VIEW FROM THE NORTH STAND – BIRMINGHAM

By Dan Davies
Jan 19th, 2008

It’s a transatlantic journey for your “North Stand” correspondent this week as we venture to the USA to meet with John Baker, the brains behind www.BluesMuse.Com, the superior Birmingham City website.

What a pleasant surprise it was to speak to a Brum supporter without a whiny midlands accent! Once I’d finally arrived, delayed by the chaos of a broken 777 on the runway at Heathrow I wasted no time on quizzing him on his team ahead of the weekend’s game:

Cutting straight to the chase, what do you think of your performances so far this season? Are you doing enough to avoid the drop, and if not what do you need to change?

‘Insipid’, ‘yes’, and ‘new players’ in that order! [Do I get more cash for 3 questions in one?] Steve Bruce was/is a vastly over-rated manager with virtually no tactical skill, so McLeish has a bit of a mess to clean up. First thing he has to do is remove the ‘let’s not lose’ mentality, and replace it with a ‘let’s go and win’ attitude.

What areas of your squad need strengthening?

From 1 to 11, though that isn’t so funny any more with all the damn squad numbers these days! We were thinking new goalie until Maik Taylor started coming out for crosses vs. the Arse, so that brings us to left back. We’ve just signed Murphy so are OK there now. We need an attacking/creative midfielder, and I see McFadden doing some of that for us. After that we’ve got to knock it into the net, and it’s time for your old boy Forssell to show he has beaten his injuries to become a goal scoring machine again. Perhaps he’ll start against you lot?!

Who’s been your form player so far? Who do we need to look out for?

Kelly at fullback, and Larsson in midfield mostly. The rest have been playing one game, and taking a breather for the next two it seems. I’m hoping De Ridder is in against you lot as he’s our only quality threat going forward usually.

Have you been impressed by the start your new manager has made – is he an improvement on Steve Bruce and do the issues that led to Bruce leaving still exist and have the ability to trouble McLeish?

Anyone is an improvement on Steve Bruce! As above, the big Eck is cleaning up and going the right way about it thus far.

What do you think of Chelsea, as if we needed to ask? Has Grant exceeded expectations or is he just doing what anyone managing a squad of our quality should be achieving?

Good question. With the players you have I think me Mum could have done equally as well. OK, OK, well almost! I’m in the US, so haven’t seen you play for a few weeks, but you’re still in there grinding out results so it can’t be all bad for you..

Which of our current squad do you most admire?

Looking at your squad I don’t see any women except that cheating’ Ashley girlie, so from the boys I’d say new boy Anelka, Drogba when fit, Lampard, that little schoolboy fella Shaun Wright-FillYerBoots, and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all!

How’s fat Mick (Forssell) doing at St Andrews – does he ever look like he’ll shake his injury curse?

I firmly believe he’s on the way back now, and yes, no and maybe on the injury curse. I know his Mum, so would you like me to mention you called him ‘fatty’? ;o)

How will you deal with Chelsea? Do you stuff the midfield, or will we see a more adventurous line-up?

I’m sure we’ll opt for an adventurous line-up, and stuff the midfield whenever we pass the ball to you folks – which will be more often than you’re used to!

Where will you finish this season?

Under Chelsea, but still in the Prem. With a couple of Scottish girders coming in things are looking better.

What about Chelsea?

Second. Two is my favourite number, and favourite colour is blue. It’s a match like.

Give us a score prediction.

Blues 1 Blues [Pensioners] 2 – though I hope for better. Actually it will be better than my first Birmingham City home game in 1964 when we lost at home to you lot 6-1. I’ve been a fan ever since which makes me both a true-blue and an idiot, but definitely not a glory hunter!

Good luck y’all from Stateside.

Thanks John – Good luck to you too.

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