A goal. That feeling when the ball hits the back of the net. This was a feeling that us Blues fans didn’t experience enough last season. Blues scored a measly 37 goals in 46 league games, with top scorer Sam Gallagher, only managing 6 goals.
Fast forward several months, and Garry Monk’s troops have scored 40 goals in just 28 league games this season, with Che Adams grabbing his 14th goal of the season in the recent defeat to Norwich. Garry Monk of course is responsible for the complete upturn in fortunes this season but there is someone else who also deserves the credit. Step forward James Beattie.
James Beattie is well known for his goal scoring exploits during his career in the premier league. Beattie, widely classed as one of the most underrated players in premier league history, scored 91 goals in the premier league, ranking him 35th in the list of Premier league top goal scorers. When Garry Monk brought James Beattie to Blues as a first team coach in March 2018, this seemed a great addition. A prolific goal scorer brought in to help a team struggling to score. However, this task wasn’t going to be an easy one.
Last season Che Adams and Lukas Jukewitcz only managed 5 league goals each. Adams had struggled with a number of lengthy injuries and Jukewitcz was a player who always worked his socks off but rarely managed to supply any end product. Fast forward to January 2019 and Adams and Jukewitcz have both reached double figures this season in terms of league goals. They have both developed a fantastic partnership this season, assisting each other on numerous occasions, for example, the equaliser at Blackburn this season, Adams dispatching a teasing ball from Jukewitcz.
Even the most hardened of Blues fan will admit that the transformation of Jukewitcz and Adams in particular has been incredible. Beattie’s work with the whole team, in particular the above mentioned pair, has been fantastic. On his arrival at Blues in March 2018, Beattie said that he would “bring a lot of energy and vast knowledge of the game, both on and off the pitch.” The evidence of this is highlighted in Che Adams. Adams has always had a lot of potential, however, due to injuries and past managerial regimes, has never quite fully lived up to it. The same can’t be said for this season. The Birmingham City number 9 hounds opposition defenders and is a real handful for them. Blessed with great pace and a desire to chase down every ball, Adams has turned into a real cult hero with the Birmingham faithful. But he has added something else to his game. Something that strikers are judged by: Goals.
Che Adams has bagged 14 goals in the championship so far this season. This total is almost triple the tally he managed last season. Due to the fantastic management of Garry Monk, and the invaluable coaching he has received from James Beattie, Che Adams is now one of the most wanted players in the English championship. The number 9’s finishing this season has been sensational. His goal against Middlesborough earlier on this month, curling a sublime snap shot into the bottom corner, further highlights the improvements he has made. With Adams only 22 years old, Blues will no doubt struggle to keep such a talented striker come this summer.
Adams goalscoring exploits of course have been terrific this season but he arguably doesn’t play as important role as his strike partner: Lukas Jukewitcz. The towering striker is imperative to the team and Garry Monk’s system. Jukewitcz’s hold up play and selfless running help to create lots of opportunities for the Blues attack. Jukewitcz is a nuisance both in the air and on the ground. But this really has never been questioned. The doubts have always been about his goalscoring record. The 5 goals he managed last season represented a good total for a striker who found himself on the bench for most of last season. These doubts have been swept away this season. 10 goals this season, including a hat trick in the 3-1 win at home to Rotherham earlier on this season, represent the best goal scoring season Jukewitcz has had in almost 10 seasons. Again this is down to the fantastic work of the backroom staff at Birmingham City, helping to turn a hard working striker into one who has added goals and assists to his game.
Going into the second half of the season, Blues are looking to carry on their fantastic form and secure a top half finish. Last season this would’ve seemed impossible. But things are different now. Che Adams and Lukas Jukewitcz are different now and with this blossoming partnership the possibilities are endless for Blues this season. It’s been a tough couple of seasons, but the development and partnership of Jukewitcz and Adams has rewarded Blues fans for Keeping right on!