We’ll Be Back!

You may have noticed the maintenance page up over the last few days. That’s because I’ve been doing some work on a new design for the site. It’ll pop up sporadically over the next week or so and until the blog has been completely redesigned, there’ll be no Blues news posted here since I’m concentrating fully on the refit.

If it’s not done before Christmas or the New Year, have a safe and happy festive season and I’ll hopefully see you here again in 2008.


Let’s Focus On The Players…

I’m bored of Steve Bruce, David Sullivan, David Gold and Carson Yeung. It’s about time we put the focus back on the players. After all, it’s them that will actually be keeping us up come the season’s end.

So, because I’m bored of the figures I’ve mentioned above (I couldn’t for the life of me bring myself to do yet another blog about David Sullivan and whether he wanted to go or stay…) I have, for your perusal, assembled the best of player related stories from the last couple of days.

Ferguson backs Big Eck – I know he’s not our player but he’s saying something positive about our new manager so why not? The interview reads like he was asked during a press conference and so gave a fairly typical thumbs up sort of answer. Still, any positive is a positive we’ll take.

Seb & Forss do charity! – It’s nice to see the club being painted in a positive light and with both Mikael and Seb, you get the feeling that they’d be doing it off their own backs even if the club wasn’t involved in such a scheme.

It also serves as a reminder of how lucky the mass majority of us are.

DJ hopes to be back in fold soon – An in-depth interview with Damien Johnson about his injuries and how they’re progressing. He’s getting closer to full fitness and should be in contention for a return to first team selection soon enough.

Now that Bruce has gone, I hope DJ gets a clean slate. He’s never really let the club down when he’s played and his only crime was that he was made undroppable by Steve Bruce. The shirt throwing incident was the result of the captaincy decision by Bruce and it would’ve never happened had he not been wearing the armband that afternoon.

Of course, there’ll always be debate about Johnson and his position as a first team regular. And that’s absolutely fine but like so often with Bruce, DJ was / is often criticised by the masses for things that invariably weren’t and aren’t his fault. Even now I see people have a dig at DJ for things like not being the most talented member of the squad or being played when he probably wasn’t and isn’t deserving… neither of which, as I’ve said, were Johnson’s fault.

I just hope he gets a fresh start under McLeish. That or a transfer to Wigan Athletic where he’ll hopefully be appreciated – by the fans – a bit more. After all, I thought we were a fan base who could forgive the odd bit of missing talent if a player was prepared to graft?

That said, fans are more like customers these days and the changing of identity of fan bases is happening on a daily basis.

Blues players concerned by uncertainty – If DJ thinks it’s being dragged out, he should try being in the position of the fans who do their best to read every article and scrape every bit of information possible from sources such as “mate’s brother” on message boards!

A takeover and change of management team obviously affects the club from top to bottom though and by the end of the month, we will hopefully know everything that we need to know regarding the takeover. And with McLeish, Watson and Aitken already in place, things might indeed turn out fairly rosy this season.

Blues players on trial – Well, that goes without saying! The fact that Kapo was dropped for McLeish’s first game should tell people how you have to earn your place now.

McLeish wants to keep Djourou – I believe these quotes are a few days old now but still, I’d be quite happy to keep Djourou for the season although I can’t see it. Perhaps Sunday will convince Wenger to let us keep him for the year since he won’t fit in at Arsenal playing like that!

But for the majority of the season, he’s been solid enough – despite being employed in midfield for a time – and I suspect that our our transfer budget won’t be huge in January so extending this loan would allow us to look at other areas.

Seb makes team of the week – As I said earlier, we’ll take all the positives we can get. I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that a Blues player scored that goal…

Bendy linked with Chelsea – Y’know, Drog aside, I don’t particularly rate any of Chelsea’s strikers and whilst my initial reaction was something along the lines of “Paaaaaahaaaaaa!!!” The more I think about it, the more the evil empire could win and take Bendy from Arsenal.

I hope not. I think he’ll get a good education under Wenger and go on to be a top class player. There’s still something very dirty about Chelsea and their moneybags ways, isn’t there?

Ridge : Bruce appointment good for Blues – And it’s headlines like this that make me realise why I should never, EVER trust Tribal. Bruce’s appointment has been the best thing to happen this season possibly – but I’m not sure that’s entirely what Ridge was saying!

O’Connor in Bruce dig – Interesting piece about most of the players thinking that two up top might’ve worked better too? Perhaps that’s just the striker in him talking.

That’s pretty much it for today. Not as much as I first thought but still, isn’t it refreshing to not hear about how rejuvenated Sullivan is?

