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Brentford go to the West Midlands in search of a 3rd successful win against Birmingham City. Billy Grant catches up with Shane Ireland from Proud to Be a Bluenose blog and contributor to The72 blog about Clayton Donaldson, dodgy owners and the wonder of Rowett.

Birmingham haven’t won in 8 games. Fans were unhappy with manager Lee Clark at the beginning of the season. But has the magic of new manager Rowett worn off after an impressive start?

Rowett took over when we were 23rd and even after an eight match winless run we’re 17th. Any Blues fan would have snapped your hand off at the prospect of being six places higher and out of the real relegation dogfight at the bottom. Any Blues fan will also tell you we were only heading in one direction under Clark – League 1 who’s team drew 1-1 against Brentford earlier in the season (video below).

Rowett’s initial turnaround was astonishing, at one point we amassed 18 points from a possible 24 and topped the form table. Some even harboured hopes of reaching the play-offs but in reality the promotion form was going to come to an end at some point and we’ve seen that recently – Blues’ last win was a 3-1 victory over Wigan in early January.

The results and performances have levelled out because we were playing well above ourselves and pushed the ‘honeymoon period’ to the max. Thankfully the fans understand that a team with one of the smallest budgets in the division will most likely find themselves near the bottom.

Ultimately, Rowett has transformed our season and his revolution – as we call it – has probably saved us from third-tier football.

Dan from Birmingham City blog Often Partisan spoke on the Beesotted podcast (below) more about your Hong Kong-based chairman Carson Yeung who has been banged up for money laundering. £2m also went mysteriously missing from the clubs accounts. Do you sometimes pray for a return to the Sullivan, Brady, Barry Fry hey day ?

The Hong Kong cloud that was cast over St Andrew’s has been raining on the club for what seems an eternity. With Carson’s arrest back in 2011 fans hoped for a quick outcome but four years on we’re still embroiled in the ownership saga that has seen the club teeter on the brink of administration and liquidation.

A book has even been written detailing the events at great depth, called Haircuts & League Cups – the title is a reference to Carson’s former profession. As a fan, your predominant wish is for your club to be financially stable and especially as we’ve been so close to capitulation, a return to the stability of former years is the most important thing for our club.However, some supporters are often quick to forget that Carson and his investment led us to a cup win at Wembley.

Yet three years later we dipped into League 1 until an injury-time goal saved the day. It’s certainly been a difficult period that is by no means over.

Clayton Donaldson. Big hero at Griffin Park. Always gave 100%. Has he been pulling up trees at St Andrews?

Donaldson has done well for Blues but hasn’t found his best goalscoring form in recent weeks. He’s scored 11 goals but probably should have more when considering some of the chances he’s missed. That tallly includes a hat-trick that he bagged the last we tasted victory back in January. In all likelihood he’ll reach 15 for the season which isn’t a bad return for a striker who’s never played at this level before.

Although the goals have dried up somewhat, Donaldson is still our biggest threat and Brentford fans know better than any how dangerous he can be in the box on his day. Wes Thomas and Lee Novak will probably also feature at some point and all three scored last week.

Elsewhere, Andy Shinnie orchestrates most of our attacking play from just behind the striker if we play a 4-2-3-1 formation and Demarai Gray has received a great deal of media attention this season, both are players to look out for.

Last time we played in the league cup (2010) you scored a last minute goal (Kevin Philips) to take the game into extra time, beat us on penalties then beat Arsenal in the final. Bees and Brum have a bit of history going back in the 90s with a number of incredibly feisty matches when were were the top 2 sides Division 3 (now Div 1). Olde skool Bees will never forget the final game of the season in 1992 when the League 3 championship trophy was shipped up to St Andrews on the final day of the season – authorities assuming Blues were going to win the league. But Bees pipped Birmingham to the championship with a win at Peterborough. The atmosphere in those games fiercely contested were incredible. Do you think this match will be a patch on those olde skool encounters?

Unfortunately I’m too young to remember the clashes in the 90’s but I do recall the League Cup match in 2010/11 in which Blues were quite lucky to progress! Hopefully Saturday’s match will be reminiscent on the pitch of the previous encounters in the 90’s which you mention but undeniably the atmosphere won’t have a patch on the noise created in those games.

I’ve only ever known all-seater stadiums – Griffin Park is one of few terraces I’ve stood on – but St Andrew’s when full is a special atmosphere. However those days are few and far between and the recent FA Cup tie against West Brom fell well short of the Premier League clashes against Villa and the League Cup quarter and semi finals.

Brentford played Blackpool in midweek – had 42 shots and scored 4 goals with Jon Toral getting a surprise start and repaying the manager’s faith by banging in a hat-trick. Some argue that we have loads of possession (normally 60 and 70% every match) don’t take our chances. Birmingham have been scoring as of late – 3 goals at Brighton .. 2 goals at Ipswich .. but have also been conceding. How do you think this game will pan out? Give us a score prediction

The statistics from your midweek win were well-published and provided Blues fans with quite a shock as to what to expect on Saturday! We have no problems scoring but cannot buy a clean-sheet at the moment – which is a contrast to Rowett’s first two months in charge when our good form was built on defensive solidity.

I expect both teams to score on Saturday but Brentford to come out on top, 3-1.

 

BillytheBee
@billythebee99