Transfer flurry may unnerve but Birmingham City must take important steps

Steve Evans has been busy since returning to Rotherham
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


It's understandable if Rotherham United are sending ripples around League One because of how active they've been in the early stages of this transfer window. Securing the services of 34-year-old Liam Kelly on a free transfer on Friday meant they now have completed seven free transfers already - and we've only just hit June.

Steve Evans, back at the New York Stadium, hasn't hung around. Displacing Leam Richardson and tasked with overseeing an overhaul befitting a team chasing promotion to the Championship at the first attempt (for the umpteenth time), Evans - who is well respected at the level and can attract a certain calibre of player - had the advantage of time on his side.

While Birmingham City were fighting for their Championship lives right up until the final whistle on the final day, Evans walked into a club who were already relegated and who knew the lay of the land. In a transfer sense, they've been able to hit the ground running and then some. They've taken players from promotion hopefuls, from clubs who have just been promoted and, in the case of Kelly, players in need of security later in their careers.

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Blues, by comparison, didn't know they'd be in League One until a little under a month ago. Since then, there has been the uncertainty of the managerial situation. Only weeks after relegation were Blues in a position to confirm that Tony Mowbray wouldn't be returning to his post because of poor health. You can apportion blame at various figures and for the various reasons which conspired to leave Blues in the third tier. Clearly, Mowbray's situation isn't one.

That's left them on the back foot. After the turbulence of last season and the costly appointment of Wayne Rooney, Blues have a requirement to show particular diligence and prudence when they next decide to employ a manager. Only once they've cleared that hurdle can they then with the process of the sizeable rebuild which awaits them.

While Rotherham are busy snapping up free agents - incidentally, only two of their seven new arrivals are under the age of 29 - Blues, you would imagine, are after a certain profile of player. There's often tumbleweed around the transfer window at this time of year and so Rotherham can be applauded for conducting business as they see fit so swiftly ahead of their pre-season campaign. Recruiting in a flurry has its advantages, clearly.

Yet, an honest question must be asked. Of those seven players - previously at Burton, Northampton, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Coventry and Sheffield Wednesday - how many might Blues supporters have hoped to see pitch up at St Andrew's this summer? The job, as mentioned, is a vast one. Blues need at least two goalkeepers, at least two centre-forwards, at least two centre-halves and at least one full-back. Then you have to consider the sales to come.

As of now, though, they have three full months to complete their business. As a rule, as is the nature of the transfer window, clubs very, very rarely have their business all done and dusted by the beginning of the new season. Such is the scale of the recruitment drive on the cards, Blues can expect to be busy deep into August. Might it benefit Rotherham in the long run? Time will tell.

The Millers have been run efficiently off the field in order to be competitive but financially sound. The strategy has its limitations. The club are after their fifth promotion from the third tier in the space of 11 seasons. They have had great success in this division historically when it comes to reaching the Championship, but they rarely stick when they get there. For Blues, under the ambition of Knighthead, their aspirations are greater.

It's dangerous to think that they could immediately bounce back without any elements of discomfort, but once they have their manager in situ, you can expect that the profile of player who follows through the door will reflect those longer term goals. Blues will likely spend this summer shopping in a different supermarket to busy Rotherham, who must be respected as a promotion fancy, but first thing's first - get the man through the door to lead the shopping.

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