January transfers, Lee Camp selection & Jude Bellingham – key Birmingham City questions answered
Written by The Newsroom on November 16, 2019
Birmingham City and the rest of the teams in the Sky Bet Championship are in the middle of the final international break of the calendar year.
Blues went into the two-week hiatus on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Fulham last weekend, and now lie in 13th place in the Championship table.
Pep Clotet and his players will rest up and gradually begin preparing for their return to action next week as Blues travel to face Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Blues writer Brian Dick held his regular Q&A earlier this week, here’s what was discussed.
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Matt B: Why is Camp seemingly undroppable when we have so many keepers?
BD: I don’t think it’s a case of undroppable, Pep Clotet has considered him to be better than the other options, Connal Trueman, David Stockdale and Moha Ramos – and for all but the last month or so I’ve agreed with him. I don’t think the alternatives guarantee you a mistake-free game.
However, for the first time on Saturday I got the impression that balance was starting to tip. In the last few games you can look at Derby, Wigan and Fulham and justifiably say ‘That goal’s on him’.
I asked Clotet about the incident against Fulham and he said: “I need to speak with Darryl [Flahavan] the goalkeeper coach and ask his opinion but you would take it that the ‘keeper needs to catch that ball or put it out.”
That’s significant to me, it’s the first time he’s said anything like that.
Also significant was the reaction of a couple of the defenders. If they lose faith in him then that becomes a very big issue. There’s definitely analysis to be done over the next two weeks. Definitely.
Phil Barnes, Telford: How many chances does pep give camp?
BD: I think he’s asking himself that very question now. Over the last month the errors have been very destabilising. Does he trust Trueman or Stockdale to come in and do the job better?
I’m guessing here but I reckon for the first time he might be erring towards doing so. Trouble is, I’m not convinced he sees any of the other options as flawless.
Pez Clarke, Rugeley Do you know if Pep and the club have identified a keeper target for January or will one of the in house keepers be given a chance? Poor old Campo looks like he needs taking out of the firing line – the mistakes are proving more costly and are happening more frequently.
BD: Honestly I don’t know if a new goalkeeper is on the shopping list. I don’t believe it was in the summer, although they were linked with Adam Davies who ended up going to Stoke., I guess they hoped David Stockdale would come in and make an undeniable case.
There was certainly talk of Connal going out on loan in the last window- but clearly that didn’t happen either.
I would imagine they will start seeing what’s out there, how thing pan out over the next nine games and take a view from there.
If the perception is that there’s someone out there who is cost effective and who could take the team forward then they are obliged to look at it because I don’t think this side is too far away from mounting a decent challenge.
Richard, Birmingham: Lee Camp has cost the team at least 6 points. What is wrong with our reserve keepers…loyalty to Camp is admirable but you cannot get promotion with him in goal. If the other keepers are good enough…get rid of them. We also need a goal scorer. Lukas Jutkiewicz works hard but has no pace…the others don’t have proven goal scoring records…we can’t rely on small, nippy, clever midfielders.
BD: Turning to your point about the reserve goalkeepers I don’t think Stockdale has looked that good in the games in which I have seen him, particularly the Brighton friendly. I am not convinced he’d be a massive improvement.
Connal Trueman has excellent potential but he remains unproven. I would have loved to see him go out on loan and get half a season of senior football under his belt. The last time I saw him play for the 23s was at the end of September and he didn’t have much to do but he did pull off one very good save. His agility and shot-stopping are good.
As regards dominating his six-yard box, all I’ve got to go on is his most recent first team appearance, away to Middlesbrough in August 2018 when he found that difficult against a Tony Pulis team. The fact he hasn’t been given chance to develop since then is an oversight.
As for Moha Ramos, I haven’t seen him in the flesh so it would be unfair to judge him but the fact he hasn’t yet been involved with the first team is probably an indication of where the staff – including the goalkeeping coach Darryl Flahavan, see him.
(Image: TIM EASTHOPE/BIRMINGHAM MAIL)
Steve L: Why persist with Camp. We are paying Stockdale a fortune. And he is far better than Camp. Camp is the worst goalkeeper we have had since Dave Latchford
BD: I’d reply with Richard Kingson. I think Blues have been blessed in the goalkeeping department for decades, remarkably so in my opinion.
Randolph, Butland, Hart, Foster, Taylor, Bennett – that’s in just the last 20 years.
As said earlier, I’m not sure I agree that Stockdale has shown himself to be far better.
Dan, Katowice: Do you think too much is being asked of Jude Bellingham in having him start every game?
BD: I don’t think too much has been asked of him – until the last couple of games maybe.
