You may have noticed a severe lack of updates lately. This is because the blog has now closed its doors for the last time. I quit. I’m done. I’m finished.
Something will – hopefully, in time – replace the blog as the main focus of the Joys & Sorrows site but for now, this will remain here as a bit of an archive. After all, I – and many others – have put a lot of work into this place over the last 2 and a half years and page views of nearly 1.4m (not including the forum!) show that it has been somewhat of a success in that time.
I was going to wait to close it until the end of the season but I’ll do it now in case we unfortunately find ourselves flopping around the murky waters of the Championship come mid May. I couldn’t stand the idea of closing it on a note like that. At the moment we still have hope and it’s conceivable that we could stay up by gaining just one more point – hopefully away at Fulham at the weekend. I’m a believer. I think we’ll do it.
Thanks to the generosity of a fellow Blues fan, I’ve managed to get to the last two home games. I was hoping that we’d win one of these – whilst keeping a clean sheet – so that I could round off a project that became a bit of an obsession on a positive note. When Seb Larsson stepped up and hammered the ball past Pepa Reina, I thought I’d gotten my wish – the ideal scenario to ‘end it all’ with a fitting tribute full of overly self-important, vomit-inducing hysteria about how much I love Blues and how much I’ve immersed myself in them whilst writing this blog.
But I suppose, somewhat typically, Blues let me down on that score and the fact that we fell apart so catastrophically and conceded the second in the manner that we did says more about Blues than any victory ever could – still, scratch it all away and we’re left with hope.
Thanks to everyone who has offered articles and comments, or even just popped over for a read, over the last two and a half years. You’ve made writing this blog a pleasure and helped this particular Blues fan be closer to his club that his own personal circumstances have previously allowed.
As I said earlier, I’ll be looking to do something with the site in due course. I’ll be moving to the other side of the world later on in the year and so maybe something Aussie-related will be forthcoming. Time will tell. In the meantime, the forum is still more than active so take a trip over there and get talking on the friendliest Blues forum on the web.
Opposition: Wigan Athletic
Venue: JJB Stadium
Stats/Form: Wigan go into this game on the back of two successive defeats with one win from their last six. Blues have also struggled to win of late with just one win from their last four.
Blues and Wigan have only met nine times in the league, with two wins apiece. The other five matches were drawn although Wigan’s last win against Blues came in the penultimate game of the 1991/92 season in the Old Division Three.
Last time out: 08/04/2006 Wigan 1 (Johansson) Blues 1 (Dunn)
Memories: To be honest, because of the fact that I am in my mid-teens, I am struggling to think of too many memories of clashes with Wigan. The only one that sticks out in my mind is when we played them at St Andrew’s on the second day of 2006. At this time it was becoming clearer and clearer that we were in serious danger of slipping out of the Premiership whilst Wigan, on their very first sojourn into the top-flight, were riding high in the league. As the kick off loomed there was a feeling of dread amongst Bluenoses that we would get turned over by a team that was in only its third season of being above the third tier of English football.
The game kicked-off and Blues showed signs that this was, once again, going to be another sluggish performance whilst Wigan looked as if they were settling comfortably. About ten minutes in, Blues won a free-kick about thirty yards out. The out of form Jermaine Pennant swung his boot at the ball and off it went into the Railway Stand, cue much derision from the Blues faithful. Another ten minutes passed when a ball was floated into the box more in hope than expectation. It reached the far post where the previously derided Pennant leapt like a salmon and nodded home. The goal seemed now to add zest to Blues’ play and we missed several opportunities before deservedly increasing our lead on the stroke of half-time, when after a goalmouth scramble, Mario Melchiot poked the ball into the net.
After showering the players with praise as the referee blew the whistle to conclude the first half, the fans settled to watch a predictably but perhaps important drab second-half. The game petered out into a 2-0 win for Blues. At the final-whistle, Blues fans cheered a rare victory knowing that there was still a harrowing fight against relegation, which would eventually be lost, to come whilst our Lancashire opponents finished the season comfortably embedded in mid-table.
Final Score: Blues 2 (Pennant, Melchiot) Wigan 0
Team news: Wigan welcome back ex-Bluenose Wilson Palacios from suspension but are without both Jason Koumas and Michael Brown. Blues have Franck Queudrue and Liam Ridgewell unavailable through suspension whilst James McFadden and Olivier Kapo are both unavailable through injury.
