In the same way that they risked the wrath of their supporters four years ago by expressing an interest in Lee Bowyer, Birmingham City will be bracing themselves following the revelation that they have enquired about another controversial midfielder, Newcastle United’s Joey Barton.
Developments over the weekend suggested that Alex McLeish had inquired about taking Barton on a season-long loan from the Magpies.
The link will bring back memories of 2005 and the uproar that was caused when then-manager Steve Bruce made a move to bring Bowyer to St Andrew’s, ironically from Newcastle.
An internet petition against the proposed transfer was launched, although the vast majority of Birmingham City supporters were in favour of Bowyer joining despite his well-documented misdemeanours; but the ex-England midfielder eventually opted for London, with Charlton Athletic, instead.
Four years on and under a new managerial regime, Bowyer has proven his worth to Birmingham fans following a successful loan spell with the club and his permanent move should be confirmed when the squad reconvene for training on Wednesday.
The debate into bringing Barton, whose infamous background needs no introduction, was quickly underway over the weekend amongst Birmingham’s army of internet fans.
As was the case with Bowyer in 2005, many feel that the one-time England international would be a useful acquisition to McLeish’s squad, although a minority will not look past his sullied reputation.
McLeish himself is confident that he can tame the hotly-tempered, although undoubtedly talented, Liverpudlian. Indeed if Barton was to have as much of an impact on Birmingham’s Premier League campaign as Bowyer had on the tail-end of the Blues’ successful Championship season, then he would be welcomed with open arms by the faithful.
Meanwhile, former Celtic defender Bobo Balde has chosen to go on trial with Wolverhampton Wanderers rather than Birmingham.
McLeish had invited the Guinea international to join his squad for the start of pre-season training.
However, Balde has jetted out to join Wolves on their pre-season tour of Australia.