Birmingham City are facing a hugely important summer period where Lee Bowyer will need to be handed the right backing to try and sustain the improvements he has made at St Andrews.
Bowyer performed an excellent job in guiding Birmingham to safety in the Championship with even a few games to spare. That is something that had not looked to be likely when he took over with the Blues in a perilous position in the table following a dismal run of form under Aitor Karanka. However, the former Charlton Athletic boss found a way of playing that better suited his options.
There will be a number of things that Bowyer will know he has to address within his squad in the summer. That will be crucial if he is going to be able to get his side in a position where they can hope to challenge the top-six next term. Whether they can do that remains to be seen, but there are reasons for them to optimistic heading into next term if they do address certain issues.
With that in mind, we have taken a look at TWO things Bowyer will need to fix at Birmingham this summer ahead of next term…
Birmingham’s attacking threat
One major issue that will need to be sorted at St Andrews over the summer heading into next season will be their ability to both create and take chances in the final third. The Blues managed to register the joint-fewest amount of goals in the Championship this term, with just 37 goals scored in their 46 games. That was fewer than any of the three teams who were relegated from the division.
Bowyer has to some extent already moved to address those issues. He has already managed to get Birmingham playing in a style more suited to getting goals out of Lukas Jutkiewicz and that will be continued into next term. While on the creative side of things, Ivan Sanchez should improve in his second season and they have offered a new deal to Alen Halilovic, although he has been linked with a move elsewhere.
In terms of incomings, Birmingham will surely be needing to sign another striker with a reliable scorer needed to help support Jutkiewicz. They were linked with Kevin Nisbet in January so it will be interesting to see if they go back in for him. While they have also been linked with a potential move for Alex Pritchard, who could offer some extra creativity to the side.
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The make-up of Birmingham’s squad
Another issue that Bowyer is going to have to solve this summer is the size of the squad he has available to him for next season. The Blues have had a lot of players on their books this term and that has meant there have been players that have not been able to get as much game time as they would have liked. That came with them bringing in a host of new players under Karanka last summer.
Birmingham have already confirmed that 13 players have been allowed to leave the club ahead of next season when they announced their retained list. That included the likes of Dan Crowley, Josh Dacres-Cogley and Jon Toral. Those departures will already help them reduce the numbers. While the loan players like Rekeem Harper, Yan Valery and Jake Clarke-Salter will return to their parent clubs.
Bowyer has already previously indicated that it could be a case of a one-in, one-out approach to their summer business. That will be vital to ensuring that they have a smaller squad that are all pulling in the right direction and can all feel they have a chance of contributing to their success on the field.