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‘Rollercoaster’ – Birmingham City end of season player ratings for 24-man squad

'Rollercoaster' - Birmingham City end of season player ratings for 24-man squad

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The 2021/2022 Championship season has been consigned to the record books. It was a campaign that will be, briefly, remembered for a 20th place finish, large numbers of goals conceded and the swathes of injuries which robbed the team of any momentum.

Virtually every one of Lee Bowyer’s players missed time at some point during the season, with only one notable exception. There was misfortune with many of the loan players too – the likes of Matija Sarkic, Tahith Chong and Dion Sanderson who all made positive starts, finding their efforts interrupted.

So, with all that in mind, we hand out our final, end of season ratings. Players had to make ten Championship appearances to qualify and marks have been awarded for simply being available, so those who have played most have tended to score highest.

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Goalkeepers

Neil Etheridge 21 appearances

It’s been a remarkably challenging year for the 32-year-old. The season started off with him hospitalised by Covid, when he returned he found a loanee in his place and when he got his opportunity he was asked to play the role in a way which wasn’t what he was used to and behind an ever changing cast of defenders. He also picked up a nasty knock last month – but recovered. On a personal level he also became a parent for the first time. Quite the rollercoaster and you couldn’t really blame him for many of the goals that were conceded. Rating 7

Matija Sarkic 23

Recovered from an early wobble in pre-season and put in a sequence of assured and composed displays. His record of ten clean sheets came at a time when the side was at its most stable but he impressed in his role as a sweeper keeper. It was a real shame when he picked up his season-ending injury. Rating 7.5

Defenders

Maxime Colin 31 (2), 1 goal

Blues took a slight risk in not sourcing a senior back-up for a player who had gone virtually three seasons without injury. Typically Colin was laboured and then eventually sidelined by an Achilles problem which cost him a couple of months. Another knock came in February but he recovered to play a key role. The other difference this season was that he was asked to operate in several roles. Rating 6.5

Harlee Dean 14 (1)

Came into the season as club captain but ended it out on loan at Sheffield Wednesday. A wobble against QPR and Nottingham Forest cost him his place and he never regained it. Rating 5.5

George Friend 11 (3)

Looked accomplished when he played but he had a couple of spells out of the side, including a long one when he was needed in the second half of the season. Looks well suited to the left-centre back berth and his contribution off the field has been strong. Rating 6

Nico Gordon 11, 1 goal

Given his chance at Bristol City and he responded with a goal inside a quarter of an hour and he never lost his place. Has looked athletic, good on the ball and committed in his battles against a wide variety of Championship strikers. It hasn’t been blemish-free but it has been well good enough to hint at a bright future. Rating 6.5

Kristian Pedersen 37, 2 goals

The end of the season also brought down the curtain on his Blues career. His form has been up and down although not as bad as critics would have you believe. There have been errors and the Easter programme was particularly hard to watch. Rating 6.5

Marc Roberts 39, 2 goals

With Blues playing a back three the experienced defender has done well as the ‘spare man’. He’s been dominant in the air in his own box and has battled on through knocks. He’s helped Gordon make the step up and deserves credit answering the bell so reliably. Rating 7

Dion Sanderson 14 (1)

Looked a class apart in some of his early games, lovely on the ball, good anticipation and with enough pace to get himself out of trouble. It was a real shame when he was called back by Wolves. Rating 6.5

Midfielders

Juninho Bacuna 16 (1), 2 goals

The one permanent signing made in January and his quality on the ball has stood out. His ability to see and play difficult passes has been a revelation. He’ll always need to stay dedicated to his work when the team isn’t in possession but he’s already worth more than what Blues paid for him. Rating 7

Jeremie Bela 26 (5), 2 goals

Applied himself diligently to the wing back role – even if it doesn’t allow him to show the best side of his game which is his crossing. A shame he spent a couple of months out of the side and even more of a shame that he’s leaving. A missed opportunity this season. Rating 6.5

