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Several months after Clayton Donaldson signed for Brentford I remember listening incredulous to a decent number of fans who slated him at every turn.

Two seasons later and most had fallen silent as one of the stand out strikers of the last two or three decades had helped us to the second tier.

I’ll lay my cards on the table here and say I was always a big fan apart from a brief lull in form when he didn’t seem to apply himself as I knew he could.

He had pace, power and gave defenders headaches. He was an unconventional centre forward in that he rarely played through the middle. He was an athlete with an eye for goal.

On the occasions I spoke to him or heard him interviewed he came across as a thoroughly decent bloke… which makes his decision to leave even more baffling.

We got a hint of Mark Warburton’s anger in his carefully worded statement following the departure to, of all clubs, Birmingham City.

He was rightly disappointed at the fact that either Clayton or more likely his agent – who had also touted him around other north western clubs – had talked with forked tongue during negotiations.

That he even hinted at surprise is a surprise to me. He and we should expect nothing less from the game these days. It was a case of welcome to the Championship.

Clayton’s comments before the end of the campaign that he “wanted to play in the Championship… with Brentford” now leave a slightly sour taste in the mouth.

Don’t get me wrong. He is 30 and looking for his last big payday sop good luck to him, but by all accounts Brentford made him a good offer and asked to be kept informed if Blues upped the ante.

I’d be a lot happier if he’d been up front and laid his cards on the table, even given us some line about moving closer to his family.

But there was nothing apart from his comments on the Birmingham City website where he expressed his delight at the “move he’d always wanted” and his glee at joining a big club. Standard fayre from many footballers, but no less disrespectful given the nature of his departure.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Clayton for the attributes I mentioned earlier, but if he’s moving to improve as a player then I’d say he’s gone to the wrong club.

Among my Blues supporting friends – living as I do in the Midlands – Lee Clark is not exactly known for his tactical nous, intelligent handling of players or acumen.

Last season he oversaw a shambles characterised by performances described variously as pathetic, passionless and one dimensional.

The financial situation at St Andrews didn’t help, but that again raises the question of how a cash-strapped outfit in the midst of legal turmoil are outbidding a club like Brentford who you’d have thought would have held all the cards.

Good luck to Blues though. They have, once again, nicked a striker from us to make it a hat-trick of scoops in the wake of Nicky Forster and DJ Campbell, both of which still rankle.

But much as I admired Clayton, there is a part of me that always wondered whether he could cut it at Championship level.

No doubt he will prove me wrong, but his goals to chances ratio was not brilliant in League One. If he had time to think, he missed.

In the next stage up, he will get fewer chances and will find the Birmingham crowd far less forgiving.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather we’d kept him, but to give ourselves the very best chance of a mid-table finish, we need three strikers all capable of finishing every other chance – sadly, everyone wants them.

I’ve said before that I don’t envy Mark Warburton and Frank McParland and I’m not one of those panicking that we’re returning to pre season training with one recognised front man.

But the forward positions and the decisions made over the next few weeks will be critical to how the season pans out.

Maybe it’s time to call in a few favours from Liverpool, but we won’t be wanting the Suarez lad just yet.

 Jim Levack


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