Often Partisan

Striking Options

Lee Clark affirmed to Colin Tattum of the Birmingham Mail yesterday that Blues were not in the market for any more strikers, denying recent reports of links to Islam Feruz of Chelsea and Connor Wickham of Sunderland.

Blues have been busy in the transfer market this summer and have brought in two out-and-out strikers in Matt Green and Lee Novak along with Andrew Shinnie who scored 16 goals for Inverness Caledonian Thistle last season and who has played up front in the pre-season friendlies so far.

As interviews go, it was fairly ordinary but my interest was piqued by a couple of things that were almost off-handedly remarked. Clark said he was happy with what he had, saying

“I have got four, back-up in Akwasi Asante and Marlon King and Peter Lovenkrands too.

which intimates to me firstly that he’s not going to use Marlon King or Peter Lovenkrands unless absolutely necessary; and secondly that Akwasi Asante isn’t as close to the first team as maybe was first thought particularly as he’s gone on loan to Shrewsbury for a month.

I can see there being controversy over him not playing King. The London-born Jamaican international has been Blues’ top goalscorer for the past two seasons and only a serious injury prevented him from being one of the top scorers in the division last year with him being in the top places at Christmas. However, it’s my belief that Clark thinks the team plays better without King in it and I have to admit I think I can see why he would think that.

Both King and Lovenkrands have been made available for free transfer and as of yet there has been no real speculation as to where either one of them might move onto or if they will even leave the club at all. Yet Clark seems to be intent on having neither as part of his first team plans and I guess that maybe as the end of the window draws closer we might see one or both depart – even if only on a temporary basis.

For Asante this is a make or break season. The Dutch-born forward is 21 in September yet has only played 2 minutes of first team action at Blues as a late sub against CD Nacional in the Europa League. One would think for him to be a success at the club he needs to break into the first team as soon as possible yet another loan spell indicates that might not happen – in much the same way as Jake Jervis last year. However, it’s also true that Akwasi needs a run of games and maybe if he can get some week in, week out gametime with the Shrews he might be able to force his way into the reckoning.

Should the new strikeforce hit the ground running, I think Clark will be easily vindicated in his decisions but if the goals are hard to come by how long will he be able to stick to his guns and not pick Marlon King? That’s how a manager earns their corn and I believe it will be an early test of his mettle.

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80 Responses to “Striking Options”

  • bluenoseneil says:

    I think LC is ringing the changes and making his mark on things early as Lovenkrands was an unqualified failure last season. King is admittedly a riskier decision but I think he has to prove the Novak/Green/Zigic triumvirate (with Shinnie as another very good option) can and will work.

    I am personally not worried in the slightest and Marlon can go with everyone’s blessing.

    That may be a wrong decision in the short term but 6 months from now we will all hopefully be saying “Marlon who” when we have bagged 25+ goals between the aforementioned lads and things are looking good

    KRO

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Let’s just hope that things are going well… and that Marlon doesn’t have to come in and show them all how to do it. I think that will be the gauge of whether the current strike force are successful.

  • JohnR says:

    I have said all along that letting Marlon King go on a free is a big mistake. Like him or not he is the only player we have capable of scoring 15+ goals a season. Zigic won’t score many and our two mew signings Green and Novak do not fill me with confidence. I hope I’m wrong but without a goal scorer it’s going to be a long hard season.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Zigic will always miss more than he scores. For every goal he scores, he misses half a dozen sitters. If he’s our No.1 striker this season, God help us. Novak will hopefully get 10, he’s capable. Green is the unknown quantity. He could fall flat on his face…. or score 20+.

      I thought exactly the same as Almajir, if Asante doesn’t break through this season, he won’t get another contract. I don’t see Shinnie as a striker at all. I see him in the space behind the striker(s.) He may need a bit more space than a striker gets to be effective. Lovenkrands isn’t worth a place in the squad, we all saw that last season.

      As for King, love him or loathe him, he’s still the best striker we’ve had since Forsell and maybe Stevie Claridge before him. You just know he has 15-20 goals in him.

  • Pete says:

    I agree with Clark- we do have the quantity up-front. Whether we have the quality remains to be seen…..

  • Kaje says:

    It sounds as if they have given up hope on finding new clubs for King and Lovenkrands, which was obvious from the start. No club will offer them the same (or higher) terms and they’re happy to sit on the last year of their contract here.

