Often Partisan

Do You Remember When… Pandiani Made His Debut?

Picture the scene – February 2005, cold as hell. Blues haven’t won in four league games and are slowly sliding down the table. The transfer window had just ended and Blues have made three signings on deadline day – Jermaine Pennant (complete with electronic tag on his ankle), Mehdi Nafti and Walter Pandiani – in an attempt to arrest their slide down the table and ensure Premier League football would continue at St Andrews.

The very fact Pandiani played was down to the miracle of the fax machine with Blues signing him right on the deadline. In fact, as it later came out the actual fax came through at FA HQ sometime after midnight but as the crucial time is when the fax was initially transmitted, Blues were able to bring the Uruguayan in on loan – much to Harry Redknapp’s consternation. More on that later.

Bruce put the South American straight into the first XI – despite having arrived the day before, sans boots and without a word of the lingo. Pennant also started the game on the right flank whilst the third signing of the bunch, Mehdi Nafti had to content himself on the bench. Heskey got himself injured in the warm-up which meant Robbie Blake got the nod to partner el rifle up front.

At the time, my season ticket seat was in the Kop, around the half way line and about half way up the block. Blues were (unusually) attacking the Tilton end in the first half, and thus I got to see Jermaine Pennant do his stuff down the right wing straight off. However, the first effort on goal originated on the left hand side, Gray hitting a deep cross which Pennant headed back and Pandiani volleyed over.

It only took twelve minutes for the Pennant/Pandiani combination to result in a goal; a long ball punted up the right hand channel found Pennant in space and his cross was a peach; Pandiani rose to head home a nice and simple goal to open his account. Wow – Pandiani, another Championship Manager player I’d signed years back had scored, with ease, at St Andrews. Even a goal up, Blues kept attacking Southampton – Pandiani hit one that was blocked by Lundekvam and I remember Jamie Clapham hit a thunderbolt that the Southampton keeper Niemi only just kept out. The second goal came just before half-time; Pennant again down the right passed inside for Melchiot, who looked to get to the goalline before cutting it back only to be pulled down by Jamie Redknapp. Robbie Blake stepped up to take the resultant penalty and he fair smashed it home for his first goal for the club – 2-0.

In the second half Blues continued their season long theme of not being able to play consistently well for 90 minutes, and the Saints got one back via a stunning goal from sub Henri Camara’s turn and shot from Crouch’s knock-down. With it at 2-1 Southampton put the pressure on us and I remember Prutton getting in sight of goal after a misplaced pass but he couldn’t finish it. Blues held out and won 2-1.

Blues weren’t beaten at home again that season and finished 12th in the table; Southampton however fell into deeper trouble with the defeat and finished the season bottom on 32 points. One postscript that I can recall was Harry Redknapp (who people may recall isn’t amongst my favourite people in the world) grumbled about the signing of Pandiani, saying that it was too late and threatened to put in a protest – however that never materialised as Blues had done nothing wrong.

Walter Pandiani played thirty-six games for Birmingham City and scored six goals.


8 Responses to “Do You Remember When… Pandiani Made His Debut?”

  • Chris says:

    Watching some of the highlights from that season, Emile Heskey did a decent job for us that season. We’ll forget about the second season.

  • p davis says:

    I found it all hard to watch when you compare it to today. I believe it to be a long way off before we see those days again,the sell out crowds,exciting football and top players but we can all carry on hoping and dreams do come true. Those days seem such along time ago and as always we have somehow to have taken 10steps backwards. It very much reminds me of what happened the last time we were getting good crowds and then they started to dwindle. I remember the cold winter nights at St Andrews and only 8,00 bothered to turn up. I pray those days are not around the corner because i believe the club would not survive this time around. I only hope that this new chairman has really got the club at heart and will take us forward.

  • jeffwealands says:

    We hung on for a win that was well deserved from our first half performance. As the the teams were announced, there were chants of “who” as some of our new players were introduced

  • Macca Salop Blue says:

    Maybe in years to come you’ll be doing a version of “Remember when PALADINI took Blues over?”!!!

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    Pandiani was another letdown but Brucey wanted him and went in for him time and time again.

    Nothing special in my book

  • chris says:

    He never had enough pace for Blues in the prem though in a better passing team he may have flourished, as he did before and after joining us in the Spanish league.
    I think he finished top scorer in the europa league the year after leaving us.

  • The Flying Pig says:

    Although this was another ‘false dawn’ for the Blues, I remember leaving the ground that day thinking that we’d maybe found ourselves a bit of a cult hero and a player who could stick the ball away. If I remember correctly, he came with a big build-up from Brucey.

    Regrettably, more recently I cannot remember getting excited by any signing since Dugarry and I wonder when we shall see another exciting signing? You have to retain a level of optimism supporting the Blues or else you’d go mad and so I’ve resisted the temptation to put “if /” before “when” in the last sentence.

    As I’ve mentioned Brucey above, I just wonder what his reception will be like when Hull come to town in a couple of weeks?.

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    As he gave us our best ever season when we first came up to the prem I would imagine he would get more than a warm welcome.

    Never will I forget the 2 games against the filth

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