Birmingham City FC
Hleb would provide an outlet of pace and skill without the inflated ego of N’Zogbia. Zigic would become the focal point of our attack, his physical presence and aerial ability casting a shadow over the forgotten Benitez.
The harsh reality is that Zigic and Hleb have failed to make an impact. So far.
Mcleish’s inflexibility in terms of formation was the focus of detestable boos from a section of the crowd at St Andrews in our last outing. 4-4-2 would seem the logical choice to maintain our battling core while granting more opportunities in front of goal. However, I would be very surprised if Mcleish was to move to a 4-4-2 against Arsenal.
I think Mcleish is brave enough to change his formation but Hleb and Zigic are crucial in order for it to be successful. Zigic and Hleb both have points to prove. Hleb will need to adapt to Birmingham’s more direct, aggressive, physical style while Zigic will need to become more mobile and strike a good partnership with Jerome.
I don’t think any of us expect Blues to be earning style points against Arsenal on Saturday. What we will be expecting is a solid display defensively and a glimpse of better days ahead. Zigic to nick a goal would do his confidence the world of good as well as remind us why we were excited to sign him.
Birmingham will make it difficult for Arsenal and I can see us grabbing a goal.
My prediction: 1-1
Well as I can see no one wants to pick up this blog, so I’ll do the match reports for it again. Not that I’m complaining, it’s football, and BCFC isn’t horrible, like Pompey. (But I feel sorry for them). This keeps the club up in the top above some clubs that should be up here. I’m not saying that BCFC isn’t worthy of a top ten finish, because they are. It’s just you didn’t expect this, this year for them.
After all the gaffer is a hell of a manager.
From BBC Sport-
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish:
“Everton came here on fire, but St Andrews is a tough place to come.
“We had to up the tempo because we were pedestrian in the first 20 minutes, we were getting no penetration and we weren’t getting the ball to the forwards.
“But once we did Cameron Jerome led the line brilliantly, that was the best I’ve seen him.
“And Craig Gardner’s contribution was the kind we would anticipate from him.
“I still feel that we’re short of strength-in-depth and experience in terms of Europe, but as we proved today we’ll keep going to the end.”
Full time: Blues 2 Everton 2
Blues: Joe Hart, Stephen Carr, Lee Bowyer, Liam Ridgewell, Cameron Jerome, Chucho (James McFadden, 72), Barry Ferguson, Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Keith Fahey, Craig Gardner (Seb Larsson, 59).
Subs not used: Maik Taylor, Kevin Phillips, James McFadden, Michel, Franck Queudrue, Teemu Tainio.
Bookings: Bowyer (28)
Goals: Jerome (26), Gardner (51).
Everton: Tim Howard, Leighton Baines, John Heitinga, Phil Jagielka, Mikel Arteta, Sylvain Distin, Tim Cahill (Jack Rodwell, 76), Phil Neville, Steven Pienaar, Ayegbeni Yakubu (Landon Donovan, 67) , Victor Anichebe (Dan Gosling, 79).
Subs not used: Carlo Nash, Tony Hibbert, Joseph Yobo, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
Bookings: Yakubu (62)
Goals: Anichebe (19), Yakubu (22)
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
Attendance: 24, 579 (3255 away fans)
So I left this blog, hoping that some football fan would take this because I’d hope someone would want to write just as me. Face it, Birmingham City is a pretty good club, and they’re doing very well this year. I hope that someone out there wants to take this up. Read my previous blog about how to get involved.
Due to my upcoming work commitments, I can’t keep up this blog.
So You Want to Write for The Offside…
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Sorry about it folks, but I work for my current side here in Buffalo NY (Buffalo City FC). And my blogging time has been limited to nothing. Ah such the life of working in football. But some big things have happened here.
First Birmingham stole Barry Ferguson from Rangers recently. The manager Alex McLeish said” For me Barry is a midfielder at his peak. I don’t think 31 is too old for a central midfielder of great experience.
“Players like Gordon Strachan and Gary McAllister continued playing into their late 30s and these were guys who were not afraid of the ball. I think Barry can play on for a good few years yet.
“He’s a guy that always turned up for work. By that I mean that his appearances over the years have always been fantastic.
“Barry has got the culture of the true-grit Brit, who will go through brick walls to play football. He has a winning mentality, and that is proven by all the winners medals he’s won.”
It’s a great pickup for the guys, Ferguson has played in the EPL before going to Scotland, turning out for Blackburn until 2003. I think now that he’s played for a top club, he can teach some of these guys for the Blues who haven’t had the chance to. Also all the talent that the Blues can collect the better chances they have to stay up.
