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.
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
This Saturday has all the feelings of a derby game attached to it, doesn’t it? It’s making me feel sick. It’s an important game already without the added spice of Bruce, Heskey etc, as mentioned by Roy Aitken earlier today.
There’s another glut of articles been posted on various sites today and as Saturday approaches, the gloves seem to be sliding off. There’s going to be an almighty bang when the sides get stuck into each other at the JJB. A lot of the stuff coming out today is pretty much what you’d expect – players and coaches on both sides talking themselves and their sides up and being very positive:
- Aitken tells Blues to be confident
- Aitken sets survival target
- Safety is in sight for Forss
- McSheff rules out old pals act
- Taylor lauds McSheff’s ‘bottle’
- Queudrue confident in defensive reshuffle
The thing that stands out when any Blues player or coach is talking about Bruce and Wigan is the way they play. Tough, uncompromising, difficult to beat, whole-hearted. No-one seems to talk about any sort of quality or composure on the ball and obviously that won’t come as a surprise to Blues fans. It’s nice to be the team going into the game knowing that, if we win the battle, we have players capable of playing football and putting a decent move together to score a goal and win a game. Individually as well as a team.
Bruce has a cracking record against relegation rivals – he did when he was with us too – and it’ll be difficult on Saturday but with this team, I always feel like we’re going to do well and I always feel like a result is possible. In fact, since McLeish has come in, I’ve found myself being a lot more positive about Blues again. I used to be the type to always be up for a game, confident of a win and defender of pretty much everything blue. I feel like the Premiership – or possibly the latter stages of the Bruce Premiership era? – eroded that somewhat and it became difficult to be excited about football because of the obvious difference in class between the top and the rest.
But since Bruce has gone and McLeish has come in, the prospect of seeing some goals, some exciting football and players who want to win instead of merely not lose has reinvigorated me and I hope a lot of other Blues fans too. I managed to pick up some tickets for the Everton game on April 12th earlier this week and honestly, I don’t think I would’ve made that effort to be able to afford them had Steve Bruce still been here. And that’s not a deliberate slight on Bruce. I always defended Bruce and I defended him right up to the day he left – and since – but hindsight is a wonderful thing and the grass is now most definitely greener. But for a great period of his tenure, I still believe that he was what we needed.
The most interesting article I read today came, unsurprisingly, from Colin Tattum in the Mail. It’s called ‘Steve Bruce must face his Birmingham City demons’ and you can read it by clicking here. This article reads like a fan wrote it and it’s why this particular ‘nose makes a point of reading both his articles and blogs. After all, did anyone read the report on the Arsenal game? Sublime.
But anyway, what do you think?
I can’t make up my mind about it. On one hand, I think it’s full of speculation but then I remind myself that Tattum is closer to the club and was closer to the situation than most people. His final points about Bruce perhaps having a tinge of jealousy about what Blues are when compared to Wigan left me somewhat embarrassed when I first read it. After all, I could just imagine my reaction if a local journalist who knew nothing about Blues were to make the same accusation about us, especially if we’d just secured their manager for £3m, tripling his wages in the process!
I dunno, I suppose I like us to be understated. I can’t stand it when supporters – of any club – ring up national radio stations or post on forums and bang on about how big they are compared to other clubs or how passionate their fans are or whatever. I like Blues to just be Blues and not worry about where we fit in compared to the rest of the league. We do as well as we can and hopefully one day, that’ll be good enough to win us something of note, our name on the FA Cup if my prayers are being listened to.
Maybe Bruce does miss Blues, maybe Bruce is jealous of Blues, maybe Blues are bigger than Wigan, maybe I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, maybe this, maybe that… I just know that I’m quickly heading down the road of football maniac again and with each passing game, I’m caring less and less about buying essentials such as food and water and thinking more and more about where my next Birmingham City hit is coming from – and that, whichever way you cut it, is down to the change of manager and philosophy in the Blues management chair.
Now all we need is a board to match the ambition of the manager and we’d be all set for the footballing giant to finally, FINALLY awaken. But first thing’s first, let’s see to Wigan and Steve Bruce this weekend.