Grading every Birmingham City signing so far under Lee Bowyer

Lee Bowyer brought eight players to St Andrew’s during his first transfer window with the club

The international break couldn’t have come around any quicker for Birmingham City who go into it in quite torrid form.

Lee Bowyer’s side had started the season so well. After boasting the best defensive record in the league for the first six games and lingering around the play-off spots - they have since gone on a run of five games without a victory, conceding 12 goals in that span and finding the net just once.

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In fairness, a lot of the mistakes in recent matches have come at the hands of players who were at the club long before Bowyer took the reins and judging by his post-match comments versus Nottingham Forest, he knows that, too.

But what about the signings he made during his first transfer window - do they remain faultless?

We’ve taken a look at all eight incomings under the latest Blues boss and graded them based off of their performances over the first couple of months of the campaign.

Matija Sarkic

Grade: B

Sarkic has been one of the better and certainly one of the more consistent performers this season in the royal blue.

He was initially brought in as an emergency loan due to first choice goalkeeper Neil Etheridge suffering badly with COVID-19 and after a shaky start pre-season, he has really grown into the role.

Etheridge himself is still working his way back to fitness but even when he is back at 100%, he will have a job on dislodging the Wolves loanee as the number one.

On paper, Sarkic’s record won’t look that great with the goals against column but his displays if anything, have at least kept it looking a little respectable.

Juan Familia-Castillo

Grade: E

Harsh? Perhaps. But it’s more based on his overall contribution rather than the performances themselves.

And speaking of the performances themselves - that’s where the issue lies, because there have hardly been any.

Two games played in the EFL Cup and just 12 minutes worth of action in the Championship - he’s one people were certainly expecting more from.

Tahith Chong

Grade: C

Had this have been done last month, it very well could have been an A but his performances, like the majority of the team, have tailed off in the last five games.

Chong was excellent throughout the first month of the campaign and it became quite clear that he possessed real ability.

But as the team struggled, so did he. When the strikers are struggling for goals, you want your play-makers to step up and he doesn’t seem to have done that. He’s yet to find the net at all for the Blues and whilst there have been positive signs, more is expected from the Dutch winger.

Overall team value: £37.27m. Most valuable player: Tahith Chong - £3m. Number of players: 30. Average player value: £1.24m (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Dion Sanderson

Grade: D

For what it’s worth, I expect this grade to improve significantly the more he suits up for the Blues.

He not only came into the side late because of an injury but he came into a side that was struggling. Had he been fit from day one, it would not surprise me if Birmingham’s defensive record was better.

Sanderson is extremely highly rated by not only his parent club Wolves but Sunderland, too, where he spent last year on loan.

He’s got the talent and I expect him to make one of the central positions his over the coming months.

Jordan Graham

Grade: E

Similar to Castillo albeit this one seems a little more strange.

There was quite a lot of buzz when Jordan Graham signed in pre-season and yet he’s yet to make a single appearance in the Championship.

He’s not a youngster like the Chelsea loanee. Graham is 26-years-old and should be in the prime of his career chomping at the bit to get in this Birmingham side but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Like Castillo, he played in both rounds of the EFL Cup and has otherwise been playing in the Premier League 2 with the youth team.

Considering Blues biggest struggles revolve around scoring goals, it seems bizarre that a forward player like Graham hasn’t been given a chance but there’s obviously good reason.

Either way, not a signing that you could call a success at this point.

Chuks Aneke

Grade: C-

I don’t think they even do the plus or minus thing in the UK but D felt too harsh and C felt too generous so C- it is.

Aneke played under Bowyer at Charlton Athletic and the Blues boss rated him enough to bring him to St Andrew’s Stadium.

The former Arsenal product is being utilised very similar to how he was by Bowyer in London - coming on late from the bench.

He’s scored one goal in the royal blue, versus Luton Town in the 5-0 hammering back in August.

The 28-year-old has looked bright in his cameo appearances and although he’s clearly seen predominantly as an impact sub, it’s a shame he’s not been seen from the start considering the goal drought.

Ryan Woods

Grade: A

Aside from match day one against Sheffield United where he was replaced in the 78th minute, Ryan Woods has played every minute of Championship football so far for Blues.

His stat line won’t always look all that impressive with no goals and no assists to his name but his overall game has been faultless in the majority of matches this year.

He’s been the one constant in a pretty inconsistent side and for a free transfer from Stoke City - it’s hard to fault his signing.

Troy Deeney

Grade: D

It feels wrong even writing it but ultimately Deeney’s job is to score goals and aside from a penalty in the dying few minutes in the loss against Fulham, he has failed to do that.

There is of course a lot of pressure on the boyhood bluenose to deliver. Birmingham City are his club and scoring goals here will mean more to him than they have anywhere else.

His support does allow him more patience from the fan-base because they know as much as anyone the above but the patience won’t last forever.

The fact he’s only scored one goal is of course not all on him - more is expected and needed from every single player that walks onto the pitch.

With that said, it goes back to the original point. As a striker, you are expected to do the business and up until now it’s not quite happened. Let’s hope there’s just a slight delay on the order.