WITH just ten games left and pretty much nothing left to play for but professional pride, the attentions of Gary Rowett will surely now turn to the longer term and the squad for next season.
With a large number of players out of contract in June, Rowett will need to start making decisions quickly on who he wants to keep and who he wants to move on to allow him the largest period of time to bring in new talent before the start of next season.
Obviously finances will play a major part in deciding who Blues will want to bring in and, with the continuing flux surrounding the ownership of the club, it will be difficult to know for sure just how much money will be available to spend. However, I’m also sure Rowett has a good idea already of who he does not want to keep, regardless of the financial constraints placed against him.
The chief problem Rowett has to face is weighing up the balance of bringing in players to ensure he has a squad full of players to last through the long 46-game season against spending money on that extra bit of quality to ensure the best finish possible.
In the past years under Lee Clark Blues seem to have erred on the side of caution in bringing in a larger number of players on small wages to ensure there is always a decent amount of cover for suspensions and injuries – even if it meant there are no players who are consistently above average performers.
On the other hand, Rowett has made it clear since he has been at the club he would prefer a smaller squad with more outstanding players to ensure there is the quality in the team to compete in the upper riches of the Championship, and for that squad to be supplemented with young players from the academy making the step up.
Both approaches have their pros and cons, their advantages and disadvantages. The mark of a good manager is one who can make a squad plan for a season that is rigid enough to show calmness under pressure rather than making panic signings at the first hint of trouble and yet adaptable enough to allow for changes in the extenuating circumstances that inevitably occur in football.
So far Rowett has had more successes (Michael Morrison, Rob Kiernan and Robert Tesche) than failures (Guy Moussi and Lloyd Dyer) in the transfer market and, while Morrison is the only long-term permanent signing he has made so far, I would not be surprised if he made moves to sign Kiernan and Tesche to permanent contracts either in the summer.
If he is to build on his good work which has seen Blues almost certainly wrap up their safety in the Championship at the start of the March, then I think it is essential he does good business in the summer – and the thorny issue of sorting contract renewals is dealt with swiftly.