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Blues finally have a squad to bank on
The summer transfer window was a painful one for Blues fans. Our Carling Cup winning squad was cherry-picked by teams no better than ourselves.
Even as the club bought home their first trophy in over half a century, with a battling victory against Arsenal, one could not help but fear our midfield was dangerously thin of options beyond the first-choice fulcrum of Bowyer and Ferguson.
Since the exodus from St Andrews last summer, Hughton has built a squad brimming with talent all over the pitch, addressing fears felt as players piled through the exit door. Chris Burke, although signed by McLeish, has weighed in with 10 goals since arriving from Cardiff City, quashing fears Blues would be short of goals from midfield this season.
In Mutch we have a solid young box-to-box player, not afraid to foray forward, as seen when he won a penalty against Cardiff in the recent 1-1 draw at St Andrews. Keith Fahey, after a few relatively anonymous seasons, is firmly establishing himself as Blues most trusted playmaker. The Irishman has proven himself to be one of the league’s most accomplished ball players, distributing with the calmness and poise offered by the now-departed Barry Ferguson.
Versatility is now no longer a problem for Blues. In Jonathon Spector we have a genuine utility man. The United States international can operate impressively in central midfield, as well as the heart of defence, should Hughton be shorn of options.
Conversely, players crucial to Birmingham City last year are playing peripheral roles at their new clubs. Roger Johnson has failed to take his imperious form across the Midlands to Molineux, while Jean Beausejour seems destined for a quick return to the Championship with Wigan Athletic. Craig Gardner is a bit-part player at Sunderland and Scott Dann, who reportedly attracted interest from Arsenal and Liverpool, is mired in another relegation battle with Blackburn Rovers.
After securing the loan signings of Erik Huseklepp and Andros Townsend, fans can be hopeful of a rallying finish to the season, with each player further enhancing the most diversely talented squad at St Andrews in recent times. With five games away from St Andrews in the next 28 days, such versatility of playing talent will be crucial to Hughton, as he seeks to lead Birmingham back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The Blues boss is also spoilt for choice in defence; with top-class centre backs Steven Caldwell and Curtis Davies establishing Birmingham’s back line as one of the meanest in the league.
Suspend all of this for a moment and ask yourself: What if we had survived last season? Could we have held on to our star performers? Would Fahey and Redmond have enjoyed such prominent roles this season? Most importantly, would we now have one of the country’s most reputable managers in our dugout?
Imagine if Hughton had taken the hot seat at Villa Park and given that squad the confidence and attacking verve he has implemented at St Andrews this season. It could have easily been so – and we should remember this as we embark on the final stretch of the season.
Posted by Birmingham City fan Sean Jones
Follow Sean on Twitter @therealdm56
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