Often Partisan

The Day Before

Birmingham City go into tomorrow’s game knowing that a single point from their final game at the Reebok could be enough to keep them up – and also that they could win and still find themselves relegated if other results go against them.

I know that I’ve been a doom merchant this week but I’m finding it hard to see any other result tomorrow than relegation. Blues have lost their last five games on the spin, and have won just four games in twenty-two league fixtures in 2014 – taking fifteen points from a possible sixty-six. Although Bolton have nothing but pride to play for and have been blooding youngsters in recent matches I can’t see Blues picking up a point – and I don’t like the idea of relying on Leicester to beat Doncaster even if Leicester are Champions by some way and Doncaster Rovers are the only team in the division with worse form than us over the last ten games.

I’ve seen Clark talking to the media about how the team have got to do it for the fans, about how they’ve got to “use every last drop of energy” and I know that Clark cares massively about the situation – not only because the relegation will look bad on his CV but because he genuinely feels for the fans. However, I can’t help but think that those are just words and they have no correlation with what is going to happen on the pitch. I’m concerned that the players have lost their collective bottle, that they are failing to be inspired to put in the performances necessary.

If Blues are to get anything tomorrow, then they must play on the front foot and attack Bolton – it seems obvious to me that conceding an early goal is absolutely going to cripple the side so Blues must do all that they can to score first. I think Zigic has got to start and Blues have got to use him in the right way – hit him with balls he can flick on and lay off to players around him – and use him as a focal point of attack. Blues will need to improve massively on their crossing of the ball from Tuesday and hopefully Clark will have spent the week with the team working on getting the ball forwards quickly and into the box – and on midfielders arriving to support the front men to overload the Bolton defence.

If – and it’s a big if – Blues can get a win tomorrow I think that they will stay up. If Blues win then due to their goal difference three other teams – Doncaster, Millwall and Blackpool – have to win as well for Blues to go down and I think the combination of that perfect storm of results is unlikely – although knowing my luck they will do just that to spite me.

Interestingly, Colin Tattum has commented in the Birmingham Mail today that two of the five groups who are interested in the club would withdraw if Blues are relegated – which should indicate just how important this game is. He also goes on to point out that

“…rumour still abounds over whether Blues’ last parachute payment has already been gobbled up through forward financing.”

which if true would mean Blues will get no parachute money next season, leaving them reliant on commercial revenue and gate receipts to make ends meet – diminishing their turnover further and increasing financial strictures. The importance of tomorrow’s game hasn’t gone un-noticed in Hong Kong either with Hong Kong Daily News running a short piece about how the loyalty of season ticket holders has been tested by our home form.

Let’s hope come 5pm tomorrow we’re celebrating the “Great Escape”.

Talking Points sponsored by John Hicken Industrial roofing and cladding materials

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46 Responses to “The Day Before”

  • Gary says:

    As you go through life it’s a long, long road
    There’ll be joys and sorrows too
    As we journey on we will sing this song
    For the boys in royal blue.
    We’re often partisan
    We will journey on
    Keep right on to the end of the road
    Keep right on to the end
    Though the way be long let your heart beat strong
    Keep right on to the end
    Though you’re tired and weary
    Still journey on ’til you come to your happy abode
    With all our love we’ll be dreaming of
    We’ll be there. Where? At the end of the road.
    Birmingham, Birmingham

  • beegeeblueboy says:

    You have it respect the two bidders that wound pull out if we were relegated because this would mean that they are less tolerant and would likely sack Clark. On the other hand it means they don’t really have any love for the club or up for a fight when we are on our uppers. If we stay up and get one of them I’d be concerned. Maybe they’ll be outed.

    Should I have more respect for the other three who have to fund two promotions on far less income? Maybe they’d prefer us being in League 1 because they would see more marginal benefit from their spending because they’re not willing or able to fund us adequately as a Championship club. Shouldn’t I be worried about this as well? If we survive tomorrow I would expect these bidders to disappear because there need to a great deal of money spent next season to even make us competitve.

