The fans are understandably upset at Sam Baldock’s departure to Brighton last week, but is it all that bad? City made an almighty effort to keep hold of him – rejecting six bids before finally accepting a £2 million offer. That doesn’t strike me as a club treading water, and the fact he was in the last year of his contract means we’ve actually got a pretty decent fee for him.
Don’t get me wrong, Baldock was a key part of our squad having top scored last season, but we do have ready made replacements. New signing Aaron Wilbraham has impressed since joining in the summer, scoring three times already (including the opener in our victory against league favourites Sheffield United). Kieran Agard was also signed from Championship Rotherham for £750,000, in what was a massive coup for the club considering he only scored 3 less goals than Baldock last season. Then we still have fan favourite Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, one of the few shining lights of last season’s dreadful opening six months. He’s had a distinct lack of game time this year which will hopefully change now.
Summer arrival Luke Freeman also has the capability to play up front, and it is hoped that he will now be given the game time to make his mark at the club. Freeman’s a player you can’t help but get excited about. Having gone through the Arsenal academy he’s comfortable on the ball with a penchant for the spectacular. Steve Cotterill has said he wants to play him just off the front two, which should see him flourish.
Financial fair play now plays a huge part in any club’s transfer dealings, and manager Cotterill has said City were in no position to match the wages offered to Baldock by Brighton. Not a surprise when you consider they’re pushing for promotion to the Premier League. The fee received was double what we paid for him, plus Baldock was one of the higher earners at the club. This means more money saved, and we’ve actually made a profit this transfer window whilst at the same time massively improving the squad.
However, there is room for one more striker. Cotterill has said several times he wants four out and out forwards, so who is likely to come in? Ideally we would look to the youth team, but at the moment there’s not an outstanding candidate. It’s probably too late in the window to get a player in permanently, and Cotterill has shown to be astute when it comes to using the loan market (think Karleigh Osbourne and Wade Elliott last season). Our best bet would be to get a young hungry striker in temporarily until January. If he impresses, great, if not, we can then get someone in permanently.
So do not fear Robins fans, despite Baldock leaving we still have one of the most competitive teams in the league, and more importantly one of the better managers. I’m still backing us for promotion this year, as the experience in the squad should see us through.