The Brucey Cokey

Another article by Chris.

What a difference a few weeks in football makes! A few weeks ago, the majority of fans were calling for the head of Steve Bruce. Now I think the majority of us… well at least half… are once again behind him. Were we being fickle? I don’t think we were. My opinion is that things were spiraling downward so quickly, that a change was needed. Bruce didn’t seem to be acting like his normal self, and comments showed that the pressure was getting to him somewhat. I have always liked Bruce, but the relegation, then followed by the bad run of results and then some of the silly comments, made me turn on him. I was a bit worried that after a few wins, Bruce might come out with an ‘I told you I was great’ comment, as that’s the sort of thing I can imagine him saying of late. But I was wrong, and he has seemed quite humble in his comments of late. That’s more like the Bruce we came to love and respect for the right reasons.

For too long, Bruce was being re-active, rather than pro-active (in some games it was non-active (i.e. Leicester substitutions)). For several games, and thinking back, a lot of last season, Bruce was simply reacting to what the opposition was doing, rather than forcing the hand. What I noticed in the game against Plymouth was that Bruce changed Blues style in the second half. Plymouth were running us ragged and we never even looked like scoring. The change came with Gray going left and Macca going upfront. This seemed to give us more movement, and made us play to feet, rather than playing the big ball to bounce off either Jerome or Bendtner. As soon as the change was made, we started taking the game to them, and soon after that came the Jaidi goal.

I think this is something we need to do more as a team. Rather than waiting for the opposition to make a change and then be on the back foot, we need to start forcing there hand and altering our tactics mid-flow. Make the opposition manager think, don’t give him time to plot things against us, make him keep wondering how he can alter his team to cope with our new changes. A change in pace, a change in personnel or even just switching wingers around, can put an opposition on the defensive for even just a short period. Now I’m not saying go over the top and change every 5 mins, that would get us nowhere, but maybe we just need those options there.

Not that I can really complain of late, the last 5 results have been better than most of us could have asked for. But this is my point, Bruce now seems to be doing those things that we seemed to be lacking. The tactical changes, the personnel changes and even the comments, hark back to the Bruce of Old. The Bruce that got us promoted in the 1st season, the Bruce kept us bobbing along nicely in the Prem, and not the Bruce that got us relegated and ended the previous season with a string of defeats.

I’ve always liked Bruce, as a player he was the sort of player that everyone admired. Tough in the tackle, but honest enough to pull you back up once he’d gone right through you (look at me talking as though I once lined up against him). He’s the sort of manager that everyone likes (unless you’re O’Dreary) and maybe at times he was too nice. Now he’s hitting back, and as long as that see’s my beloved Blues do well, then I don’t care how he does it.

Up next is a big psychological test for us against those tire thieves from the North. Another heavy defeat would surely be damaging for morale. I have a horrible feeling that we may see a great deal of Mr Pennant in that game. They always come back to haunt us don’t they!

Speaking of Pennant, did anyone see the recent comments he made about owing Blues a lot? I agree with a lot of what he said, but what I found strange was the comment towards the end, where he said he kept in touch with several of the Blues team, like Danns and Jerome…. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Pennant only there for about a month while those two were there? Surely Pennant had other closer friends from the 18 months he spent with us.

Maybe he didn’t, maybe that points to a lack of camaraderie last season. Or is it that Pennant was a loner? Maybe that in turn points to Pennant’s problems… Clearly I’m speculating, but you just never know.

Now, I’m hoping that Cardiff are going through there blip, and lose some of that confidence. With Barnsley up next in the league, we really have to be aiming for another 3 points. The Xmas period should be the time when we start to see who’s who, and which teams will be pushing for what. We need to make sure were at least in that pack by then. This is no mean feet, there are very few easy games in this league, as most teams tend to go for the ‘hard to beat’ mentality, making teams harder to break down and creating a smash and grab effect across the league.

As far as squads go, we must have one (if not the) best squads in the league. Boingers do have some depth, but I don’t feel as much as us. This for me is a big factor at this time of year, as the games come thick and fast, and the injuries start to pick up. We have ready made replacements in most positions. My only concern is up front, we still don’t seem to have found anyone lethal. Bendtner knows where the net is, but he isn’t ours, and is unlikely to ever be ours. DJ works hard and has pace can be a major threat, but I don’t think teams are as scared of him as they are when we play Bendtner and Jerome up front. Jerome for me, should be starting most games, we’ve paid a lot of money for him, and he’s young, so we need to play him regularly if he is to progress. Forssell seems to be coming to an end, with regards to his Blues career, I wish he would become the player he was, but it just doesn’t seem likely, not at this club anyway.

I’m hoping now that we power on and keep this run going. A good run breeds confidence, in the team and the fans. There’s nothing worse than seeing your team go on a bad run… And there’s nothing better than seeing your team go on a good run. So let’s hope we give Liverpool a run for there money, and dump them out the cup.

Sing it loud, sing it proud….. KEEP RIGHT ON!

Things Are Looking Up

Another Friday rambling from Cliff.


Well that’s been a good few weeks and everyone that’s read my ramblings will know I have always backed Bruce as he is a superb tactical manager, and never makes odd decisions! OK, that’s very tongue in cheek but in all fairness he seems to either be riding some massive wave of luck or has finally found a system which suits the players, and hopefully will please some of the fans.

I for one am still fairly on the fence about it all. Is this now proof that Bruce has turned the corner? I obviously do not know but am willing to give him a chance to prove everyone wrong.

The game against Albion was a strange one for me, I know they missed some chances but looking back on the game so did we. Muamba is a superb player and alongside Clemence appear to be the first choice for now. Bruce has been quoted as saying we have no chance of signing him permanently but who knows. I know some fans are fed up we are using loan players but when an exceptional one comes along you would be foolish not to use them.

It would seem the injury to Dunn could be a blessing in some ways, I know he has his supporters but he really does not appear fit enough to do the up and down like a player like Muamba. That energy in the middle of the field I think is crucial to any successful team.

I could not go to the Coventry game as my daughter was not too well but it would appear we played well, some reports even suggest we controlled it for long periods. Stephen Kelly came out and said we could have beaten them by fix or six goals! That to me seems like an odd thing for a player to come out and say, but it does show some confidence is returning to the squad at last.

I have noticed that generally football fans are not happy unless they are moaning and in many ways I am the same. It is far easier to write about bad things and the things you do not agree with. Football in particular seems to be the one thing that we will never be happy about, look at me at the Albion game. Winning the game 1-0 and he decides to make a sub which I do not agree with. I was moaning and whining, bear in mind we were winning!

Bruce for now is the manager, we should really get behind him, yet it is not that easy for me personally. I am trying to get over my problems with Bruce and truly hope he takes the club back to the promised land. People seem obsessed when talking about the Blues at the moment to say which camp they are in, Bruce in or out. This very site has a Bruce-o-meter. I for one could not care less who is in charge as long as we are winning or at least entertaining occasionally. Bruce stays or goes whatever, the club must move on.

I think Bruce was a little over the top regarding the incident with Johnson but on the whole things seem to be back to normal within the club. Hopefully the arrogance which had come to the fore from Bruce will now go away again and he will become the manager he promised to be a couple of seasons ago.

On the subject of managers I read something recently that said the Blues were torn between two managers when they appointed Barry Fry, I am not sure how true it is but allegedly the other option was one Martin O’Neil. Now would he have been a success at this club or maybe he would have gone the way of Fry? I often think about things like that, was O’Neil destined to be a great manager or would we have managed to knock that potential out of him? Fry was entertaining and it is sometimes forgotten he was very well thought of before he came to us.

This weekend sees us go to Plymouth which is a big test, they are nicely placed and seem to be doing well. Their home record is not that great though and they seem to be drawing a few. I think we should still be looking to go there and win, but maybe that’s my arrogance now showing through!

