Can I start by wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2018 and hope that the New Year sees the start of our football teams turning this brilliant city into a hot bed of football. It’s embarrassing that a city the size of Birmingham does not have a team in the Premier League or realistically challenging for silverware. Credit to West Bromwich Albion who are the West Midlands only top flight team and hopefully under Alan Pardew they can retain that status for a long time. I know that there are Baggies fans who live in Birmingham but the majority of Albion fans would not class themselves as Brummies. As it looks going into 2018 Wolves look nailed on to join Albion in the Premier League under the ownership of Fosun and the management of Nuno Espirito Santo. To be fair it’s not rocket science when you evaluate why they are top of the Championship! They have bought in good players and splashed big money to get in players who make a difference. A number of their players look like they would be quite at home in the top flight.
So why is the biggest city in the United Kingdom floundering when it comes to having a successful football team-one that can rival any team outside the top four or five uber-wealthy big clubs?
There is not just one reason but, in my opinion, many reasons why!
Having too many managers in a short space of time.
Recruitment where millions of pounds have been wasted on poor players and then losing fortunes when they are sold or even worse having them still employed by the club earning millions of pounds while doing little other than turning up for training.
Owners going to prison and putting the clubs future at risk.
Owners/Directors taking advice from the wrong people.
Supporters regularly say the clubs don’t have a plan B well at times like many supporters I have found it difficult to work out exactly what plan A was.
Villa have an owner who is accessible and answers questions while Blues owners are mostly based in China and are rarely seen and never interviewed.
That is not a criticism of either way of running a football club as there is no “right” way to do it.
The fans are still turning up in their multi thousands for both clubs and that is even more admirable in Blues case because they sat bottom of the table as they said goodbye to what was a troubled 2017.
Both Steve Bruce and Steve Cotterill need help from their owners now that the transfer window is open. It is widely accepted that buying players in January is difficult with both transfer fees and wages inflated and most deals will be done towards the end of the window as players and agents wait or tout for better offers.
I am certain it will be easier for the Villa boss to attract quality players with his team in the playoff positions while the Blues boss will have to be at his persuasive best to attract good players while his team sits rock bottom of the division.
So what will 2018 bring for our teams and its difficult when invariably your heart over-rules your head when it comes to analysing football? However as always my metaphorical glass is half full so;
West Brom to avoid relegation.
Wolves to be promoted as champions.
Villa clinch a playoff place and reach the playoff final.
Blues to escape the drop.
Walsall to finish mid-table.
It is so easy when you are writing it rather than having responsibility for achieving it – but as always my fingers are well and truly crossed and I am sure before the end of the season I will have said the odd Hail Mary as well.
The sooner we have West Brom, Wolves, Blues and Villa back in the top flight the better. Not that the Championship isn’t exciting and competitive because it is. However we fans want to see our teams competing against the best and that has absolutely nothing to do with how much money each club gets for being in the Premier League.