    It’s a lot of dead wages for those two, however, if they’re not used. And to not use a 15 goal a season striker if he’s available would be a ridiculous decision.

    Clark needs to have a rethink.

  • Steve says:

    I think King & Lovenkrands need to be forgotten i’m sorry to say. I think Matt Green can replace King ‘s goals. The guy looks a good finisher..and i reckon he’ll surprise a lot of people. Asante..really at 21 you should be knocking on the first-team door. LC and his staff will no more about the player than us fans who don’t see what they do day to day. I always have the example of AJ though when talking about strikers. He didn’t show his goalscoring potential until he went to Palace..ie a late developer.

    • Kaje says:

      It’s dangerous to suggest that a natural Championship level goalscorer can be replaced by a natural lower league one – many have come up from the lower leagues and failed to impress.

      I’m not saying Green WON’T score as many as King has done for us – I’m just suggesting we exercise a little caution and don’t big up a player who hasn’t had a great scoring record outside of the Conference.

  • Tom says:

    Slightly worried that we think having three strikers in Green, Novak and Zigic (if Lovenkrands and King go) is the way to go into a new season?! We pick up one injury and even if we recalled Asante we are relying on academy kids! I would like to see a loan striker come in now if Asante isn’t in his plans! All ifs and buts I know but we need to hit the ground running!! KRO

    • almajir says:

      You appear to have forgotten Andrew Shinnie, who has been played as a striker… (as mentioned in the article)

      • Kaje says:

        I don’t want to be as facetious/sarcastic as you were earlier, but should we also include Colin Doyle in the striking options?

        As like Shinnie, despite him not actually being a striker, he’s also played there.

        • almajir says:

          Clark didn’t imply he was a striker in the mail interview though, did he Kaje… unlike he did with Shinnie.

          • Oldbluenose says:

            Al;, Clark DID equate Doyle to MESSI though ?. Lol

          • Kaje says:

            There’s an issue here, and I’m not sure who’s to blame. Shinnie IS a natural attacking midfielder and not a striker – that comes from his own mouth as well as the minds of most of his previous managers who all used him either ‘in the hole’ or slightly deeper with an attacking role.

            Suddenly Lee Clark suggests he’s a striker and so that means he IS?

            I disagree, wholeheartedly, that simply because ONE manager has referred to him as a striker and played him in that position it suddenly makes him one.

  • Tony says:

    Shinnie is a midfielder yes he scored 15 goals but in a very poor scotish league, cant rely on him.
    As has been said King is a goalscorer hes more or less guaranteed 15-20 a season to leave him on the fringes is I believe a big mistake. If we go half a dozen games without a few goals I for one will be after Clarks blood big time. Novak has not been a prolific scorer as for Matt Green hes a complete unknown.
    Why on earth has Clark told everyone his forward options before the season has began? (here we go again).

    • almajir says:

      Tony – that’s why he’s played Shinnie up front in every game so far… because he’s a midfielder.

      • JohnR says:

        Shinnie has already said he prefers to play in mid-field. I don’t think he’s the long term solution as a striker. I hope Novak and Green prove me wrong but I would play King every time, the best striker we have when 100% fit.

      • Blueboy88 says:

        Which kind of leads us by the nose on what belief Clark really has with his new striker signings…
        Novak & Green..

        • StaffsBlue says:

          To be fair to Lee Clark, if he’s been told that he has to jetison certain players, due to finances, it makes perfect sense, to plan for the future without them. If, when the season has begun and it looks like no one is going to come in for them, then the situation becomes exactly the same as Zigic’s. It would be stupid to be paying their wages and not using them.

      • Kaje says:

        Shinnie is most definitely an attacking midfielder and NOT a striker by natural trade.

        I imagine his inclusion up front has been more akin to James McFadden playing up front – simply someone to try in the hope they do a job, but someone who essentially gets shifted back to their natural position.

        I expect he’ll ultimately be moved back ‘in the hole’ or in a slightly more central midfield role to suit his natural game as the season pushes on.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Both King and Lovenkrands are 33 and know they haven’t got more than a couple of seasons left in their locker, so they need to play.
    On the flip-side they are on good contracts at Blues so they have a dilemma. Stay with Blues and not play or leave for less money. A compromise is needed.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Unsurprising really that L,C. has ” shunted ” King and Loverkrands to back of the pack, !!.

