BCFC: Recruitment Process

The Birmingham City squad flew out to their pre-season training camp on Sunday complete with Ravel Morrison and news of a mystery trialist. However, the two signings that Harry Redknapp had wanted to make haven’t quite come off and the more excitable members of the Birmingham City support have started to worry.

Birmingham City FC

I think this transfer window is going to be an interesting one for Blues for a few reasons. It’s the first summer window for a while where Blues seemingly have money to spend – and in Harry Redknapp they have one of the finer exponents in the art of the transfer.

The reshuffle at the top at the end of last season has also brought a couple of new faces into the recruitment process – one publicly and one not so publicly.

While Jeff Vetere was publicly named Director of Football, I doubt many Blues fans will be aware that Darren Dein (son of former Arsenal vice-chairman David) is also intimately involved at Blues.

It’s my understanding that Dein – an agent by trade – has been retained by the club to assist in the recruitment process. I guess the question is however how much influence Dein has.

On the one hand having an agent who can help secure negotiations isn’t that an uncommon practice for football clubs; on the other you only have to look at the influence Jorge Mendes has at Wolves to wonder if it’s necessarily a good thing.

I know I tend to be cynical about this sort of thing, and that my views aren’t necessarily in lock step with those of the majority of the fan-base. I am sure if Blues are able to land the players they need to make a push for promotion, then the majority of fans won’t care how the recruitment of those players was performed – the ends justify the means.

I think looking at some of the players Blues (albeit unsuccessfully) have tried to target – Lois Diony, Henry Onyekuru, Vincent Aboubakar – there has been a definite attempt to bring in a high quality of player. Diony went to St Etienne for €8m, Onyekuru to Everton for £7m (without a work permit) – both figures that are in excess of Blues’ current transfer record.

I also think from looking at these players Blues are looking much further afield for players than usual.

The problem with relying on agents more to get deals done is that agent-led deals do tend to be reported much more heavily in the press. A player’s agent has the responsibility to his client – not to mention financial interest – to get the best deal possible. Thus it’s not unusual to leak stories to the press to try to create a buzz and an urgency for their player to be signed by multiple clubs.

Those stories in turn feed cynicism by fans when they don’t happen. I’ve already seen complaints of “bullshit” in the media on forums yet the truth is if people didn’t click the links or buy the paper the press probably wouldn’t print this stuff.

For Vetere and Dein the problems are twofold. The Championship isn’t a good a “pull” for players – particularly those who are looking for top flight football; while the money sloshing around football is almost insane right now.

Considering Wolves paid a reputed £15million for Ruben Neves – more money than Blues turned over as a club in their last reported accounts for one player – then it’s not hard to wonder if these clubs are committing financial suicide – and how far Blues can push that without doing the same.

There is definitely money available. Contacts at the club have assured me that unlike the previous two managers, Redknapp has a direct line to the “owners” to get the budget he desires to bring in players. What that budget is no one knows – and again, to be fair to Redknapp, he is holding his cards admirably close to his chest.

While some fans are anxious, the truth is it’s not even the middle of July yet and there is plenty of time for deals to be done.

I’m sure Redknapp and his staff want to get the deals done early, I’m also sure they’re confident enough in their own abilities to be able to get enough done by the close of the transfer window – and I’m sure Harry won’t mind being interviewed about it through his car window on Sky Sports come August 31.



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