It’s been quite a busy week for Blues and this blog will be a treat for you readers as I’ll be reviewing two games and previewing two games! Please hold your excitement though, as the transfer news, or lack of should I say, will kill the mood. Anyway, let’s get into it.
The Dream Stays Alive…
Last Saturday had us bluenoses making the trip to the John Smith Stadium for a 4th round FA Cup tie against Huddersfield Town. After drawing with Preston, Blues were going into the game with a little bit of confidence, as the performance against Preston deserved to be rewarded with all three points. Personally, I love the cup and think it is just as important as the league, no matter what your position in the league is. Blues fans will always pick that 2011 Carling Cup win against Arsenal over staying in the Premier League that very same season and I am sure the same can be said if we had a choice between the FA Cup or staying in the Championship.
Anyway, leading up to the game Cotterill said that he was planning to make changes to the side, and boy did he, as nearly the whole squad was changed. With the likes of Carl Jenkinson returning and Jason Lowe also returning, who Blues fans thought Cotterill had killed in training, Blues fans were intrigued to see if the team would give Huddersfield a run for the money, especially with them making numerous changes as well.
The game started and Blues came out fighting, however, the game was fairly open. On the sixteenth minute Jutkiewicz, who I will call Jukey from now on, had a good chance at the near post, however, he caught the ball too early and it went narrowly wide.
Jukey was in the action again, as he received the ball from Lowe, Adams was waiting on the left to be fed through. However, Jukey decided to smash one from distance and his attempt was blocked. Chance wasted by a poor decision.
Then, once again and I am getting fed up of saying this, Huddersfield took the lead from nothing. A cross came in from the wings and Terriers striker Mounie smashed a header past Stockdale. 1-0 and we were waking up from the dream.
Huddersfield nearly doubled their lead after a powerful shot was saved well by Stockdale. Where we would be without Stocko is something I don’t want to think about. Blues responded well after this and Cohen Bramall’s cross was just met by Huddersfield’s keeper before Jukey could put the finishing touch on it.
Halftime came and we were 1-0 down, even though we deserved to be in the lead. We looked dangerous but didn’t seem to have that finishing touch within us. Huddersfield looked dangerous as well, and at this point, I wouldn’t have ruled them out from scoring again.
Jenkinson and Bramall were playing exceptionally well considering they hardly get a game for us, and Jason Lowe was on another level for us. I said from the start he was the midfielder we are crying out for and I’m angry it has taken this long for Cotterill to play him.
The second half started and this next bit is going to surprise you, especially if you’re a bluenose. Steve Cotterill made a change before the 80th minute. THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Jonathan Grounds came on for Harlee Dean, apparently, this was planned pre-game.
After dominating the first few minutes of the second half, Blues finally scored, and it took some luck to go in. Jukey found himself in a position to cross the ball in after his initial attempt was blocked, he channeled his inner Arjen Robben, cut inside and whacked one into the bottom corner. It did take a deflection but honestly, it didn’t matter Jukey had scored outside of the box and with his feet, it was a miracle!
Huddersfield started to hit back though and they had a couple of half chances, they were looking to end this tie. The game was getting good and it was nearly perfect for Blues as Jota just put a long shot wide, agony as it was close.
Then controversy hit. Jukey, once again, looped a header over the oncoming keeper and Blues thought they had taken the lead. If only the linesman had eyes to see Jukey was clearly onside and it wasn’t even close. Where’s VAR when you need it?
Both teams went on to have good chances to end the game, but it wasn’t until the ninetieth minute when Blues hearts were nearly broken. Joe Lolley smashed his ten-yard chance over the bar and how he missed is beyond me. Lolley the Wally… I’ll see myself out…
Blues now play the Terriers at St. Andrews on 6th Feb and play for the chance at progressing to the fifth round where little old Jose’s Man United wait for us. I can picture it now, Alexis Sanchez asking Grounds to let him out of his back pocket to get on the private jet back to Manchester. Ndoye snapping Pogba in half, then snapping Lingard in half and dabbing on them both and Smalling trying to mark Jukey out of the game.
Anyway, back to reality and onto the review of the Sunderland game. Get ready as this is going to be a pleasure to write.
Tuesday night was, arguably, the biggest night in Blues’ season, we played relegation rivals Sunderland at St. Andrews. We had to win this game, I said in the build, up of this game that whoever lost would be the ones to go down between the two. All we demanded from the players was a heart on the sleeve performance, and boy did they give that to us.
Cotterill reverted back to the same eleven that played against Preston in the league. That meant my boy Ndoye stayed in the side, and he had a mouth-watering battle with Lee Cattermole.
Blues fans were excited and nervous about the game. We were coming into the game with some good performances against better teams, and in typical Blues fashion, this meant we would lose to Sunderland. How I was wrong!
The game started and Blues nearly took the lead instantly as Boga just fired wide and then, moments later Ndoye’s shot was blocked.
Then we were inches from taking the lead in the tenth minute when Boga fired in a free-kick, Gallagher got there first and he just headed over. This is exactly the same as every other match this season, so we were just waiting for Sunderland to score first.
After another couple of half chances, Blues nearly took the lead on twenty-three minutes when Gallagher squared the ball across the box, Maghoma was waiting, ready to score and then all of a sudden Oviedo came out of nowhere and cleared it away.
