Tag Archives: Birmingham City

Maikel Kieftenbeld turning out to be a bargain buy for Blues

When 25 year old Dutch midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld joined Blues from Groningen for a mere £160,000 I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted how crucial he would become to Gary Rowett’s team writes Luke Turner.

To be fair, I had never heard of Maikel prior to him joining the Blues and his early season performances left me thinking. His endeavour was there for all to see but he couldn’t seem to string a pass together. As time has gone on, I have seen more of him and now it can be seen clearly what his strengths and weaknesses are. Kieftenbeld is excellent at committing himself for tackles, breaking the play up and covering ground. However, his weaknesses are that he can needlessly give possession away as well as fouls. Up until Saturday he had also barely been a threat in front of goal.

With Maikel Kieftenbeld in you team, you know what you’re going to get. You can’t expect a pin point 40-yard long pass but what he does give you a fully committed performance and 110% effort right up until the last kick of the game. Only Jonathan Grounds makes more tackles and interceptions on average per game than Kieftenbeld which shows how important he is to the team.

I can’t quite believe that we signed him for such a small transfer fee. Talk about value for money! A midfielder of his ability would cost at least a couple of million pounds if signed from the Premier League or a fellow Championship club. It just shows that there are players out there that can be sought for such little money.

I think the game on Saturday against Brentford was the game where Blues fans really discovered their love for Kieftenbeld. As the game approached 90 minutes, Maikel intercepted a pass in his own half before making a 60-yard lung busting run in support of James Vaughan and then tapped home from a couple of yards to clinch the winner. His first goal for Blues, his first goal in England and in front of the Tilton as well. You could see in his celebration that he was delighted. That goal epitomised Maikel’s style of play and he certainly fits the bill for the type of player Rowett dreams of having.

What a signing he has proved to be so far by Gary Rowett. If he continues to produce performances at the level he has so consistently so far this season then I think we could be seeing a new Blues cult hero in the making. Dutch Maik, I salute you!


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The Man City midfielder excelling in the Eredivisie


This past Saturday night, Will Burns sat watching the SC Cambuur-FC Twente match and he saw a new name on the team sheet – it was ‘Albert Rusnák’.

I remember researching the 20-year-old earlier last month when I heard Manchester City was allowing the player to cross the North Sea and head into Leeuwarden on a season-long deal.

I discovered that Rusnák played youth football in homeland of Slovakia for MFK Košice before signing for the Citizens in 2010, where he joined the club’s academy on Platt Lane. After approximately three years of youth and reserve-team football, he was farmed out to League One in England, down the road in Oldham to gain some experience. Rusnák made his first senior appearance as a substitute on 31 August 2013 against Tranmere Rovers in a league encounter. Obviously impressing, he did not have to wait long for his first professional start, just three days later, in a Football League Trophy win over Shrewsbury Town. However, later in mid-September, Rusnák’s loan was cut short and he was returned to Manchester after he refused to play for Oldham’s reserve team. On his return to the Etihad, the Daily Mail reported that the head of youth development at the club, Patrick Vieira, ordered Rusnák to go back to Oldham and apologise for his actions.

In the January window this year, Rusnák was on his travels again joining Championship side Birmingham City for a month. Manager Lee Clark selected the Slovakian Under-21 international into his starting eleven for the FA Cup defeat to Swansea City. After three starts in the month spell, he returned to City for the remainder the season and played consistently for Man City’s Elite squad.

This past Saturday, Rusnák was named to make his debut in Cambuur’s starting line-up and from the kick-off you could see this boy was special. In the opening moments, on the ball, he was a delight to watch. Tremendously creative, pacy with a quick brain, spotting players movement and quickly laying the ball into their feet.

Then when things were not working out for his side, he tracked back and with great tenacity, won back the possession and laid the pass off. However, he made a statement after just 13 minutes. Cambuur won a free-kick on the edge of the area; Rusnák stepped up and curled it perfectly into the top corner giving Twente keeper Nick Marsman no chance of stopping. His first game for Cambuur and his first ever goal in professional football.

Starting at 40 seconds check out the goal in the video below shot by a Cambuur fan.

After the match, Rusnák was interviewed by NOS Studio Sport (Dutch version of ‘Match of the Day’) regarding the goal, the game and the move to Cambuur: “It’s a perfect start I think, except that maybe we deserved more than a draw but I’m happy with the goal. But if it was a winning goal for three points, it would be better. I’m not a [free-kick] specialist but I hope to be one day. I have been practising all this week and happily, it paid off.”

Rusnák stated he knew very little regarding Cambuur before the move so he did some research: “A week before I first came here, I looked up on the internet and learned about the club and the fans. I read about they are very passionate and that’s what I love about football”

Rusnák also added why he chose the Netherlands to further his career instead of staying in England: “I think the Dutch league is perfect for the young players. They like to play football and Holland develop many young players so I think this is a perfect opportunity for me.”

If the Slovakian continues to play like he did on Saturday night, it will be a happy and productive season for Rusnák and Cambuur. He will gain excellent first-team experience that Karim Rekik achieved last year at PSV, and has now took back to the City of Manchester Stadium to try and win the affections of City boss Manuel Pellegrini.


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