David Cameron Walker

Archive for the ‘Birmingham City’ Category

Who can fire Birmingham to safety?

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

NZ

Goals, or the lack of them, have proved to be the real problem for Blues this season. We’ve found the net just four times in the league, and only one of that measly total has come at St Andrew’s.

Matt Green, who scored nearly sixty goals for his previous club Mansfield over two seasons, has a solitary goal to his name. Although, he hasn’t really been getting the game time. A man who certainly has however, Lee Novak, hasn’t managed to find the net all season, and to be honest doesn’t look like doing so. Nikola Zigic has been injured since July and Lee Clark has been trying to offload Peter Lovenkrands for a number of months and thus the Dane has played just twice.

Attacking midfielder Andy Shinnie, a free-transfer from Inverness, has been forced to play in a number of positions including upfront, and does actually have a goal to his name albeit in a cup tie at Yeovil. Talisman Chris Burke could be relied upon more than ever and the Scot, who is generally regarded as the best player we have at the club, has scored pretty regularly for Blues over the two previous seasons he’s spent at St Andrew’s.

Marlon King has undoubtedly been a big loss for Blues. The Jamaican was the top goalscorer for the last two seasons and no-one has scored as many as he did in so few appearances for many years at St Andrew’s. The striker has since moved onto Sheffield United after being released as we could not afford his wages and has left a hole in the team Lee Clark has, understandably, yet to fill.

With Birmingham languishing around the relegation places, someone really needs to step up and score the goals to keep us safe. Nikola Zigic should return next week and could have a massive part to play in the large remainder of the campaign. The Serb scored a fantastic volley for the U21’s on Monday and has a knack of scoring important goals at important goals for Blues. New boy Jesse Lingard, signed on loan from Manchester United, has arrived with a reputation of being able to score goals. He could make the difference for Lee Clark’s struggling side and although he’s only been signed on a month’s loan, if it’s a successful one the deal could be extended. The England youngster will go straight into the squad for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow.

We desperately need to find goals from somewhere, whether it be Zigic, Lingard, Green or Burke. If we don’t, then a relegation scrap is looming.

Written by Shane Ireland, We Are Going Up’s Birmingham City blogger

Shane tweets at @_ShaneIreland

2012-13: A season review

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

On the 26th of June 2012, Lee Clark was confirmed as the new manager of Birmingham City. Chris Hughton had succumbed to the lure of the Premier League by taking over at Norwich. Nobody blamed him – he deserved to manage in the top flight.  The man who had led us to a 4th placed finish, the Europa League group stages and an FA Cup fifth round replay was gone. So, it was Clark’s time. Could he go one further than his predecessor and take us to Wembley? Was automatic promotion even on the cards?

Behind the scenes, our owner Carson Yeung had been arrested on money laundering charges and the club’s future looked unstable. Jordon Mutch was sold to Cardiff to raise much-needed funds to reportedly ‘keep us going’. A transfer embargo was placed on all incoming transfers, although this was lifted. Those early hopes of promotion soon faded as fans realised Clark had a tough job on his hands.

Upon arriving, the new manager had to deal with masses of transfer speculation surrounding young goalkeeper Jack Butland, Nathan Redmond and Curtis Davies. Blues managed to hold on to all three during the summer transfer window. Lee Clark did what he could with the tight budget he had been given and brought in Hayden Mullins, Peter Lovenkrands and Darren Ambrose. The latter being the only player that commanded a transfer fee. Ravel Morrison and Paul Caddis joined on season-long loans, with Adam Rooney going to Swindon as part of the Caddis deal.

Blues started at home to newly-promoted Charlton, and it took a 94th minute goal from Nikola Zigic to rescue a point. It took until September 1st for Birmingham to record their first league win of the season; a 1-0 victory over Peterborough, a match in which five of our substitutes were teenagers. This was a sign of things to come, with many Blues youngsters making their breakthrough’s this year.

Three weeks later, Barnsley were the visitors to St Andrew’s and no matter how much Blues fans try to forget that day, it was quite simply, unforgettable. We’d comfortably dispatched Bolton in the midweek leading up to the match and I was quietly confident of a victory. The first half was drab, uneventful and uninspiring but nothing could have prepared the 13,893 crowd (less than half of that by the end) for the events of the second period. Just 28 minutes after the restart, Barnsley were 5-0 up. Craig Davies had scored four at the home of the club he supported as a boy after Stephen Foster’s opener. The worst thing was our goalkeeper actually played well! Seven days later Blues emerged the victors at the Amex with a 1-0 win over Brighton, showing everyone what a ‘funny old league’ the Championship is.

By 5pm on Saturday October 6th, Birmingham City had lost as many home league games in 14 days as they had during the whole of the season before. A solitary loss during the 2011-12 campaign – two in two weeks during this one. Supporters who had started the season as optimists were now ‘glass half-empty’ kind of people. Blues weren’t performing and Clark was under pressure. Just a single win during October further increased the pressure on our boss, although Leroy Lita’s goals which won the three points at Leeds was a special one indeed.

