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Birmingham City

Who is Birmingham’s Alex Jones, Port Vale’s on-loan hotshot?

Martyn Cooke

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Port Vale have undoubtedly been the surprise package in League One so far this season with their victory on Sunday afternoon against MK Dons lifting them up to fourth place in the table.

This summer saw a complete overhaul of the club with the appointment of little known Portuguese manager Bruno Ribiero and the addition of fourteen new signings during the transfer window. This included a host of foreign imports from across Europe, a handful of experienced British players, and a smattering of untried, untested young loanees.

Very few people outside Burslem were expecting anything substantial from The Valiant’s this year, indeed many supporters themselves feared the worst following their club’s unique turnover of personnel during the close season, and yet Ribiero has his side competing for promotion having made an extremely promising start to the campaign.

Many of the fourteen new players that walked into Vale Park during the summer have settled quickly and hit the ground running, none more so than 22-year-old forward Alex Jones.

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Jones, from Solihull, came through the ranks of the West Brom Albion academy before signing a two-year deal with Birmingham City in 2015 following a successful trial. However, his playing opportunities for The Championship side have been limited and on August 12th he joined Port Vale on a five-month loan.

His signing has been an inspired piece of business by Riberio and the forward marked his full debut by scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Scunthorpe United. Jones has since gone on to find the net five more times this season and currently sits in second position in the League One goal scoring table despite playing over 300 minutes less than many of his peers.

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The 22 year old, who has played much of the season as a wide player in a front three but who is also effective in a central role, is enjoying his time at Vale Park and told the Staffordshire Sentinel:

“I am loving every minute of it. I can’t thank everyone enough for the opportunity I have been given. The lads are great and the gaffer is great. I am loving my time here. I am here on loan so I want to give 110% every game and do what I can to help the team climb the table.”

The Valiant’s will be keen to keep hold of their leading goal scorer and retaining the services of the 22-year-old beyond January will be key if Vale are to maintain their promotion push. However, Jones appears to have taken his rise to prominence in his stride.

“I am just taking every game as it comes. All that sort of stuff will get sorted out behind closed doors but I am loving my time here and long may it continue.”

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

Birmingham City

Three managers that Birmingham City should target to replace Harry Redknapp

Jake Jackman

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Birmingham City

Birmingham City are on the lookout for a new manager after deciding to sack Harry Redknapp after the team’s loss to Preston North End. Many supporters believe that the decision was a premature one, but the side had taken only four points from eight matches. The Blues are currently in the bottom three and facing a difficult task to make up the ground to the play-off places.

They have struggled since the sacking of Gary Rowett and two managers have failed since then. Gianfranco Zola was a complete disaster after taking the job. Redknapp did well to keep them up last season, but he wasn’t the right man long-term. It is crucial that they now find a good fit as they can’t afford any more upheaval. There are a number of managers in the running, with Steve McClaren, Gus Poyet and Nigel Adkins all mentioned in the media. Lee Carsley is the favourite and has been placed in temporary charge.

There are good managers that could take Birmingham forward. Here are three managers that they should target:

Aitor Karanka

The former Middlesbrough manager is an eye-catching name in the betting and he would be an ambitious appointment by the club. He may have failed in the Premier League, but he showed himself to be an effective manager in the second tier. The Spaniard managed to get Boro back to the top-flight and played some attractive football in the process. Although he switched back to a more defensive set-up in the Premier League, he can coach a team to play an exciting style.

Birmingham did bring in some very talented players during the transfer window and they have the potential to make significant progress up the table with the right coach. Karanka could be the perfect fit. He will make them tough to beat to begin with and provide a foundation for the flair players to do their thing. Last season wasn’t one to be remembered, but he will have learnt from it and is a name that would get the fans on board.

Alan Pardew

This will be filed under unlikely, but the former Newcastle United and Crystal Palace manager will be keen to return to the game after nearly a year out of a job. There are a lot of negative opinions about Pardew, but he has made an impact at most of the clubs he has managed. He guided the Magpies to fifth in the Premier League and got to the FA Cup final with Palace.

