Bazza has penned some thoughts prior to the start of our season.
It is just over a week before we open our league campaign against Charlton Athletic and even less before the opening salvo in the League Cup against Barnet next Tuesday. This summer has been less eventful than usual to my mind despite the despondency caused at the time by the loss of Chris Hughton to Norwich City. Moving on, we all welcome Lee Clark to the helm and there is every reason to suspect that the exciting attacking style that Blues became known for last season will continue this. There was a lot of doom and gloom and gnashing of teeth with the loss of Jordon Mutch toCardiffCityand this spawned big sell off and the asset stripping stories and there was no end of comment on the blogs and forums about this which added to the hysteria surrounding our owner in the Far East. I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate Aljamir on the ‘Often Partisan’ blog for what can only be described as truly outstanding, well researched and beautifully constructed articles on the latter subject over the last few months. They have been informative, balanced and enlightening but most of all based on facts. Some, not all, of the comments that have sprung from his thought provoking articles have at times I’m afraid proved a basic mathematical formula that I have made up:
F ? k/Srt
Where F = Fact, S = Speculation, r = rumour t = tweet count and k is a constant representing background unshakable beliefs despite no evidence to support them! In other words, being an inverse relationship, the more groundless rubbish proffered the less actual truth remains. (Just a bit of fun so if you possess a PhD in quantum physics, let’s not get into an in-depth analysis of the theory 🙂 )
I have steadfastly avoided comment about Carson Yeung and the whole thing about Birmingham International Holdings and what it means for the finances of Birmingham City Football Club itself because frankly I don’t know enough about the subject to add anything of value and most importantly anything factual. I do not for one moment suggest that I am burying my head in the sand about the situation that Blues as a club find themselves in; it concerns me just as it concerns a lot of true fans of our beloved team but the facts are as I see them that until Mr Yeung is tried by the due process of law he is innocent and until BIH release their overdue accounts we will not know the full picture so until then I’m going to do what I have always endeavoured to do on Joys and Sorrows and that is talk about football.
Reflecting on the season just gone, I thought it was one of the most enjoyable and fun that I can remember and reminded me so much of the 1968 team, managed by Stan Cullis that scored 83 league goals at this level with a team captained by Ron Wylie and containing prolific goal scorers such as Barry Bridges, Fred Pickering, the late Johnny Vincent and Geoff Vowden. They were exciting to watch but like our team last season just fell short of promotion at the last coming fourth as we did this year. Moreover, that team made the FA Cup semi final beating Arsenal and Chelsea on the way before unluckily losing at Villa Park to the Baggies having played them off the park! This team surpassed the 1968 team because they provided not only the goals but were far better defensively and of course had to play more games because of that European UEFA Cup run. The highlights for me were the trip to Braga, accompanied by my mate Chris, which was a fantastic experience, the win in Mariborwhich was a unique occasion but the greatest moment of the season was Chris Wood converting Marlon King’s cross in Bruges in the 100th minute of an enthralling match. It is a moment that I will never forget and it rates up there with beating Arsenal at Wembley last February.
Despite the loss of the aforementioned Jordon Mutch, the release of a number of fringe players and the return of the loan players we had last year to their respective clubs, this season promises much. Lee Clark has quietly gone about his business in a Hughtonesque way signing Peter Lovenkrands, Hayden Mullins, Darren Ambrose, David Lucas and latterly Ravel Morrison on loan for next to nothing in terms of fees. There is clear evidence that some of our youngsters notably Butland, Packwood, Hancox, Deaman,Asante, Jervis and Redmond are going to play a bigger part this year and I’m feeling pretty positive about it all frankly. If Butland is half as good as he looks to be I can see that boy saving Blues 10-15 points this year which could prove crucial. This brings me on to the most important thing we have to learn from last year and that is the reduction of lost points from winning positions. According to my calculations Blues surrendered a total of 34 points from winning positions! In context the team also gained 17 from losing causes but that still represents a net loss of 17 points. These, if nullified would have represented automatic promotion with 93 points total. Whilst losing only once at home all season in the league, there were too many draws against teams that Birmingham would expect to beat. The two points dropped per draw at home are costly enough but the away record was poor with nine defeats; this has to be improved if we are to mount a challenge.
The division is much tougher this year with the relegated teams expected to figure strongly and I suspect that Charlton,Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday back up from the third tier will also be out to impress. Add to that Leicester and Forest who will be better this year, Blackpool, Cardiff, Brighton, Middlesbrough and Leeds could all make a good showing. Each year there is a team that surprises everyone and we won’t know who that team is until it happens. It is vital that Blues get off to a solid start and not do what they did last year winning only two and losing three of the first seven games. We do not have the distraction ofEuropethis time around so league focus is the key. If we are there or thereabouts after 10 or 12 games, it could be a very successful season. Let’s hope so eh?