A packed November schedule followed and a chance for Blues to find some form and distance themselves from the relegation zone. However, just two wins from seven ensured this wasn’t the case. Another sub-15,000 crowd at St Andrew’s saw a confident home side dominate the game against Bristol City; the scoreline should have been greater than 2-0. This was a stark contrast to the loss versus visitors Ipswich three days before. Two more draws and two more losses then followed as Blues rolled over at home to Hull City, 3-0 down at half time, and at Pride Park against Derby. We played host to Middlesbrough in the final game of November and won 3-2 against a backdrop of a large ‘Clark Out’ banner at the top of the Tilton End.

Up next was a visit to Molineux in the first Wolves derby of the season. In truth it was a tame and boring affair, nothing a derby match should be. Blues’ top scorer Marlon King was the only player on the scoresheet, unfortunately scoring an own-goal in front of the South Bank. We beat Barnsley 2-1 on Boxing Day, the return fixture of that horror show at St Andrew’s three months earlier.

After losing 1-0 to Cardiff on New Year’s Day, our FA campaign finally got underway and Blues were drawn away to Leeds. The match ended 1-1 with Wade Elliot scoring the goal of the season but that was overshadowed by a horrible leg break sustained by Blues’ young American defender Will Packwood. Thankfully, Will is progressing well after nearly six months out. The replay saw The Whites through to the fourth round. The only win in January came at Turf Moor; Marlon King’s stunning injury time volley cancelling out Burnley’s equaliser.

Onto February and Blues’ on-field fortunes were looking up with a loss to Watford the only blip. Comfortable wins over Nottingham Forest and Peterborough propelled Birmingham up the league and up to the dizzy heights of mid-table. The match against Forest was one of significance as it saw Alex McLeish’s first return to his old ground since he joined Villa from Blues in 2011. The reception he got was less than welcoming and Chris Burke, one of McLeish’s targets during the January window, fittingly scored both goals in a 2-1 win, thus achieving back-to-back wins for the first time under Clark’s reign. The Scottish winger was also on target at London Road against Peterborough in a 2-0 victory.

The month of March was undoubtedly a turning point for Lee Clark and his squad, fans harboured play-off ambitions once more and the form tables were led by Blues.  After victories over Derby and Middlesbrough this fine form undoubtedly peaked when Blues visited Selhust Park and ran out 4-0 winners, and on Sky too. Shane Ferguson’s sensational free-kick capped off the performance of the season, one that everyone connected with Birmingham City had a right to be proud of. I was one of the 1300 away fans on that Friday night and was in awe at an absolutely magnificent achievement of hammering the team with one of the best home records in the league.

Unfortunately Blues couldn’t carry that form onto the visit of Wolves, but if we had, who knows what could have transpired in the closing months of the season? We were within sight of the play-offs but after going three games without a win that dream seemed to be slipping away. But, after wins over Bristol City and Leeds, Blues went into the final two games of the season still within mathematical reach of sixth place. But an altogether anti-climactic finish to the campaign ensured that Birmingham City finished 12th place in the Championship, seven points of the play-off places and seven points from the relegation zone. Fifteen wins, fifteen draws and sixteen losses. We couldn’t have finished more mid-table if we had tried.

Lee Clark has my praise for assuring safety and another season in the second-tier of English football. Next season however, with the tightening of the wage budget and increased instability off the field, could prove an even tougher task.

Written by Shane Ireland, We Are Going Up’s Birmingham City blogger

Shane tweets at @_ShaneIreland

Patience: Thorn Out

Monday, August 27th, 2012

After Birmingham City’s start to the season we have to hope that we are going up because there isn’t much below us in the Championship at the moment.

Blues sit 22nd in the table, and Lee Clark’s solitary point as manager came via an injury time Nicola Zigic goal at home to Charlton on the opening day. This is not a good return from a side that finished in the playoffs last season and acquited themselves well in the Europa League. However, we have not seen any signs of panicking by the board yet, and the fans that I speak to remain optimistic that Clark can deliver a season that’s more focused on clambering out of the division than dropping through it.

But this afternoon my attention has been piqued by happenings just a few junctions down the M6 (not least because we play Coventry in the League Cup on Tuesday night.) Coventry City’s Board have sacked their manager Andy Thorn (pictured) after three consecutive draws to open the season. What does it say about that Board’s judgement that they judged the manager to be the right person to take them back up after relegation and left him in post all summer, only to panic after 3 games when although they haven’t set the division on fire, they are still unbeaten?

Birmingham fans have our fair share of chancer owners and clueless muppeters in charge but we’ve never have a board do something this dopey aside from Brady and the Sullivans allowing Steve Bruce to pay £4.25 million plus Andy Johnson for Clinton Morrison, which given that Johnson was subsequently sold for £8.6 million valued Morrison at  £12.85 million. This sacking is surely an omission of an aggregious failure of judgement on the Coventry board’s part to dump their manager so soon into the season.

We have three home games in the next four so hopefully, we’ll start to see Blues climb into the middle of the pack but even if we don’t I hope the board are more patient with Clark than our neighbours were with Thorn.

