Blues: never in doubt-was it?

Blues: never in doubt-was it?

My column from Weds Birmingham Mail

Blues surprisingly finished a healthy 5 points above the relegation trapdoor on what was an amazing exciting emotional day at St Andrews. However to continually flirt with relegation and leave it to the last day is without doubt a danger to your health.

It was a brilliant result against the inform Fulham who arrived with 18 wins and 5 draws from their last 23 league games. Fans will talk about the goals but form me I will always remember a watching a young inexperienced Wes Harding seeing off the much talked about and highly rated Fulham star Ryan Sessegnon. Wes did not give him a kick and played with a maturity that belied his years and experience-remember he has only played 9 games since Garry Monk gave him his debut in March.

Scouts from Bayern Munich, Dortmund and other top European clubs were at the games to watch Sessegnon-what a waste of a trip that turned out to be. Seriously though Sessegnon is a top player but I bet he has not had a harder opponent this season than Harding. Well done to Wes who to cap off the season also won the Young Player of the Season award at the ICC on Monday.

Garry Monk was absolutely spot on when he said after the Fulham game that the culture at Birmingham City has to change from continually fighting for survival into a winning one. It was music to the supporter’s ears especially when he added that anyone who did not want to be part of that or did not buy into it would not be at the club.

He now has to be given the tools and wherewithal to ensure that change of culture takes place. He made it clear that his talks with the board were positive.  

I have noticed a change in the mood around St Andrews since the appointment of Garry Monk! It’s now one of positivity despite the league position. This comes from having a manager that knows exactly what he wants to do and what is needed for him to achieve it.

At the Player awards dinner at the ICC on Monday evening the 700 fans showed they believe in the manager by giving him a standing ovation as he spoke.

What on earth will we have to talk about without the nerve wracking, gut wrenching last day drama? Hopefully the playoffs. I am off to get rid of the Valium.

Now it's Villa's turn to shine

Now it's Villa's turn to shine

 

My column in Weds Birmingham Mail

It’s now Aston Villas turn to shine in the spotlight as they aim to reach the Premier League through the Championship playoffs. First hurdle is a two legged semi-final against Tony Pulis’s Middlesbrough team and no one can be in any doubt how tough that will be.

In the two league meetings this season Villa took 4 points with a win at the Riverside in December and a draw at home. However that will have no bearing on the playoff games. Villa have a slight advantage being at home in the second leg, but only if they contain them on Saturday in the first leg up in Middlesbrough. Easier said than done because we all know how much of an expert Tony Pulis is at setting his team up to protect a lead no matter how slender that lead might be. I am sure Steve Bruce would love to turn it into a one legged tie by securing at least a draw at the Riverside. Both teams go into the game in decent form both only losing two of their last eight championship games. Goal threat is the key for Steve Bruce with only Assombalonga and Bamford reaching double figures for the Teesiders while Villa have the edge with Lewis Grabban, Albert Adomah and Conor Hourihane and a fit again Jonathan Kodjia  

Villa have a wonderful opportunity but will need everyone at full throttle over three games to reach the Cash cow that is the Premier League.

Promotion to the Premier League through the playoffs is without doubt the most exciting way to do it and is a fantastic exciting experience. However losing in the playoffs as I have witnessed with Baggies against Derby in the final and Blues on a few occasions at the semi-final stage is heart-breaking in the extreme and emotionally draining and damaging.

 

Why are the Baggies dilly dallying

Why are the Baggies dilly dallying

My Column in Wednesdays Birmingham Mail

Why are West Bromwich Albion dilly dallying over appointing Darren Moore as the clubs new Head Coach? He has earned the opportunity 100%. Big Dave is a leader of men and that is absolutely vital in this football world were players can often be fragile. Any manager or coach needs his players onside, they have to respect him although not necessarily like him. Darren Moore has it all; they like him, they respect him and as we have seen they will run through a wall for him and definitely go the extra mile. In other words they want to do it for him. That is genuine motivation in its purest form.

The cynical journalist in me wonders if Darren’s unexpected success has somewhat surprised the board and perhaps upset their plans to appoint a replacement for Alan Pardew as I am sure he would not have been on their original list of potential candidates.

Now surely he has to be top of the short list. In my view it will be criminal for him not to get the job as he could not have done any more than he has. As well as the amazing results that have restored the pride in the fans he has also brought class to the club in the way he conducts himself and the way he speaks.

So let’s look at it

1)    He has turned the club around from a losing club into one with a winning mentality.

2)    The players have responded to him and want him to have the job.

3)    He is a leader of Men.

What more is there to think about?

I have heard all the negative stuff such as what about if he gets the job and fails he will then lose his legend status with the fans? Absolute nonsense he will always be a fans favourite because he epitomises every single one of them with the way he played, his never say die attitude and always giving 100% for the shirt. As a manager he’s the same demanding that same commitment and hard work as the minimum requirement.

We need young bright English managers to get their opportunity and even more so when, like Darren, they have earned it. Remember Bournemouth took a chance on Eddie Howe and look how successful he has been.

Whatever happened last night in the game between Swansea and Southampton, and hopefully it would have been a draw, the turnaround in results and atmosphere at West Bromwich Albion has been nothing short of awesome and to have even possibly taken the battle for survival to the last day is simply stunning. Especially when at one time everyone, and I mean everyone, thought Albion were doomed to the Championship.

In my opinion Albion’s board will bring a load of problems to their door if they don’t appoint Big Dave. So do it now as prevarication is the killer of time.

The Latest — Tom Ross's Goalzone

The Latest — Tom Ross's Goalzone

Birmingham Mail Column -Weds May 2nd 2018

A poll I am running on social media asking if Darren Moore should be the new Baggies boss on a permanent deal has received over a thousand votes in two days. 87% said he should be offered the chance.

For the life of me I cannot see why he wouldn’t be considered! He has won games and most importantly the team look like they have responded to him and that is key to success for any manager/head coach.

I have heard and read articles about how they would be looking for a so called

“big name” –why? Big Dave has the club at heart and in my opinion has already done enough to earn the job. The Championship would be perfect for him especially with the way he organises his team and demands he places on the players in terms of work rate, desire and commitment.

 

Blues D Day-again

Blues D Day-again

From Birmingham Mail Weds May 2nd 2018

A massive and nervous Sunday lunchtime for Blues fans as they face Fulham on D day at St Andrews. It’s simple a win would see them safe while any other result would see them looking over their shoulders at other games.

Also safety will be assured if two of either Bolton, Burton or Barnsley fail to win whatever their result against Fulham. But if Burton and Barnsley win it Blues would need at least a draw to take it to goal difference.

This happens too often for most fans liking and once again Blues fans face an emotional ninety minutes. When my Dad taught me to sing Keep Right On he failed to tell me how tired and weary I would get and how bloody long that road would be.