Has He Luck? – By MerseyPete

“Has he luck?”, Napoleon used to ask of new generals. We might ask the same of Alex McLeish, who’s generally thought to have had a lucky start to managing Blues. If there’s any such thing as a ‘lucky’ leader (and here I have to part company with Bonaparte) we could certainly do with one.

But, as it happens, I didn’t think we were especially ‘lucky’ on Sunday. We certainly had the worse of the game but there was nothing freakishly lucky about our goals – especially not THAT goal, though I promise not to add to the acres of newsprint already devoted to it. It might be more useful to look at what has so far distinguished “Big ’Eck” from Ol’ Big ‘Ead. Also, I need to have my say about The Most Irritating Man On Television.

I wouldn’t venture a match report – we all saw the game anyway, and Baz has already done that. But I think it’s pretty well agreed where McLeish took different options to Bruce. First of all, selection. No way would Bruce have left Kapo out – in fact I’m not sure I would have. Bruce was committed to Kapo as his quality buy of the summer; to leave him out would have cast doubt on his basic judgement. McLeish started with a blank sheet, owing nothing to anyone, and made a bold judgement on the evidence of a few videos and a week in training. He was rewarded with arguably Kapo’s best 20 minutes of the season. (Interestingly, though, the team’s shape did have a Bruce-like look about it; solid centre midfield, pace on the wings, one up front.)

Secondly, the point everyone spotted – substitutions. When Jerome scored, Bruce would – absolutely no question – have told the Forss to put his tracksuit back on. He would have settled for the point. Even after Keane’s red card – of which more later – I doubt if he would have put a second striker on.  McLeish’s boldness certainly paid off, with three great chances in the last three minutes.

Thirdly, the issue of attention to detail has surfaced since the game, with Gary McSheffrey’s comments. Now McSheff is a level headed, intelligent guy, and I doubt he was just having a pop at Bruce or sucking up to the new boss. He just doesn’t seem that type; his comments are usually a model of thoughtfulness. So he may have spotted something that was missing with Bruce. I certainly like the idea of the team that McLeish has bought with him, rather than the usual manager/deputy set up. Bruce, nice guy though he is, never really seemed like a team player (as a manager, if you see what I mean). He got rid of Bowen in mysterious circumstances, apparently because Bowen was thought to have gone behind his back. And Eric Black – quiet and intelligent – has never seemed the sort to challenge Bruce’s authority. Maybe McLeish’s experienced team of battle hardened Scots will be Blues’ equivalent of the old Anfield bootroom, which produced a string of managers and football thinkers… Oh, all right, I’ll calm down now; we’ll learn more as McLeish gets to know his new players more.

And now for that prize berk Andy Gray. Sorry, is my prejudice showing already? If there’s a more irritating football summariser on telly I’d like to see him. Or rather, I wouldn’t. Yes, yes, I know there’s Mark ‘humorous’ Lawrenson too, but Gray really does take the biscuit for sheer smugness. When he’s on with Martin Tyler, it’s Smug and Smugger; the only surprise is that they don’t eat themselves. On Sunday, Gray’s performance over the Keane incident was truly pathetic. OK, the sending off was marginal, maybe a yellow would have been enough. But it was a bad foul – only Gray doesn’t seem to have cottoned on to that. And his conspiracy theory about Dowd’s ‘instructions’ from the fourth official (together with his straight man Richard Keys) was breathtaking. There was never any reason to think that Dowd had asked Uriah Rennie his opinion – all that had happened was that he spoke into his mike. On that slender evidence Gray found enough to go on not just during the game but long after it had finished.

Of course, this is an area where technology could help football. It seems to me that most scientific research is devoted either to developing better ways of blowing people up – A Bad Thing – or curing diseases – no doubt A Good Thing.  Could not a smidgen of that mighty effort be diverted into developing a Selective Commentator Mute Button? You could eliminate troublesome commentators at a stroke, without losing crowd noises and any good commentators. Imagine – no more Gray, Lawrenson, Motty, or that irritating bloke who used to play on the wing for Arsenal.  Now that’s something I’d pay good money for.

And finally – yes, I know I said I wouldn’t mention Larsson’s goal but what the heck – I can’t get it out of my head. Until now my best Blues’ goal was one of Trevor’s – a 25 yard volley from a Latchford knockdown at Bloomfield Road. TF mentions this in his biography. It’s not on film so it’s preserved in all its perfection in my head and it can’t really be challenged. Second, of course, John Gayle’s Wembley winner. But Larsson’s strike is now up there with the best of them. If it doesn’t win Goal of the Month/decade, whatever, then I’ll ………..oh, I don’t know, I’ll “thcream and thcream until I’m thick”.

Next Page →


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.