Pre-season is finally over and the 4 month wait for the football season to commence is drawing to a close.
So what can be made of the close season and what do I think the season has in store?
Let’s deal with the close season first. The easier one to answer for sure.
It has been a frustrating break for Harry and his team in terms of adding quality. On a personal note I have found the constant, relentless speculation, gossip and rumour really fucking irritating! I don’t know if it was the ‘arry factor, but with the amount of players we were linked with over the summer we could have challenged for Europe in the Premier League.
It is simply bollocks, and channels like the Birmingham Mail should really know better in terms of circulating rubbish. Then the supporter’s blogs and forums, jumping on tweets by fake accounts as “a close source has said” is just terrible. If it happens again next summer, I am deleting all links to any Birmingham channel just to avoid the serious white noise around transfers.
John Terry – do I think he could have been useful? Actually, I do. I think he could have been a good figurehead in the dressing room. Yes, he’s a vile human being (not for the club he joined – just generally), but I think in a footballing sense he could have added value to the club. Do I think we should have signed him? No. I think for the value he could have added he was far too rich for our tastes, and the money could have been better spent elsewhere. Plus, would I have wanted him AND Paul Robinson listed amongst our defenders? Hell no!
I have been a little disappointed with the recruitment this summer. We’re in desperate need of goals and attacking width, and we haven’t got close to addressing that. The sheer number of midfielders we have in the squad and the volume we were linked with were scary. N’Doye has the potential to be iconic once he sharpens up, but we really need 2 wide players. I think if we were to get a right and left winger that could get a ball into the box and contribute with a few goals themselves then that negates the need to splash out on a new striker.
Speaking of which, I’m not sure what Cotterill has done, but that’s 2 new managers he’s failed to impress. Yes, he was either on fire or a waste of space, but without another natural right footed winger in the squad, he serves more of a purpose than leaving him out in the cold.
I went to the Swansea game last Saturday. My first ever pre-season friendly watching the Blues was a weird experience. My same walk, my same rituals but it was eerily quiet. The fans were getting involved and not caring in equal measure I just didn’t know what to make of it.
Sticking to points on the pitch, the first half was a decent showing from the Blues. Harried and hurried over all areas of the pitch and with a real emphasis on playing out from the back there were signs of what may be.
The second half however was a different matter entirely. Players went missing, mainly Jacques Maghoma who did very little throughout the whole 90 minutes to push for a start (although he probably will through lack of options). Others got slopping in possession and were undone at the back too easily by Swansea.
I know it was a pre-season runout and nothing should be read into the result, but I do have some gripes with what I saw:
We lack width. Davis on the right is a stop gap. He’s not a winger, and you can see he didn’t thrive on the whitewash. Constantly pushing to come in field and stray to his more comfortable area on the pitch it meant we had no attacking width down the right.
What the fuck Maghoma was doing second half only he knows I think. Spent the entire half trying to play as a central attacking midfielder, even when the ball was coming down the channel. Very odd. Seemed not to give a hoot about the game.
Gardner obviously feels he’s Steven Gerrard, or at least has been watching re-runs of Gerrard England performances. He spent the game just pinging balls out to the wings. The vast majority of which lacked any dynamism to get an attack going. Sitting as the fifth man in defence he was ready to spray passes all over the shop. It did very little.
I’m not sure what I feel about Gardner’s return in truth. He’s probably one of the better passers of the ball we have in the middle, which in itself is probably a problem. But he lacks pace, he lacks defence discipline to stick to a man, he’s not a great defensive midfielder. However, his distribution is better than most. I would rather have Davis playing the holding role with an instruction to just pass it to the first man in blue that isn’t being man marked. Davis has more of an engine, more pace, is more solid defensively and would fit that position better than Gardner.
N’Doye. I’m sure he’ll become iconic, I’m sure he will. He showed glimpses of that ilk to make him iconic against Swansea. However, tired legs (the benefit of the doubt) in the second half lead to him being slightly sloppy in possession on a number of occasions, giving the ball away in dangerous areas.
Wes Harding looked right at home in the team. The youngster definitely made a step closer to the first team with the shift he put in against the Swans until his substitution on the 71st minute.
The Season Ahead
Christ, what to make of the coming season. Do I feel positive about and think play-offs are possible? Or am I pessimistic about what lies ahead and think it will be a struggle?
I think that all depends on the remaining business that gets conducted by Blues before the transfer window shuts.
The right additions I think we’ll have a good go. I still think, with the other teams in the league and with the money being splashed around by some we’re a way off promotion. But I don’t think we’ll struggle.
If we don’t, not only do I think we’ll struggle, I think Harry will walk before Christmas. If we do not get in enough bodies he’ll see it that the Board have not backed his ambition enough by not getting deals over the line for him. Without the extra bodies I think we lack balance and strength in depth to truly make a good fist of it and that will make the project a lot harder for Redknapp and that’s not something he’s up for.
But regardless of what may, or may not happen over the coming season I’ll be there, standing in the Tilton at 2.55pm on the 12th August getting ready to clap the teams out and chant our anthem as loud as possible to cheer the boys on.