    One reason is that because of the wages issue, They are trying to trim the wage bill, so what is the point of Using K, and L, — if they may be leaving,?.

  • steve says:

    King is the only proven finisher we have at this level.IF clark is not picking him for personal reasons,he’s out of order.When Marlon is fit he should be the first striker on the sheet.

    • Oldbluenose says:

      Steve;, I think that IF Marlon does not leave, Then L,C. will use him at some point, !!.

      • Ali Duncan says:

        Totally agree. I think LC won’t risk another injury to King during preseason and if an offer comes in then off he goes. If one doesn’t come in I would expect King to come back into the first team squad – probably on the bench at first and then compete for a starting place.

  • Tony says:

    The point is we have Kings wages to pay if he plays or he does not ,seems ridiculous to state here and now hes only to be used as back up?
    King is a proven goalscorer we have to use him I would kreep him and play him if we sold him to another championship team he would come back and haunt us.
    Dan sorry but your logic escapes me.

    • almajir says:

      Tony

      If he stays, then yeah, we should utilise him. I think people overemphasise his worth though – correct me if I’m wrong, but we didn’t have him for the last three months of last season but we still scored a few goals and probably had our best spells playing wise? I won’t shed a tear if he goes.

      • steve says:

        Missed a third of the season and was our top scorer.If he,d been fit for the last third,his goals may have got us a top 6 finish.Don’t see anybody matching his goal tally.He has to play.

      • bluenoseb says:

        That might be correct, but if your going to go on stats, i heard a stat last season and that when zigic and king played as a pair they scored more goals in a minutes to game ratio than anybody at the club espec any other strikers at the club last season. Now if hes going to be playing two strikers in a 352 than if king is still here bit like zigic situation, then you are going to have to play him. I too wont shed a tear if he leaves but if your being honest dan he is the most natural goalscorer at this level in the squad bar non, fact!

  • mark says:

    imo clark decision right or wrong he’s is the manager……… mentioned it before novak and green…..Zigic to give us some height………..blues have scored goals without Marlon……if Marlon not gone, then surely it up to the player to prove his worth while he is still with us, he still under contract with blues………….actually the same with shabba……..if they are both playing well in the development team or whether ever then i cannot see Clark not playing them if they are still we us……….. I put shabba in the same situation as ambrose the lad simply did not fix the jigsaw puzzle, but equally he must have a clean slate, so he has every chance of possibility to have a second coming………….

  • Tony says:

    No Dan was refering to your comment about Shinnie beibg a midfeilder that being why hes been played up front in all matches so far, not sure if you were being a little Facetious.

    • almajir says:

      Sarcastic more than facetious Tony.

      Clark is using him as a striker. Clark is referring to him as a striker. Thus I have this suspicion he’s going to use him as such – or in the hole position in a 4-2-3-1.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Shinnie has called himself a midfielder. I’ll trust him on this one.

      • almajir says:

        he can call himself what he wants, Clark will pick where he plays ;)

        • Kaje says:

          And that’s the worry.

          If the player feels they are best in a certain position, have spent years of their career honing that craft, and then the manager shifts them around to push square pegs in round holes then there’s going to be an issue. Either in a drop in team effectiveness or a jaded player who just isn’t performing as they’d hope to.

          I’m a firm believer in picking the best players in their best positions – and that NEEDS to happen this season.

          • Ali Duncan says:

            You saw that with Ambrose being played on the left last season. His best position is playing in the hole yet Clark never played him there.

          • Kaje says:

            In defence of Clark for that one, Ambrose had played there the season before for Palace and scored 10 in all competitions (7 league, 3 cup) although I do agree he’s much more natural in the middle.

  • Blue Steve says:

    The reason King is not in any squads is not because the manager does not rate him its because he is on high wages that we can not afford and Clark is hoping this approach will urge him to seek a contract elsewhere (An approach that may work as King will have some suitors due to his goal scoring ability). Its the same for Lovenkrands but he is simply not good enough to have anyone that will be interested in taking him off our hands. KRO

    • Kaje says:

      The stumbling block to that theory is that no club is going to offer players of their age a contract of similar terms or better than what they’re on here – and they will not want to take a pay-cut when they can be happy sitting on their arse for a year at their current rate.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Bold decision by LC let’s hope the players he has brought in are up to the job. I hope he remains flexible enough to consider all the players on our books. The players available on frees are still Birmingham City players.

