Middlesbrough Vs Birmingham City – Preview

Welcome to another lazily put together match preview. Thankfully this year, I’ve started sticking to a basic template so they should be much easier for me to write!

Opposition: Middlesbrough
Competition: Premier League
Venue: The Riverside Stadium

Stats: This will be the 100th meeting between the two sides. Blues stand at 40 wins to Boro’s 28 with 31 ending in draws. Blues also hold the edge in league meetings with 34 wins to Boro’s 28.

Recent history hasn’t been kind to Blues in this fixture. We haven’t beaten Middlesbrough away in nearly 30 years – 11 meetings – our last victory coming in 1981.

Last time out: Last time we visited Middlesbrough in the Premiership (March, 2006) we were beaten 1-0 thanks to a Mark Viduka strike just before the break. We were also beaten 3-0 at home by the Teessiders in the reverse fixture.

Memories: Middlesbrough are one of those clubs that don’t bother me one way or the other. I don’t particularly want them to do well but I can’t be bothered expending energy on disliking them. They’re the embodiment of bland and most football fans I speak to seem to agree.

The two outstanding memories of facing ‘Boro are the League Cup encounter in the late 90’s where two superb Kevin Francis headers put them to the sword at St Andrew’s after a 0-0 draw up at the Riverside and the Premiership encounter from a few years ago where they beat us 5-3. Matthew Upson spectacularly, inexplicably and comically trying to head the ball back to his goalkeeper from two inches off the ground…

A slightly curious thing worth mentioning is the amusing contempt with which Blues fans seem to treat ‘Boro when we’re linked with a player. It can be seen across practically every Blues forum when a player’s name is connected with us:

“Are we ‘Boro’s scouts? They’ll be in for him, next!”

And then they are 12 hours later!

A quick mention should also be chucked in the direction of ‘Boro’s manager. I actually quite like Southgate even though he was a bit of a legend at Villa Park. When he missed that penalty against Germany in 1996, it made my life immeasurably easier. I went to a school overpopulated with Villa fans and for the last two years of my school career, if I received any stick, I would simply make mention of the general lack of bottle with which Southgate tried to ‘welly’ the ball…

Team news: I’ve seen little on team news for this one. I would assume that almost everyone is fit with no new injury worries. I would also hazard a guess that the midweek League Cup tie against Hereford United did nothing to change Bruce’s mind about who should be in his line-up.

My guess would be unchanged from the side that did well against Derby County last weekend with Kelly still deputising at left-back for the injured Queudrue and not yet match fit Mat Sadler. Former ‘Boro full-back Stuart Parnaby should be up for this one against his former employers. Expect him to start in the right-back position. Midfield and forward line to remain unchanged with Djourou once again playing in the middle.

Opposition team news: One player who won’t be playing for ‘Boro tomorrow is one-time Blues target, Yakubu. He signed for Everton for around £12m earlier in the week. Still, they will have one time Blues targets Mido and Tuncay looking to prove a point and the rest of the ‘Boro squad doesn’t actually look too bad with the likes of Downing, Boateng, Rochemback, Schwarzer and Arca all seasoned Premiership performers.

You can find a preview for the match from a ‘Boro perspective through the excellent Come On Boro website.

More reading: No-one likes reading, do they? So to save you having to dig through loads of other stories pertaining to this particular game, I’ve done it all for you.

What’s going to happen: We don’t have a good record at ‘Boro and I don’t think that record will improve tomorrow. I always have an impending sense of nothingness about games such as this one. Certain grounds I just never see us winning at and The Riverside is one of those.

Middlesbrough 2-0 Blues – Mido and Rochemback to do the damage.  Att: 24,978.

I hope I’m wrong. Come on you Blues.

Deadline Day – Latest News

Here was I thinking that we’d spend the majority of the day waiting for news concerning Luccin and Kallon. By midday, we already knew what was happening with both of them. In case you haven’t heard:

Luccin news – Bit gutted in all honesty. He’s a player that I – and I suspect many other Bluenoses – know little about. But it doesn’t take a genius to know that we need something else in there. Something “a bit different” to what we already have. The only attack-minded central midfielders we have at the club are Neil Danns (who Bruce seems unwilling to use, even at Championship level despite Danns’ admirable plea) and Kapo, who he seems to favour out wide.

Luccin seems to be a player that could’ve added that attacking dimension whilst still keeping us reasonably solid in there. His pedigree, as Bruce said, is good and so to lose out on him after been told that the deal had virtually been agreed is a bit of a gutter. The race is on to now sign someone else and all eyes seemed to have turned to Papa Bouba Diop of Fulham.

