When new owner Carson Yeung took over Birmingham City were promised a war chest of £40million to spend in January.
Unfortunately for Alex McLeish and the Birmingham fans, that did not materialise and the only transfer window recruits were midfielders Michel from Sporting Gijon and Craig Gardner from local rivals Aston Villa, both costing £3million.
During Birmingham’s terrific record breaking run they kept with the same team for nearly all of those 15 games.
The transfer window was seen as a chance for McLeish to strengthen the squad and push on for the second half of the season.
The main goal so to speak, was a striker. First choice striker’s Christian ‘Chucho’ Benitez and Cameron Jerome were not hitting the back of the net regularly enough and Birmingham are still the sixth lowest scorers in the Premier League.
One of the first forwards on Big Eck’s radar was Ryan Babel, after having a £9million bid rejected for the Dutch international, Kop boss Rafa Benitez said he didn’t want to sell the player. So attentions turned to another Premier League flop, Roman Pavlyuchenko. Talks with Tottenham went on until the very last day of the transfer window but a deal could not be struck. Harry Redknapp seemed happy enough to let the Russian go but as Spurs wanted to recoup most of the £14million they shelled out for the 28-year-old a deal was not possible.
Other names were banded about, the likes of Kenwyne Jones, Aruna Dindane, Marc Janko and Mauro Boselli were all said to be on McLeish’s wanted list but none of them came to fruition.
Clubs are always under pressure to sign players in January, a needless pressure brought about by the football authorities. As can be seen by the Jones example, for a player that has scored just seven goals this season, Sunderland were asking for around £15million, a deal which reportedly would have ended up costing Birmingham around £28million with wages.
McLeish has always been very astute in the transfer market. He hates taking risks and will always do homework on a player, maybe sometimes too much. But you would definitely not see another Hossam Ghaly situation with Big Eck at the helm, that much is for sure.
Big Eck was criticised for not making changes for the FA Cup Quarter Final against Portsmouth which Birmingham lost 2-0, a game which will most likely be remembered for re-igniting debates about goal-line technology.
January signings Michel and Gardner were on the bench for that game but both started the league game at Fratton Park last night which the Blues won 2-1.
If Birmingham can keep churning out those kind of results and maybe, just maybe, pinch a Europa League place, the decision to wait until the summer to spend the big bucks will look a very shrewd one indeed.