Thursday, November 15, 2007

Season Summaries--15. Birmingham City

15. Birmingham City (My preseason prediction: 19th)

If there's one team I hope can succesfully navigate the relegation battle and remain in the Premiership (other than Sunderland), it's Birmingham. Perhaps it's because Steve Bruce looks like Jay Leno and is such a nice guy, such a players' manager; perhaps it's because I like the heart and "endeavor that the lads play with", who knows.

One thing is for sure, though, and that's if Birmingham lose Steve Bruce to Wigan (as is the current rumor), the Blues won't be playing in the Premiership next season. He's got a bunch of guys on that team that love playing for him and I couldn't see any other manager coming in and getting the results and performances out of them like Bruce does. I know that their record isn't the greatest (3-2-8), but it's pretty misleading as Birmingham have been pretty unlucky this season, combined with the fact they haven't been able to close out games. Just like Sunderland, their competitiveness and how hard they play has never been in question.

Their best player this season has been Olivier Kapo, without a doubt. The Ivorian-born French international has scored a team-leading five goals from his center midfield position and really stepped up when Mikael Forssell was out injured. Forssell has two goals in 5 starts, showing the impact he can have when healthy, and after his tally against Aston Villa in the Second City derby last weekend, the Finnish striker looks to be back on form. Birmingham will need to rack up the points in December, especially in the last three games of the month (at Bolton, home to Middlesbrough and Fulham) because their first three games of January come against Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal, and it'll be that six-game stretch that defines Birmingham's season.

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