From the Press box

Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

Posts Tagged ‘Alex McLeish

Proceed with caution

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Sometimes, a season can seem to go wrong in the same space of time that good fruit turns to mush. This almost seems to be one of those times.

Although, on paper, we’ve had a good draw with Liverpool and have picked up a few points on the road, the statistics make us look bleak. In our last 17 Premier League matches, we’ve won twice.

Despite final day masterstrokes by the maestro that is McLeish, we haven’t found the winning formula of the “unbeatable” squad of last season. The team that never gave up, the team which almost always seemed to be able to turn a bad situation into a draw.

If anything, we’ve reverted. We’ve even shown glimpses of being exactly the opposite of the unbeatables team, letting leads slip away from our grasp as was the case against Bolton.

A lack of goals and poor performances does not a happy Blues fan make.

I think most people can fall into two camps right now. I’ll name them, the “Let’s see at Christmas gang”, and “We’ll be relegated by November tribe”.

Let’s see at Christmas followers like to see a bigger picture. They can see beyond the form and results of the early part of the season, and believe that the league table will take its shape in December and it is simply too early to call for doom and gloom tales to fall onto the club.

The ‘We’ll be relegated by December’ tribe feel that the current form will indicate how our season will pan out. On paper and on the pitch, we’re starting to struggle, and we’ll find ourselves deep in a dogged relegation battle. By the time Christmas comes, it’ll be too late to turn it around.

I hope there are a third set of fans though. The ones who are happy to proceed with caution. I think I roughly fall into this. I won’t lie – alarm bells are slowly rising in decibels in my mind, and I’m desperately hoping the next win should get us back on track to winning ways. I do recognise however, that things need to change ASAP before any sort of rot sets in.

It’s quite scary for pundits to call Birmingham a real Premier League team, but title alone means nothing. The aim at the start of the season was to stay in the Premier League for a third consecutive season and throw off the tag as a yo-yo club. McLeish has a vision for the club, and it is a Premier League vision. 17th will do for me, but we need to work for it.

Alex McLeish is the best manager to be at Blues in living memory. We have one of the best squads to adorn the St. Andrews turf. Good ingredients supposedly equal the best results. Good things come to those that wait (I hope).

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Written by Nicole Carroll

October 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Wing options aplenty

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Blues jet off to China today on a tour which is both promotional and functional in the fact it is the centre piece of our pre-season campaign. Carson Yeung and his team will be working hard to launch brand Birmingham in their homeland, whilst the coaching staff will be focusing on getting the team up to speed for what will be another hard and tiring Premier League campaign.

Back home however it is astoundingly quiet. The FA fax machine shall be staying silent for a while as Premier League clubs do not seem in a rush to push deals forward that will enrich and enhance their squads for next season.

Although Blues have had early dabbles in the transfer market, with Foster, Valles and Zigic all joining the club, since then we seem to have had a succession of bids knocked back for players. One of the players Blues have shown massive interest in is Wigan’s Charles N’Zogbia, and reports claim we have bid £8 million for the player, whilst Wigan value him at much more than this. Subsequently, Birmingham have withdrawn their bid and we are now apparantly looking elsewhere for a winger.

Ryan Babel can now enter this story. Babel has been linked with the club since January, and was apparently subject to bids during that window. If we are showing interest, then maybe this is the best time to do it. Since we apparently enquired about the player back in January, Rafa Benitez has left the club, and Roy Hodgson has moved into the Liverpool hotspot. Liverpool don’t have a massive amount of money to spend, and perhaps selling players such as Babel, who hasn’t exactly set the world alight at the club, would be a viable option for Hodgson to raise funds.

Since joining Liverpool in 2007, Babel has made 82 appearances scoring 11 goals in the process, roughly one in 7.5 games. N’Zogbia joined latest club Wigan in 2009 and has since made 49 appearances scording 6 goals for the club, roughly 1 in 8 games.

Either would be a great and necessary addition to the club. N’Zogbia is primarily a winger who can sub at left back, but Babel is a winger who can also be used as a striker, which would add a further dimension to our forward line. With Christian Benitez back at his parent club, we only have Cameron Jerome who can add any pace up front. Although Jerome ended in the top scoring Premier League player list, his football ability is still questioned by some fans, and perhaps the addition of Babel upfront would be a better foil for the technically gifted but slow Zigic.

