Thursday, 7 January 2010

Everton V Birmingham - A Birmingham Blues view

As promised, albeit stupidly late, a Q&A with the guys over at Joys and Sorrows, the Birmingham City blog, written ahead of our pre-Christmas clash at Goodison. The game, if you didn't already know finished 1-1 with Seb Larsson canceling out Billy's early goal. It was a match Everton perhaps should have won, but McCleish' men have a new steel about them this season and effectively repelled Everton's increasingly agricultural attacks.


Things are really looking up for Birmingham this season. Are you surprised at how well you are doing?
Nah I always knew we were quality!! ABSOLUTELY - it's amazing. I had no idea how Johnson and Dann were going to cope - but our defensive record speaks for itself. If you get that sorted - you have something to build on.

What are your expectations for this season? Is Europe a realistic aim?

Let's not run before we can walk. It's funny, we were talking about this on our forum about this. 17th is 1st priority, and then any place we finish above that is a bonus. Our recent run has re-calibrated expectations. TBH, I'll take anything between 17th and 13th. Europe, hmm, I'd rather not get distracted - however it would be an amazing bonus if it happened.

What are your thoughts on the spending at Man City and would you want Birmingham to do the same with your new owner?

We aren't in the same league. The problem with Man City is they have taken what Chelsea started to the next level. Any quality players prices hiked up as a result of them. Can't be good for the game. With us, I'm part of a fans forum with the club resulting in having close links with the club, and I know Alex has the attitude of building quality into the side slowly but surely - that's the right approach.

Who has been your best player this season?

It would be difficult to answer this with 1 player, our defensive department have been fantastic particularly Johnson and Dann - Bowyer has been a revelation too and Ferguson with his box to box work also deserves a mention. If you pushed me into a corner I'd go for Johnson.

James McFadden was popular with the fans during his time at Goodison, if frustratingly inconsistent. what do the Birmingham fans think of him?
I think our Blues fans would agree! He is beginning to find some form again this season again, and I guess you should always beware an ex-player!

If you could change one thing at Birmingham what would it be?

Difficult this one, because I'm not sure I'd change anything. Obviously we always need to strengthen - but you have to say who would we drop. I'm going to say nothing!

What has been Everton's problem this year, from an outsiders persepective?

Like you said in your answers to me - your injuries have played havoc. The problem is with lots of changes, the team don't gel and it affects confidence.

When it looked like Reading were going to qualify for Europe in their 1st PL season, Steve Coppell said he would rather they didn't so they could concentrate on the league the following year. They were still relegated. Do you want to qualify for Europe this season or is it too much of a distraction?
A distraction this season. We HAVE to stay up. Then we can attract better players and maybe even go for a push next year. (Well you can hope!)

What are your thoughts for the game on Sunday?
Our run has to end sometime, however we are difficult to break down and we work hard. I think it'll be a draw.

And finally.... Anything that Brum fans are talking about that deserves a mention!?

We are enjoying that people are talking about us positively for a change - even MOTD! It's also nice for us that with the other lot doing well, we are too. Nothing worse than us struggling and them doing well!

As you can see...we're back - again!

Right the decs have been put away, the tree has gone and I can start concentrating on all tings blogging. As well as looking on at all the chaos in the UK thanks to the heaviest snowfall in 20/20/30/500/10,000 years (delete according to your paper of choice)

Anyway apologies to those at Birmingham Blog Joys and Sorrows who asked to do a joint article ahead of the Blues v Blues clash just before Christmas. A link to their version, featuring answers from your truly is below, it's worth checking out, not just my but but the sire itself, it's well worth the read. With a possible FA Cup tie against Birmingham coming up there maybe scope or another joint venture.

As for Everton, well if there was a time to be out of the country and missing the doom and gloom it is now. The joy of last years run to the cup final and has been replaced with that familiar sinking feeling and fear that we have missed the boat in terms of ever claiming a top four place.

The spending at the likes of Spurs and City have pushed us well down the pecking order now. Our famed team spirit and work ethic will now only get us 8th place at best. We need money and quick.

On a brighter note David Beckham's mate Landon Donovan has joined us on a 'keep fit for the World Cup' loan. To be honest any player with two working legs is welcome right now but an international forward should be a great help up top, especially with Jo seemingly on his way out.

PMP has been going 11 months now,which means it will turn one next month - I'm sure to celebrate the occasion with some sort of review of the year, which will certainly circulate round the cup final, hell the site may even get a new look lets wait and see.

In the meantime check out my interview over at the excellent Joys and Sorrows.

Leeds save the FA Cup

Thank goodness for Jermaine Beckford, who gave the headline writers the chance to rekindle the magic of the cup.

It was a sports journalist’s dream, with Leeds bringing back memories of glory days lost and giving Fergie another excuse to lament the lack of injury time. The result also came just in time to save a distinctly average third round weekend.

The highlights before Sunday? Steven Gerrard rescuing Liverpool (how many times have we heard that before?) against lowly Reading, Nottingham Forest drawing with Birmingham and that’s about it.

Even crisis club Portsmouth, who most people expected to fall to lower league opposition and deepen their fans’ misery, ruined several betting slips by having the temerity to draw with Coventry.

To be fair to Everton, they did their best concede defeat to League One Carlisle, barely managing to string two passes together for 80 minutes before two late goals saw them scrape through

Read the rest of this entry.

Fulham my team of the year

After a busy set of festive fixtures thoughts will naturally drift towards New Year’s Eve and a look back at what 2009 did for us.

When picking a ‘team of the year’ I naturally look at the winners for highlights. In England we saw Manchester United win the Carling Cup (thanks to Ben Foster’s Ipod!) and claim their 18th League title, drawing them level with bitter rivals Liverpool in the process. Champions League glory was only denied by a magnificent Barcelona side in the final.

On a swelteringly hot day in May Chelsea and Everton contested the FA Cup Final. History was made as Louis Saha scored the fastest goal ever in a Cup final but Chelsea’s extra quality told and they fully deserved their 2-1 win.

But when looking at 2009 as a whole I can’t pick any of those teams as my team of the year. United look a poorer side without Ronaldo while Chelsea have also slipped in recent weeks. Everton meanwhile are languishing at the wrong end of the league after a poor start to the season.

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Megson pays price for fans' raised expectations

So, the Bolton fans have got their way, with chairman Phil Gartside finally putting Gary Megson out of his misery on Wednesday.

The reaction of the fans at the Hull game perhaps pointed to such an outcome; they clearly weren’t happy and such an atmosphere forces a board into action. But the reality is that the fans have been hostile to Megson since day one.

Appointed (to an underwhelming reception) to replace Sammy Lee, the legacy of Sam Allardyce still loomed large as the fans, accustomed to top six finishes, waited for more of the same.

But sadly the reality was that the wonders worked by Allardyce were never sustainable and with a limited budget Megson knew Premier League survival was his first priority.

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