There is Nothing Instant That’s Going to Sort Us Out - Birmingham City Pre-Season Report
Monday, 30th Jul 2018 11:00 by HarryFromBath
In the 14th of a series of pre-season reports, HarryFromBath assesses the mood around the Championship clubs by delving into their forums, looking here at how things have progressed for the West Midlanders under Garry Monk this summer. A report on West Bromwich Albion will follow later today and all of the teams in the division will be covered between now and the start of the season.
“With the prospect of no improvements to the current squad and youngsters it's going to be another season of struggle”, “It shows what idiots these owners are, ignoring the bloody rules and thinking there would be no consequences”, “The summer of love is over. We’re into the autumn of agony.”
Local media have reported that the EFL have placed City under a transfer embargo with their finances are investigated. Manager Garry Monk has only been able to bring in one player and there are still question marks as to whether Danish defender Kristian Pedersen has been registered.
While Monk has refused to comment directly on the subject, he insists the owners have reassured him that FFP won’t be an issue and their problems will soon be resolved. Fans blame this transfer limbo on former boss Harry Redknapp’s spending spree when 13 players were signed last summer.
“Dress it up how you like but we’re less than a week away from the start of the season, and less than two away from the end of the transfer window and we’ve got no goalkeeper training with the squad, no confirmed left-back with any first team experience and an incredibly weak centre midfield.”
“It really was a disaster of a transfer window, wasn't it?”, “We basically tried to do a Wolves but they spent big money on top class players and a good manager. We had Harry Redknapp and a bunch of overpriced Championship rejects”, “Our owners are truly awful when it comes to all things football.”
“I have total confidence in Garry Monk and just hope he's given the financial backing he deserves for keeping us up”, “I'm perfectly happy with Garry. His record so far is good. It’s brilliant compared to the last two jokers. I would like him to stay and become as much of one of us as we could hope for.”
The 39-year-old former Swansea boss replaced the sacked Steve Cotterill in early March to become City’s fifth manager in 15 months. He steered the relegation-threatened club to survival with victory on the final day of the season against Fulham and has quickly gained the confidence of supporters.
“We will be fine with Monk even if the embargo is not lifted”, “We would essentially have the same squad we had to finish last season if nobody was signed in this window. Monk didn't have us playing dire football then and if history is any indicator, we shouldn't expect to see dire football this season.”
“Our performance against Fulham in the final match was just about our best of the season and we still have almost all, if not all, of those players” “We have a great manager and he’s probably enough to keep us up, just. Imagine what it could be like when Monk is able to bring in a few more players.”
“We could be in desperate trouble if no signings arrive”, “I do not want to see another mad last gasp trolley dash with second-rate players who don’t want to be here and who are not worth their fees or loan wages”, “We have signed one player and it’s unclear as to whether we can actually use him.”
The one new face to arrive this summer at St Andrew’s has been 6ft 2in Danish left-back Kristian Pederson from Union Berlin, although at the time of writing there has been some speculation in the local news media as to whether the EFL have blocked his registration with the club.
He has nevertheless impressed in pre-season.” Pederson is a real left-back with a fantastic ability to pass the ball. He can also head a ball and he can take a good corner. Boy does he need to start next Saturday”, “He looks quite skilful and neat”, “We have gained a player who can pass and tackle.”
Departing players have included midfielders Jason Lowe (to Bolton), Andrew Shinnie (to Luton) and Robert Tesche (to VfL Bochum). Striker Jack Storer (to Partick Thistle) and defender Cheick Keita (on loan KAS Eupen) have departed while veteran defender Paul Robinson has joined the coaching staff.
Any hope of bringing in new players is contingent on several sidelined players departing. Keepers David Stockdale and TomasZ Kuszczak, defender Jonathan Grounds, and strikers Greg Stewart, Diego Fabbrini and Nicolai Brock-Madsen have played little part in pre-season and could happily depart.
“I just hope Jack Butland will get sold even for around £20 million so we can get the midfield sorted.” Hope also rests in the 20 per cent sell-on clause for the former City keeper. If he leaves Stoke, this cut would be due on any profit above the original £3.5 million the Potters paid.
Many City fans believe that they have an adequate first XI but their absence of any strength in depth would leave them very vulnerable to an injury crisis. “I never realised how lightweight we were. We have six midfield and three forwards and one each of those midfielders and forwards are garbage.”
City began their preparations in Austria where they lost 1-0 to Russian side Akhmat Grozny before heading to Germany where they drew 1-1 with local side SSV Ulm. Wins against Doncaster (1-0) and Cheltenham (3-0) were followed by a makeshift XI’s 4-1 loss to Spanish side UD Las Palmas on Friday.
Their final game was a Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to a strong Brighton side. With few alternatives, many expect the Saturday’s starting XI (above) to begin their season-opener at home to Norwich. “If Monk's intention is to play 4-4-2 like he did at the end of last season, we will need a fourth striker.”
“That was an excellent display against a virtually a full-strength Brighton team who were also able to bring on some expensive substitutes. We've played really well today, very organised, look dangerous on the break. This side wouldn't be in a relegation battle. However, a few injuries would destroy us.”
“With possibly only one or two exceptions, I think we all know what the team will be - our genuine first team squad is that thin”, “That’s basically our strongest squad. It looks pretty weak but I must admit that our lads look well drilled and fit.”
Academy keeper Connal Trueman has been widely praised. “He’s 22 and looks like a schoolkid in goal but boy he played his part with his excellent saves, catches and punching”, “He was clearly overawed at the start but as he got busier he was very competent and he grew in confidence.”
“We won’t go down, but there is little to no hope of promotion if players don’t come in”, “If anybody is expecting promotion you should forget it. Staying in the Championship with this squad is all we should expect, with the club sorting itself out in order to make a serious challenge next season.”
“I don’t see the season ahead with pessimism. We will play positive, attacking football with players playing to their strengths. You will be hard pushed to find a City supporter predicting promotion given the club’s current situation, but many are quietly confident that their team can hold their own.
“If we can't bring any more players in we might well struggle again this season, but I've got a feeling that things won't be as bad as I originally thought and that this blend of experienced professionals and youngsters who are determined to prove themselves may yet surprise everyone.”
Some fans are simply proud to love their team. “I can’t lose because every day I still wake up a Blue. I’m a winner. I’m bloody lucky and would not swap it for anything. My team occasionally winning, my team avoiding relegation, hated rivals all going through a dose of reality are all just bonuses.
“Managers come, managers go as do owners and players, but we will all still be Blues when we wake up. Supporting this club isn’t reliant upon being bankrolled or on self-perpetuated delusion. Our biggest strength is us and you can’t buy people like us.”
Photo: Action Images
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