Following my article yesterday, John has produced this one.
The final whistle reverberates around White Hart Lane. The dream is over. Birmingham City have been relegated but whilst Spurs fans leave the ground with chesire cat-like grins on their faces, delighted to have secured a Europa League spot, the Blues fans remain and sing their hearts out for their beloved club. Yes, they have just been confined to the Championship but they bagged themselves a cup in the process, reaching the hallowed realms of the Europa League months before the team that sealed their fate. There have been highs; beating Villa en route to the cup and even nicking three points off Chelsea! Fast forward just a few months later and the club may have a different manager and be eleven players shorter but the situation is the same – Blues are 2-0 down at Oxford in pre-season but all you can hear in the Kassam Stadium is the chants of Keep Right On.
The manager changes, the players change, sometimes, even the chairman changes (please God!) but the fans never do. Unfortunately for Blues, with the fans, the pessimism never changes. We draw 0-0 at Hereford, we lose 2-0 at Oxford and all of a sudden, Birmingham City are rubbish again. Nevermind that we created more chances in the Oxford game that we did the whole of last season. Nevermind that we battered the woodwork black and blue. Nevermind that we had three strikers out injured, we are rubbish because we lost two pre-season games. Good!
Chris Hughton now knows what he needs to do. The areas he needs to work on and the players he needs to pay special attention to. Whats more, he has shown that in Burke, Gomis and Rooney, we have three new players that love going forward and in Fahey and Michel, two players whose forward play was never utilised last season. In fact, we are that much of an attacking force now, that even Curtis Davies is trying his luck on goal with an overhead kick! Last season we had a great pre-season, won three tin-cups in China and guess what – were relegated from the Premiership the following season. Liverpool lost to Hull last week – are they a club in crisis? Are Suarez, Adam, Carroll etc rubbish players now? No, they remain a team that will probably be one of the clubs to look out for next season. Remember, pre-season is a time when players aren’t fully at their peak, the manager is trying out different tactics and anything can – and will happen!
Calmed down about that? Now you’re worried about the finance of the club, right? The possible loan of Foster to Albion? A ‘fire-sale?’ Realistically, who can we sell? Scott Dann and Nikola Zigic are unlikely to pass medicals. Even if they do, they have already been replaced by players capable of making an impact at Championship level. Foster going out on loan could be a problem but not when we have Jack Butland in the ranks – I’ve never seen him drop or miss a ball in the air! Colin Doyle has also showed glimpses of quality in the past but would need to tidy up his errors. Who else in our club would people be interested in? Only Ridgewell and Jerome, the latter I would actually pay to leave! He’s a hard worker but has proved over the last few years he is no goalscorer and it may well be time for him to move on.
That’s just my opinion though and I know from past articles that Blues fans like facts so here’s a fact* for you all; upon our last relegation in the 2007/2008 season, only four players started the game, that had played the last game against Blackburn the season prior – our final match before relegation; Maik Taylor, David Murphy, Liam Ridgewell and Sebastian Larsson. At the end of the 2008/2009 season, we finished second and were promoted. At the moment, assuming the worst happens and Ridgewell, Foster, Dann do not start our next season at Birmingham City, we have….guess what? Four players who played against the Tottenham Hotspur the day we were relegated, who will probably line up against Derby on August 6; Stephen Carr (unlikely to leave having recently signed a contract extension), Keith Fahey (no interest), Jean Beausejour (no interest) and Curtis Davies (no interest). If you believe in the St Andrews gypsy curse – you believe in omens like this! One more fact, Chris Hughton has managed in the Championship once during his career and achieved promotion from the Championship once in his career – a 100% record!
Birmingham are finally playing attacking football, there is a good spirit in the camp and we remain one of the favourites with the bookies to achieve promotion next year – 4/1 with most big name bookmakers! Who are our real competition? West Ham, whose only real attacking threat is Piquionne, seeing as they are resigned to losing Scott Parker? Leicester City who have splashed the cash whilst buying no real quality? Nottingham Forest who have become the team that can do so much but delivers on so little? We won’t walk the division next season. We might not even win it, but we are bound to be up there challenging for the top two places, fire sale or no fire sale. What you can bet your money on is that come April 28 2012, promotion or no promotion the only sound you will be able to hear at St Andrews is the chant of jubliant, loyal Blues fans, cheering on their team.
So we didn’t beat Oxford, we might not keep Foster and we don’t have millions in the bank to spend but Birmingham City are playing attacking football, we are a threat and we have the best fans in the world. Stop the negativity, stop the worrying and get together to roar Birmingham City back into the Premiership next season!