August 8, 2014 by bluenosebible
By Nat Peters
Paul Caddis’ goal at the Reebok in May was probably the most emotional moment I have ever experienced in my sixteen or so years supporting the Blues, probably even topping Oba Martins’ goal at Wembley for sheer raw emotion. Some Blues fans are convinced we can take momentum from that and have a much better season this time around; I hope they are right, but I fear that once again we will be right in a relegation dogfight. I’ve seen someone say that he thinks Blues will have to “kick, bollock and bite” all season long if we are to achieve survival; I couldn’t have put my own feelings better myself.
The news that Tom Adeyemi has left for Cardiff shows our position as the relative paupers of this division; like last season, we come up well, well short when compared to most other teams in this division on paper, primarily because they can afford better players than ourselves. As for Adeyemi – he is a huge loss. I get the impression that Lee Clark was building his team around his physique, his energy, his drive and his not inconsiderate abilities on the ball. He will be a big, big loss to us, and it will take much rejigging of the team and quite probably a replacement being brought into the club from the outside before we can consider the void he leaves even remotely filled.
At the start of last season I said what I am saying now, that staying up would be an achievement. But at least at the start of last season I could pick out two or three teams who you had a fairly rough idea would struggle badly; Doncaster and Yeovil who had come up from League One always looked destined to be right in the mire, Barnsley had also been in and around the bottom of the Championship table for years, and you kind of knew that teams like Millwall, Blackpool and Huddersfield wouldn’t exactly be world beaters. I had a confidence that no matter how bad we were we had a good chance of finding three teams worse than us, and we did (just about).
I look around the Championship right now, and I’m not quite so optimistic. First things first, you look at the teams coming up from League One – I get the impression that having both forked out a bit on players this summer Rotherham and Brentford may well be better equipped for this division than the likes of Donny and Yeovil were coming up last year, and I certainly don’t think Wolves will be anywhere near the bottom of the division. So then you look at the crop who survived last season; Blackpool look absolute dead certs to go down given all that is going on there this summer, but who else looks ‘nailed on’ to drop? Millwall looked to have brought in some decent players, and I’d back Ian Holloway to drag them up the table so that they won’t be in the muck and bullets. Huddersfield don’t look like they may be up to much, and Charlton seem to be in a state of flux. No-one knows what will happen to Leeds this season with so much upheaval in the squad and off the pitch, without Lewis Grabban up front I think Bournemouth could find themselves a lot lower down the league this season and I also fancy Reading to struggle a bit, but will two of these teams join Blackpool in being worse than us this season? I’m not convinced.
Transfer wise, I think Clark has done the best he can this summer. Clayton Donaldson looks a real good finisher up front, whilst the likes of David Edgar and Mark Duffy have also impressed me this pre-season. Some of the young players from the ranks such as Reece Brown and Dimmy Gray have matured to an extent that Lee Clark now thinks they are ready to really push to break into the first team, which if they do both make more of an impact this season is in a way is like having new signings. But of the ten permanent signings we have made this summer, six have come from teams who have been relegated from League One, have just been promoted from League One or have been sat in League One for a fair old while; arguably, that is a bit of a hallmark as to where Blues’ squad is right now.
The fact that the signings made this summer are all permanent (with the exception of Grant Hall, who is on a season long loan from Spurs with no chance of being recalled) shows that Lee Clark has learned a lesson, that you cannot hope to produce a settled team with the revolving door of loanees and players coming in on short term deals that we had last season. Now he has to make a more concerted effort to provide stability, and not over tinker with team selections and tactics as he arguably did last season; he needs to pick a spine of a team, pick a system that will suit it, and try and stick to it as much as possible.
Really, I hope I am proved wrong and we go on to have a good season, and that we don’t find ourselves in trouble again. But I’ve got a sense of foreboding about this campaign, that it could be just as difficult, just as strenuous and just as nerve shredding as the last one was. I honestly believe that if we are a Championship club this time next year it will be some achievement.
You can read more of Nat’s thoughts on his blog: http://nattubes.wordpress.com/