Often Partisan

Stepping Stones

Former Birmingham City loanee Andros Townsend capped off a man-of-the-match performance on his full England debut on Friday with a wickedly swerving finish from outside the box as the Three Lions beat Montenegro 4-1. It topped off a meteoric rise for the Leytonstone-born winger who finished last season playing for QPR, his ninth loan move.

There has been some reference to Blues being a “finishing school” for players over the weekend – there were no less than three former Blues loanees on the pitch at the end of the England game – and how whilst it’s good to be seen as a good place for young players to develop their skills that it galls that Birmingham City rarely reap the full benefit of the blossoming of young talent.

Whilst I can understand how it rankles that Blues have either lost talent to other clubs due ongoing financial pressures – such as Jordon Mutch, Nathan Redmond and Jack Butland – or had to return talent that they had merely borrowed from bigger sides – for example the aforementioned Townsend, Ravel Morrison and Joe Hart – I think that the fact Blues can develop young players into better players is a positive for the club and as it moves forward over the next few years I’m of the belief it’s how the club should look to go to build a firm base to achieve from.

The problem Blues have had is that in the main talent has only come to the club temporarily; for example Townsend was only with the club for half a season whilst Blues got the usage of Morrison and Hart for a full season and of the players it owned all three only read had a full season of performances before they were sold on. At this moment in time there is no doubt that Blues in their current position cannot hang on to brilliant talent indefinitely and are at the moment a stepping stone to bigger and greater things.

However, what I think we need to note is that it’s not just burgeoning talent the club have developed; in the case of Ravel Morrison his whole career was turned around in his loan spell at Blues as I mentioned before the weekend. Whilst Ravel was a special case in that he had to learn how to be a professional there is no doubt in my mind that there is an increasing amount of players being cast off by the Premier League clubs as they have to restrict their squads to just 25 players over the age of 21. Not all players develop at the same pace; some are late-bloomers but even players who don’t really break into their full potential until late can go on to massive things and I think this is where Blues have to make their move.

Tom Adeyemi is a case in point for me; at 21 he would have been in his last season as a non-quota player in the Premier League and thus his time to prove he wasn’t surplus to requirements at Norwich was rapidly running out – which I think would have been part of the reason he was released. However, consistent first team football at Blues has seen a player develop very quickly into a promising box-to-box midfielder and whilst I think there is a way to go before he’s as good as Clark has bigged him up to be in the press there is no doubt in my mind that he is a player with value now – from a player who cost Blues nothing in transfer fees.

At the end of last season Lee Clark arranged a practice match with two teams of players who were released from Premier League clubs to look for talent that he could bring to the club on a free. Whilst that might not have yielded results I think it’s the way Blues have to go – to look for players who might not necessarily have made the cut elsewhere but who have that special something and to take a punt on them. It is obvious that not all of them will work out but if Blues can get one success from every ten they take on it would pay for itself from a financial point of view – and the more successes would encourage better players that their future would be better served with a spell at St Andrews – and the longterm possibility is that a team could grow almost organically, helping to bring further success.

Whilst the last couple of seasons have been hard I think there is potential that Blues could bring some real positives from them – and if that happens then all the pain will have been worth it. It might just be that the darkest hours of our recent existence contain the seeds for a brighter future.

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54 Responses to “Stepping Stones”

  • Chris W says:

    I agree \Dan, we have lost out financially over recent years, that is something we need to address in the future.
    Seeing these lads going on to bigger and brighter futures is obviously a huge selling point to up and coming youngsters too, and I am sure that whoever is in charge of the running of the club will ensure we see some financial rewards.
    I can also work in our favour when looking for potential loan players too, clubs know their player will improve with the Blues.
    As they say “Every cloud has a silver lining”, hopefully this is ours.

  • I totaly agree. Spot on! Make this talent factory a positive way… KRO

  • StevieW says:

    The danger of this is that we become just a feeder club living off the fortunes of creating talent to play elsewhere. Blues would then just become another also ran in the championship whilst we prioritise churning out suitable youngsters for the predators of the Prem.

    Although I must admit that I did get a twinge of pride seeing the likes of Hart and townsend wearing the 3 lions and doing well.

  • Mr T says:

    Talent = value = sale

    If we could develop players we find i would be happy should they stay at Blues however we know the moment that any offers come in they are gone. Its a pointless task whilst we have the vulture capitalist owners that we have.

  • Eddie says:

    if he’s doing as good a job as this post claims, we need to make sure Lee Clark isn’t the next person scouted for a bigger club

  • StaffsBlue says:

    While it’s nice to have these loan players at the club for a while, they’re never foremost in my mind to be honest. What does give me a lot of pleasure, is seeing our academy players come through the ranks. It shows that there is a lot of talent in and around the Birmingham area… and that we’re the club to nurture that talent. Young players are seeing that, with us, they’ll get a chance.

