November 24, 2014 by bluenosebible
By Luke Turner
Yesterday’s win away at Rotherham saw another bright display from the rejuvenated Andy Shinnie. Surplus to requirements under Lee Clark and now brought in from the dark by new boss Gary Rowett, the Scot has been given a fresh start at St Andrews. He has started all four games under Rowett and played a crucial part in the win at the New York Stadium. After hitting the post in the first half with a fine curling effort, Shinnie fed Clayton Donaldson who, at the second attempt, fired past Adam Collin in the Rotherham goal to secure all three points for Blues.
Shinnie, 25, was signed by Lee Clark on a free transfer from Inverness Caledonian Thistle in April 2013 in a pre-contract agreement. This was after his impressive form at Inverness which saw him earn a place in the 2012-13 PFA Scotland SPL Team of the Year as well as being placed on a four-man shortlist for the SPFA Players’ Player of the Year Award.
His first season at Birmingham was very much up and down, however he did go on to make 28 appearances in all competitions scoring three goals in the process. He is predominantly an attacking midfielder but, on many occasions, Clark placed him out on the left of midfield. It was difficult for Shinnie to get on the ball in these wide areas as his pace is not his strong point. He scored his first goal for Blues away at Yeovil in an eventful 3-3 Capital One Cup tie which eventually saw Blues progress on penalties.
The former Rangers and Dundee midfielder was an ever-present in Lee Clarks squad in the first half of the season but he was still yet to find his best form. He opened the scoring in the 2-0 away success at Bournemouth in December 2013 but, as the second half of the season developed, the Scotsman found it difficult to impress Clark. He was left out on numerous occasions and had to settle for coming off the bench. When he did get a chance, his performances were disappointing but was this down to just Shinnie adapting to the Championship or could Clark have given him more guidance?
When watching Andy Shinnie it is clear that he does not have the pace nor the strength to cope with the demands of the Championship. But, saying that I believe that Clark could have utilised him a lot better. Sticking him out on the left was not the solution. He is at his best when playing behind the striker, running between the lines and finding pockets of space in which he can run into. Was he getting this instruction from Clark or was it just common sense for a player who has the ability to do it himself? Even when he got the chance to play in his preferred position, he just didn’t impress and fans began to get on his back a little. This was understandable and I myself got frustrated when watching him play. In the crucial 3-2 victory at Millwall in March last season, Shinnie scored a fine header whilst playing as a ‘number ten’. Perhaps he is best he is given the licence to play freely which then allows him to pick the ball up from the midfielders and and support the striker.
This season, under Clark, Andy Shinnie only made one solitary appearance which was on the first day of the season in the 2-0 defeat to Middlesbrough. He then re-emerged under caretaker manager Malcolm Crosby in the loss to Blackburn at Ewood Park.
Gary Rowett then came in as the new Blues boss and clearly stated that it was a clean slate for all players. Shinnie was straight away thrown into the derby draw away at Wolves. His fitness levels were obviously not the best but he was bright and during the game showed some positive signs. Then came the ‘Rowett Returns’ fixture at St Andrews as Blues faced Watford. Shinnie started again and showed great work rate as Blues ran out 2-1 winners. Four days later and it was Cardiff who visited St Andrews. Following the win against Watford it was no surprise that the team was unchanged for the third game in a row which saw another start for Shinnie. He found it difficult to get into the game and was substituted after 53 minutes. This was also probably due to the fact that this was his third game in a week and, after being out of the side for so long, he is still to reach full fitness. Then came yesterday’s game against Rotherham in which was probably Shinnies best performance in a Blues shirt. He was positive when receiving the ball, found some great areas in which he could turn and run into and, he was also unfortunate not to score. But, his assist for Donaldson’s winner completed a good days work at the office for the ‘new’ Andy Shinnie.
I think now the only thing missing from his game is the end product of a goal he deserves for all his efforts. This will come in good time and if he continues this fine form then he could prove to be an important piece to the ‘Rowetts revival’ jigsaw.
What do you think about Andrew Shinnie’s new lease of life since Gary Rowett’s arrival?
You can read more of Luke’s thoughts about Blues on his blog: http://luke96turner.wordpress.com/