From Alex“I think we’ve deserved it over the season. We’ve ground results out when we’ve needed to and I think it’s been over-talked that we’re not a good team.
“I know there are a lot of great teams in the Championship who have been in the Premier League and struggled to get back up and the fight to get up makes it probably the most difficult divisions possibly in the world and I don’t say that lightly.
So how’s our man of the week going to celebrate this?
“I’ll definitely have a little glass of wine or champagne to celebrate before I get back home but after that I think it’ll probably be a case of getting on that settee and sleep for a week!”
Yeah, I know doesn’t make sense with Birmingham, but they’re going up and the song is called up. (Stretch). But still, it’s a huge accomplishment for the club to go up again. Now Alex’s next trick, is to keep them up. Be better than Wigan, or West Spam United.
Reading (4-4-2): Marcus Hahnemann; Liam Rosenior, Andre Bikey, Michael Duberry (c), Dan Harding (Kevin Doyle 56); Jimmy Kebe, Jay Tabb, Jem Karacan (Marek Matejovski 54), Stephen Hunt; Shane Long, Dave Kitson. Subs not used: Adam Federici (GK), Kalifa Cisse, Brynjar Gunnarsson.
Blues (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Stephen Carr, Radhi Jaidi, Martin Taylor, Djimi Traore; James McFadden (Sebastian Larsson 65), Damien Johnson, Lee Carsley (c), Keith Fahey; Cameron Jerome (Garry O’Connor 80), Kevin Phillips (Hameur Bouazza 72). Subs not used: Colin Doyle (GK), Marcus Bent.
Bookings: Jaidi (40), Traore (67)
Booked: Jaidi, Phillips, Traore.
Goals: Fahey 19, Phillips 60. Matejovsky 61.
Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).
Venue: Madejski Stadium Date: Sunday, 3 May Kick-off: 1315 BST
Coverage: Score updates on BBC Radio 5 Live & BBC Sport website. Full match commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Radio Berkshire.
From the Manager
“It was a hard couple of days after Preston where we had to stew on it but I’ve been through highs and lows in football.
I know the euphoria of winning and I know that if you lose such a top level game how disappointing that can be but mostly I’ve had highs in this professional sport of ours but when I get knocked down I’m pretty good at getting back up.
We’ve emphasised that to the players this week that throughout their careers they’ve got to bounce back and show their characters and guts.
I was sitting around shooting the breeze with my boss before watching a match, and it dawned on me, I haven’t written about the Blues for a while. So when I saw on the BCFC website that the gaffer had his weekly press conference, what a good reason to do have a blog out.
From the Gaffer“We spoke to the players on Monday and quickly told them about the disappointment of being a professional sportsman at times and that it was about bouncing back,” said the Blues boss.
“They’ve done that many times this season and have shown great resilience and steel and other managers have even commented that there’s something about Birmingham in that they keep going right to the very end.
“Now we’ve taken it to the very last game that’s what we must do and I want the players to go and play with freedom in their minds.
“Other people outside the club will say possibly ‘Birmingham must be down now’, but if we’d had a bad start in the season and then won ten games in a row to get to this point it would be a different mindset, but it’s still exactly the same situation.
“We’re ahead by one point and that situation doesn’t change.”
Ugh, why couldn’t the Blues show up and clinch promotion? WHY? Well probably the fact that Preston isn’t that bad of a side. They are getting close to a playoff spot! How fun would it be if Wolves, Birmingham and Preston all went up? Pretty damn fun.
Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Carr, Jaidi, Queudrue, Traore, Larsson (Jerome 54), Johnson, Bowyer, Fahey, O’Connor (Phillips 72), McFadden.
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Martin Taylor, Carsley.
Sent Off: Bowyer (60).
Booked: Queudrue, Bowyer, Jaidi.
Goals: Fahey 57.
Preston: Lonergan, Jones, Mawene, St. Ledger, Nolan, Sedgwick (Whaley 75), McKenna, Williamson, Wallace, Parkin (Brown 58), Mellor (Chilvers 90).
Subs Not Used: Neal, Carter.
Sent Off: Williamson (60), Wallace (90).
Booked: Parkin, Wallace.
Goals: McKenna 69, Wallace 89.
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).
From the Gaffer
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish: “We know that we blew this opportunity and we have one left to get up to the Premier League automatically.
“They were two brilliant goals and sometimes you can start splitting hairs to analyse why you lost.
“We had our opportunities, we had some of the game at 1-1, but it didn’t go for us.
“We have to go and win at Reading and I’ll make sure that every player is aware of my feelings on that and the positive side of things in the coming week.”