But then there was joy for Blues fans as we took the lead through David Davis. After some Barca-esque passing, Davis found himself in a decent position to shoot, he fired his shot just under the keeper and it was 1-0! We’d scored first in a game!
Just before halftime, bluenoses were sent into madness as we took a 2-0 lead. Maghoma sold his defender a dream, crossed into the box and little Jeremie Boga Hammered the ball home with a header. 2-0, this was unbelievable. Ohhhhhhh Jeremie Bogaaaaaa rang out and Blues fans were loving it.
Halftime. 2-0. Dreamland for bluenoses. What a performance from the lads, however, we still had the thoughts of, we are going to bottle this, aren’t we. Well, we didn’t.
The second half started and Blues were gunning for a third and we got a third on fifty-four minutes, thanks to the inform Sam Gallagher. Davis stole the ball from the keeper’s hands and squared it across to Gallagher who had an open goal. 3-0 up and yes, I was pinching myself, just waiting to wake up.
Blues nearly had a fourth moments later, when Gallagher tried to curl one in but it just went past the post. Jota came on for Davis on sixty minutes, and nearly made a dream start, seeing his shot just go wide of the post.
With fifteen minutes remaining Blues were switching off and Sunderland were becoming dominant in the game.
After a flurry of chances, Sunderland finally scored as Blues switched off for a cross and Oviedo sneaked in at the back post and smashed one home. 3-1 and it was a sloppy goal to concede.
However, that didn’t spoil the celebrations when the final whistle went and we won 3-1. What a performance!
The emphatic win takes Blues out of the bottom three and into 20th, only a point above the bottom three. Sunderland now sit second bottom, two points behind us. What a beautiful sight, I’m getting dizzy at these heights.
Waste Of A Window…
The transfer window shut on Wednesday and Blues didn’t make a single signing, I’m not too disappointed at this as the lads are playing great football at the minute and would you want to disrupt that. However, our relegation rivals did strengthen and that could be worrying. Also, there was news that we did try to make a signing on deadline day, however, we left it too late. I am going to go on a rant about something in a minute but I’ll get onto the previous news before.
Earlier in the window, Blues were linked with David McGoldrick of Ipswich. He was allegedly available for £500,000, which is dirt cheap in today’s market. Cardiff paid £6 million for Gary Madine of Bolton for Christ’s sake. Anyway, nothing came about and the rumours died down.
That was until deadline day when a reporter. I won’t name who as this could have been wrong and I don’t want him getting any negative backlash, broke the news of Jordan Rhodes going to Ipswich on loan, however it relied on Ipswich selling a player. Obviously, with Rhodes being a striker and McGoldrick having clubs sniffing around, it was obvious that he was a part of the deal.
Now I know for a fact, from that reporter, that we were the ones prepared to buy McGoldrick, however, we left it too later and both the McGoldrick and Rhodes deal fell through.
Whether this is true or not, we will probably never know, however, we also missed out on the loan signing of Kasey Palmer. He ended up signing with Derby and it stands to wonder, what happened there.
Anyway, I’m not too bothered about the lack of signings, however, I am annoyed over something, actually, two people. Darren Dein and Jeff Vetere. These prats came to the club in the summer. Dein is a cancer to any club and Vetere looked good on paper, but he’s done bugger all since joining. Dein is supposed to be our head of recruitment, earning a staggering, £25,000 a month, yet we have no signings. What have you been doing the past month Darren? Oh yes, you’ve been helping your client, Tim Cahill, making his move back to Millwall and that’s it. Oh no, you also had a spat with Ren in the boardrooms and probably been binge-watching Netflix with the other useless melt Vetere.
The quicker these two clowns leave the club, especially Dein, the better the club will be. How can you be a head of recruitment and not bring a single soul to the club? I understand we were walking a tightrope with FFP but loan signings don’t cost that much, especially with some of the wages we shifted this month.
I almost hate Dein as much as I hate Villa and I’m genuinely worried for the future of our club when he is earning the money he is, doing absolutely nothing for that money and also having a powerful voice within the boardroom. We never have it easy, do we, bluenoses?
Saturday sees bluenoses making a short trip to Hillsborough as we face Sheffield Wednesday in the league. They currently sit 16th in the league and go into the game without a win in five. This is a game we should be looking at and thinking Sheffield are there for the taking.
If we can put in a performance similar to Sunderland in the majority of our remaining games, we will survive easily. However, consistency has never been Blues’ strength in recent times. I think we will win and it’ll be either 1-0 or 2-1. Hopefully, Gallagher can keep his goalscoring record going after scoring six in his last eight games, and Maghoma can keep supplying him with chances.
Then we have the FA Cup replay against Huddersfield on Tuesday 6th Feb. This one is a big one within our season as if we win, we get to host Manchester United, in what would be a first good FA Cup tie in a fair amount of years. The draw could be a killer though as Huddersfield will also want to play United, to try and pull off a cup upset. Hopefully, we pull off a win and we go into the next round as the FA Cup, at the moment, is the only real excitement Blues fans have right now. No one finds a relegation battle exciting and if they do, they need the heads checking.
That’s where I am ending it today and hopefully next week I will be talking about the FA Cup dream still being alive, another three points in the league, and anything else in between, as Blues are never too far away from drama. KRO!