Monday, July 28, 2008

Championship Preview - Birmingham

Bongo FC may have missed out on a place in the Premiership this year by a solitary point, but don't worry all you bluenoses: you are more than 'tooled up' for a promotion push this season. Quite frankly, your collection of forwards will scare the living daylights out of most of your opponents, and it's a real shame that they can't all play at once. Maybe a 4 2 4! That would certainly accommodate their midfield losses this summer.

Talking of those... Birmingham lost 3 of their midfielders since relegation. Oliver Kapo and Daniel De Ridder to Wigan and ex-boss Steve Bruce and ex-gooner prospect Fabrice Muamba to Bolton. Mikael Forsell and Mauro Zarate also decided that the Championship was not for them and they joined Rafael Schmitz at the bus stop.

Kapo and Muamba will surely be missed, as will Forssell [Ed. Note: he must be enjoying Hannover 96, having scored 10 on his pre-season debut] but Birmingham pretty much managed to hold onto a lot of their quality players and even added some serious Championship experience to their front line.

In comes Lee Carsley from Everton, who will still have plenty to offer at this level despite being 34. He is joined by another oldie up top, Kevin Phillips. Phillips (35) shoved the ball passed Championship keepers a mere 24 times last term for West Brom, helping them seal a trip to the big dance and he will once again be a handful to defenses this season.

They also nabbed former bin man Marcus Bent from Charlton for an undisclosed fee.

Kevin Phillips: An oldie but a goodie!

So who do they have up front this year Bigus? Garry McSheffrey, Cameron Jerome, Kevin Phillips, Marcus Bent, Garry O'Connor and James McFadden (also plays left wing). That is one formidable front line.

Each one of those players could and SHOULD score 17-20 goals in this league with 40-odd starts. I doubt that manager Alex Mcleish will be able to keep them all happy and the Bongo board will see this overloaded position as an opportunity to make some money. I can see McFadden (brought in from Everton for 5 million) and Cameron Jerome moving on. Many consider McFadden as a Premiership player and Jerome will have no shortage of suitors at Championship level.

At the back Birmingham boast experience at this level with Martin Taylor. He was a rock at the back when they gained promotion 2 years ago. He will be joined by Liam Ridgewell, Stuart Parnaby, Radhi Jaidi, David Murphy and former Middlesborough wing back Franck Queudrue. All though McLeish has told Queudrue he can leave, I don't see anyone rushing to pay his Premiership wages.

The only area for improvement in this Brimingham team is in midfield. They will surely feel the loss of Kapo and Muamba. Should Carsley or Damien Johnson get injured then they may struggle in this area.

Alex McLeish. Over rated in Bigus' eyes but will he be able to stop the hangover?

So where will Birmingham City finish?

They should finish in the top two with this team, but we all know about the famous Premiership hangover and I think that Birmingham may take a couple of months to settle back in this division. Will they be able to get the job done away to Burnley or Doncaster in a mid-week fixture? This is a crucial season for them. Fail and they will need to sell and rebuild, stars will want out and the division will start to look like home. I can see them heading back up via the playoffs. Top 6 for me.



The Fan's Attic said...

What's Andy Johnson doing in the stands?

Dexter said...

I've always seen the demand, "Come on, you Blues" more as a pleading than an actual exhortation. As in, "Come ON you Blues"