Saturday, 7 January 2012

Blues v Wolves: FA Cup 3rd Round. A Quick Summary In Pictures


So today we took on Wolverhampton Wanderers at home in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, it finished 0-0 and was a reasonably dry game, with chances at both ends. Our best chance came through Nathan Redmond who's shot was saved as was Adam Rooney's follow up volley. The visitors chance came in stoppage time when Matt Jarvis forced Blues keeper Colin Doyle into a strecthing save that hit onto the post and he then miraculously saved Steven Fletcher's follow-up header.

Blues lined up in a 433: Doyle; Spector Davies Ridgewell Murphy; Mutch N'Daw Gomis; Elliot Rooney Redmond.

Blues held a minutes applause for the passing of former defender Gary Ablett.

Adam Rooney in action against former Blues man Roger Johnson.
Jordon Mutch looked lively starting the game in midfield.
Blues full-back Jonathan Spector filled in well in place of Stephen Carr again.
Sorry for the short write-up, been really busy lately!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A Great End To An Entertaining Year For Birmingham City (Blackpool Review)

Yesterday (31st) We rounded off 2011 in great style with a 3-0 thrashing of Blackpool. This year has seen many highs and lows for the club going along a timeline as such... Beating Aston Villa in the Carling Cup Quarter Final, Beating Arsenal in the Final of The Carling Cup, Suffering relegation from the Premier League on the last day of the season, losing our manager to local rivals Aston Villa, our owner being in court for money laundering, our club under regular speculation that it would go into administration, the deparutre of over 25 first team players, Chris Hughton becoming manager, qualfying for the Europa League, gaining 10 points in a group full of challenging teams, missing qualification on the last matchday despite winning, climbing up the npower Championship table and now speculation of who's leaving in January! A long year, full of joys and sorrows.

Chris Hughton - Manager of Birmingham City Football Club

But the main point of this piece is to review yesterdays game. Visitors Blackpool came to St.Andrews optimistic, a pre-match piece on Sky Sports showed a Blackpool player saying how they had a very good chance of winning here, despite Blues being unbeaten at home in the league this season.

Blackpool lined up with former Blues captain Barry Ferguson as captain, and with former fans favourite at Blues, Kevin Phillips on the bench. Both got a roaring reception from the home faithful, Phillips more than Ferguson!

Team Lineups.
Blues - Boaz Myhill; Jonathan Spector, Curtis Davies, Steven Caldwell, David Murphy; Chris Burke (Nathan Redmond 77), Guirane N'Daw, Keith Fahey, Jean Beausejour; Marlon King (Chris Wood 83), Nikola Zigic (Jordon Mutch 79)

Blackpool - Mark Howard; Alex Baptiste, Ian Evatt, Craig Cathcart, Stephen Crainey; Ludovic Sylvestre, Barry Ferguson, Matt Phillips, Elliot Grandin (Chris Basham 56); Gary Taylor-Fletcher (Kevin Phillips 72), Callum McManaman (Thomas Ince 57).

The Game...
The game started relatively even, with chances at both ends, Curtis Davies' bullet header was cleared off the line by the Blackpool defence and Nikola Zigic could not counter the rebound. At the other end Blackpool would have been one up if it wasn't for the reactions and stretch of the arm of Blues Welsh keeper Boaz Myhill. 

The breakthrough came in stoppage time at the end of the first half. Chris Burke floated in a wonderfully hit left wing corner and it was met by the rising centre back Curtis Davies whose header floated into the back of the net in front of the away fans. Blues came out into the second half full of confidence and this showed as Marlon King beat the offside trap with ease to slot home in the 53rd minute to make it 2-0 to the home side. 

Controversy kicked off shortly after as Barry Ferguson was red carded for what seemingly was an elbow to the face of Blues midfielder Guirane N'Daw, who went down like a sack of spuds, which is very unlike the 6foot+ Senegalese Blues midfielder often described as a "tank" or a "beast" by the Blues fans! Kevin Phillips later came on for Blackpool and was greeted to chants from the BLUES fans of "Super, Super Kev, Super Kevin Phillips!" Luckily for us he had minimal effect! 