    All we need to do now, is get on the right financial footing to allow us to keep some of these young players and build the future of the club around them.

  • The Francis Fake says:

    Blues are definitely gaining a reputation for both developing new talent and enhancing attributes of premiership loanees during their time with the club. This augurs well for the future irrespective what ever ownership regime we ultimately end up with. Its quite ironic that situation has occurred under CY’s reign when you bear in mind he was willing to splash the cash on foreign imports for the first 2 years after taking over.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    The way to stop Premier clubs taking our talent is to be in the Prem ourselves. Not easy for us to achieve at present but it is the solution

    • Chris W says:

      The only problem with that is pressure to succeed, to survive in the Premiership you need quality in abundance.
      One of the reasons we get some of these youngsters, i.e. Lingard, Burn, bartley etc, is so they get the experience, and for their clubs to see if they can compete at higher levels.
      In the Premiership we would then see our talent being loaned out to the lower leagues in the same way.

  • Bluebird says:

    Isn’t it just great to read an exceptionally positive article about Blues?
    It reminds me of: “And In The Distance A Voice Could Be Heard…!”
    Well done Al for clearing some of the mist and raising the morale of any positive person willing to read your Blog ~
    Thank You ~8)

  • Stephen Carr's hairdresser says:

    Don’t forget Michael Carrick’s loan spell in 2000 which made him the players he is, and the fact that Daniel Sturridge is Simon’s nephew!

    Seriously though, Clark is doing an excellent job at bringing through the young talent and should be applauded for that.

    • lettuce says:

      Was Carrick not the player who was loaned to us and then fell down the stairs and injured his elbow (or something like that) and never played for us in the end?
      Or was that someone else from West ham?

  • The Francis Fake says:

    For the club to benefit properly for the development of young talent we have to have sufficient financial strength to (1) hold on the talent for as long as possible (2) If we do sell that we sell at a sensible price, unlike the sale of Redmond. Look at what Blackpool are doing with Tom Ince and the sort of money they are hanging on for.

  • DoctorD says:

    I wasn’t aware that Lee Clark organised a match for ex-Premier League players at the back end of last season. That’s quite a creative thing to do, even if it didn’t yield any players for us. I like it.

  • TonyE says:

    I’ve read that Derby will only consider selling Hughes if they receive a bid in excess of £10m, had we received such a fee for either Mutch or Redmond I’d say “fair enough”, but we didn’t. In fact add the two fees together and it is barely half that figure. Other clubs know we’re a soft touch and that Mr Pannu will accept any figure that ensures there are sufficient funds available to continue paying his contract. Until he his history we will never be able to build a team, because any player showing promise will be jettisoned.

  • Carlos says:

    I for one am not happy with Townsend. I had him as first goalscorer cost me £300!!!

  • StaffsBlue says:


    What an effing cheek! Take care of your own Southgate… and leave the Championship alone. You’d do more good by sorting out the problem of only having 38% of British players in the Premiership. If we’re going to have a cap, it should be across the board.

  • lettuce says:

    Don’t for get the 4 players who played in the U21 match last week who had come through St Andrews.
    Redmond, Butland, Morrison and Lingard.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Only way we can stop, or at least slow down, the exodus of our players, is if we get owners who have enough money to say no.

  • BigmanSteve0 says:

    Basically if your a flagging player come on loan to birmingham city & we will transform you into a class player…proud to be a brummie kro sotv

  • Steve Aerobic says:

    Just a few observations that I have made and have my own views but I would be interested in hearing other fans opinions.(1 Does the widely reviled Lee Clark get any credit for the recent success of loanees?(2 Does he gain any credibility for bringing in such talents as Randolph, Burn, Caddis, Adeyemi,Furgusson, Shinnie and Lingard? (3 Are we missing Marlon King(its all gone a bit quiet on that front lately).(4 Any ideas about truly viable options if Elsie were to be dismissed?

    • Bob Your Uncle says:

      Other top managers notice Lee Clark’s success with younger players, that is why we have Jesse Lingard. He could have gone to a better performing team in the championship but they probably noticed what we did with Ravel and hope that we can have the same effect on other teams.

      We are a feeding club at the moment to bigger clubs to help out their younger players and we have a very good youth system, its not that bad of a situation. Southampton were very similar and they’re in a good position now.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      1) Every credit for me. Of all the loans we’ve had, most have made their contribution… even Wes Thomas who got dog’s abuse. We had a couple of duds, but name me a team that have had players on loan where every one has been a roaring success?

      2) As I said, we had a couple of premier duds, but they had good reps before they came in. It was just unfortunate they didn’t work out. That’s life. Sh1t happens.

      3) A team will always miss players who have the striking instincts of a Marlon King. Maybe in the end, other factors outweighed the advantages. Who knows. But yes, we missed his goals, especially at the start of the season.

      4) If… and it’s a big IF, Lee Clark was to leave, I’d maybe tilt towards Sean Dyche.. but he’s the only one I can think of.

