Nickname: The Blues
Unofficial site - Singing The Blues
Unofficial site - Tired and Weary
|Last Season - Grandstand finish||Position: 13th|
As far as the bookies, the pundits and, well, most other people were concerned there was no chance Birmingham could avoid an immediate return to the Nationwide League. In the end they achieved their goal with comfort, and but for Paolo di Canio's late equalisier at the death on the last day they would have finished in the top half of teh Premiership. The Blues enjoyed a steady start to the campaign, although they constantly hovered above the relegation zone unable to put together a string of results to pull them into mid-table. The masterstroke proved to be the loan signing of French star Christophe Dugarry, whose performances helped City to a superb run of seven wins in nine matches late in the season. Dugarry may have taken a little time to settle, but his skill and experience inspired his team-mates onto another level. Birmingham were six points clear of relegated West Ham, and can be delighted with their debut Premiership season, having beaten arch rivals Aston Villa twice and finished above them for the first time since the mid-70s.
|Transfers - In and Out|
David Dunn (Blackburn) - £5.5m
Luciano Figueroa (Rosario) - £2.5m
Christophe Dugarry (Bordeaux) - Free
Mikael Forssell (Chelsea) - Loan
Maik Taylor (Fulham) - Loan
Geoff Horsfield (Cardiff) - £1m
Paul Devlin (Watford) - £150,000
Michael Johnson (Derby) - Nominal
Clint Davies (Bradford) - Free
Joey Hutchinson (Darlington) - Free
Tommy Mooney (Swindon) - Free
Craig Fagan (Colchester) - Loan
Peter Gilbert (Plymouth) - Loan
Tom Williams (QPR) - Loan
Andy Marriott - Released
Steve Vickers - Released
|First Choice XI|
|The Gaffer - Steve Bruce|
Former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce had more than his fair share of critics prior to last season - with the 42-year-old already at his fifth club. His first job came as player/manager of Sheffield United in the summer of 1998, but Bruce would stay with the Blades for only ten months after becoming disillusioned with the lack of transfer funds. Before long he emerged at Huddersfield Town, with a chairman ready to splash the cash, but he couldn't get the Terriers motoring and he was sacked early into the 2000/01 season. Huddersfield would be relegated. He then had a very short stint at Wigan Athletic before taking over at Crystal Palace in the summer of 2001. Bruce took the Eagles to the top of the First Division, but when Birmingham City, who he played for after leaving Old Trafford, sacked Trevor Francis the temptation proved too great. Palace chairman Simon Jordan tried to block the move, forcing Bruce into 'extended gardening leave', but in the end he took over at St Andrews in December. Bruce finally achieved what Francis could not by earning the Blues a place in the Premiership through the play-offs. The doom merchants had City as certainties to go down, but Bruce work miracles to guide Birmingham to safety with time to spare - and attract some quality players to the club in the process. What a difference a year makes.
|Player to Watch - Christophe Dugarry|
As already stated in this review, Christophe Dugarry was a major player in the Blues' excellent late season form and many will be looking for the 31-year-old to lead the club forward in the new season. A run of five goals in four games, including a brace against Southampton, capped a fine run of form for this talented, temperamental and often controversial forward. Some people had questioned his motives in coming to the Premiership towards the end of his career, suggesting he was only in it for the money. But the mercurial former Bordeaux player lifted the enitre Birmingham team onto another level and won a two-year contract to stay at St Andrews. Bruce and the Birmingham fans will now be hoping the World Cup and European Championships winner can produce the same heroics in the new campaign, he will certainly need to be on top form if City are to reproduce last season's efforts. The addition of David Dunn makes the midfield even stronger, and should help them push on.
|Young Gun - Darren Carter|
Midfield starlet Darren Carter made his debut for Birmingham at the end of January 2002 and soon became an important member of the first team. Steve Bruce claimed that the Blues would not have enjoyed their fine run to promotion that season without Carter's influence. A strong, holding midfielder, he kept his nerve to slot home the promotion-winning penalty against Norwich in the play-off final. Even more pleasing for the fans is that Carter is a local lad who has come through the ranks at St Andrews. But the England Under-19 international struggled to make an impact in the Premiership last term and will be hoping to build on his initial good start in the new term. Another youngster with a bright future is 18-year-old left-back Matthew Sadler, who broke into the team last term when injuries took their toll on the Blues' rear-guard.
|From the terraces|
Blues will be looking to improve on last season's 13th place if possible, although Brucie is doing his best to bring expectations back to Earth by pointing out that mere survival must still be regarded as success this season. The mid-table comfort zone is a definite possibility, as we have improved our options in midfield and up front with the signings of David Dunn and "Lucho" Figueroa, plus of course Monsieur Dugarry has made his loan move permanent. Our best young player, striker Craig Fagan, made a couple of sub appearances last season, but whilst buzzing around and looking a good player, it remains to be seen if he's got the class to cut it in the Premiership.
By Dan Hobbs, Soccernet's Birmingham City Correspondent.
The premier team in the Midlands have got even stronger this summer, with the signings of Luciano Figueroa and David Dunn. Yet it is the permanent signing of Christophe Dugarry that is the real masterstroke of the summer by boss Steve Bruce - can the French master propel us to a UEFA Cup spot this season? Bruce is building a squad full of quality and strength, and he knows that Premiership survival is not the aim for the season - instead, we must now build on our impressive campaign last term and press for a top six place. And with the excellent Matty Upson at the back, Dunn pulling the strings in midfield and Dugarry weaving his magic up front, it is certainly a reasonable target. Prediction - Sixth place, and at least twelve above Villa.
By Andy Mitchell, from Fans FC.
Birmingham City face their second season in the Premiership - which many believe is the toughest. However, Steve Bruce has underlined the club's ambition with the record signing of David Dunn from Blackburn and Argentine striker Luciano Figueroa. Blues look solid in defence with England cap Matty Upson, potential England cap Darren Purse and stalwart Kenny Cunningham. The midfield features the attack-minded Dunn, the tigerish Robbie Savage and Aliou Cisse and flying Aussie winger Stan Lazaridis. A lot will depend on the French master Dugarry, whose skill and genius will be crucial and Morrison, John, Horsfileld and Figueroa will all compete for the other striker berth. Watch out for youngster Darren Carter, a gifted midfielder and a local lad, who has had a wonderful pre-season. We'll look to consolidate as Blackburn and Charlton have done recently. I cannot see a struggle with the class in the side.
By payne4444, from our Message Boards.
|Best - Top half||Worst - Relegation|
The second season in the Premiership is notoriously difficult, so Blues fans should be wary of expecting too much. But Steve Bruce has invested wisely with Dugarry now a permanent member of the squad, England international David Dunn drafted in from Blackburn Rovers and young scoring hotsot Luciano Figueroa snapped up from Roasario Central. If everything clicks then Birmingham could claim the top half finish that only just eluded them in May. In truth, a season of consolidation is far more likely for Bruce's men as there is more than enough quality in ranks to avoid the relegation dog fight.