Blues made their 3 subs in the space of 10 minutes, with youngsters Nathan Redmond, Jordon Mutch and Chris Wood coming on. With a 2 goal and 1 man advantage, Blues ripped through Blackpool with Redmond and Mutch showing fancy skills with 1-2 passes and cocky backheel tricks, Keith Fahey's passing became Barcelona-esque and the whole team looked ready and confident! Redmond's pace seemed too much for Eardley the Blackpool left-back and it showed in the 89th minute as Redmond ran at him with his quick feet doing stepovers and reverse stepovers before eventually unleashing an absolute cannonball from his right boot that smashed into the net in front of the Tilton. Redmond ran over to the corner of the Tilton and saluted the Blues fans as a thankyou for their support and to show his passion to be playing for his team!

The game finished 3-0 with Blues the better team by a country mile. It was one of the best performances I have seen for a long time and if we can play like it again tomorrow against Peterborough then  I believe we are most definitely play-off contenders.

Nathan Redmond (left) celebrates his goal with Irish playmaker Keith Fahey.

Let's hope for the best against Peterborough and hopefully 3 points! Keep Right On.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Transfer Targets For January, Let's Be Optimistic.

So the January transfer window opens in around 54 hours but who's counting? Normally you would look forward to the window as it is an exciting time in the football year that can rejuvenate your club and enhance their season, i highly doubt this for Blues though. Manager Chris Hughton has already stated how Blues won't be big spenders in January, and it is likely that more than 1 player will depart.

Lets get the bad stuff out of the way first. As we know, Liam Ridgewell has requested to leave the club, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion are interested as far as we know and I assume he will go to whoever offers him the most money as bids will both be around the £2million mark. Nikola Zigic is an interesting one, Zigic is a player who has scored goals in the Champions League for various clubs and has performed well against the likes of Barcelona in his time at Valencia. You would class Zig as a Premier League player, despite his recent performances. Blues tried to sell the 6 foot 7 Serbian striker in the summer but due to injury he went nowhere. Zigic himself as stated how much he enjoys playing in England and how Birmingham City Football Club and Birmingham in general is great for him, his wife and family (he would say that on 60k a week). I have a soft spot for Ziggy despite his donkeyish behaviour, and i'm not sure how i'd feel if he left.

Serbian forward Nikola Zigic, celebrating a goal for Birmingham City.

Jean Beausejour, now this guy was unknown when he joined Blues from Club America in the summer of 2010 and played a small part in our last season in the Barclays Premier League, but this season has been our left midfielder for nearly every game, Chris Hughton actually plays midfielders in position unlike McLeish who used to play Fahey or Bowyer on the left... Beausejour has been linked with a £3m move to Wigan Athletic. Others linked with clubs are, Nathan Redmond (Man City) and Jack Butland (Unknown).Pictured below in order.

Arrivals, Maybe?
Like everyone else I don't have a clue what is going on with the finances right now, but I know that the money is not there for a big money move, deadline day saw Blues pay out "undisclosed" fees for midfielder Wade Elliot and defender Pablo Ibanez. Loans and bosmans have been the main source of incoming players for Blues this season.

Blues bought in several frees in the summer; Burke, King, Spector, Gomis, Caldwell and Rooney. They also made use of loans with; Boaz Myhill, Guirane N'Daw and top goalscorer Chris Wood.

Chris Wood - scorer of 11 goals for Blues in his 4 months here on loan.
One thing I am quite sure of is that Wood and N'Daw will extend their loans to full seasons. N'Daw leaves for the African Cup of Nations with Senegal next week when his loan expires and with his recent form I expect the management team to keep him on. Chris Wood is a young lad and West Brom have kindly extended his loan to us on several occasions, as a youth loan. The Baggies have many first team forwards so Wood is not really needed for them, all the better for us! I can't really see any players coming in for money but here's my optimistic dreamers wishlist.

1) Nicky Maynard (Bristol City)

Maynards contract expires in the Summer and Bristol are not renewing, maybe a steal from a struggling team?

2) Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield) He is in fine form and i'm sure he'd love to leave league 1 for a possible promotion to the Premier League, this won't happen but i'd like it too.

That's it really, we don't have the money right now and Chris Hughton has done a fine job with what he has got, right now we need to focus on the Blackpool game on the 31st December.

Speak soon and Keep Right On!