The Babel story is interesting. On the one hand, it could be read as a manager looking elsewhere for options on the wing after his first choice hasn’t worked out. However, Wigan are also under financial pressure to a point and stories emerging in the paper about Blues interest in Babel may somewhat force Wigan’s hand in speaking to Blues again about N’Zogbia. Perhaps Wigan were waiting for a bigger offer to come in for the paper, and so far, this seems to be unfounded. Perhaps seeing Blues offer up money elsewhere will make Wigan reconsider their stance on how much their player is worth.

Perhaps, and maybe now I am being adventurous, we could even look to bring both players to the club. Converting Babel to an out and out striker could always be a plan of McLeish’s, whilst keeping N’Zogbia on the wing. It would add much needed pace to the side, and hopefully add much needed goals to a side who struggled to score last season, and achieved much of their success through a fantastic defensive unit.

Although transfer rumblings are gentle shakes rather than deafening tremors, the signs seem positive. McLeish and his team quite obviously are looking at various options, and have a number of plans in place. Let’s hope that when the 22 man squad come back from China, we’ll have a player (or two) flying in on the wing.

Written by Nicole Carroll

July 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm

One man and his signings – Guest blogging again

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With only five league matches to go, those fans looking ahead will be playing a game of mental transfers in the run up to the silly season, more commonly known as the Summer Transfer Window.

33 games ago, Blues were hoping for Premier League survival, and we’ve achieved that with style. Our motley crue of players, who were predicted to drop like a stone, have shown those around us that we weren’t prepared to be rolled over by those who were deemed better than us, and we’ve stood our ground in what is regarded to be the best league in the world.

Rest of the article over at Joys and Sorrows

Written by Nicole Carroll

April 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

The Prawn Sandwich Lifestyle

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In a very rare treat last night, I was invited along, courtesy of Birmingham’s Vice President Mike Wiseman, to watch the Birmingham vs Wolves reserves fixture at St. Andrews.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at Kop Reception, and my brothers eyes were as wide as saucers as Kevin Blackwell and Chris Hughton casually strolled into the club.

After being greeted by Mike and whisked upstairs, we were taken to box 16, which had a fantastic view of a pitch and carpet plusher than the one in my own home. Leather seats and heating by my feet was a massive departure from the upper blocks of the Tilton, which are normally freezing from October to March.

Mike then invited me to meet Alex, and we were lead to the premier box where Alex McLeish, Roy Aitken and Andy Watson were taking their positions in observing the reserves. A handshake and a photo later, we were lead back to box 16 to watch the match that had just started.

Note the nervous smile!

There is a comprehensive match report over at BCFC.COM but the match was a highly entertaining affair, possibly more entertaining as we had the company of Vico Hui, BCFC Chairmen, who was keeping us amused during the match. I nearly laughed when I realised I was eating a prawn sandwich at half time!

The reserves showed us some really nice football at times, and it was nice to see people like Franck Queudrue getting a match after being on the sidelines because of the teams magnificent form. Blues were truly dominant in the first half, and it seems that if we could cultivate just some of the talent on show, that we could be looking at some gems feeding through from that academy. Asante looked a particularly good player, and Nathan Redmond impressed when he came onto the field at 60 minutes.

Overall it was a fantastic night, and something for me and my brother to remember. We met some fantastic people who all had the time to talk to me about their blog, and was treated with wonderful hospitality from Mike and the club.

Written by Nicole Carroll

March 23, 2010 at 9:09 am

McLeish condemns Benitez dive

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A story thats been reported in a fair few places, but definately something that should be highlighted.

Following Christian Benitez’s dive in the 2-1 win over Portsmouth on Tuesday night, McLeish publically condemned Benitez’s dive. Attitudes like this are only to be applauded in football, opposing teams are quite right to condemn dives, and when a teams manager stands up against them, it only sends a good message for that team and the others in the league.

Following a controversial dive by Ngog in Blues 2-2 draw in Liverpool, McLeish was quick to condemn that dive too. If anything, it shows he has real balance as a manager, and brings real integrity to the game.

McLeish has had a fantastic season at the Blues, and its this discipline and wise words that increases my respect for him on a weekly basis. Hurry up and finalise his contract extension Blues!

Written by Nicole Carroll

March 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm