The matches are hitting us like a rivet gun at the moment and the latest quick turnaround pits us against Birmingham City at Carrow Road tomorrow night.
I rather insensitively described the Brummies as “dung” recently when I suggested on these very pages that everyone, coaching team, players and supporters alike, would benefit more from David Wagner holding a weekend’s training than from facing the Blues – they were “enjoying” a Fourth Round FA Cup tie against Blackburn instead at a time when they couldn’t buy a point.
Since then they have beaten Swansea 4-3 in an amazing match in Wales and West Midlands rivals WBA at St Andrews, as well as contriving to give Wales some pride back by letting Cardiff waltz off with three points they maybe shouldn’t have had. Colin’s Huddersfield Terriers came from behind with two late goals to beat them once again on Saturday while we were sleep-walking through a 0-0 at Wigan.
Like us, they have been through a poor patch, and like us again you cannot be too sure what you might get when John Eustace and his lads roll up for any given fixture.
One thing we can guarantee is that having condemned John Etheridge to the bench in the twilight of both their careers, former Carrow Road favourite John Ruddy will be between the sticks for the Brummies. A hearty Norfolk welcome for big John is equally guaranteed.
A couple of names to look out for in the Blues midfield will be Tunisian international Hannibal Mejbri, who is on loan from Manchester United, and Jobe Bellingham who is of course the younger brother of England and BVB star Jude.
Up front, we can perm any two from three of the ageing triumvirate that is Scott Hogan, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Troy Deeney. Whoever is selected it is very likely that fitness concerns will ensure that, one way or another, all three will share the striker/target man berths between them over the 90 minutes.
Deeney is well-known as a local Birmingham lad who grew up in Chelmsley Wood. He has the club badge tattooed on his calf and can also claim to be one of their most famous supporters as these are otherwise a bit thin on the ground.
Jeff Lynne*** was in The Move for a while before forming the money-spinning stadium band ELO, becoming outright leader when Roy Wood quit to form Wizzard in the early 1970s. That was probably the worst financial decision in rock and roll history after Decca Records declined to sign the Beatles!
The other two are geezers called Bob Davis and Mike Skinner, which shows the paucity of prominent Bluenose fans.
Only joking – Davis is of course the real name of former Birmingham director and sometime comedian Jasper Carrot, while Skinner enjoyed a successful musical career as the creator of and driving force behind the now defunct The Streets, who did rather nicely for themselves in the previous decade.
When it comes to footballers who have plied their trade for both clubs Nathan Redmond would be the best-known of these for that goal against Boro at Wembley in 2015 alone and, of course, Onel Hernandez and Pepe Placheta have both experienced very recent injury-ruined loan spells at St Andrew’s.
The past 50 years throw up an interesting selection of players who have worn both the Yellow and the Blue, some of whom I had forgotten also played for Birmingham until Google aided my recollections:
These are Trevor Hockey, Roger Hansbury, Keith Bertschin, Greg Downs, Kevin Drinkell, Louie Donowa, Paul Peschisolido, Kenny Brown, Matt Jackson, Steve Bruce, and Tony Cottee.
Birmingham’s current record reeks of a safe lower mid-table final position in the Championship but, like us, they have defensive mistakes in them aplenty.
We won 2-1 at St Andrew’s on August 31 with Hogan scoring just after the break before Andrew Omobamidele scored his first and, thus far, only Norwich goal and Hernandez snatched all three points deep into injury time. A Carabao Cup encounter ended in a 4-2 win on pens after the game ended 2-2 after extra time.
We have only “doubled” Coventry so far this season, so it would be great to send the Blues back to BR9 with their tails between their legs having suffered the same fate. As ever we’re more than capable of doing just that, but will we? After that display against Wigan I simply dunno.
*** For anybody who thinks Jeff Lynne’s megabucks band ELO were merely purveyors of highly-polished, top-quality pop music it’s time to be persuaded otherwise. This is absolutely bonkers and shows a normally bland band can sometimes go double ape$hit to great effect when the mood takes them: