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Lauren Round approached us with her thoughts on the way things are turning round – so here you go.
Relegation. It’s the one thing any club fears and our worst fears became apparent on May 22 at White Hart Lane, a match that literally had my heart in my mouth. Despite a stunning goal from former blues hero Craig Gardner and despite holding on to the hope of staying up until the final whistle had been blown, the inevitable happened; Blues were relegated to the Championship. Whilst across the city our most hated rivals in claret and blue were jumping for joy and laughing in our faces, it was a hard day for any Bluenose to live down. It had been an extreme season, and as the song says there were joys and sorrows. We went from the mountainous high of winning the Carling Cup to the rock bottom low of relegation.
Relegation meant a fire sale of our players. Only four remain of the starting line up that momentously snatched the Carling Cup from Arsenal’s grasp, being Carr, Ridgewell, Fahey and Zigic. The sales of the majority of our players deeply rocked the foundations of our beloved club. Every Bluenose seemed to be particularly rocked by the sale of Craig Gardner to Sunderland, the home-grown Bluenose who had come to embody what Birmingham City meant to every Bluenose, and brought a sense of realisation to us Bluenoses of how much trouble we were really in.
The departure of our manager Alex McLeish to our bitter rivals atVilla Park only intensified problems at Birmingham and only angered loyal Bluenoses further, although in my opinion I was more than glad to see the back of Mr McLeish. To be honest, his tactics had been questionable at times, I mean playing Cameron Jerome as a lone striker on survival Sunday? Absolutely Crazy.
Despite the bad and worrying events of the first part of 2011, Blues have crafted quite the turnaround for the second half of the year. Blues found a stable replacement for Alex McLeish in Chris Hughton, who was unfairly dismissed from the Magpies after guiding them out of the Championship. New faces joined Blues either side of the management change, on form Marlon King added arsenal to our attack joining from Coventry, along with Adam Rooney from Inverness CT and Chris Wood joining us on loan from West Brom. Our midfield also found new faces, the most effective being Chris Burke on a free from Cardiff (it’s amazing to think of the quality of players we’ve intercepted on a free) already proving popular with Blues fans having scored a few screamers in the league this season.
Our sturdy defenders admiral captain Stephen Carr and the ever versatile Liam Ridgewell were joined by former Spain international Pablo Ibanez and the rock of a defender and my favourite signing of the season, the experienced Scotsman Steven Caldwell. A loan switch between Ben Foster and Boaz Myhill wasn’t the most popular decision at first with the fans, but it’s fair to say Myhill has pulled off a fair few crucial saves in Europe and the league this season, and let’s face it there isn’t one single goalkeeper that Dave Watson can’t whip into shape.
The Championship campaign didn’t get off to the most amazing start but let’s not forget the team at this point was still gelling together. At times it was evident that the team performance lacked lustre; this was evident when I took the opportunity to watch Blues play Barnsley, a match in which we didn’t appear to wake up in until the last 15 minutes or so. However, as of late it seems Blues have finally found their feet and cemented well as a team and made one hell of a remarkable turnaround. We have produced confident victories over Leeds, Leicester and Bristol City as well as some nail-biting victories in Europe (Chris Wood’s late, late goal against FC Brugge ring any bells?)
The Bluenoses are beaming of pride as of late, even if we are a million miles away from our historic league cup win in February. Blues are shining and the Bluenoses are going to keep right on with them.