Have a good weekend

Plymouth 1 – Blues 1

To Bruce, Or Not To Bruce

Another article by Chris.

For a long while, I had been a pro Bruce person. I was in the catergory of fans that were saying ‘give him a chance to prove himself in this league’. I’ve always been the sort of person to find positive aspects in every situation. When we were relegated, I was saying that maybe this wasn’t the end of the world, but more an opportunity to re-build. I think Bruce did well in the summer with his wheeling and dealings, although I’m still not 100% convinced on Danns or Jerome. I think the players we got rid of on the whole, were the right ones, and the likes of Mcshevchenko and Kelly look like being good additions.

Right, now for the concerns… you just knew they were coming! Although I can’t pinpoint the precise moment this season, there was a point where I finally lost my rag with Steve Bruce. I had been fighting his corner for some time and although I seemed to be in a minority at the time. The main reason for my recent lack of Bruce backing is down to his comments about us, the fans. To often has he come out and lambasted the fans and the support and money we bring to the club. The recent outburst that not enough of us are turning up to support them… well Bruce, if you earned a realistic wage, like the majority of fans, and not the mega bucks that us fans pay you, then you might also feel that £28 to watch kick and rush football is too much. Not only is it too much for kick and rush football, but its also too much for Championship football in general. He also lambasts the ‘minority’ of fans who have been booing at the games. For me, if they have paid there money, they can express their feelings in whatever way they feel.

The one that really got me though, was the comments he made about how he made this club what it is, and before he came here, we were languishing in the middle of Championship, pretty much proclaiming himself as the Messiah. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was one of the many that was singing his name at the time, but why on earth does he feel he needs to put himself on such a pedestal?

Is he setting himself up for yet another fall? (like the one where we had the best ever squad in the clubs history, and yet still got relegated). I used to always find Bruce to be an honest and likeable character, but his recent egotistical comments have made me think less of him. I sometimes cringe at the comments he makes and find myself getting wound up when he again, slams the fans.

I would love him to keep this current run going, regardless of how we play in those games, and keep churning out those wins. At the end of the day, for me, it doesn’t matter how we go up, as long as we do go up. I’m not one of these fans, who would now like Bruce to fail. I’d love him to succeed, but I’d also love him to give us some more respect. OK, maybe he talks about the ‘minority’, but what I don’t think he realizes is that those minority pay just as much money as the pro Bruce section and are therefore allowed to voice their opinion in whichever way they choose.

I will admit that the atmosphere inside Stans is nowhere near how it used to be, but what have we really had to sing about in the last couple of seasons? The slow decline (which just happened to be around the same time that Bowen left) of the club had seen us go on one of the worst runs of form I can remember and end up in relegation. I want to be able to go to watch Blues and see us play how we used to when Bruce first came. We were a team that no-one wanted to play against, we made it difficult for the toughest of teams. Not so long back, were we unlucky not to have won at Stamford Bridge, and we should have come away from Highbury with a point, had it not been for Cunningham getting sent off (still say that was a dodgy decision).

The tide does seem to have turned slightly, and we have gone on a mini run. I’d like to see us get something from tonight’s game at Coventry and continue our run and keep the confidence flowing.

Another thing I’d like to see Bruce do, would be to explore the foreign markets a bit more. OK, I love the fact that we are a very English club, and have a vast number of English players in our club, but when was the last time we unearthed a little gem from abroad? Its been a while hasn’t it. Maybe Jose or Pesch were the last real gems we uncovered, I can’t think of any recent ones, that’s for sure.

Whatever the outcome tonight, I await Bruce’s after match comments like a young nipper, who has just received his Xmas present from an Aunty who always buys crap gifts. You just never know whats going to come out, but whatever it is, it’s bound to be both annoying and memorable.

Can we have our old Bruce back please?!

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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.

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