan

The Full Back Curse

Ben Gordon was stretchered off in the development squad fixture against Derby County at Wast Hills yesterday to further increase Birmingham City’s defensive injury problems. With David Murphy a doubt for Saturday’s fixture against Leicester City Blues are down to just Paul Robinson (whose contract expires on October 26) and rookie Mitch Hancox as choices for the left back slot. Are Blues cursed at the back?

I have to admit that my first reaction to Gordon’s injury was one of ambivalence; whilst it’s never nice to see a player badly hurt it’s not an injury that I honestly believe will affect Blues greatly. After a couple of appearances back in September Gordon has slipped down to fourth choice left back and if I’m brutally honest it was my opinion that we’d never see him in a Blues shirt again.

However, I can imagine Clark is worried about his defence. Currently he has two fit centre halves (assuming Davies is fit again for the Leicester game), an on loan rookie right back and two left backs – one two and a half  weeks into a month contract and one who has ten minutes in professional football to his name. It’s not the best situation to be in and bearing in mind Blues built their side on a solid defensive foundation it’s not conducive to Blues charging up the table.

Yes, it has to be said Clark has had some poor luck in the defensive department. He’s lost Stephen Carr who looked back to his best of last year in pre-season and Paul Caddis who looked promising in his two appearances for the club. Pablo had started to come good in the centre of defence and was getting the run of games he needed to hit peak form when he broke his toe. And then there was the hamstring injury to David Murphy, who has looked as good a left back as any I’ve seen in this division. To lose those four players and be forced to either use untried rookies or out-of-position midfielders is going to test anyone and with the rest of the side looking distinctly unimpressive it’s been a veritable baptism of fire.

Despite all that and the constraints Lee Clark has been operating under however I think there has to be some fault at the door of Clark. It was obvious to anyone at the start of the season Blues were short of cover at the back but Clark decided to bring in two central  midfielders and a striker/winger on permanent deals before loaning another central midfielder in. It’s a big call to rely on a thirty-six year old at right back no matter how much of a machine he looks in training and it’s an even bigger one if the only cover are players who can “do a job” in that position – Blues don’t actually have anyone bar Carr who is a specialist right-back contracted to the club.

Similarly, the cover for David Murphy was two rookie left backs which has meant that the first bad injury to the Hartlepool-born left back has necessitated the signing of a free agent on a short-term deal – and Blues are one injury (maybe none if Davies doesn’t make it) from a difficult selection choice at centre-half. All this would be mitigated if the signings in midfield were tearing it up but none of them are making the team at the moment which just amplifies how bad the transfer decisions have been.

I’m not that superstitious and I can’t believe in a “full back curse”. Whilst I will concede that there has been some poor luck with injuries I think the lack of cover bought in at the start of the season has been brought home to roost now and the real test of Lee Clark’s management is to get the defence into some semblance of shape with the resources he has. If he can manage that then the team have, in my opinion, more chance of success. For me, the next few weeks are critical to Blues’ season and if they are to do anything like look getting close to promotion, then things have to click soon.

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17 Responses to “The Full Back Curse”

  • dan lazaridis says:

    luck doesn’t come into it, as you say, the manager signed the players for the wrong positions, players that don’t get in his ‘best XI’ – i thought Mullins could cover right back? that turned out well. LC has had his bedding in period and can now only be judged on his teams performances, he’s had opportunity to assess the squad and bring in players where required – bringing in Ambrose/Morrison/Lovenkrands ahead of much needed defensive cover will be what will eventually see him out of a job

  • Tilton10 says:

    In my opinion;

    Butland
    Spector Davies Caldwell Murphy/Robinson
    Burke Fahey Diop Redmond
    Lita King

  • Rathater says:

    Looks like we have a cursed manager too

  • “The next few weeks are critical to Blues’ season and if they are to do anything like look getting close to promotion……………….” Given that the league table starts to take shape around 10-12 games in, hopes of promotion are a pipe dream. The team isn’t good enough to emulate the highs of last season. Settle for survival with as much dignity as can be mustered, hopefully new owners by the start of next season and look to build from there. Sorry to sound pessimistic but that is a realistic look at our present situation as I see it.

