It’s been a while since Birmingham City held rank to an out-and-out winger with pace and skill.
Jermaine Pennant was arguably the last example of a complete winger plying his trade at St. Andrews, even with a tag around his ankle. And Stan Lazaridis, a cult hero in these parts, didn’t have a great turn of speed – although his crossing and dead ball ability made up for that in abundance.
There was a tinge of excitement when Jeremie Boga signed on season-long loan deal from Chelsea last summer.
Boga is a highly rated product of the Cobham Training Centre as the club look to nurture his obvious potential.
The fact that Boga was picked to start for Chelsea in their first game of the season speaks volumes. Although he was withdrawn after Gary Cahill was dismissed, the 21-year-old didn’t do his stock any harm whatsoever.
It is of great frustration that Blues haven’t seen the best of him. Boga has shown evidence of his raw talent in fits and spurts – his goal at Sheffield United being one example.
It’s also fair to say the stars haven’t aligned for him. Since checking in at B9 in August, Boga has worked under three different managers.
In theory, he joined a promotion aspiring club with the sole objective of developing and maturing as a footballer. In reality, he finds himself playing a bit part role for a club that has been disjointed on and off the pitch for some time.
Boga’s 32 appearances this season has produced two goals and two assists. His comfort with the ball at his feet is evident but his decision making is the key area in need of improvement.
It’s difficult to berate a player who stands at just five-foot-seven for being aerially weak, so he gets the benefit of the doubt in that area, yet his defensive contribution remains a sticking point.
Before Steve Cotterill’s head was served on a plate, it was thought that Blues had already set the wheels in motion to take Boga on loan for another year. However, since Garry Monk took charge, Boga has seen just 40 minutes of action across three substitute appearances.
Whether Monk has made the same observations as his predecessor with regards to a player who has the best years of his career ahead of him remains to be seen.
If Blues do survive and keep Monk in the hot seat, Boga could benefit from a bit of stability. Before we set about criticising the young man, we should remember that the club has hardly been an ideal platform on which for him to prosper.