The way he started in central midfield in his early games was remarkable, I know it’s passé to point out the fact that he’s only 16 – but he’s played at a level way beyond that of other, older, more experienced players over the last few years.
I think it is unfair to ask him to play the whole season though, judging when to take him out is going to be one of Clotet’s major management decisions and it’ll have to be packaged skilfully so that everyone understands what’s going on.
For me I think the Cardiff game was a hot one for him to handle and he was up against some very good opponents on Saturday.
If Gary Gardner is available again soon I’d be looking to give the lad a rest and a period of reflection with a view to him having a really productive Christmas period.
John Reidy, Birmingham: Having being involved with football for sometime, I feel you are trying to address the forward situation,so I feel once your team really gel we will see more goals but in my opinion a team has to be led from the back, so I feel you have two areas to address goalkeeper who breeds confidence in defenders and a top quality centre back , I feel if you address these two areas it will balance the team and make them more confident from the back
BD: Some really good points, successful teams are built from the back – and we if we look at the back five, goalkeeper and defence, I think most of it is in place.
Maxime Colin and Kristian Pedersen have been excellent, Marc Roberts has been a revelation. I trust him way more now. I thought Harlee Dean looked to be improving in the last few weeks but didn’t have a great day at Cardiff.
(Image: TIM EASTHOPE/BIRMINGHAM MAIL)
Jake Clarke-Salter did really well with Mitrovic on Saturday and he looks to be a real contender, albeit for the captain’s place.
The point you make about a goalkeeper inspiring confidence is very valid -and as I said earlier, there was a sign of frustration in that on Saturday.
But surely the chance conversion ratio has to go up – and for that it’s about a striker who is willing to press and work hard when Blues are out of possession – and be poised enough to finish them those opportunities off.
Kevin Kelly, Hodgehill: Hi Brian, lack of competitive pressure on Lee Camp lets him repeatedly off the hook. Would you drop him for next two away games and give it Stockdale and shake it up. Trueman I feel too young for this dilemma.
BD: It’s so difficult, I don’t think any of the answers are guaranteed – but the point you make – drop or not, means a decision has to be made.
I take your point about Trueman but I’d be inclined to give him some games to see how he’s developed. Huddersfield and Sheff Wed away would certainly be huge tests for him – but the only way to find out is by giving him the chance.
If does prove himself ready then his upside as a shot-stopper would be invaluable.
I’m really not comfortable with the – ‘throw him in and see what happens’ approach so that means Pep Clotet and Darryl Flahavan have some real analysis to do in the coming days. The issue needs looking at though.
Chris: No questions, just comments really: Clarke-Salter was good on Saturday – Dean hasn’t been so over recent weeks, so would like to see the loanee keep his spot. Bellingham is absolutely remarkable for such an age – sounds like England might have left him out because of how much we’ve been playing him. Pedersen must have one of the best attacking profiles for a full-back in this league. He must have the best xG of a defender in the division?
BD: I thought Clarke-Salter was excellent on Saturday, two more games like that and Clotet has a big decision to make.
I mentioned Bellingham above – and yes I know fans get sick of hearing how old he is – but you’re right. His development is best served by playing Championship matches.
And Pedersen, I love the way he’s applied himself to a role that – and he would dispute this – seems more suited to Colin than it is to him. He’s a real danger at set-pieces and he’s come on massively carrying the ball.
I am not a lover of the xG stat – but you are right, he’s done himself huge credit so far this season.
@DuffersKRO: What is the situation regarding the interest in Bellingham…will he be a Blues player in February (& I don’t mean loaned back)?
BD: As I understand it it’s speculation, clubs from across Europe are watching virtually every game he plays.
I would be staggered if Blues cash in on him in January, it’s in their interest to hold on to him and allow him to build his value for as long as possible. And I don’t think there’s a financial pressure for a fire-sale in the way there was with Butland and Nathan Redmond.
And I think it’s in his interest to keep playing Championship matches.
(Image: TIM EASTHOPE/BIRMINGHAM MAIL)
@MattyBrennan: In the Q&A, you lightly touched on one of my greatest concerns, the fact that a goalkeeper gives the defenders in front of him confidence. Or possibly not given Camp’s current form. He still seems undroppable and it’s baffles me as to why. Positioning X Handling X
BD: He makes errors, that’s obvious. However, I think his positioning his decent, which is why he rarely seems to make many spectacular saves, he knows his angles. I actually think his kicking is of a good standard too – and that’s important to the way Pep wants Blues to play.
He can look really untidy though, I’d love to his parries pushed further to the side of the goal, or more punching unless he’s 100 per cent confident he’s going to catch it.
The point you make about inspiring confidence – that’s the key to this whole issue. And that’s the one Clotet is going to have to decide in the next couple of weeks.
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