Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Weather Machine

Feathers dropped from the above. Big chunks of white peppered the outside grey sky as I peered out the window from the warmth of the MFI living room. Nothing stuck, no whiteness here. The floor was normal, the grass bits were green and the tarmac black. These lumps of ice danced along the ground, they fizzled, sizzled, melted away into nothing. An icy vision of Southampton's second half of the season. Started off solid enough, but will peter out.

A smile broke. Nice to see a wintery scene, the harmless beauty to it. But then it started to stick, and the green grass went white, and the black tarmac went white, and the women and the BMW drivers started spiralling on the roads, twirling and swirling out of control hither and thither, like the kettles skimmed by the fat Scottishes across the ice at the winter Olympics. Curling they call it.

'Blues v Southampton? It'll be called off' typed the faceless Internet weirdos. No it wouldn't. The game went ahead. It was to be shown on Sky Sports, they wanted it to go ahead, and their whim is overriding. In this age Jesus is dead, there's only Peter Beagrie.

I've been saying Blues will finish in the top two all season. 

For me it makes no sense to write off a team with a premiership-quality defence; in Beausejour [though he's now gone] Burke and Redmond the best wingers in the division; premiership-class central midfielders; an international class striker in Nikola Zigic and the Championship's most proven striker in Marlon King.

People mumbled fears about going down...'this season is about consolidation' they coughed. Some blurted out hopes of the play offs - Pah! This team is arguably the best in the league, oh please show a little more ambition won't you? No? Then perhaps realism? You under-value our assets. Perhaps you do it on purpose to reduce pressure on our players. If so, fair play.

But ever since we lost to Southampton away and they stamped their false authority on the league I've been gunning for them. Ever since we dropped out of the Europa League and we'd got all our players fit and settled I've been gunning for them top two counting down the days until they visited St Andrews so we could beat them convincingly. So we could show those pessimistic Blues fans just how good this team is.

February now, and we were still unbeaten at home. 18 goals scored in our last 4 matches. We'd only conceded 6 goals at home all season. Southampton hadn't won in three and were creaking and groaning - they were there for the taking. You'd have been a brave man to bet on anything other than a Birmingham win.

That snow, that pissing snow, it kept coming, it was on loop, it never ceased, and now the snow rose above your ankles. The game kicked off. The players couldn't see. The players couldn't run. They carefully plodded each foot down so not to lose their balance like Neil Armstrong must have when he first set foot on the big ball of cheese in the night sky, worried about slipping and flying off into space. You can't play to your optimum when you're walking around like a 60's astronaut.

No proper football was played. How could it? The game was rendered as 90 minutes of misplaced passes, miscontrol, players falling over and both teams being overly cautious.

However, even in these conditions you could tell that Blues were better than Southampton in every department. The Blues defence was solid tight. Southampton had no shots. Keep that door shut.

The Blues midfield dealt with anything the Saints had to offer and replied by carving out all the best chances in the game. N'Daw ran the show. Chasing down any Southampton player in possession and forcing error, winning every ball in the air, providing a one man impenetrable blanket in front of the defence. 

Our attack? Marlon had a shot pushed onto the post. Rooney found the ball at his feet just 3 yards in front of the goal but contrived to fluff the chance. Blues rocked Southampton many times and could have scored off at least three corners.

But ultimately these attacks weren't as potent as they'd normally have been because of the stifling conditions. The game ended how it was always going to end as soon as Sky gave the nod for it to continue - it finished in stalemate.

Some of these skates said that Southampton had more of the ball. But contain yourself, no Southampton move lasted longer than 3 passes before the ball was misplaced or it trickled out of play to nothing. And when they did have possession they did nowt with it. Blues made a conscious choice to adapt to the elements, go a bit more direct than we usually do and consequently Blues were the only team that looked like winning the game.

Full time.

Southampton couldn't believe their luck. 

They had come to statistically the hardest place to get a result in the football league, off the back of a poor run of form, against a free-scoring Birmingham side and yet the Gods had conspired to put pay to the expected Brum win.

It was as if the Physio and the men from the sea had somehow built a weather machine.

I was irked, true, sure, why not? Like I said, I'd been saying it was a matter of time before we got into the automatic spaces and I was anticipating us beating Southampton, but I hadn't factored in a prematch blizzard scuppering ideas.

Just means we'll have to wait a bit longer until we get where we should be. 


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