Birmingham City find themselves in familiar lower mid-table territory as they head into a January transfer window seemingly scratching around for bargain buys to boost Lee Bowyer’s squad for the second half of the campaign.
Despite a promising start to the Championship season, Blues have toiled in recent months – albeit hampered by a lengthy injury list – and look more likely to have to settle for preserving their second tier status rather than pushing for the play-offs.
Of course, with half a season remaining, much can happen, especially in a division renowned for being one in which ‘anyone can beat anybody’.
Bowyer has been told he will have to generate funds himself by selling to buy, but it hasn’t always been that way at St Andrew’s since the January transfer window was launched in the 2002/03 season.
Here, Birmingham World’s Liam Moakes takes a look back at five of the best and five of the worst January signings made by Blues.
1. Christophe Dugarry – The arrival of the talismanic Frenchman from Bordeaux was greeted with almost disbelief by Blues fans. The World Cup and European Championship-winning forward initially joined on loan and his talents made an instant impact as he raised the performance levels of the team. With five goals and numerous assists, Dugarry’s loan spell at St Andrew’s saw him achieve cult status as Blues pulled clear of danger to achieve a comfortable mid-table Premier League finish.
2. Matthew Upson – Central defender Upson joined in the same window as Dugarry and proved to be an assured presence in the heart of the Blues rearguard in his 113 games for the club. Despite suffering a relegation with Blues, Upson helped the team to an immediate return to the Premier League before controversially leaving for West Ham United in a transfer which angered fans and then boss Steve Bruce, albeit leaving Blues with a handy profit.
3. Federico Macheda – The Italian-born striker arrived on loan from Manchester United on the final day of the 2014 January window and it is a very good job he did. His superb return of ten goals in 18 appearances played a huge part in helping Blues survive in the Championship by the skin of their teeth on goal difference.
4. Stephen Clemence – Another to arrive in the successful window of 2003, midfielder Clemence went on to make 121 appearances in his Blues career and was a consistent performer at both Premier League and Championship level. Clemence, who was named the club’s Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season as Blues won promotion in 2006/07, proved superb value for money for the £1m or so he cost.
5. Jermaine Pennant – This is a more controversial choice, but there was little doubting Pennant’s dazzling wing play. Having failed to truly make the breakthrough at Arsenal, Pennant arrived – initially on loan in January 2005 – and grabbed an assist on a winning debut. Despite serving 30 days in prison for multiple driving offences, he made 50 appearances for Blues in one-and-a-half seasons and was regularly the side’s most creative outlet before moving to Liverpool for a whopping £6.7m.
1. Rowan Vine – The striker was brought for £2.5m from Luton Town in Blues’ ultimately successful 2006/07 promotion-winning campaign, but he was a big disappointment with just one goal to show for his efforts. Some Blues fans claim, perhaps rather harshly, that he was signed by Steve Bruce on the back of one good performance for the Hatters at St Andrew’s.
2. Ferdinand Coly – The right-back joined from French club Racing Club Lens in 2003 but made just two appearances for Blues including a horror show in a 4-0 mauling by a superb Arsenal. There is nothing else to be said regarding Coly’s Blues career unfortunately!
3. Scott Sinclair – Winger/forward Sinclair has undoubted ability and has shown it in highly successful spells with Swansea City and Celtic. However, it is definitely a fair assessment to say he has failed to live up to expectations at many of his clubs and this includes Blues where Sinclair made 14 appearances without any goals having joined in 2009.
4. Piotr Swierczewski – If the January window of 2003 was largely a success, then the one move that didn’t work out was that of the Polish midfielder who arrived from Marseille. Despite boasting 70 caps for Poland, who he helped to the silver medal at the 1992 Olympics and played for at the 2002 World Cup, Swierczewski made just one appearance for Blues.
5. David Bentley – Gifted midfielder Bentley arrived at St Andrew’s in 2011 but was ultimately unable to contribute enough as he flattered to deceive in a Blues shirt. He started well enough with a man of the match display against arch-rivals Aston Villa and an FA Cup goal against Coventry City, but struggled for any consistency in his 13 games on loan.
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