Birmingham City boss Lee Bowyer has opened up on his summer transfer plans and where he wants the Blues to be next season, saying the 2021/22 campaign will be “tough” in a video interview with The Integral Chat.
The West Midlands side finished nine points clear of the relegation zone in 18th last season – but were in grave danger of going down under former manager Aitor Karanka before Bowyer took charge in mid-March.
This flirtation with League One has been a common theme at St Andrew’s in recent years, although the 44-year-old will want to elevate the Blues into a more comfortable position.
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But despite guiding the Blues to a better position last season, the Blues manager will only have a limited budget to work with in the next few months and he’s acutely aware of the challenges he faces going into the next campaign.
Speaking to The Integral Chat about these financial restrictions and the belief he has in the club, Bowyer said: “It’s going to be tough, for the last four-five years they have been in a relegation fight every season.
“Take out last season and they have gone to the last day for the four seasons before that.
“Is it going to be easy? No. But we have seen what we are capable of doing just depending on our recruitment, who we can bring in.
“We have to cut back a little bit, this is what’s been told to me. Difficult to take because I didn’t think that was the case. Understandable with what’s gone on.
“There has been some changes upstairs, obviously Dong has gone now.”
After being docked nine points by the EFL a couple of years back for breaching financial fair play rules, the Birmingham board are being more careful with the club’s finances this summer – but even though these limits remain in place and recent alterations at board level have disrupted the club – the 44-year-old is aiming reasonably high as he set his league target for the next campaign.
He continued: “I think if we can progress to in and around midtable I think that will be a very good season.”
This is an ambitious target for the Birmingham manager to set with mediocrity on the pitch and disruption off it in recent years – but their recruitment will determine whether this aim is achieving or not.
As many signings have shown throughout the Championship in recent years, you don’t always have to spend a huge amount of money to bring a player of high quality.
What’s vital is having a good recruitment team – and Bowyer will no doubt be working with the club’s scouts this summer on the targets he wants to bring in.
Just a quick word on his surprise at the club’s financial restrictions. Was the manager misled when he took the job, was there a miscommunication somewhere or have circumstances (or the strategy) changed since he arrived at the club?
We’ll have to wait and see on that one – but it’s an interesting comment nonetheless. He will need to make extra sure he gets value for money this summer under these circumstances.