Birmingham Soapbox: better but still not good enough

Steve Bruce took a lot more consolation from a 2-0 defeat at St Andrew’s than our own Pete Sixsmith, who – when not noting with grudging admiration the class of Seb Larsson – recognised some improvement but felt it stopped a long way short of what was required …

As recent performances go, this one wasn’t bad – although that really is damning it with faint praise. But it was another defeat, another drop in the table and an entry ticket to the scrap that is taking place to avoid visits to Coventry, Barnsley and Middlesbrough next season.

There are some positives that we can take from this. The passing was sharper and crisper than of late. We did create some chances. The team seemed to be together. On another day, we could have won or at least taken a much needed point.

That we didn’t was largely down to one serious and one possible error by Simon Mignolet. He has done well for us this season, but he must hate the sight of Birmingham City. He conceded a couple of soft ones against them in August and he will be shaking his head for a long time at the first Blues goal on Saturday.

It came from a long punt from Foster which Bardsley was preparing to kick onto the adjacent railway line. Mignolet told him to leave it and came to collect. Instead of landing on top of the 15.41 to Taunton, the ball was pushed past a hesitant keeper by Seb Larsson and we were a goal down and chasing a game that we should have been winning.

There were a couple of decent chances in the first half, with Sessegnon coming closest with a shot cleared off the line and Gyan having one tipped around the post. The second half saw even better chances; Cattermole had one saved, Henderson rounded off the best move of the game by planting a good shot wide of the post and Welbeck had a header pushed over by former team mate Foster.

Then, we backed off in midfield, and allowed Gardener to hit a decent shot, which Mignolet went down too early for (all possibilities covered – ed , who him going too late!) . At 2-0, no chance of getting back into it and bang went another three points in our allegedly easy run in.

That we looked a little better was down to a much more balanced midfield. It had the controlled aggression of Cattermole, the simple pass and move on of Colback, the running of Henderson and the ability of Sessegnon to carry the ball in from the flanks. It wasn’t brilliant, but it was far better than the pedestrian meanderings we have seen recently.

At the back, Elmohamady had a much improved game, albeit against a team who use the flanks for throw ins only. Onuoha helped Turner through a sticky opening patch when he was struggling with his injury. He is not fit, but in the absence of Mensah, Ferdinand and Bramble, we have little option but to play him. He showed his qualities with some brave headers and strong blocks, but goodness knows what we would have done had he limped off early.

Gyan worked hard up front but to little avail (I seem to have written that a few times recently) but Welbeck was anonymous. Noble freshened things up a bit when he came on and looked as if Sunderland was the club on his mind and not another 120 miles away.

For all that, it was a defeat and one against a team who are as much in the mire as we are. They are a decent side and appear to have the strength and fortitude to stay in the PL. Johnson and Ridgewell are good players and the midfield works hard. Larsson is the class act there and I wonder if any of our players would have continued to chase the ball as he did for the opener. They weren’t great up front though. Jerome failed to take advantage of Turner’s lack of fitness, while Kevin Phillips looked like a 37 year old in his last Premier League season.

Other results went largely in our favour, although I would have preferred a Blackpool victory against Wigan. It looks as if Blackpool will go, while West Ham’s surrender of all the points to Villa puts them under even worse pressure than us. Blackburn’s run is almost as awful as ours and they have a very difficult concluding spell of games.

At the moment, I would settle for a guaranteed 17th place before the West Ham game. Ellis Short won’t and I would imagine that Messrs Bruce and Black may well be looking for alternative employment in the summer. A win next Saturday or the estate agents boards will be going up outside the Bruce and Black abodes.

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14 thoughts on “Birmingham Soapbox: better but still not good enough”

  1. This is turning into a 2 way debate . My last word on the matter – well probably not . We shall beat Wigan at the weekend – and there is no way they will sack Bruce , win lose or draw – that would be irresponsibly suicidal . If we do lose – and sack Bruce – then i shall slap my bonce myself !!

  2. Davey. It’s people like you that need a slap to the side of the bonce to bring them back to reality.

    We haven’t won since the Christmas streamers came down and the best that you can do is accuse me of being a Mag. What sort of carp is that young man? The bookies won’t take money off anyone for us going down.

    Niall Quinn may well have been the saviour of the club. Peter Reid took us to seventh spot twice. Do you want him back?

    What has gone before is gone. Dreams of Europe. We were all fooling ourselves. If we go down this time then Quinn should go. He got away with his life two years ago persevering with the nonentity that we had in charge and escaped by the skin of his teeth. Quinn has to shoulder some of the blame for this; for decisions made and those not made. Quinn’s genuine alright. So’s my Mam, but she couldn’t run a football club.

    If you can see where the points are going to come from to save us Davey you are a clever lad with enormous powers beyond the majority of us. This team will fail to beat Wigan at the weekend and Bruce will be gone by Sunday morning.

  3. I’m sorry BB – but with 5 games left – to say it looks likely we will be relegated !!!!!!!!!!! You’re not a closet Newcastle fan are you ?
    Most clubs would give their all to have a Chairman like Quinn – of course he makes mistakes – but he is a genuine football man – and has been a saviour at our club

  4. Actually Davey, I do think that Quinny needs to take a good long look at whether he has what it takes to do the job, and to turn this club into what he has tried so desperately to.

