Date: 27th April 2007 at 12:25am
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The Owls face their penultimate clash of the season at Birmingham on Saturday – and we talk to Vital Birmingham City editor Kym on her thoughts pre-match…


1. So, the big question – do you think you’ll go up automatically or will it be the play-offs?

Would you like to ask me that question on May 7th? Seriously, the top of the Championship is as tight as the tightest thing you can think of (a gnat’s chuff might be about right). Even if Derby win their last two, unless they have a complete blitz in front of goal we will take the second automatic spot with four points from our last two games.

That still means we have to produce the goods for ourselves and not rely on other peoples’ results. We can only afford to lose if Derby lose as well, working on the assumption that Sunderland are going to get at least four points from their last two games, which they probably will.

So, we might do it. Or there again we might not.

2. The Championship has been wide open this season – have you had the chance to enjoy it or has it been a stressful season for you?

It has been incredibly stressful! We have had some great moments this season and also some diabolical ones. I suspect watching the Championship this season has been a great experience for the neutral observer and traumatic for the fans that support teams at the top of the table. The automatic promotion spots have changed hands many times now, and nobody has been able to run away with it the way that Reading did last year.

3. You’ve spent a fair bit on players this season, have they been worth it or have you paid over the odds?

Jerome – we paid top dollar for him and it has taken him a while to acclimatise. However, I don’t think we have played to his strengths a lot of the time which hasn’t made things easy for him. I’ll be interested to see how he develops next season – and whether we keep him or not.
McSheff – I was quite shocked at the amount we paid for him, but he has been worth every penny with the goals and assists he has contributed. He’s suffered a dip in form lately but played a major part of two of our goals against Wolves on Sunday, so I’m hoping he’s returning to form.

Seb Larsson – impressed quite early on during his loan period so it seemed good sense to buy him in January. He can drift in and out of games a bit but is a good attacking option to have on the team.
Neil Danns – I feel a bit sorry for him as he hasn’t managed to establish himself. The word is that Forest are looking at him so maybe he’ll be off at the end of the season whether we get promoted or not.

4. What are your thoughts on Steve Bruce?

Plenty. I feel quite torn in two on my opinions of Bruce. He is a genuinely nice bloke and I think this is probably what has stopped more of the fans turning on him when we’ve had our very rough patches.

However, he’s capable of some very strange tactical moves which frighten the fans to death. Players are put out of position to accommodate certain others and there are times when it’s difficult to see what Plan A is, let alone Plan B.

I sometimes wonder whether the best position for him would be in a Director of Football role, as he’s great at talking players into coming to the club and also very good at dealing with the fragile egos and ‘bad boy’ players – Dugarry Savage, Pennant et al.

I fear for us more than a little if we go up again with Bruce at the helm; I fear that he’ll make the same mistakes twice and we won’t survive for long in the Premiership.

5. And what about the loan players, will they be staying come the end of the season?

I think if we go up we have a reasonable chance of signing Fabrice Muamba. He has improved massively during the season and seems to love it at Birmingham; he always plays with a smile on his face and is very popular with the fans.

Bendtner – I don’t think we have a hope in Hell of signing him, sadly. He is destined for an excellent career in football and could well mature into the same type of player as Berbatov. It would be a real boost if we could get another season’s loan though.

There is already talk about us signing Andy Cole if we get promoted and based on his performance in the last three games, he could be worth the risk, even at his age. He would probably need to be used fairly sparingly though as it’s doubtful that he would be able to play in every game, particularly when the schedule is really packed at Christmas and Easter. Although he’s lost a bit of pace, he’s still got the footballing brain and the skill; his goal against Wolves on Sunday was a classic.

6. Mikkel Forsell seems surplus to requirements now, what’s happened with him?

I feel quite sorry for Forssell. He became a Blues hero very quickly when he came on loan from Chelsea and it was his goals that sent us into the top ten in our second season in the Premiership. He was feted as one of our best strikers ever, down to his skill and clinical finishing.
After a long, long time out he’s been back in our reserve side and has scored quite freely for them.

He made a brief appearance in our away trip to Norwich recently but hasn’t been seen since. There are rumours of rifts between him and Steve Bruce, but nothing in the open.

At the moment Hannover are interested, but his wages could be a stumbling block. It’s my guess though that we’ve probably seen him play in our first team for the last time and that makes me very sad.

7. Whats been the highlight of your season?

The 5-1 demolition of Newcastle is the first one that comes to mind. Although in the grand scheme of things it was a fairly meaningless FA Cup game, it was a fantastic performance and one that will go down in the annals of Blues history. In terms of the League, Sunday’s game against Wolves was a fantastic spectacle and almost everything you could want from a football match.

8. And any lowlights?

More than a few! We were well and truly ‘Canaried’ by Norwich and failed to take a point from them. The home defeat to Southend was also pretty dismal, as were our performances against most of the teams at the bottom of the league table. If there are any ‘if onlys’ at the end of the season (god forbid, but if we end up third, history suggests that our chances of success in the playoffs are poor), it will be our failure to take points from ‘easy’ games.

9. Who are your danger men?

McSheffrey; he can score with both feet and his head, is good with the dead ball and puts in a pretty mean cross. Cole has seen it all and done it all and still has the knack. Bendtner is one of the classiest players of his age I’ve seen in a long, long time. Last but most definitely not least there is DJ Campbell, who is a brilliant supersub who doesn’t need time to get into a game. He has scored within seconds of getting on the pitch and is absolutely fearless.

10. What do you make of Wednesday’s chances this season?

I think Wednesday have had a fantastic season. Brian Laws has obviously worked very hard with the team and it is paying off. They’re well organised, pretty solid defensively and turning themselves into one of the division’s form teams has been no mean feat. With half a dozen teams separated by only a couple of points they still have a chance of the playoffs, which would be a remarkable achievement for this year.

11. Finally, what’s your score prediction?

Both teams have got to go for it, so this could be an interesting game. Birmingham to nick it 2-1 I hope, but I think the Owls will make it very difficult for us.


Cheers Kym, and good luck in your quest for promotion!

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