Pardew's Piggy: Birmingham's Horsfield To Sign For Reading On Loan?

Last updated : 20 July 2003 By Rob Cooper
Alan Pardew has been handed a 'sizeable' transfer budget which he will attempt to invest wisely in players that can earn the Royals automatic promotion to the Premiership next season. But who will Pardew spend the contents of his piggy bank on?

Birmingham number nine Geoff Horsfield has reputedly caught the attention of Pardew. However, with the Blues rating the 29-year-old highly, surely there is no chance of a deal going through? We thought we would investigate.

So who's after him?

Wigan Athletic were reported to have registered an interest in Horsfield earlier this summer, but received a negative response from Steve Bruce, who insisted that his man was not for sale. Birmingham fans would hate to see ‘the Horse’ leave St Andrews as they hold him in very high regard.

Indeed, it is possible that Horsfield could find himself thrust into the first team come the start of the new season alongside experienced Frenchman Christophe Duggary. Fellow forwards Stern John and Clinton Morrison may find themselves playing reserve team football next month, unable to disintegrate the Duggary-Horsfield partnership.

How much would he cost?

Blues fans believe that if Reading were serious about signing their Barnsley-born forward they would have to offer a minimum of a whopping £1 million. Such a fee would be well beyond the Royals.

However, Birmingham fans concede there is an outside chance that their man could make his way to the Madejski Stadium on loan. Money could still prove a stumbling block as Horsfield is rumoured to be on a rapacious £14,000 per week.

Is he worth it?

If he came to the Madejski, Horsfield would be able to prove himself to be a quality centre-forward. The 29-year-old, who cost the St Andrew’s side £2.25 million when he signed from Fulham three years ago, is a powerful striker who specializes in holding the ball-up. A former Birmingham Player of the Year, ‘the Horse’ would stoke the glowing embers of the lukewarm Reading attack, but at a massive price.

Should Reading fail to capture David Connolly, as expected, Alan Pardew could consider bringing Horsfield in on loan. It appears that a permanent transfer would be unrealistic, given the massive transfer fee Birmingham would likely necessitate.

If he was to come to Reading where would he play?

Horsfield could be Nicky Forster’s perfect partner. The little-and-large striking combination is used by many clubs to great effect and could be successful at Reading if Fozzy and ‘the Horse’ took to the field together.

The small, pacy, yet slight Forster could get hold of through balls and flick-ons played by the bulky and powerful Horsfield to add bite to the at times tame Reading front line.

So what's he done in his career thus far?

Something of a late-comer to the game, he didn't really making a name for himself until he was ywenty-four years of age. Whilst at non-league Halifax Town Horsfield netted an incredible thirty times in just twenty games during the 1997-98 season, enabling Town to make their return to the Football League.

He then got his name on the scoresheet eight times in Division Three before the hot prospect was snapped up by the cheque book happy Kevin Keegan, then in charge of Fulham. The powerful centre-forward played a key role as Mohammad Al-Fayed bankrolled the Cottagers through the leagues.

Seventeen goals in his first season in Divison Two were followed by fourteen more the following campaign in Division One. But once Jean Tigana arrived on the scene Horsfield was on his way as he didn’t fit with the Frenchman’s ambitious plans. Birmingham got their man for a fee of £2.25 million – a small fee in what was football’s boom period.

Despite netting just twenty-eight times in three years in Birmingham, ‘the Horse’ has prospered at St Andrew’s, and won the fans Player of the Year Award during his second year at the club, the 2002-03 season, the year the Blues were promoted to the Premiership. Despite being used only as a peripheral figure, five of those goals came last season as Steve Bruce’s side managed to maintain their top flight status.

What else is there to know about Horsfield?

* Prior to joining Halifax, Horsfield played as an amateur for Guiseley and Witton Albion, working in the construction industry during the week.

* Whilst at Fulham, boss Kevin Keegan took part-time charge of the England national team. As a consequence chants of ‘Horsfield for England’ would regularly revuberate around Craven Cottage.

So will he sign for Reading?

Horsfield has attracted a lot of attention from Reading fans in recent weeks. Many fans have coveted him as the man to take the Royals attacking play onto a new level. However, the powerful striker will almost certainly be too expensive for Alan Pardew. With Steve Bruce likely to use him regularly in the first team this coming season, chances of getting a quality forward on the cheap are much diminished. The deal for David Connolly stumbled because the Royals were unprepared to pay the Irishman £10,000 per week. Horsfield is said to be on £14,000 per week.

Despite this, Reading MAD wouldn’t rule out a loan move around Christmas should the Reading forwards find themselves in trouble.