Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer has suggested that he believes that the Blues will see more from forward Jonathan Leko than they have been doing under Aitor Karanka.
Leko was picked up by the Blues in the summer from West Brom for around £1 million after he had impressed during a loan spell at Bowyer’s Charlton. The attacker managed to score five goals and register four assists in 21 appearances during his time in the third tier last season (Sofascore). That was enough to convince Birmingham to make a move for him.
However, since arriving in the summer Leko has managed to make just nine starts for the Blues in the Championship and he has yet to either score or provide a single assist in that time (Sofascore). The 21-year-old did come off the bench and impress during the vital 2-1 win against Reading in midweek to show signs that he can improve and play a key role in the last few games.
Speaking to Birmingham Live, Bowyer revealed that his experience working with Leko at Charlton last season means that he knows how to get the best out of him. He believes that will enable him to get more out him than he has been producing so far and he also suggested he will not be able to get away with some of the things he was doing prior to his arrival at St Andrew’s.
He said: “Leko works hard.
“You guide him, you tell him. I had him last year, if you tell him what you want from him he will do it because if he doesn’t do it, he doesn’t play.
“And guess what, Jonathan Leko wants to play. Like everyone else should.
“I reckon Leko might be a bit different now because he knows what I expect from people and he isn’t maybe going to be able to get away with what he has got away with in the past.”
Leko is the sort of player that can both delight and frustrate in equal measure, there is certainly a player in there that if unlocked could be a real force for the Blues. Bowyer knows how to unlock his potential and get the best from him because he did so with Charlton last term. If he can do that against with the Blues then the forward’s signing in the summer will be looking a whole lot better.
The attacker needs to prove his ability in the Championship and also to Birmingham supporters who have not seen him show what he can do up until this point. Karanka seemed almost reluctant to trust him at times even when the Blues were short on goals and an attacking threat.
Bowyer should be able to provide all of the tools that Leko needs to perform, and it will now be up for the 21-year-old to stay motivated and try and enjoy a successful ending to the campaign. He has a lot of potential and it will be hoped that now reunited with his form boss he can fulfil that in the coming months and into next term.