For a start he’s got a better pedigree, I like to think there’s something to be read into the Football League record 43 match unbeaten streak (excluding playoffs) he managed Huddersfield Town to. We’ve also shown battling qualities by scoring late goals in two of our three league games, the only concern is the age of the squad.

We have plenty of promising youngsters not least Jack Butland, Nathan Redmond and Ravel Morrison (on loan from West Ham) but there are a number of players for whom their twenties are but a fading memory. Obviously club captain Stephen Carr is one of these, but so too are Stephen Caldwell, Pablo Ibanez, Wade Elliott, Marlon King, Zigic and even two of the new signings, Hayden Mullins and Peter Lovenkrands are both 32 plus. They bring experience but it is not a massive squad and we do not know if can they handle the arduous Championship season.

Written by James Dixon, We Are Going Up’s Birmingham City blogger.

James tweets at @thejamesdixon

Blues in Europe

Friday, August 26th, 2011

We’ve had a very kind Europa League draw with trips to Brugge in Belgium, Braga in Portugal and Maribor in Slovenia a nice distraction from the pains of Championship life that we are already adjusting to.

Those teams are tough, but they are great places to visit with excellent local beers and I thought I would preview them for you…

Let’s start with Slovenia – now in football terms Maribor may be the underdogs but don’t count out their beer.

Since we’re going outside of Ljubljana we must do as the locals and eschew Union for the more popular Lasko. The Lasko Brewery was founded in 1825 and was one of the first in the world to register a beer trademark, and the beer of theirs that you want is Lasko Dark (5.9%)which is full and rich in flavour.

Brugge

It’s almost impossible to pick just one Belgian beer but if you want something different you could a lot worse than a peach beer. Very light, crisp and refreshing after a days ‘sightseeing’. I like Lindemans Pecheresse which is most widely available but there are probably superior versions around.

Braga

Only one Portuguese beer could possibly selected and that is Cristal. Two reasons, firstly because you’ll feel really rich ordering bottles of Cristal for your mates and secondly it does this to old women

Birmingham

Well we have Brew XI, made originally by Mitchell & Butlers it was “for the men of the midlands”. Maybe it’s time they made an export version.

Written by James Dixon, We Are Going Up’s Birmingham City blogger.

James tweets at @thejamesdixon

There’s only one Rooney

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Can Rooney recapture his 2009/10 form?

That’s a question pre-occupying fans at both Old Trafford and St Andrews this season as we now have the other Rooney – Adam.

The Irish striker has netted 47 goals in the past two seasons for Inverness Caledonian Thistle and has made the move south to Birmingham.

He scored 26 times as Inverness won the First Division title in 2009-10 and followed up with 21 from 42 appearances in their equal best ever SPL campaign last term

Chris Hughton’s first signing has impressed with his pre-season performances, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 away victory at Cork City, and back heeling a consolation against Everton in our last friendly before the real action got underway.

In fact Rooney was the only Blues player to have scored in pre-season, and we must hope that he picks up where he left off from last season’s campaign with Caley, when he finished off the season scoring in each of his last 6 matches.

Certainly, his efforts coming on as a substitute at the weekend in the 1-0 home victory over rubbish local rivals Coventry were appreciated by the St. Andrews faithful. Much like his namesake he was all hustle and bustle, and his header caromed off the post to present Keith Fahey with the simple task of stroking the ball home. A promising start Mr Rooney, keep right on.

ROO-NEY. There’s only one Rooney, There’s only one Rooney. ROO-NEY.

Written by James Dixon, We Are Going Up’s Birmingham City blogger.

James tweets at @thejamesdixon

Cheers Carson…

Friday, July 29th, 2011

I’m unsure whether I can in good conscience continue to be a part of We Are Going Up this season, because I very much doubt that Birmingham City are.

I didn’t think it was possible to be thoroughly depressed by a turn of events and yet in no way surprised at the same time – but I am with the recent news about the Blues.

Everyone knew that Carson Yeung was full of shit. It took him two attempts to raise the money to buy the club from the Golds and Sullivan, and his promised £80 million transfer kitty never materialised.

But I hoped that he’d just run his mouth, and on the field we’d get by.

We did better than get by, finishing ninth in the Premier League in 2009/10 and winning the League Cup last year. How we got relegated I do not know. Look at our results and performances against big teams last year in both League and Cup – we should have been nowhere near the relegation zone, but we were and whoever is down there at the end of the season deserves to be relegated.

Fast forward two months and the owner has had his assets frozen, the bank wants it’s money back, the owner’s 18 year old son has been appointed to the board, we can’t get a kit sponsor and the Chief Executive is promising “unpopular decisions”.

What might they be?

Offloading players like Scott Dann, Ben Foster and Liam Ridgewell on the cheap… Selling naming rights to the stadium to Doug Ellis… Keep picking Keith Fahey…

The only good news of the summer is getting £3million quid from Villa for a manager that we’d probably have ended up paying off in November.

Sod football, I’m watching the cricket.

Written by James Dixon, We Are Going Up’s Birmingham City blogger (for now at least!)

James tweets at @thejamesdixon

He also blogs at Josemoreintheknow