“If I came home tomorrow and found our Gaz in bed with my wife, I’d probably go down and shine his shoes whilst whipping up a bacon sandwich and a fresh pot of coffee”
A couple of weeks ago I suggested that Blues could push for the playoffs this season. I was instantly advised to “give your head a wobble you absolute weapon!”. I may not be as down with the kids as I used to be but I’m led to believe that this means “don’t be silly young man, that’s a preposterous statement”
After picking up the maximum points from both Stoke and Reading though, does it still seem as preposterous? Or can this weapon stop wobbling his bonce? (Do the kids still use that one?)
One of our greatest strengths is our ‘Underdog’ status. The points that were unjustly dropped earlier in the season gifted us with a less than flattering league position and in turn caused the opposition to underestimate us somewhat. On paper we looked like an easy day at the office but some of the biggest teams in the Championship have since learned that this is far from the truth.
Fast forward to today and Blues are sitting comfortably in 11th position and only four points away from the playoff places. We’re a touch higher than our neighbours in Burntwood too but I shan’t harp on about that too much as Witton fans will arrive in their droves to call me “obsessed”.
It’s to be expected that Birmingham City will now be somewhat feared amongst our counterparts – especially at St Andrews where we’ve yet to lose a game all season. The term ‘fortress’ gets banded about all too readily these days but you could make a very compelling argument in favour of St Andrews being labelled as such. Whether it’s the fans, the morale, the club ethos, the managerial tripod or the solid performances on the pitch; the Blues are no longer a team to be taken lightly and only a fool would gamble on us being in a relegation battle for a third season in a row.
How far can we go though? Are we “on our way”? In fact, does it even matter where we finish, as long as we’re safe?
I think I can speak for most (if not all) Blues fans when I say that no matter where we finish, Monk’s employment has been a huge success and – along with Jimmy and the real Pep – he’ll hold a special place in our big, blue hearts for a long time to come.
In all honesty, if I came home tomorrow and found our Gaz in bed with my wife, I’d probably go down and shine his shoes whilst whipping up a bacon sandwich and a fresh pot of coffee. (Please don’t though Garry, I’m quite fond of her and you’re much better looking than my ginger self!)
Anyway, I digress. What can we realistically achieve this season? Well allow me to take my blue tinted glasses off for a while.
We need more depth in the squad. It’s not as bad as we first feared, but a couple of injuries or suspensions could really throttle our options. Gards the elder, Digga D, Isaac and Charlie are all currently on the sidelines and will hopefully be back to give Monk some selection headaches soon. However if Che takes a knock, we’ve got no strikers left to sit on the bench. The same can be said in the centre back positions. Once Roberts and Omar are in the starting 11, we’re looking to play some of the boys out of position or call up a couple of inexperienced youth players.
Hopefully January’s transfer window will solve this problem with the eventual moving on of Stockdale and a couple of other back-benchers. Most teams are only a few big injuries away from disaster, but at times it feels as if we’re a little closer to the edge than those around us.
Aside from this issue, we need to consider the fact that we’re Birmingham City. We don’t do things the easy way, it’s simply not in our nature. As I said earlier, that innate lack of expectation is probably what’s making this run as exciting as it is and allows us to dream of promotion with a wry grin on our faces, knowing secretly that the wheels will probably fall off soon enough.
And that’s OK. We’ll enjoy it while it lasts and lament the good times when they’re gone.
We’ve had our slip ups this season against the likes of QPR and recently both Stoke and Reading had us under pressure at times. However, we ground out results and left those latter games on top. The Championship is an unforgiving mistress but we’ve come out of some very tough games relatively unscathed. It’s these games that make or break squads throughout the year.
And that allows me to realign my blue tinted glasses and talk about the positives!
This is easily the best run of form we’ve witnessed for years and certain individuals are setting the league alight. Can anyone argue that Max Wingback isn’t one of – if not THE best right back in the Championship? Or that Harlee and Morro don’t look like on of the most solid defensive partnerships in the EFL?
How about arguing that Lil-Gards hasn’t transformed our midfield? And Juke isn’t having the most prolific run of his life? You all know my opinions of Che but hell, even I think he’s earning his place in the starting 11.
Lee Camp – the city’s favourite scapegoat is also silencing his many critics with some absolute world class stops. Admittedly, I do wish he’d catch a few of them, instead of giving them the old Tyson left hook, but still!
Jota is proving why we broke the bank to sign him and whilst J-Mags has run a little bit hot and cold; the fact that Dreamboat Mahoney is permanently poised and ready to enter the fray gives us a fearsome plan B.
Is it preposterous to suggest a playoff push? Certainly not! We’ve already outplayed many of the leagues big boys and if we continue along this track then there’s no reason why we can’t be in the mix in May.
Now, is it also preposterous to suggest that we could push for an automatic place? OK, I’m being a little facetious and at this point I probably should start wobbling my head. Let me leave you with this though…
Fulham narrowly missed out on a second place finish last year after they were beaten by the Blues on the final day of the season. Had they beaten us, they’d have taken the second automatic place instead of Cardiff.
At this stage last season; Fulham were 14th. Blues currently sit in 11th place.
Doesn’t hurt to dream…
By Mark Watson