      That do ya Steve?

    • steve says:

      1/ Yes
      3/ Yes
      4/ DiMatteo

      • mark says:

        Mimatteo imo.wouldbt have improve the situation anymore……simply because he would not accepted the job. Lee clark was the best candidate no else want to take it on and still fans want to stab in the back in of supporting the excellent foundations this young manager has put in. Hang on a minute some hfc fans will appears. Some people just dont like the truth………not to worry we be back on it soon……..

        • steve says:

          Di,matteo with new owners i mean.We all know he isn’t gonna be sacked by these owners.I,m not even gonna bother with a proper response to the rest of ur comment.

    • Chris W says:

      1) He may not from the LC bashers, but he is respected among his fellow managers as they are happy to loan players to him, I personally think he has done well with those he has acquired.
      2) Same answer applies as No.1
      3) From a personal viewpoint I don’t think so, was he in part an over influential detriment to our poor start last season. I quoted on these pages that he only ever hit 20 goals a season twice throughout his career, he never managed that at Blues, so my answer to that is NO!
      4) Not many managers out there who would come to Blues in the present financial climate, LC is cheap compared to the wages others would cost, for me possibly Nigel Clough, he wasn’t doing to bad at Derby with similar financial constraints as LC has. Again, my personal preference would be to let LC continue as manager and give him a war chest in January see what he can do with the gloves off.

  • mark says:

    Let me think all is possible our young players will continue to do well in this division, pp and carson to continue their hard work on making us even better, we will.continue to harvest younger players from other clubs which we have done for last two years. I do believe one of our young player will leave for fortune maybe not in January but at the end of the season…….kro it great to see players who have gone on to do great things who have had a association with blues……….

  • steve says:

    PP and Carsen continue their hard work making us better? That is a joke,right ?

  • mark says:

    Sorry Steve who do you think is running bcfc???? I tell you it not father Christmas….

    • steve says:

      Unbelievable.I’ll tell you who deserves the credit.The people who are left at St Andrews trying to keep the club going whilst them pair bleed us dry.I sometimes wonder if you’re just on the wind up.You surely can’t believe in what you post.

  • mark says:

    What I like about clark he so determined to do well for bcfc…….

  • steve says:

    Don’t you think the inconsistencies might be down to all his team and formation changes?Changing formations after good performances for instance.Leaving out our better players and bringing back the poor one’s first chance he gets?

  • Tony says:

    Its not down to Clark, Hughton, Mcleish ,Bruce have all brought loanees to stans most managers in the Championship have done the samefor their clubs
    If you want to know how well Clark has done look at the table for christ sake we are 19th out of 24 no one in their right mind would consider that satisfactory

  • ...sappy sad says:

    …….my granddad was brought up in garrison lane …..and never missed a home match for thirty years my dad supported blues ,…I support blues …between us we total a period of over a 100 years …and I cannot believe what I am hearing from some fans …that we should be reserves for some prem side perhaps villa…I thought that would get your attention …..often partisan has been a great write for blues fans but it now needs to be printed in hong kong ,…perhaps in the English printed hong kong standard…..make it happen blues fans ….with a promise that 5000 copies will be ordered by blues fans if this colunn is printed in the h.k. standard once a week …that way we will be heard ……find a sponser ,…kro

  • Asif ashiq says:

    Just watched demarai gray score a brilliant goal against man u. Looks like a player with a good future.

  • Enckelman says:

    There is no doubt we are the reason why hart and ravel have turned into great players, i don’t think we can take much credit for townsend though.

    Mark..I wish i had your optimism, how can you say pp and carson yeung are working hard to make us better..we have no money, our real birmingham academy players have been sold on for next to nothing i.e butland,redmond mutch, we are 19th, lost 7 out of 11 games and our gates are 13,000. Does that sound like progress to you?

    • mark says:

      Hi mate I dont boast about how long I been a blue supporter, but I come from tf era. Dan right blues have always have a habit of kicking you in the bollox. Ive seen directors come and go……my problem is we have both carson and pp at the club……. Whether fans like or not. Pp installed lc obviously with carson permission. Any decisions made about players coming and going were made by carson. Lc is answer to pp and Carson as they make the final decisions. You are right about our current positiion , but the mere fact to blend young, experience, loanee from the off and expect it to happen straight away winning is just pure silly we have 46 game . Firstly the job clark has now is massive so any over expectation maybe slightly navive with our current predicment but hey we are blues fans we got to believe and kro……….

  • Enckelman says:

    Spent alot of time trying to figure out who the third birmingham city loanee was, forgot carrick played for us.

  • mark says:

    You are definitely right dan, what clark offering to our young players is the chance for them to take the stepping stones to launch their career at blues, then they can then take the the stepping stones to premiership if not with.us…………..

  • mark says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n012JlRHXLA lets hope this young man gray takes the stepping stones…….

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