Lauren has written her first article of 2012, with a quick look over the shoulder at last year, and looking at 2012.
It’s January and we are half way through the first month of 2012. The end of 2011 saw the Bluenoses’ say goodbye; to what can only be described, as a mixed year for the boys in Blue. A year of extreme contrasts and glorious and unforgettable moments as well as some we would rather forget. From a glorious cup win in February to a depressing dismissal from the top flight in May. Departures of the old and arrivals of the new, transformed the club dramatically. A new inconsistent start in the Championship and a valiant run in Europe sum up the second half of the year apply for Blues.
2012 has started in positive fashion for the Blues, the reality of returning back to the Premier League seem all that more likely judging by Blues recent run of form. A 2-1 home win over Ipswich complimented by Millwall being hit for six by the Blues at The Den, and a 1-0 victory to take Blues into the fourth round of the FA cup against neighbours Wolves, are a string of positive results.
A new identity for Blues has been secured after their much unwanted re-vamp last summer. The names of Steven Caldwell, Chris Burke, Boaz Myhill and Marlon King Etc are those now associated with Blues, and I have to commend them for their work rate. These players joined a team that are pressing for promotion and a team that requires a 100% commitment. The players introduced have the majority of the time shown nothing but bare-faced determination to do well recently, earlier in the season this may have been a different story, but the team have successfully cemented now. Birmingham by the end of the season will have played a minimum of 58 games, which shows the work load the new players as well as usually calm and level headed manager Chris Hughton have inherited.
All of a sudden the pride of being a Bluenose seems to have dramatically risen again, it’s always there, but as of recent its growth has been substantial. Hughton has done an exceptional job with the club, with Birmingham being seen as a challenge of a club at the start of the season. Hughton has understood the importance of the rotation of his players when playing league games along side the FA cup and previously Europa League. The vital rotation of the players has given the opportunity for more Blues players to bring their talents to the table.
Colin Doyle has been given good opportunities this season in Europe and the FA cup, to be trusted despite his howler away to NK Maribor back in September. He has in return pulled off some vital saves in the two FA cup matches against Wolves.
David Murphy has risen up to the challenge this season to show his quality in defence and has gifted Blues with a few goals this season as well. Curtis Davies has held down a regular starting place in the team so far this season, and appears to have improved drastically and has been another defender to supply Blues with goals this season.
Young talents have begun to shine. Nathan Redmond has appeared more than a few times in the Birmingham first team line-up this season. He has made a successful impact and has been at the centre of a collection of rumours. With top flight names such as Liverpool and Manchester City being linked to the midfielder, the future looks bright for the talented youngster. Hughton has remained sensible around these rumours and has made it clear that it is important for Redmond to stay at Birmingham to develop. Hughton also rightly points out that Redmond still has a lot to learn, quoting Hughton he says of Redmond that “’He is a 17-year-old player that is still developing his game with the good and bad.” A more than valid point.
Young Jordon Mutch has returned from injury and has began to make an impact in the Blues side. As far as I’m concerned, Mutch was arguably one of the best and most influencial players in the FA cup replay against Wolves, his passes were pulled off with great accuracy and is definetley a promising talent. He no doubt will also begin to receive speculation around him in the near future.
On the subject of speculation, the transfer window has opened up a variety of rumours for Blues. It was going to happen at some point and it did, a bid was made for Liam Ridgewell by long term admirers West Brom. The bid was rejected and believed to be under a million, which is far less than he is worth, and Blues were right to reject such an unworthy offer. Ridgewell is a player of premier league quality he has served us well in previous seasons, and I emphasise previous seasons and not this season. It is believed that he is a wantaway player, and despite his quality should Blues hold onto a player who may not be willing to serve his club as well as he could? In my opinion, despite being an admirer of Ridgewell’s talent, I do believe if a fair fee can be reached then the versatile defender should be sold on, as his desire for Blues no longer seems to be there.
Craig Gardner was a favourite with the Blues last season, being the lifelong bluenose who always played with passion for the club. His decision to depart to Sunderland over the summer seems to be coming back to bite him. The talented midfielder is known to be homesick, and recent speculation has linked him to Blues. It has been reported that Blues have had a loan request for Gardner denied by Sunderland although it is thought that it is not the end of this story just yet. I would jump at the opportunity to see someone as talented as Craig Gardner back in our midfield, because I know he would do well for us again. However I can’t help think that this all seems a bit unlikely, but at the same time football is an incredibly unpredictable sport in every aspect. (Editor note – Colin Tattum tweeted last night that Gardner isn’t coming back).
After a deserved win of Wolves in the FA cup replay on Wednesday, I question has cup fever started all over again? The home fans were there in small quantities but a fair sized Blues support was there to cheer on the Blues at Molineux. Cup fever swept through the Bluenoses’ last season and rightly so after that certain 2-1 win over Arsenal. However we all know the price Blues payed for the victory, and it has to be remembered that the league has to come first. Obviously as a fan you can’t help get excited as your team progresses in these such competitions, but Blues can’t take their eyes off the prize. Hughton seemed to acknowledge this with his team selection and rested players from the Millwall thrashing. I myself am not that bothered about another cup win just yet, I’m still content cherishing last years win. The leap back up to the premier league is the most important, but feelings towards cup runs are different in every fan.
So, 2012 has arrived and Blues are making a successful start to the year and this good form will hopefully continue. No matter the outcomes of an FA cup run or the transfer window, Blues will remain a confident side who are realistically chasing promotion. Keep right on with the good work Blues and the Blues fans will be keeping right on with you.