Gary Gardner 31 (4), 6 goals

Spent a couple of months early on coming off the bench, then his rhythm has hampered by two red cards, seven games suspended – and a brush with Covid. It took a while for him to get back up to speed but once he did he finished very strongly and will be proud of a best ever goal return and the Player of the Season award. Rating 7.5

Jordan Graham 18 (6)

Like Bela spent so much of his season playing wing back and not as able to demonstrate his prodigious crossing ability than had he been deployed further upfield. There’s something to like about Graham’s game and he’s coming into his prime. Rating 6.5

Onel Hernandez 21 (1), 3 goals

Probably the signing of the January window and the first time Blues have had genuine pace in the side for a long while. So dangerous when he’s allowed to get forward, even if more care is needed with his final act. Could quite easily have ended the season with twice as many goals and assists as he managed. Rating 7.5

Jordan James 13 (7), 1 goal

Started the season hoping to break into the Under 23s, ended in playing 20 league games for the seniors. That’s the definition of exceeded expectation. Clearly still learning the game but his default setting of ‘pass the ball forward’ will serve him well. A lot of potential and a good start fulfilling it. Rating 7

Ivan Sunjic 33 (8), 3 goals

Deserves at least one point for being ever-available. That’s nothing to be sniffed at this season. He sneakily returned three goals too – having not scored at all last season. The energy never dimmed but once again the quality often wasn’t where it needed to be. Rating 6

Ryan Woods 25 (5)

Was in every match day squad, apart from the three for which he was so harshly banned. Looked an astute signing in the early weeks when Blues were a stable, settled side. Up against it when the collective struggles set in though and his influence waned. Rating 6

Attackers

Chuks Aneke 1 (17) 2 goals

Arrived on a free, sold for a fee, which Bowyer says went some way to bringing Juninho Bacuna to Blues. However, despite being so regularly used as a substitute his performances were unconvincing. Rating 5.5

Tahith Chong 18 (2), 1 goal

Made a flying start to the season, a man of the match performance in the opener at Sheffield United, the other highlight being clapped off the pitch after a 5-0 win at Kenilworth Road. By Luton fans. He returned from injury to score within three minutes. However, it was to be his only goal and for all the commitment and flair, more tangible end product was required. Rating 7

Troy Deeney 15 (6), 4 goals

His signing was a real coup, as much for the edge he would bring on the field as the standards he would raise off it. It’s probably fair to say it’s been very difficult in both spheres but when he’s had a run in the team we have seen a high-quality player still capable of influencing games. It would be great to see even more of it next season. Rating 6

Scott Hogan 28 (8), 10 goals

Ended the season as the top scorer but could and should have had more. The match at Derby was a classic case in point where he converted the most difficult chance but missed a couple more. He’ll be pleased to have worked his way back into the Ireland set-up but the over-riding feeling is that the campaign could have been even better. Rating 6.5

Lukas Jutkiewicz 17 (19), 2 goals

It feels somewhat surprising that Juke made as many as 17 starts, he’s been out of the team for most of the second half of the season. The meagre goal return is a sign both of his infrequent selection and the fact when he did play the team didn’t create many chances for him. He’s the kind of player who needs a consistent run to get to his best so a few minutes here and there didn’t do him any favours. Rating 6

Riley McGree 10 (3), 2 goals

Didn’t really feature consistently in the side until Chong got injured and then he showed enough spark to warrant his selection but probably not as much as the Manchester United loanee had. There were a couple of very good games – home to Cardiff and Bristol City – but others where he didn’t make the most of promising positions. Rating 6

Lyle Taylor 14, 5 goals

If ever there was a way to introduce yourself to a new fanbase Taylor did it at Derby. He ended up with five goals from 14 games, including a couple of trademark penalties, and by and large did well as he became the focal point of the side towards the end of the season. Did he continue in the rich vein in which he started? Possibly not but he was decent. Rating 6.5

What do you make of our ratings? Let us know here





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