    Que sera sera I suppose

    • The Francis Fake says:

      It would be the ambition of any potential owner to get into the Premiership asap and DIV 1 undermines that prospect. Now new owners are going to buy the club for charitable reasons and they would lose a lot of commercial revenue if we are not in the championship. I want to see owners who are credible but also have some serious financial clout. Beware another asset stripper like Wheldon. For those Blues fans who have made comments recently that it might not be a bad think to be relegated you must be deranged. Many fans made similar comments when were relegated from the Prem. Our squad has no comparison to the Wolves squad that was relegated last year, we are much weaker. Look where Portsmouth are now. We are a big club with great fans that deserve top flight football. I will be devastated if we go down. the Bolton game I believe is one of the most important games ever in the history of the club. KRO

      • the one giannisawyer says:

        and that is the difference. The club and fans may deserve top flight but on this season’s performances the players don’t. Unforunately there are no league tables for fandom.

  • AussieBlue says:

    Fair enough comment Dan…let’s hope that ‘perfect storm’ doesn’t happen. What’s happening with the book? My guess is you are waiting until Sat’s result to complete the last page.

    • beegeeblueboy says:

      It would be better for publicity and for sales of the book if we went down. Is Clark on a royalty?

  • Big Al says:

    I’d love it if LC uses every ounce of his experience, knowledge and ability to finalise the system and approach for tomorrow’s game, sits back, reviews it and then applies the exact opposite approach.

  • Quaggerz says:

    Cue the emotional music as the boys in blue walk down the tunnel, I could seriously come to tears tomorrow :'(

    • beegeeblueboy says:

      Too many relegations for tears. I’m too battle-hardened. Please though when we next make the Premier can it be as Champions. We’ve never won that league in my lifetime

  • Luke Bowen says:

    I don’t know how we let this go so far
    and I don’t know how we let love turn to pain
    I don’t know how we let things fall apart
    But everything comes down to this

  • RichardM says:

    Zigic and Macheda up front from the start, PLEASE. Ibe and Burke on the wings, Huws and Adeyemi in the middle. Caddis, Mullins, MARTIN and Robinson back 4. Then we might just have a chance. Peronally I’m still convinced that a point will be enough. I cannot see Doncaster getting anything at Leicester, particularly as SuperKev will be laying his last professional game and will be desperate to get a goal!

    • Quaggerz says:

      To me that team is more than good enough for this division, a bit lightweight in defence but attacking wise should’ve been. I’d persoanlly swap mullins for robinson and insert hancox at left back (providing he is fit).

  • Agent McLeish says:

    I think we’ll get a result as Robbo will be back. He is one of the few leaders at the club and his presence will help others. His inclusion also provides more options in defence. I can see at least a point against Bolton but as you say we dependent on other results.

    • Oldburyblue says:

      If Robbo gets booked tomorrow I just hope it is for persistent kicking-up-the- backside of his teammates, then we might get a result.

  • Blueboy88 says:

    For those who have witnessed our last three homes games you can only but come to the conclusion our only hope tomorrow is if Bolton are already on the beach.

    However we travel in hope that those given the honour of pulling on the Blues shirt at Bolton tomorrow will wear it with pride & as a very minimum give all they have to give.

    Its what you do when you don’t have to, that will determine what you do when you no longer have a choice.

    • chudlt says:

      I don’t know about the honour of putting on the Blues shirt. Most of the team will take it off after the game throw it in the laundry, put on their parent teams colours and drive off in their Maseratis.

  • DoctorD says:

    Sadly, I can only see relegation at 2.15pm tomorrow. I don’t even want to get my hopes up because that would make things worse. I predict a 0-3 defeat.

    • Auld Bertie says:

      Sadly I have to agree. Clark publically guaranteed
      4 points from the last two game either by drawing against Wigan and beating
      Bolton or vice versa. His rhetoric is increasingly annoying and I just expect
      the opposite of whatever he says to happen. No doubt he will screw up the
      starting line-up again and we will be on the back foot from the first minute. I
      would have Burke on the bench as a maximum after his last few performances, the
      worst of which have coincided with him being given the captain’s armband. Again
      Clark makes a rod for his own back with this ludicrous decision as he cannot
      lose face and take of his captain no matter how poor he is performing. I fear a
      heavy defeat after the concession of an early goal due in part to a poor
      starting line-up. No doubt our one true currently-fit centre half Martin will
      be on the bench with Spector, Mullins and Robinson as our central defence. I
      will renew my ST next season whatever happens but if as expected we are playing
      league 1 football I desperately hope it’s not under Clark’s stewardship.

      • RichardM says:

        Fair enough – but who would you have playing on the right win instead of Burke?

        • Auld Bertie says:

          Gray or Ibe. I know neither of them are not naturally right-footed but on Burke’s recent pitiful showings could they have done any worse? At least they have pace and can beat defenders both of which seem sadly lacking in Burke’s armoury now :(

          • Chas says:

            Agree with you on either of those two players. Burke did nothing in any of the three matches I saw , apart from jump out of tackles and hit the first man. Did he actually get a cross in at all ? If either Gray or Ibe just beat the Fullback twice tomorrow and crossed the ball, they will have done more than Burke. Lets hope Burke sees this and goes out to prove me wrong.

  • Kaje says:

    It all depends on which Lee Clark turns up for the game. If it’s the bumbling, idiotic, thick, tactical inept little twonk then we’re going to struggle. If it’s the…wait…there’s only one type of Lee Clark…damn…

  • Chris W says:

    I am in the “fear the worst” camp.
    It is too late for Lee Clark’s empty words, it was blatantly obvious the players are not listening to him, despite his arm waving and yelling they did what they wanted.
    The one decent bit of news is that Paul Robinson is back to bolster the defence and lead the team on the pitch.
    I do not think Lee Clark cares about the supporters; Yes shows passion but that is only a front, in truth, he cares about Lee Clark and his CV.
    We have to start with two up front, Macheda and Zigic and need two wide men to support them. I disagree with just pumping balls up to Ziggy for him to knock on, that is where we have been going wrong with him, play the ball to his strengths, his feet, where he can hold the ball and lay it off when the midfield gets up with the attack.
    I don’t care two hoots about BIHL, they deserve everything they get and I hope they lose their Hong Kong SE status. No matter what happens tomorrow Lee Clark MUST not be allowed to continue as our manager, I want us to stay up but then it would only keep BIHL hanging on for a decent offer and only selling in tranches, we need rid of this cancer and only ruthless amputation is the way forward. If that means relegation and/or administration then so be it.
    KRO+DNM

    • Andrew says:

      i dont know how fans can fear the worst, one way or another blues can only get better now the light is at the end of the tunnel and will. HK cant keep hold of us any longer

  • the one giannisawyer says:

    How have you worked out the scenario of the ‘Perfect Storm’? In my eyes it is all hinged around Doncaster….

    Blues LOSE – RELEGATION
    Blues DRAW – Donny DRAW – RELEGATION
    Blues DRAW – Donny LOSE – SAFE on goal difference
    Blues WIN – Donny LOSE – SAFE
    Blues WIN – Donny DRAW – SAFE
    Blues WIN – Donny WIN – RELEGATION

    • Auld Bertie says:

      My reply below related to your original post but I’ve left it for clarity.

      Even if Donny win (47 points) if Blues win (46 points) and Millwall don’t win (max 46 points) or Blackpool lose (46 points) we stay up on better GD. So a win gives us more options but guarantees nothing. Sadly all hypothetical in my view :(

      • the one giannisawyer says:

        Yeah I saw all of the other scenarios after I’d posted.
        I think there is a real chance that we can get a result tomorrow.
        I can see Leicester thrashing Donny as Pearson has already said that he wants to get over the 100 point mark.
        There’s a very good chance that Millwall will either lose or draw to Bournemouth, even though they can’t make the playoffs so may play a weakened team.
        Blackpool and Charlton is anyone’s guess, and my prediction is that this scoreline will be academic.

