The Unthinkable – By Russell Dempsey

Posted on March 29, 2007 
Filed Under Articles By Russell

I think even the worst pessimists agree we’ll at least make the play-offs this season, and with it – assuming Derby County and Sunderland (the present teams most would fear) have an excellent chance of going up (it would appear to be West Bromwich Albion, Preston North End and Wolverhampton Wanderers our opponents in the Play-Offs at the moment) as our record against those teams so far has been good.

However, I was wondering what people thought about our chances of keeping our squad together, should we not make it.

Forget the Bruce In/Bruce Out debate, what about the players?

Maik Taylor, Colin Doyle, Adam Legzdins, Artur Krysiak, Sam Oji, Matt Sadler, Stephen Clemence, Mikael Forssell, Julian Gray, Neil Kilkenny, Neil Danns, Bruno N’Gotty, Matt Birley, Sone Aluko, Stephen Kelly, Martin Taylor, Sebastian Larsson, Cameron Jerome, Mehdi Nafti, DJ Campbell, Olivier Tebily, Rowan Vine, Damien Johnson, Radhi Jaidi, Gary McSheffrey, Nick Wright.

Andy Cole, Fabrice Muamba and Nicklas Bendtner, I think we can all safely assume will have gone back to their ‘parent clubs’ should we fail to achieve promotion… some would question whether they’d stay even if we go up.

I think Maik Taylor would go, and we’d keep the other three keepers. I’d imagine Forssell won’t be happy to stick around should we not be offering him Premiership football next season. Julian Gray and Neil Kilkenny have already been making unhappy noises about the lack of opportunity. I imagine their grumbles may cease if they enjoy Premiership salaries once more, but for now I’d imagine Kilkenny could do better elsewhere, and Gray may even be tempted by a smaller Championship team.

There was an interesting point made by fellow ‘J & S poster’ Kym Smith, that she wasn’t exactly sure Stephen Clemence was a logical choice for a Premiership Captain. He’s done arguably a better job than Damien Johnson in the Championship though, so it’d be great to see him still here, should we not go up. I’d hope he took the armband off DJ too, and I suspect Jonty would be only too happy to say goodbye to being the fall guy, and the stress…

I think Mat Sadler was being touted for huge things when he was playing in the Premiership, which may cause him to look elsewhere, but I think he’s been unlucky having to play second fiddle to McSheffrey on the left wing, so I can see him staying.

McSheffrey is our ‘crown jewel’ at the moment, and after Pennant, Heskey, Dunn and Upson, I don’t think any Bluenose would bet against him leaving us for a ‘bigger’ Prem team if we didn’t gain promotion. Some would argue he’s not necessarily a sure-fire success for the Prem, but the likes of Derby and Sunderland would definitely be willing to gamble on him, if no-one else.

Jonty himself I can see wanting to stay at Blues. If we went up to the Prem, I wonder if his age would catch up with him, but in the Championship – despite those who would knock him – I think he has found his level, along with Tiny Taylor and Tebs (who I would hope we’d release should we get to the ‘Promised Land’).

Neil Danns and DJ Campbell would no doubt relish the challenge to pit themselves in the Premiership, but I can’t see a bigger club than Blues coming in for them, should we stay down. The jury’s out on Danns even at the Championship level, and I think DJ Campbell struggling to hold down even a place on the bench at times wouldn’t bode well for his Premiership dreams…

Jaidi and N’Gotty are coming toward the end of their careers, N’Gotty in particular seemed to suggest he’d retire after one more ‘Prem season with Blues’ that quote from him suggests to me he’d leave should we fail to get promotion. Jaidi’s recent decision to re-enter the Tunisian national team probably suggests he’d be ready to continue playing, but I’m again not sure a bigger team would come in for him, or pay his salary. Mehdi Nafti was a promising Premiership player before his season-long injury stopped him being our ‘bigger and better Robbie Savage’ but this season he’s been solid but average for the Championship, held out of the team by Fabrice Muamba. I can see him staying at Blues for another season.

Matt Birley, Sam Oji, Sone Aluko, and Nick Wright have all made their names in the Blues reserve sides. If they’re not released as seems a common fate for their ilk I think they could even break into the first team, should we stay in the Championship. Oji, Birley and Aluko perhaps even regular bench spots in the Prem in the future.

Nick Wright looked excellent to me, a match for Pennant at times, for the reserves last season, but his impact seems to have lessened this season, and he certainly doesn’t seem to have caught Bruce’s ‘first team’ eye.

Stephen Kelly I believe is good enough for the Premiership, and if we don’t go up, I’d expect him to head up a division.

That leaves Larsson, Jerome and Vine.

An interesting bunch of players. Arguably all capable of making it in the Premiership, but all recently signed to Blues. I’d think Jerome could say he has least to lose by leaving Blues, after he’s played second fiddle to Bendtner, DJC, Vine and now Andy Cole this season, but would he be offered a Prem spot? Again, perhaps the newly promoted teams would give him more than a cursory glance?

