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2012 – A Year For Optimism?

Wednesday 25th January 2012
2011 was definitely a year to remember for Birmingham City fans. From the unbridled joy of winning the Carling Cup, the first major trophy that the club had won in almost 50 years, to the disappointment of relegation from the Barclays Premier League only three months later.

As 2012 swings into full action with around half of the Championship season completed, and the transfer window almost closed (six days left), I thought that now would be a fair time to reflect on what has been and what may be come the end of this seasons Npower Championship.

The year started badly with a bore draw against Peterborough United who, with no malice intended, are a team that Birmingham really should be beating in order to fulfil the ambitions of promotion to the promised land at the first attempt.

However, a draw in the FA Cup tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers featuring wholesale changes was followed up with wins at home to Ipswich, away against Millwall - the team that Birmingham seem to love to beat, and at home to Watford.

It all points to a team that have shown strength of character to bounce back from a run of form which saw Blues drop 11 points in December to pick up 11 from 15 so far this month. Especially when you consider that the Blues scored 11 goals in these 3 games.

Sandwiched between the Millwall & Watford games was a replay of the FA cup tie away against Wolves in which they showed guile and determination to not only win 1-0, but also out play their West Midlands rivals Wolves.
Then came the worry of Blues' financial plight, which meant that any player would be viewed as a saleable asset and being January, the teams from the Premier League may come swooping down for “easy targets”. Yet, the news that the shareholders have injected some more cash into the Blues coffers seems to of appeased the worries of the fans and any sales now will be for the good of the club.

Recently I have heard rumours that Jean Beausejour has agreed personal terms with Wigan Athletic and the deal will be announced within the next 24 hours, and that West Brom have offered a new deal for long term target Liam Ridgewell. Only time will tell if he also makes his way through the St. Andrew's exit door.

All the credit for this effort has to be placed firmly at the feet of both players and manager, Chris Hughton, who has brought together a fine squad on a shoestring budget.

One that not only wants to be at the club, but are willing to work hard for the cause and ultimately, reap the benefits of the hard work that they have put in.

An example of this is Curtis Davies. Often criticised last season for his performances and fitness after his switch from city rivals Aston Villa, he has grown and matured into a player that is now the cornerstone of the Blues defence.  Also, the style of football being played by the team this season is a far cry from the long ball that was being employed under former manager Alex McLeish.

So far so far so good, however, with Blues having also played in the Europa League this season, it has been a marathon effort, with 38 games having already been played, leaving a minimum of 21 games to still be played.

Yet, I have a sense of optimism and with the sides that are yet to come to St. Andrews for the remainder of the season there is a very good chance that the 2012/13 season could see Birmingham City back in the Premier League.

Is 2012 a year for optimism? I'll let you make your own mind up, but its certainly looking good at the moment.
Nick Walkiden

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