Well here we are with Fan Focus once again, and to provide insight on Birmingham City, we have the main man on Birmingham City's top blog "Joys & Sorrows" - Kevin Ball. No really, he's called Kevin Ball.
Although this one is not our hard-tackling-midfielder-turned-youth coach, but a 49 year old training consultant, who has supported The Blues through "thin and thin" as he puts it, ever since he was a nipper.
Kevin's also been interviewed in the past by the BBC, Sky, ESPN and several overseas broadcasters, but no doubt this ranks as his highest honour... Yeah, sure!
On with the questions!
A triumphant League Cup win over Arsenal, and of course European football at St Andrews next season. Despite the league position, you’ve got to be happy with that!
Kevin: Unbelievable Simon. Before the start of the season, the only thoughts were on survival, (well that’s still important of course), but as we progressed through the cup we started believing. Of course we only win the cup when we beat our local rivals in the competition so when we knocked them out in the quarter final – we should have realised it was our year!
Why, in your opinion, is it you find yourselves in the league position you are?
Kevin: Quite simply, we haven’t been given enough penalties! I think we’ve only had 1, another 5 and we would have had more points. No seriously, our forwards haven’t scored enough goals. Cameron Jerome has worked his dooh-dahs off, but not put the ball away enough. Zigic has got a few, but has been injured. Gardner and Bowyer have been among the goals, but they are midfielders of course.
There’s some flair players in the Birmingham City squad who don’t seem to have seen much action. Alexandar Hleb for example. Is this purely down to the fact when at the bottom, you need grafters?
Kevin: There is no doubt he is quality, however I think that part of the problem is we don’t have the right players to play him effectively. His best position in "in the hole." Well that means we either play 1 up front – which is OK away I suppose, but it hasn’t been too effective. Or we play 2 up front and 3 in the middle which leaves us vulnerable. I suspect he won’t stay. We’ve missed McFadden IMO. He was looking really sharp when he got injured. However your point is valid, you do need to be a hard working side when you are at the wrong end, and you may criticise us for some things – but that isn’t one of them.
Confident of staying up? There’s a guaranteed three points for you on Saturday when we come to town!
Kevin: More so after the win against Bolton. I was very gloomy after losing to Wigan in the last minute. I think that 5 points will do it. We have you guys, Wolves and Fulham to entertain at St Andrews. I think even the most partisan supporter would believe we could get 5 points from those 3 games.
Birmingham also have a couple of decent youth prospects coming through from what I’ve seen and read. Nathan Redmond and Jordan Mutch. Can you tell us more about them, and what you think they’re capable of in the long run?
Kevin: Yeah they have both played a part this season and do look very good players. Redmond is an exciting have a go player. He is still very raw, but I think most Blues fans believe he could be a key player. Mutch is steady and I think has a mature head for a young man. We are just hoping that they can be bought on properly and get even more opportunities next season.
There’s lots calling for the head of Steve Bruce at the moment. He’ll be of course familiar to your lot. Is our slides, both this season and the last, typical of Bruce’s management style?
Kevin: Funny you should mention that, but yes. He has a track record of doing really well and then going off the boil, having a recovery and then tailing off. I think part of the problem for all managers, is that as their sides struggle, they go more conservative. Bruce was doing that for us with the 4-5-1 and basically invited teams on. As a result, you go 1-0 down and you are not set up to then attack. He was always a nightmare for subs, he’s wait until it was too late. You can see this pattern in most of the sides he’s managed. If he hadn’t have left us to go to Wigan, he’d have been sacked. I can’t see your board being as patient as ours was, especially if you lose to us on Saturday.
What sort of game do you think we’re in for on Saturday, and in what positions do you think the game will be won and lost?
Kevin: That’s a very good question. Ferguson / Bowyer are important to us. If they get on the game, we will dominate the middle. I haven’t seen much of Sunderland this season, but from what I have seen on MOTD recently – your defence appears to not like being "attacked." Jerome has a lot of pace and if he has the ball to his feet can be difficult to contend with. If Zigic is fit he will provide a different problem.
And finally mate, what’s your prediction for the game?
Kevin: I’m always cautious about predicting our games, but got last weeks correct! I’ll go for a narrow win for us by a single goal.
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