He was told on August 20th that he could leave Craven Cottage by Lawrie Sanchez. Everton and Newcastle United have been linked.

The only other option seemingly open to us at this point is Modeste M’Bami. We’ve been persistently linked with him over the last week or so and perhaps Bruce will now go in strongly now that Luccin has picked Zaragoza?

I somehow doubt it but it’s worth noting in case it happens. If it does, I can jump up and down on the spot and claim that I predicted it.

Kallon news – I should imagine that Kallon will be desperate to rekindle his career after leaving AS Monaco. However, I always worry about how a player will react after he wins himself a contract.

We’ve heard about Kallon for years now and I’ve heard many people speak of him in glowing terms. If we can sign that version of him, I’d be delighted!

It doesn’t look like any other strikers are being linked.

It could be a quiet day for us Bluenoses.

Latest Transfer News & Rumours

I know all the names of the players we’ve been linked with but the state of play with any of them? I haven’t a clue. Like I said, I had a busy weekend and that weekend has somehow extended itself to Wednesday afternoon. At this rate, it’ll be the weekend again and I’ll have lost count of the amount of rumours I need to blog about.

So without (much) further ado, let’s get the latest stuff blogged. We’ll start off with the easy stuff.

Oji joins Orient – One month emergency loan. He was on the subs bench for Orient as they went down 1-0 to a 90th goal from Peter Whittingham at Cardiff City last night.

Oji is yet to take part in a league game for Blues.

Blues interested in Amdy Faye – I hope this one is simply lazy journalism. Steve Bruce described the speculation as “rubbish” in early July. I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping that it’s still the case.

Luccin deal hits snag – I blogged a little bit about Luccin last week. Steve Bruce has confirmed that we’re interested and that he was the player that he expected us to have signed by Monday. I never expected the signing to have happened… I predict that I’ll be sitting up until 00:01 on 1st September still waiting for the signing to happen!

Actually, in all seriousness, it sounds as though it’s a minor snag that will be ironed out pretty quickly. The last thing we want is another Scharner / Davies deal happening where someone else swoops in at the last minute. Someone said to me that Newcastle United are interested but my brief internet rumour travels are yet to find such info so it’s probably untrue.

There’s absolutely no information out there about Luccin other than his age and basic career stats – and even those are out of date. The English version of the Athletico Madrid is all flashy but information is hard to come by.

From the quotes attributed to Brucey, he sounds a lot more attacking than anything else we’ve got and that can only be a positive. If / when he signs, it’ll just be a case of waiting to see what he’s capable of, I think. Unless anyone can shed some light? Football Manager stats do not count.

You can see a video of him scoring a spectacular free kick here.

Blues interested in Kallon and M’Bami – Interesting article from Tatts. M’Bami is a name that has been mentioned several times over the last few days whereas Kallon is a name that seemed to pop up every summer whilst we were in the Premiership last time.

Kallon sounds as if he’s lost his way somewhat and having checked out his Wiki page, he never seems to settle anywhere for longer than a season. He’s already played for thirteen clubs and he’s only 27! Ironically, he was deemed surplus to requirements at AS Monaco in July 2005 after Monaco signing Olivier Kapo!

Up to September last year, Kallon had made 271 professional appearances and scored 94 goals, according to Wikipedia.

Kallon doesn’t come without controversy. In September 2003, he was tested positive for ‘Nandrolone’ and banned for six months whilst playing for Inter Milan. And in May of this year, Kallon was banned for three international games for abusing a referee after the Sierra Leone lost 3-1 to Togo in a qualifying game.

Earlier this year, Kallon said a move to the Premiership would appeal to him.

M’Bami is a 24 year old Cameroon international who currently plays his club football with French side Marseille. M’Bami (whose name brings up the ‘BMI Baby’ website if you stick it into Google without an apostrophe, honest!) is play-making midfielder who likes to get forward.

He has previously won an Olympic gold medal as part of the successful 2000 Cameroon side in Sydney and two French cups.

Personally I’m greedy. I’d like M’Bami and Luccin. And Kallon. And Nugent. Oh yes, Nugent.

Portsmouth could sell Nugent – It seems as though the scramble for Nugent could happen again. The same clubs who were linked before will be linked again and no doubt our name will come up.

I daresay Harry will be up for the idea of making a small profit although that mightn’t be possible with the transfer deadline rapidly approaching. I’ll be watching this one with interest.

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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.