Lee Clark has brought in his one-time ‘enforcer’ to beef up Birmingham City’s Championship campaign.
Powerhouse midfielder Papa Bouba Diop has joined Blues on a month’s contract.
A free agent after leaving West Ham United in the summer, the 34-year-old showed Clark that he still has plenty to offer while on trial at Wast Hills.
The pair played together at Fulham and worked in tandem in their engine room.
Clark said: “He was my enforcer for a couple of years at Fulham when we played alongside each other in the centre of the pitch.
“He used to do all the kicking and I used to pick up the ball!”
On a serious note, Diop’s addition was designed to bring some presence to the central areas.
It was no coincidence that Clark decided to proceed with a contract after the performance against Huddersfield Town.
He felt that Blues were not strong enough in midfield and allowed Huddersfield to constantly run through at the back four.
And Diop also gives the manager the option of dropping Jonathan Spector to right-back while injuries afflict Stephen Carr and Paul Caddis.
Last season Blues – next in action at home to Leicester City on October 20 – were not always the most brawny of teams and physical.
This was why Guirane N’Daw was brought in on loan from Saint Etienne.
An international team-mate of former Senegal mainstay Diop, N’Daw was not re-engaged in the summer after the change in St Andrew’s manager.
Budget and wage restrictions meant that Clark had to balance outgoings carefully, after all loanees were let go. N’Daw has since signed for Ipswich Town on loan and, by all accounts, has not made an impact at Portman Road.
Diop’s addition – the granting of a visa today was expected as a formality – on a short term basis is now nothing new for Blues. It’s where the club are at.
The vast majority of Blues’ signings since Premier League relegation have been free transfers or loans.
Defender Paul Robinson, another free agent, was given a month due to Blues injury problems in defence.
And Clark has looked at various trialists, including most recently Bilel Mohsni (who was available on loan from Southend United, and has gone to Ipswich).
One aspect of the impending takeover of the club will, surely, be a far healthier way to do business.
A club cannot realistically hope to progress and prosper having to implement such short-term measures, hunting for bargains and frees all the time.
At least four groups are interested in taking the club out of Carson Yeung’s hands.
Blues’ parent company, Birmingham International Holdings Limited, confirmed to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday that there were in ‘preliminary discussions’.
The statement also revealed that two prospective buyers have approached them and signed confidentiality agreements.
Blues have provided them with relevant financial information – ‘due diligence materials’ – but no binding agreements have been entered into.
No names have been disclosed.
But it is understood those keen are from India, Thailand and the south east Asia area, plus Gianni Paladini’s Italian consortium.
Yeung bought Blues in a £81.5 million deal in October 2009.
Yeung is the club’s president and owns the single largest shareholding in BIHL with 26 per cent of the company.
BIHL’s major asset is Blues. They own 96 per cent of the club.
For the sale of this stake – the sale of Birmingham City FC – shareholder approval is needed. That should not be a problem with Peter Pannu now chief of BIHL and actively driving negotiations.