Birmingham City had a very busy pre-season in the build-up to the current campaign, with Aitor Karanka coming in as the club’s new manager.
Big decisions were then made in the transfer market, as the Spaniard looked to bring in players he hoped could transform Blues. As we know, that hasn’t worked out, as the West Midlands outfit are currently in the relegation zone after 28 games.
One of those new arrivals was George Friend, a player that starred for Karanka’s Middlesbrough side that won promotion.
And, here we will assess how the move has worked out…
How’s it gone so far?
It’s been okay.
Clearly, with Blues struggling towards the bottom of the table, it hasn’t been a good season for anyone, and Friend has had some tough moments.
But, he has also put in some decent performances, whilst his versatility has helped, with the 33-year-old capable of playing at left-back or centre-back.
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What issues does he face?
The focus for every Birmingham player right now won’t be their own personal situation. Instead, they need to concentrate on keeping Blues in the second tier.
For Friend, he has the sort of experience that could be key as the pressure builds, and he will need to show the leadership skills we know he has.
In terms of his own game time, Karanka has plenty of options in defence, so Friend will know that if his standards slip, he could lose his place in the XI.
At 33, Friend is coming towards the end of his career, but he has a contract at St. Andrew’s until the summer of 2022, with the club having the option to extend it.
So, it’s highly unlikely that much will change for the ex-Wolves man. He has at least 18 months at Blues, and as long as Karanka remains at the club, you can imagine Friend will have a role to play.
If the boss departs, that could change things, but for now Friend is a trusted player and getting regular minutes.