        I still have the FAITH!!!

        • Auld Bertie says:

          I wish I could share your faith mate. At my ripe old age I’ve been through a few relegation seasons and they never get any easier to stomach. Up until recently I’d always kept an open mind about LC but the last 3 home games put paid to that with his increasingly weird selection policies. I truly hope I’m wrong but 50 years of supporting Blues has made my naturally pessimistic nature worse and I can’t see anything but a Bolton win.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    My tactics against Bolton would be to “Park the Bus” and go for a 0-0 hoping Leicester beat Doncaster. To go on all out to attack Bolton sounds good, but it’s fraught with danger knowing our defence.
    My team would be:-
    Randolph
    Spector, Mullins, Robinson, Hancox:
    Caddis, Adeyemi, Lee, Ferguson;
    Huws;
    Novak.
    Playing a 4-4-1-1 formation with emphasis on defence.
    Subs:- Martin/Packwood, Doyle, Macheda, Zigic, Ibe, Burke, Lovenkrands.
    With the attacking reserve if plan B is needed.

    • LoyalSupporter says:

      I don’t understand that formation. Lee and Ferguson haven’t played for ages. Huws is not an attacking midfielder who should sit behind a striker. Plus, we have proven we are not good enough defensively time and again so not sure we have a bus to park!
      I would go 4-4-2 as we have scored more second half goals (which happens to be when we are already behind and Clark throws another striker on!).
      Caddis, Spector, Robinson, Hancox;
      Burke, Huws, Adeyemi, Novak;
      Zigic, Macheda
      Huws sitting back more as more of a holding midfielder – Adeyemi getting box to box

      • Richard Granfield says:

        Lee is a holding midfielder (defensive) Ferguson has played at full back (defensive) and Huws is a holding player so will keep things tight.
        We can be solid defensively if the personnel and system is right.

    • dumbjam says:

      We can’t park the bus. Only Barnsley have less clean sheets than us and we have a habit of conceding in bunches so plan B would be looking at scoring 2 or 3 as we’ve leaked at least 2 goals on 20/45 occasions this season

    • Andrew says:

      you are mad, if we go anywhere trying to defend we will lose

  • Andrew says:

    i dont want them to go down but i think it would be a blessing because it will speed up the sale of the club. if we stay up we will be relegated next year as it will be the same type of season as this. until something changes at the top (which needs to be on its way over the next month to have any effect) we will stay in limbo with a bad team bad manager and dwindling crowds

  • Blooflame says:

    We’re gonna get smashed and relegated…I’ll wake up Sunday morning and still be a bluenose. See you next season

  • phil smith says:

    Come on blue boyz … Working morrow But listening…. Got fifty quid on surviving so don’t let me down boy z….

  • Chris W says:

    Just watched his interview, doesn’t enthuse much optimism or hope, not going to stir the lads or supporters with his body language. I would say he is a broken man who doesn’t know how to halt this slide. I am also of the mind he knows this is his last game for the club and has probably already cleared his desk ready for Monday.
    If he hadn’t been so stubborn or so stuck in his ways I could possibly feel a little sympathy for him with the deal he has had.
    It is the basics he has got wrong, not once but several ties this season and the fact that he has never once admitted he has made a mistake. What really grates me is his “My team” when things have gone well and “The team” or “The players didn’t do…” when things have gone belly up.
    I wish him well for the future but can’t see it being in football for some considerable time to come.
    KRO+DNM

  • Paul Oakley says:

    This time next year we could be already promoted into the Premiership! New management and manager naturally

  • EddieBirmingham says:

    “…rumour still abounds over whether Blues’ last parachute payment has already been gobbled up through forward financing.”

    He’s quoting you you muppet, media quoting media

    • OftenPartisan says:

      a) no reason to be offensive

      b) Tatts may just have other sources who may have advised him of that

      • EddieBirmingham says:

        a) sorry for being offensive, I’m a bit touchy at mo with all things BCFC

        b) KRO

  • Eric says:

    Doom merchant you are…KRO Dan


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