Going Away

Just a quick blog to say that I’m going away for a few days. KevB8ll (of J & S forum fame) has agreed to post some news stories to keep the blog updated until Thursday when I return.

Here’s to returning to being top of the league!

Stay safe, kiddies.

Hull City 2-0 Birmingham City

There seems to be a general depression settling over the club today. It’s hard to find anyone with anything positive to say… and if I remember correctly, Tom Ross referred to yesterday’s performance as “abysmal”. Fair enough.

Match reports:

And Steve Bruce’s reaction.

Steve Bruce looks like a man under pressure again. Our form since the turn of the year can, at best, be described as ‘patchy’ and we now go into Tuesday night’s clash against Leeds United under quite a bit of pressure.

Some would argue that winning promotions and Championships is all about pressure and who best handles it and so far this season, not one club has stepped up to the mark and been able to do it regularly. First we went top and blew a small lead then Cardiff City blew a big lead, then we did again and then Derby County did… is it now West Bromwich Albion’s turn? It seems like no-one actually wants to win this league.

If only the Premiership was so exciting…!

The results didn’t go too badly for us yesterday and we can still find ourselves top of the league with a win on Tuesday night. That’s how crazy this division is. I believe that a win against Bates and his cronies will quickly banish this memory – but then again, I didn’t have to witness that shower up at Hull City so I’m probably not the best person to comment about that. According to what I’ve read, we were truly awful.

Radhi Jaidi is now suspended – for at least three games. I’m not entirely sure if it’s more since he was only one game away from suspension anyway. Off the top of my head, it’s the second time he’s been dismissed and both times were deserved. Whatever happens, Bruno N’Gotty has to go into the middle to partner Martin Taylor and I suspect that Stephen Kelly will play full back although don’t bet against it being DJ on Tuesday.

Point is that for three games, we’re down to the bare bones as far as centre halves go. Kelly is also one booking away from suspension so against Cardiff City next week, our back four could be Johnson – N’Gotty – Taylor – Sadler. I don’t know about anyone else but that leaves me slightly nervous.

We’re approaching an absolutely critical time of the season and whoever holds their nerve over the next few weeks will come out on top. To me Sunderland are looking the favourites – possibly with the Baggies. I’m getting ill just thinking about the playoffs. A couple of wins and it could restart the rapidly stalling blue and white engine. The problem is that I genuinely don’t see it happening at the moment.

What we need at this moment is something a bit different. Someone who can inspire, lead and change to suit the situation. I fear we do not have that leader meanwhile Sunderland have someone like Keane – arguably the best player, and more importantly, leader ever to grace the Premiership.

I’m backing us to win on Saturday but then again I put my faith – and my money – on us winning yesterday. Tuesday will not be one for the faint hearted and as much as I’d love us to go out and put on a show with a plethora of attack minded players and people capable of cutting the ailing Leeds to bits, I can’t see it and a scraped 1-0 against a fired up Whites might be the order of the day.

A European Super League – By Tired & Weary

I’ll do a write up for the Hull City game and do a general update tomorrow. I’ve been busy for the last couple of days and I’ll be away most of next week. But onto T & W’s excellent article…

We’ve just lost 2-0 to another relegation threatened side. So far this season, we’ve lost to, and been comprehensively beaten by Leeds away, Luton away, Norwich at home, Ipswich away, Southend at home, and now Hull away. That sounds dam right awful, probably because it is.

In fact I’ve decided to write something completely unrelated to Birmingham City. I’m not going to waste my time on a Saturday afternoon writing anything about them. They don’t warrant the time or the effort, so lacking in today’s performance at the KC Stadium. However, the underdog story got me thinking.

Instead I would like to talk about the level of competition in the English game. I remember back a few years and there was big talk of a breakaway European Super League. A league in which the elite European clubs compete against each other weekly. This subject does arise every so often, and always with much negative reaction and cynicism.

Since the subject first arose, English football has changed greatly. Gone are the days when a Norwich, Aston Villa or Blackburn team challenged to the bitter end, or even managed to win the title. The Premiership is not a monopoly, but a league in which those select few, are light years ahead of the others. I hope I am proved wrong, but I fear no team outside these four will ever win the title again. Certainly not within the next twenty years. Possibly a club like Newcastle might manage to get back in the mix again, and even that looks a long way off at present.

For teams like ourselves, the chance to get into the Premiership and visit grounds such as Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and Anfield were our reward for getting there. Before we managed it, Swindon, Barnsley and Oldham had the opportunity to grace these Stadiums. Clubs such as Reading and Wigan are achieving their rewards now, whilst the likes of Preston and Cardiff are determined to have their own experience of these occasions.

Boothroyd, the Watford manager, likened his team’s recent game against United to Mohammed Ali taking on Jimmy Cranky. It’s sad, but it’s absolutely spot on. It may be the same in many other European Leagues, but where as, in some countries such as Spain, where virtually everyone supports Barcelona or Madrid. In England the ‘other teams’ are more greatly supported, and therefore more unhappy with the uneven level of competition.

I say we should allow Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal to break away, and continue their highly artificial worlds against the likes of Milan, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid week in, week out. Surely their fans would appreciate the thrill of more competitive games, than a predictable win over the rest of us, on a Saturday afternoon. This would allow us and the other (in the words of Rafa Benitez) small teams, to compete annually in a competition we actually have a chance of winning.

Some may argue that the elimination of the Super Teams, would have an affect on TV deals and many other revenues. But who amongst you would rather have football return to the old days, where it was blood and guts, sweat and toil, yet a chance where the best man wins, not the richest man?

As much as many of us dislike the Championship, or should I say, being in it. One thing that I feel it does offer, is the chance for anyone who shows a bit of good planning, determination and tactical awareness, has a chance to do well. My argument is proven with the performances of Derby and Colchester, and also Sunderland, who have recently risen from the dead.

In other sports too, those nail biting, closely fought finishes provide the best spectacles. I’m sure the Aussies loved stuffing us 5-0 in the Ashes. But the last 2 tests were a complete non-event. Surely a 3-2, last day decider would have been more pleasurable for them. In horse racing, the handicaps are always more intriguing, and usually give the more exciting finishes. Formula One, has had many years on Schumacher and Ferrari domination, but last season, the battle between Alonso and Schumacher was the most entertaining and watchable, the sport had been for years.

I say let’s create a European Super League, and save top level English Football. This would also help refill Stadiums across the land.

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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.

Unfortunately, the formatting on some of the posts is a little rough but since this is an archive, it doesn't matter too much. Nothing is unreadable although a great deal of the links will now, sadly, be broken. So internal Joys & Sorrows links will lead you to 404 errors.

I decided to archive them in this way because I wanted to start something fresh for the main part of the site. Hopefully you'll be able to see that up on the main portion of the site now.

Commenting for the archive section has obviously been switched off. You can flick around the archives by using the 'Find It' function in the middle column or the respective 'Categories' or 'Archives' headings in the sidebars

- Aff, 03/08/08.