It would require him to drop down from the Premier League and return to the second tier. This won’t be what he would want in an ideal world, but he needs to rebuild his reputation and this could be the perfect opportunity to do that. Birmingham have a decent squad and money to spend in future windows. If he wanted a project that had a good chance of being successful, this could be a good fit for him.

Nigel Clough

The current Burton Albion manager hasn’t been mentioned, but if Birmingham want a manager that is tailor-made for the Championship, Nigel Clough would be a good appointment. He has performed miracles at the Pirelli Stadium and knows how to get results in this division. Birmingham need to appoint a good manager, rather than a big name and the 51-year-old should be under consideration.

Clough may not be interested in a move to Birmingham as he is settled at Burton, but it would be difficult to turn down the greater chance of success. He would get respect based on his recent achievements in the Championship, which neither of the previous two managers had. It seems like players enjoy working under Clough and he would be a worthy candidate for the post.

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Birmingham City

How Twitter reacted to Birmingham City signing Jota from Brentford

Jake Jackman

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Jota

Birmingham City have completed one of the deals of the day in the Championship as they have signed Jota from Brentford. The official site confirms that they have broken their club-record fee to bring him to the Midlands on a four-year deal. The Spaniard had been linked to Premier League this summer, while the Bees had rejected offers from Middlesbrough and Hull City. It is seen as a huge coup for the Blues to land him.

Harry Redknapp was delighted with the transfer and the following quotes were reported by the Evening Standard:

“There will not be many better players in the Championship than him, that is for sure. He has got great ability. We are very pleased to have got that one done.”

The Blues manager has always pulled out big deadline day deals throughout his career, but this could be one of his finest. He isn’t wrong when he says that the Spaniard is one of the best players in the division and he will provide the spark that their attack has been lacking during the opening weeks of the season.

Last season, he was excellent during the second half of the season, contributing 12 goals and five assists. Brentford had one of the better attacks after his return and Birmingham will be hoping that he can have a similar impact on their front-line.

Jota is an intelligent player, who takes up good positions in the final third and is capable of producing end product on a consistent basis. It is rare to have a player like him in the Championship and the Blues will have to be seen as one of the favourites for promotion now.

Here is how Twitter reacted to the news:

https://twitter.com/gyazza/status/903166150070161408

Birmingham fans were pleased with the news:

Brentford fans were disappointed, but couldn’t see why he wanted to move to Birmingham:

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Arsenal

Birmingham City linked with Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere – would he be a good signing?

Jake Jackman

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Wilshere

Birmingham City are making a number of ambitious moves on deadline day and they have been linked with Jack Wilshere. The Mirror report that the midfielder has emerged as a surprise deadline day target as they investigate the possibility of taking him on loan. Arsenal are unlikely to use him often this season and could be tempted to let him go down to the Championship.

The wages being commanded by the England international could be a problem. He currently earns £90,000-a-week and that is huge for the Championship. Birmingham wouldn’t be able to pay them in full and they will be hoping that a compromise can be found with Arsenal. If they managed to complete a deal, it would be a huge statement of intent and they would emerge as one of the favourites for promotion. Harry Redknapp has pulled off several big deals on deadline day, but this could be one of his most impressive.

Would he be a good signing?

The last couple of years have seen Wilshere go backwards in his career. He is no longer a regular in the England squad as injuries have hampered him. During his loan spell at Bournemouth, he showed flashes of his ability, but he was unable to make the impression that everyone had expected. The midfielder had lost the ability to burst past players in the middle of the park and that hindered his effectiveness.

However, Wilshere remains a huge talent and it would be a coup if Birmingham were able to bring him to the Championship. The midfielder was once one of the best English players and he would have the talent to take the division by storm. If they could keep him fit, it could be the signing that propels them to promotion.

How likely is a deal?

Harry Redknapp will be spinning lots of plates and seeing what is available on the market. A move for Wilshere would be difficult to pull off, but it is exciting for supporters that he is trying to sign the midfielder. If Arsenal want him to leave the club, it is possible that he drops down to the Championship and joins Birmingham. There would have to be an arrangement found for his wages as they look to be the main stumbling block at this stage. It is ambitious, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible.

Jack Wilshere to Birmingham City
2.5
Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
This will be a tough deal to pull off, but Harry Redknapp has form for surprising on deadline day.
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