Larsson and Vine I would have thought should want to prove themselves for longer than the half seasons they’ve been permanent Blues players. Larsson isn’t proven in the Prem at all, and neither is Vine.

I would have thought – without transfer window buying – our Championship team for 07/08 (as unthinkable as that may be) would consist of….

GK: Colin Doyle
LB: Matt Sadler
CB: Martin Taylor
CB: Radhi Jaidi
RB: Olivier Tebily
LM: Sebastian Larsson
CM: Stephen Clemence
CM: Damien Johnson
RM: Neil Danns
ST: Rowan Vine
ST: DJ Campbell
SUBS: Adam Legzdins, Sam Oji, Nick Wright, Mehdi Nafti, Sone Aluko

KNOCKING ON THE DOOR : Artur Krysiak and Matt Birley

Krysiak let in six goals (Blues were down to 10 men mind) for the U18’s last night so hes ‘one for the future’.

I actually think – taking Bruce out of the equation – IF we don’t go up this season, we have a bloody good squad to get us there or thereabout next season. With the right investment, we can only get stronger, surely?

Any opinions on a postcard to….Joys and Sorrows, PO Box blah blah blah!

Keep Right On, and hope my unthinkable stays just that…


7 Responses to “The Unthinkable – By Russell Dempsey”

  1. tonyd on March 29th, 2007 5:16 pm

    Go and wash your mouth out, Aff!

  2. Aff on March 29th, 2007 5:29 pm

    I didn’t write the article :-P

  3. tonyd on March 29th, 2007 6:27 pm

    Aff, you’re excused! But I thought you were screening out obscenities?

  4. Pressure Builds On Blues at Joys & Sorrows on April 11th, 2007 8:12 pm

    [...] leave you with a fantastic article. It belongs to this very blog and was written by Russell Dempsey. At the time of writing, missing [...]

  5. Champions-Ball on April 11th, 2007 9:09 pm

    I’ve always had a feeling this would happen, being Blues and being so lucky to be in the top2 are luck had to run out. This now looks like the probable conclusion but it’s down to us and Derby now.

    As for the team, I don’t think Kelly is good enough for the Premier League and will probably end up staying – One footed, poor distribution and lack of vision. God help us all if Tebily gets the Right back position! I love the guy, but he really is the most unreliable player of all time. If Bruce is still in charge – God forbid – if we stay down, then Aluko and co. will not get a sniff as Bruce has a real problem with playing Youth players. I seriously doubt Jerome will get a big move as he hasn’t been prolific anough, and I think he’ll come to be a top striker next year under new management. Kilkenny I feel is a hidden talent that Bruce doesn’t see (Andy Johnson) he looked like our best player at times when coming off the bench in the Premier League, and hopefully a new manager will be appointed in time to keep hold of him. If we do stay down I think next year we’ll be extremely entertaining without the high expectation around the place. With a few additions in defence and midfield I think we could be challengers for top spot if the right manager is appointed.

  6. TR7 on April 11th, 2007 10:24 pm

    A ‘nice’ well measured article Russel , I agree with about 75 -80 % of it. But more importantly , it’s a typical Blues fan’s outlook on what it’s like to actually be a Blues fan. The ‘fans’ of the teams that we’ve just been watching play in the Champion’s league on the telly over the last few days coudn’t even start to write an article like yours. They wouldn’t have either a clue or the inclination! because they’re used to unbridled success (or when they’re not achieving , unbridled hype!) I don’t know how long you’ve supported Blues , but you’ve just basically written a microcosm of 2 , 3 or more decades of what it is like and how it will probably remain ,to follow a consistantly (against any odds!) under acheiving team ,year in year out , and still manage to actually rationalise the blatant shortcommings (both managerial and player wise) in an ‘understanding’ type of way.
    Don’t take this as a critism , but you , me , my kids et al are all just part of the generations of long suffering , hopefull Bluenoses that are basically lucky to even see us win a corner , let alone anything else !
    I know this little rant will come across as totally negative , but I feel more angry and let down at this moment than the last relegation , …. and I’ve seen a few of those !!

  7. Russ on April 12th, 2007 12:07 pm

    Cheers for the comments. Not taken as negatove, TR7. Been a Blues fan all my life, 25 years since my first game. My dad is in full agreement with what you said, it’s been 35 years since his first game :)

    Keep Right On, and let’s hope my article proves unnecessary as we go up……

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You have arrived at the archive site of the Birmingham City blog Joys & Sorrows. If you were looking for fresh, meaty stuff then this way, please.

This section of the site covers the blog portion of J&S from 26th April 2006 - when the site returned after a catastrophic hosting failure causing the loss of over 500 articles - to 28th April 2008 - when I decided to have a prolonged rest from the site.

Here, if it so takes your fancy, you can find every single article, totalling over 1,000, written by myself and many others over that two year period.

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