Wigan (4-4-2, R-L) : Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Kilbane, Valencia, Palacios, Scharner, Taylor, Heskey, King
Blues (4-4-2, R-L) : Maik Taylor, Parnaby, Kelly, Jaidi, Murphy, Larsson, Johnson, Muamba, McSheffrey, Forssell, Zarate
Pre Match build up:
- Bcfc.com match preview
- Heskey says mood is upbeat
- Premier League preview
- McLeish prepared to switch Kelly
- Zarate happy to be marked man
- Blues up for the physical battle
Wigan key man: Antonio Valencia
Since arriving at Wigan following his performances in the 2006 World Cup, Ecuadorian international Valencia has made steady progress. His pace and penetration have made him a valuable weapon for the Latics, and with creative maestro Jason Koumas out of tomorrow’s game, Wigan may look to Valencia to provide ammunition.
Blues key man: Mauro Zarate
This kid is potentially world class, there is no other way of putting it. His recent performance against Manchester City was a joy to behold, as he terrorized the Mancunian backline and ended the game a hero after putting away two marvellous goals which ultimately won Blues three precious points. He could provide the bit of magic Blues will need to win the game tomorrow.
Prediction: With both teams desperate for points to try and pull themselves away from danger, you can bet your life on this being a close game. However I think the fact that Blues are buoyed by their win against Manchester City last week whilst Wigan have struggled of late, may give the Brummies the edge, A close one but a Blues win for me.
Wigan 1-2 Blues
Ladbrokes Odds: Wigan evens Blues 11/5 Draw 11/5.
I’ve purposely avoided posting about Zarate since his arrival. I think, mainly, because I had a different opinion to everyone else. Everyone else seemed to enthuse about him and think that he could and would be our saviour – it was just a case of banging him into the side and then he’d go and save our Premiership status single-handedly – a bit like Carlos Tevez, a reported hero of Zarate’s, at West Ham perhaps.
What I saw was a kid who was massively talented but too often tried to make too big an impact in the short time available and instead of playing sensible and making an impact with a smart pass, he’d try and beat 3-4 men and bang a shot in, often from distance. I lost count of the amount of times I’d frustratedly throw my arms into the air – ala Fergie when United are 1 down and the assistant ref only adds on 3 minutes of injury time! – when their seemed to be a better option on but he’d still try and beat the man. Exciting but the right thing to do?
We all love a Zarate. He’s one of those players who can genuinely get you on the edge of your seat and make the steep entrance prices worth it. A bit like Cristiano Ronadlo I suppose. He can beat a man, play with either foot, pass (I’m sure!), shoot, jink, dip a shoulder – and he’s a quick learner. He has, in every sense, the footballing world at his feet and whether he stays at St Andrew’s or not, he will go far in the game.
Pitch time has already matured him and he can justifiably say that he’s earnt the right to be in the first XI tomorrow at Wigan Athletic. Three goals in two games and a more rounded team player combined with a generous strike partner who has altered his game to allow the genius that is Mauro Zarate to catapult his talents into the consciousness of an unsuspecting Premier League.
There’s been many a story over the last week about where Mauro will be next season. Zarate would like to be in Birmingham, he even called us ‘Blues’ the other day (not ‘the Blues’). Blues fans would love nothing more, neither would his current manager or set of team mates. However, there’s stories flying around about the Qatari royals blocking the move and a price tag of between £10-20m..
McLeish has stated that a permanent deal is unlikely but is hopeful of another year’s loan. Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur were sniffing around before he moved to Blues and will no doubt have another look if Zarate fails to return to St Andrew’s at the beginning of next season. Other clubs will also have noticed Zarate, especially if he continues the trend of scoring important goals combined with an exciting style of play over the last 5-6 games.
Last week, I said to someone that a loan deal would be the only way that we could hang onto the little fella and I still stand by that. Maybe another good year next season and a push up the table could provide the money required but for now, spending £10m on one player – one that hasn’t even played half a season in England – isn’t realistic. Not for me, anyway.
But what do you think? I’ve started a new poll on the right hand side. Will Mauro Zarate be at St Andrew’s next season? Vote now.
The last poll saw nearly 210 votes with 68% saying that Blues would stay up and the remaining 32% saying that we wouldn’t