    His recent comments are annoying and rather petty. I don’t think that sort of tone endears him to anyone. His steadfast support of Bruce is what causes me to question his position. He has stood so firmly behind him that if Bruce falls (and he should have gone by now in my view), then Quinns unswerving support for a man who has clearly lost the plot, means that his tenure has to be questioned. He stuck with Sbragia against the odds and we are flying down the same path that we went down two years ago. It was a bumpy ride that time and we escaped due to the ineptitude not of our own boss (which was palpable), but to the inability of those trailing to catch us up. Sbragia was offered a job for life on that basis. This was the first real indication of Quinn’s penchant for faulty decision making (or the second, if appointing himself as manager counts).

    Quinn is simply awaiting beatification if some of our followers are to be believed. He doesn’t walk on water, but has behaved as if he believes that he may be able to transcend the waves himself. He may find himself uncomfortably scuttled if we are relegated, which looks increasingly likely.

    There will be a lot of our fans who lose faith completely if that should happen. Quinn’s love affair with them and them with him will be subject to a test that neither wants to endure.

  5. Sorry BB , I thought you were advocating getting rid of Quinn – not Black .
    Anyway back to positives , this season we have played some of the best football I have seen , in 40 odd years watching Sunderland ; we have drawn with Arsenal , Man Utd (so close to winning ) , done the double over Aston Villa , beaten Man City and Chelsea – let’s win our next to and have a comfortable top ten finish . We haven’t suddenly turned into a rubbish team with rubbish manager and assistant – from the team that had 37 points 9 games ago – we just need a bit of luck and a win to regain the lost confidence

  6. I love it when you post Davey. I love to hear your positives. On occasion there are indeed some positives to discuss. However, as we are nearing the end of this particular winter of our discontent there are I am sorry to say none. I wish it were different, but it is not so.

    What sort of evolution are you talking about? Relegation? We are evolving to Championship football. Get ready for a trip to the hooligan hell of the New Den and Pride Park etc. One point, yes a solitary point out of a possible 27 amids which the Chairman declares that he despises fans for watching down the pub, and gives Cribbins a new and improved contract.

    Evolution? You’ve got to be kidding. By the time we get to the third tier led by the Bruce and Black combo we will truly have evolved into something.

  7. Yea righto – let’s get rid of Bruce and Quinn – your starting to sound like that lot up the road BB – teams take time to evolve – and we have had horrendous injury problems all season
    I was at the match on Saturday and apart from the 1st 10 mins we controlled it – a bit of the rub of the green – and a little less green goalkeeper we would have won comfortably . 2 wins in the next 2 games and we will be flying – lose them , then I’ll start to worry a little

  8. To be honest, I expected nowt from our visit to Birmimgham on Saturday and was therefore not suprised at yet another failure on the road.Yes, there were some positives, however in all honesty it was a game we bossed from start to virtually the finish and should have won. Birminham almost looked to be embarressed at the final whistle. However they had done enough to win and you can only jump the fences that are put in front of you.
    The fact that this was a game we should not have lost in my mind makes our current situation all the more disgraceful and is another nail in Bruce’s coffin as far as the doubters go, and to be honest it is becoming increasingly difficult to defend Bruce.
    When SB took up the reins at the SoL he made a big play on removing the defeatest mentality that prevaded at the Club, on this evidence he has failed totally. God knows where we go from here, but I increasingly feel that the journey will be without Steve Bruce.

  9. Although I was limited to watching the highlights on MOTD the signs were that we at least worked their goalkeeper this time.

    The last few weeks opposing keepers might as well have brought a deckchair and a copy of Readers Digest such was the incompetance of our side in the last third of the pitch. Maybe our overpaid and underachieving wasters are finally realising that we are in a serious battle and the fans will never forgive them should we fall through the Premiership trapdoor.

    In fairness to Bruce he has had some serious bad luck with regard to injuries which has meant he has had to do without key players sometimes for long spells. However with the depth of our squad and even allowing for this we should have been more than capable of picking up 1 point from the last 9 games.

    We have successive home games against Wigan and Fulham next. Another 3 points from these games will ensure safety and in all honesty should we fail Short and Quinn would have every right to sack Bruce. Even if we do survive this season, which I think we will, the much needed summer clearout may include the managers Office as well as the dressing room.

    My feeling on the current league positions is that Blackpool are in freefall and will go, Blackburn have a turkey as a manager and are playing worse than we are at the moment and either Wigan, Wolves or West Ham will fall apart in the run in.

  10. The temerity to suggest that another defeat in this run was evidence of an improvment. If this was better then I don’t have any desire to see things get worse.

    The pair of them should have been shown the door already and regardless of the result next weekend that remains my view on events.

    They have to go in the summer. I don’t for one moment, now believe that Mr Short will have any faith in B&B improving the side. Two years on and no improvement whatsoever. Lots of money spent on wasters.

    It’s about time that Noble was given a chance. Apparently Welbeck has an injury now. How convenient for him. Yet another nail in Bruce’s coffin depending on players that are not committted to the club. Far too many of them. Gross stupidity in my opinion. Welbeck has gone missing from the fight, with Muntari in particular. As for Mensah these days it’s not clear if his hamstring is weak or his heart for a battle.

  11. I for one have had sufficient. No point in persevering with the pair of them. Bereft of any sort of inspiration or tactical nous.

    Quinn should be taking a good look at himself for presiding over this pantomine of a season. I doubt if Ellis Short has much patience left with Quinn, Bruce or Black. He’s not the sort of bloke who is going to be sitting there silently while Rome burns. Keane walked when he was asked to account for his failings. I doubt things will have changed much.

    The estate agents boards should have been up a fortnight ago.

  12. Failed to score again for the umpteenth time since Christmas and lost for the eighth time in nine outings.

    This is better? Sorry folks. Not buying.

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