    • Oldbluenose says:

      Summed up succintly, Bazza, !!. A respectable position at end of season, ?. and I also think we will have aqquitted ourselves well considering the blody awful start to our season in ALL respects, !!!!.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    As, has already been pointed out on both this site and others,!!. One wonders what ” behind the scenes training ” has had an effect also, ?. It can just be purely bad-luck, or is it that the wholesale change of backroom staff, is haveing an detrimental effect also, ?.

    I totally agree that L,C. ” lost the plot ” with his signings thus far, !!. Ravel Morrision, [ according to Richard Beale ] had a great game yesterday, doing all that one would want from a class midfielder, So will L,C, bring him back into the fold, ?. along with Diop, as defensive midfielder, Hopefully a fully fit Fahey, and we may have some sembelance of a decent midfield against Leicester on Saturday,

    Of course,!!. I am not forgetting the main thrust of your article, nameley the curse of the full-backs, One hopes that with Sector,/ and that young lad from W,B,A, [ one playing, one back-up, Then Robinson, with Hancox on the bench, we should be covered, unless Davies, is unfit, ??????????.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Deaman is a right back, Packwood is a central defender/ midfielder. Hancox is better than Gordon at LB and better left midfielder than Redmond/Lovenkrands/Elliot or anyone Clark has played there. Its not the full back area which is cursed but our manager. He’s cursed with having a sponge for a brain. We have some good players at the club but he wont play them or play them out of position.

  • andy says:

    James Hurst?

  • DinoTiltoni says:

    We seem to be overloaded with midfielders whose best days are long gone and yes, the defence appears to have been overlooked but the situation does give guys like Hancox and Packwood an opportunity. I have a feeling that Diop could also fail like Mullens, Ambrose and Lovenkrands. But I hope not.

  • Art Watson says:

    Interesting to read your comment concerning Ben Gordon and in your opinion you don’t think he will play in a Blues shirt this season.

    Isn’t this yet another example Clarks in ability to mould a team and reflects his very poor judgement.

    I for one can’t wait to see the back of this guy-sooner rather than later.

    • Blueboy 88 says:

      Spot on …outside the injury…Ben Gordon is a shocking signing
      Robinson has been drafted in as a desperate all hands to the pump signing ,
      & Mitch Hancox who was already on the books., has now also jumped above
      him in the pecking order.

      That in our current circumstances is a huge error & misjudgement by Clark..

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Deaman constantly plays RB for the development squad with Packwood CB. From what Ive seen of Deaman he looks a bit more pacier than Packwood. Like you said LC brought in a load of players in places where were okay and didn’t bring in defensive cover or a left winger. He made his own bed and his poor decisions will come to haunt him.

    • almajir says:

      Actually Jazzy, he doesn’t – Ryan Higgins is the right back for the development squad but he is only on non-contract terms. Deaman normally plays in the middle; Packwood hasn’t played that many DS games due to first team commitments and thus Emmit Delfouneso is the player you’ll normally see next to Deaman.

      Last season Jack Deaman consistently played right back… because Blues didn’t have one and he filled in.

      • jazzzy786 says:

        That’s why I thought he was a RB. Still its disgraceful we haven’t got a proper RB apart from a 36 year old Carr or a proper left winger. How many midfielders do we need?

  • Paulo says:

    If LC plans this game the same way he has done before, and becomes blinkered by his tactics and his options ..then we are gonna get battered. Leicester have done their homework already and know our defensive weakness, and how easy it is to expose JB. The team will have to play this one on their own and if LC is going to interfere (as he does) then it’s up to them to keep the energy going. I can’t see the fans giving a massive sing song and I have to admit, I could never bet against blues (to me, that would involve going to confession) and I only hope and pray that we put in a fight and forget tactics.
    Almajir ..I think a lot has to lie at LC’s door really.

  • denis thwaites says:

    The comments I have seen posted by Huddersfield fans regarding Clark and his tendency to chop and change without reason ring true here. I don’t buy the injury jinx excuse. When a team doesn’t want to play for the manager players suddenly get injuries. It happened to Bruce and McLeish and it is happening already to Clark and the geriatric clowns he has as his back up team.

    I am not disputing Gordon’s injury which was a genuine one but he in truth was just another bad signing (loan) who was doomed to fail.

    I fear for us this season. We are stuck with a manager who is a no hoper and a team that looks like it might go missing. I don’t doubt his so called passion but it doesn’t disguise a complete lack of nouse.!!


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