Midfielder Daniel Crowley has been one of City’s bright sparks so far this season in the Sky Bet Championship, though the Blues may need a positional tweak to benefit more from the 22-year-old’s talents.
Crowley, who arrived at St Andrews following a spell in the Dutch top flight, is a superb technician, with quick feet and the ability to find cute, measured and game-changing passes. He also possesses great shooting ability and is something of a ‘dead ball’ specialist.
So are City getting the very best out of their summer acquisition at present and could his teammates benefit more from his abilities in a different role to the one he currently occupies?
Pep Clotet has preferred to use Crowley in a wide position, almost like a tucked-in winger so far, and while Crowley has looked good, City have lacked creativity and threat on occasions – something that Crowley could provide if given a more central role.
While Birmingham’s narrow midfield offers a form of solidity from a defensive point of view, it hinders and somewhat thwarts the flair and attributes of Crowley, and Clotet could see better results if he was to allow the new man some freedom to create from the middle of the park.
With City being blessed with many committed, hard-working central midfielders such as Gary and Craig Gardner, David Davis, Ivan Sunjic and Maikel Kieftenbeld (when back from injury), and playing so narrow on the whole, Crowley could be afforded something of a free-role to create – certainly at St Andrews as City look to play on the front foot and use home advantage to get the better of opponents.
Obviously, in such a demanding league as the Championship, it can be ‘horses for courses’ at some points, and managers will set up in a certain way at certain times and players will need to fill in accordingly. However, on occasions, when taking the game to opponents in matches they’re looking to hold the initiative, it may be in Clotet’s best interest to get centrally playing centrally, get him involved and let him dictate in an attempt to open teams up more easily and more often.