Weekly Blues – 24.06.17

Welcome back for the second instalment of the quite aptly named “Weekly Blues”. This week, perhaps, probably hasn’t been the one Blues fans were hoping for, at least on the transfer front. It has however seen some major announcements, investments and progress has been made in the background and the wider club.

Blues Transfer Talk

After several bookies closed all markets on John Terry joining up with Redknapp and the rest of the Birmingham squad, its seems to have come to a complete stop. This has been the cause of some frustration for Blues fans, especially after all the excitement and online talk that peaked last week.

It’s easy to see why Blues fans might feel a little bit disappointed after expecting to see a scarf being held aloft in the Tilton.

It’s worth remembering that this is Harry Redknapp after all… So we should come to expect the unexpected. Nobody reported the potential signing of Championship Goalkeeper of the Year – David Stockdale before he actually signed, yet, after signing on the dotted line, he will be a Blues player for the 2017/18 campaign and beyond.

It really wouldn’t surprise me for Blues to announce other transfers in a similar fashion, with Harry and Jeff Vetere working overtime.

The main transfer rumour is obviously John Terry and until something is officially announced, Blues are still in the running for his signature. Blues have made a concrete offer of a playing + coaching contract with substantial wages; for what would be, undoubtedly, the best centre half in the league.

It’s a long, long road until August 5th and I expect the starting XI will look remarkably different to the team that finished last season away at Ashton Gate, let alone the one that drew at home to Cardiff on the opening day of the 2016 campaign. Talking of opening day fixtures…

Fixture list

On Wednesday, we saw the 2017 Fixture list announced and it revealed that Blues will travel to Portman Road to open up their Sky Bet Championship campaign with an away trip to Ipswich Town on Saturday 5 August.

Inevitably though, the most important fixture for most Blues fans, will be the home tie (initially) scheduled for 28th October. Which will see Blues host bitter rivals Villa at St Andrews. The return fixture will take place at Villa Park on the 10th February in the new year. Though it is worth mentioning that both these fixtures are more than likely be moved for TV and/or West Midland Police advice.

The other West Midlands derby sees Blues face rivals Wolves at home on 2nd December and will travel to the Black Country to the play at Molineux on 14th April – it is also likely that these games will be moved for live Sky coverage – as they had been for the 2016/17 season.

Lee Carsley returns to Blues

Yesterday, We Are Birmingham exclusively broke the news that Lee Carsley was set to return to Blues in an under-23 coaching role. This was later confirmed by Blues, who officially announced his appointment as the club’s ‘Head Professional Development Coach’.

The official announcement also states that Richard Beale will remain in his role and “will assist” Carsley in his role.

Carsley grew up in Birmingham and played for two years at St. Andrew’s, after arriving on a free transfer in 2008 from Merseyside club – Everton.

He managed to lead the side to promotion into the Premier League, making 44 appearances in the process and was even named Player of the Season.

As a coach, Carsely brings with him a real pedigree; Assistant at Sheffield United with former teammate David Weir, Development Squad Manager at Brentford and a short stint as First Team Head Coach – interestingly his first game in charge was a defeat courtesy of two second-half goals from Morrison and Donaldson.

Most recently he has been part of Pep Guardiola’s back room staff at Manchester City, as the Under-18s Head Coach along with Coaching responsibilities at England Under-15 through to Under-19 Level.

New St Andrews pitch

New Blues Pitch

The Birmingham City Board have approved a large cash outlay to relay the playing surface at St. Andrews (photo courtesy of @scullybcfc, who is getting married at St Andrews today, congratulations!), a “hybrid grass” state-of-the-art instillation. Which is the very same pitch used by Barcelona at the Camp Nou and at the Tito Vilanova Field, which is the Barcelona first team’s main training pitch at the Ciutat Esportiva training centre.

Interestingly, it is also the same playing surface that will also be used for the 2018 World Cup Final in Moscow.

This is no doubt another step in the right direction to ensure elite level facilities available to the first team and in-line with the very best pitches available in the UK, if not the World.

This is essentially 95% grass and 5% plastic fibres in the surface. Most of it is grass still but the fibres are stitched in at 2cm apart to help keep the pitch stable and provided a better playing surface for the players.

Head Groundsman, Martin Kelly, speaking on Blues’ official website explains in a little more detail:

“For the last 12 years, we’ve had a fibre-sand pitch which was using state-of-the-art technology back in the early 2000s.

“Now most of the Premier League clubs have some form of hybrid pitch and many Championship clubs are going the same way.

“This is essentially 95% grass and 5% plastic fibres in the surface. Most of it is grass still but the fibres are stitched in at 2cm apart to help keep the pitch stable and provided a better playing surface for the players.”