  • DiscoPete says:

    I’m confused. If King and Lovenkrands aren’t playing because of wages, why is Zigic in the fold still? Don’t get me wrong I rate him as a player even if he often infuriates everyone, but King won us games last season. We are going to end up needing King as we seem to have a reliance on unproven (in the Championship) goalscorers. Unless Clark can see something there thats in them and not in the likes of Rooney and O’Connor.

    • Kaje says:

      O’Connor?

    • steve says:

      It can’t be wages that’s keeping him out of the team.We’ve still got to pay him if he plays or not.If that is the reason then Elsie should be sacked.If they want to offload him,then surely it’s best to play him.Then other clubs can see his worth and that he’s fit.

  • mark says:

    what Clark wants from players is them to be flexible what’s why ambrose and mullins are still in the fray they can play in other positions if need be………… you are dead right Dan the manager picks the team….. imo Clark is getting a bunch of players who can play in several positions other than the one’s they are used to. It clever management, and good management, and it helps adapt players to systems he will try and implement……

    No grumbles from any players, they want to play for bcfc……..they all singing from the same hymn sheet……. marlon and shabba are not only financial but are also surpass requirements……….

  • Texas Pete says:

    OMG! Enough with the King is a proven goalscorer already. LC has pulled together his plan for HIS TEAM. A team drawn from free transfers but proven young goal scorers to boot. He has shown the old freeloaders the door to their retirement plan so it is up to them and the market to respond. LC is standing tall as the manager like in the tiff with Ziggy. He has a healthy number of older pllayers with Ziggy fully fit and Robinson taking the captaincy so we can now look to the youth to feed off that and expect an enthusiastic, exciting season. We can all get behind a young team and forgive mistakes. I have to look to us scoring the most goals and getting promoted, while being ready to accept a youthful team being unsuccessful knowing that they have time, will be bonded and stronger for another push next time. With all these worryworts saying King scores this many goals I can rest knowing that someone will step in and take him off our hands….as long as King wants to play football, Ay there’s the rub.

  • dave mann says:

    shinnie is a midfielder isnt he?

  • dave mann says:

    shinnie is a midfielder isnt he
    rooney?

  • StevieW says:

    I think LC has made the statement that this is his team not anybody else’s. The re introduction of King would be like going back to the past and that will bring everything else with it.

    I think LC needs to stand by his guns, he has an exciting looking squad he needs to get them to achieve. That will be how LC will be judged.

    As for Asante he has never really had a good crack and hopefully helping the Shrews will be his window of opportunity.

    • steve says:

      An exciting looking squad ? We haven’t heard of most of these new players.And they got spanked by MK Dons.A bad start and you’ll be calling for Marlon.

  • mark says:

    If any thing might happen on monday I would like it to ravel coming back to us……….

  • mike says:

    it is a shame but I see a lot nerves and tetchiness around……..come on lads lets get some sense of humour back……….please…………

  • Bluenosesol says:

    Sorry guys,just broken out of my vacation cos I am getting OP homesick again! I thought I read in a detailed headliner that LC had said he is not in the market for strikers as he now has 4 including Asante, but now I read Asante has gone to Shrewsbury???

  • KeepRightcroydOn says:

    Blues are in a kind of limbo land with the players available on frees. Same with the players in question. They surely can’t be fully motivated as they are essentially not wanted, and the club is left with the possibility of pay thier wages while not making use of them if no other clubs come in for them.

    The problem is that we can’t afford to have high earners on the books doing nothing. I wonder if LC will consider the option of offering them out on loan if no one comes in for them on a permanent deal, possibility agreeing to pay say 25% of thier wages. It would still amount to a substantial saving on the wage bill, and take away the distraction of them.being around and the controversy of whether he should play them or not.
    Obviously would be ideal if we could get them off the pay roll, but if this proves impossible, it could be the next best thing. If King and Shabba are on £20/week, this could save the club around £1.5m over the course of the season.

  • Lee H says:

    I feel that for a better harmony within the squad Marlon King needs to be let go. Did anything come happen as a result of this arrest he had back in April this year?

    http://m.guardian.co.uk/football/2013/apr/27/marlon-king-arrested-suspicion-dangerous-driving

    • almajir says:

      Nope, and I understand nothing will, Marlon was an innocent party.

      • Lee H says:

        Cheers for the update Dan. The press have a habit of releasing a story and then never clarifying it. I am quite optimistic with our striking options. I would have like to have seen us sign Matt Smith from Oldham given his ties, or Will Grigg from Walsall. Both strikers with potential who went for free.

        • DoctorD says:

          Yeah spot on about the press especially the b*oody Guardian. Useless southern eejits. Just searched for “Marlon King” on their site and naturally not a jot as a follow up to the story you mention.

  • bluenoseneil says:

    I feel like we’re also forgetting young Reece Hales here.

    You never know…if King and Lovenkrands go he may feature more than we all think right now.

    KRO

  • Tony says:

    Lets get a few things straight Shinnie is an atacking midfield playmaker no matter what Clark thinks, hes scored his goals coming through the midfield.Same with Elliott hes a centre midfielder not stuck out on the left wing Burke is a very dangerous winger on his day not a centre mid The season is still a way of and hes at it already, you cant put square pegs in round holes.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I think, after last season, he’s trying to maximise his options, in case of injuries (or dare I say it, further sales.) But I have to say, I agree with all you other points (there’s a first time for everything lol)

  • sutton apex says:

    think we all know there will be alot of 4 5 1 – hope zig dont get injured early on !!

  • Lee H says:

    Clark wouldn’t be the first manager to push a goal scoring midfielder further forward. I seem to Recall Mr Ferguson pushing a free scoring Paul Scholes up front many tears ago. Unfortunately, that time, it didn’t really work out for Scholesy. I think by classing Shinnie as a striker, Clark is thinking more along the lines of an Inniesta type player, playing off a main focal point upfront. I see him as a Bryan Hughes type, and would love to see him scoring goals like the one Hughes scored against Ipswich.

  • AR says:

    I can see 2 reasons for getting rid of Marlon. Either it is thought his knee is still suspect or they do not want or cannot afford his wages. If these reasons are not the case, then it is a brave manager who wants to get rid of a proven scorer. I think Marlon has been one of the best in the Championship and I think we will miss him big-time. I am surprised someone hasn’t snapped him up though.

  • Tony says:

    AP I agree if they want to get rid of him and they do fair enough, but in the meantime you have to use your one proven goalscorer surely.

  • Snoopster says:

    One of the considerations with King, and Lovernkrands, might be the bonuses they are on – if they’re on big wages compared to the rest of the squad then they are most likely on big appearance and goal bonuses as well.
    The club has to pay their wages anyway but by not using them there might be considerable savings on their bonuses.

  • Tony says:

    Staffs I knew you would see reason eventually lol

  • Evesham blue says:

    i am doubtful we will get rid of the freebies. We couldnt get rid of zigic after how many transfer windows? Why would they leave at their age on their contracts?

    Now if king is still here and fit then he is the main striker. Don’t buy this we play better crap without him. He scores goals

    • KeepRightcroydOn says:

      You are right Evesham. They, like Ziggy, don’t want a cut in salary, and nobody wants to take them on those wages. Though their salaries are nowhere near Ziggy’s, their ages count against them. But Marlon scores goals, at least at Championship level, so it would not surprise me if one of the promotion contenders comes in at the last moment and takes a punt on him for one season. Not so sue same will happen with PL.

      See my earlier post with a a suggestion of another way of getting them off our pay roll.

  • Pete says:

    I know that Marlon has been left at home, but I know he has spent this time working with the youth players and training them as well as training himself. Despite all his past behaviour he is meant to be superb to deal with in and around the club- so I will give the guy the benefit of the doubt that in 3 years with us and Coventry he has kept his nose clean.

    Simple reason he is not with the squad is to try and force him and P.L. out in my opinion, to make them feel they are not involved and want to move on. Once transfer window shuts I would not be suprised to see King being used, once he cannot go anywhere else.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Looks like Jonathan Spector is out for up to 6 weeks. The right back curse continues it seems: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/jonathan-spector-ruled-out-several-5099822

  • Trevor Honnor says:

    This sounds very much like a mind trick by LC. Publicly letting everyone know that we have enough strikers with King & Lovenkrands not a part of these plans. AKA a reminder to other teams/managers that these two are available – come and get them!
    The other side of this coin is that if no-one comes and gets them, they will be available to play.


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