Early Doors

Someone needs their head checked

Early Doors

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Sometimes the actions of figures at the top of football are enough to leave you utterly baffled, questioning the very logic and intelligence of their actions.

Many a club chairman who has made their billions operating shrewdly and ruthlessly in the world of international commerce will make an expensive gaffe that everyone else saw coming a mile off. Those in the corridors of power, some of whom may be knights of the realm or even lords, can be incapable of the most rudimentary elements of competent administration. Broadcasters will habitually hire pundits so monotonous and inept that you wonder how they even make it through a phone call, let alone a two-hour live show. And, of course, those at the clubs themselves are often just as likely to leave you scratching your head in befuddlement.

OK, so that's not exactly a newsflash for any of you, but it was proven again yesterday as the endless churning of the transfer news ticker produced a real doozy when Stoke City offered Birmingham City £16 million in a double-bid for defender Scott Dann and 'striker' Cameron Jerome, and then again when Birmingham rejected the offer. Who needs their heads checked more?

It is certainly boom time at the Britannia Stadium right now. Another comfortable mid-table finish, breaking the 40-goal mark in the Premier League for the first time, reaching the FA Cup final and European football to look forward to next season. But still, where did they find £16m from?

As for Birmingham, the relegated club who are losing key players, have already their manager to their bitter local rivals and abandoned almost all hope of the promised cash injection when their current owner took over ever materialising, how could they turn down that kind of money?

ED does not want this to turn into a diatribe against Jerome, but you do have to question how big a portion of that £16m for which he accounts. Since he left Cardiff for St Andrew's for £3m in 2006, he has operated on a strike rate of roughly one goal every five games. Whatever figure you arrive at, it still marks Dann up as very expensive.

In Jerome's defence, the qualities he does possess verily scream Tony Pulis's Stoke City. It is unlikely he would trouble the 11-goal tally Ricardo Fuller notched up in 2008-09, still the most one Potters player has scored in a season since they came back up to the top flight. But Jerome would chase, muscle, harry and hustle his way around defences with the best of them. Well, at least with the average of them.

But, when embarking on your fourth Premier League campaign that will also take in at least six European matches, is a player who claimed three goals and seven assists in the league last season really the man to take you to the next level?

Ignoring the proposed fee, Dann would be a shrewd buy, even if he is another example of a player whose reputation has been greatly bolstered by the fact he has not played in ages.

When Birmingham's form nosedived after the ex-Coventry centre-back was ruled out for the rest of the season in January the snap conclusion was that he, and not defensive partner Roger Johnson, was the lynchpin of the Blues' back line. It is a theory which studiously ignores the fact that Johnson played every single one of Birmingham's 76 Premier League games since joining the club, and played his part in the Blues finishing ninth in their first year back up. Sure, Dann is the more cerebral of the two, holding the line while Johnson breaks rank to make a crunching tackle or meet a high ball with a solid header, but the union worked well because they each played their own part well. Perhaps more blame should be laid at the feet of Martin Jiranek.

Once again it seems that Premier League clubs are all too eager to pay an outrageous premium for British players, but this case is even more alarming than other cases we have already seen this summer.

Both Jerome and Dann are 24, so it is difficult to even justify the price hike as a major investment in youth a la Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson.

Neither of them have so far in their careers come within a sniff of an England cap, another factor which automatically adds a few million to an already inflated value.

If Stoke come back with an improved offer that is finally accepted, who knows how this summer transfer window will end?

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Hearts today announce that Craig Thomson is suspended with immediate effect. No further comment will be made by the club." - In ED's book, 11 days after the incident hardly counts as "immediate effect". Hearts have now suspended their defender after his conviction for lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour for explicit contact with underage girls on the internet. Let's hope this is the last time this grisly matter is ever mentioned here, but for further reading on the whole sorry affair check out Scottish football blogger Des Kane's verdict on the matter.

FOREIGN VIEW: Mexico have been hit by their second scandal this month after eight players in the country's Copa America squad were suspended for six months for indiscipline by the national football federation. The players were caught breaching disciplinary rules at a Quito hotel where the squad were staying on the way to the Copa America in Argentina which starts on Friday. Mexican media reported the players told coach Luis Fernando Tena they had belongings stolen from their rooms at the Quito hotel where the players had invited 'female guests'.

COMING UP: It's quite the bumper day today, thank you very much. As well as columnist Our Man In Spain Andy Mitten and Columnist Supremo Jim White filing their latest blogs, we'll also be bringing full live coverage of Norway v Equatorial Guinea (14:00) and Brazil v Australia (17:15) in the Women's World Cup.

Away from football, it is men's quarter-finals day at Wimbledon. Follow Andy Murray v Feliciano Lopez on Centre Court after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Roger Federer, while Bernard Tomic v Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal v Mardy Fish will be doing their thing on Court Number One provided the weather holds up. Play kicks off at 13:00.

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