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McLeish outwits Grant for Wembley prize

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Phil McNulty | 06:30 UK time, Thursday, 27 January 2011

St Andrew's

Birmingham City were true to both the words of their club anthem and mantra of manager Alex McLeish as they reached their first major Wembley final in 55 years.

When West Ham United walked off at half-time with an extended lead in the Carling Cup semi-final and the sound of the home fans turning on their own players, all Avram Grant's recent traumas seemed a world away.

But as the strains of "Keep Right On To The End Of The Road" rang around St Andrew's in a call to action, McLeish reacted by ordering his Birmingham players to have no regrets when they returned to the dressing room after the final whistle.

What Grant told his West Ham players is a mystery - but there was no doubt who won the battle of the managers and with it a place in the Carling Cup final against Arsenal.

McLeish did not simply issue words in the direction of his team, he altered their approach, tactics and used one of the oldest tricks in the book to turn the tide of a tumultuous game that was running firmly against Birmingham after 45 minutes.

McLeish shakes the hand of Zigic at the end of the matchMcLeish shakes the hand of Zigic at the end of the match. Photo: PA

After watching West Ham dominate and extend their 2-1 lead from the first leg courtesy of Carlton Cole's wonderful strike, McLeish turned to the giant figure of Nikola Zigic to rescue his side's Wembley ambitions.

It hardly needed a convention of football's finest tactical brains to decipher how Birmingham would make use of Zigic - and yet it seemed beyond West Ham and Grant to make any attempt to solve a fairly obvious problem.

The serenity of West Ham's defence was disturbed by an aerial assault of epic proportions as balls were launched in the direction of the Serb. He occasionally takes five touches when four will do but what he lacks in technique he can sometimes make up for with sheer physical presence - and he spooked West Ham to an alarming degree.

From dictating terms and happily allowing Cameron Jerome to run into blind alleys, the visitors were unable to cope, cracking under the weight of the bombardment and the pressure of the occasion as St Andrew's came alive.

Lee Bowyer set the foundations with a strike just before the hour and Roger Johnson powered a header past Robert Green after 79 minutes to level the tie overall.

Craig Gardner had twice been frustrated by the frame of the goal before he made the decisive contribution four minutes into extra time with a 20-yard effort that is the lifelong Birmingham fan's trademark, although Green should have saved it.

Zigic, who has hardly warmed the hearts of Birmingham's fans since his £6m move from Valencia, won appreciation from McLeish, who said: "I thought he had his best game. He was much more aggressive. The big man realises what it takes to succeed in England and that's the best I have seen him. If he was not exactly unplayable, he was verging on it."

West Ham's hierarchy of David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady declined to attend the semi-final against their former club. If they were harbouring any regrets at half-time, they would have been well and truly banished by the final whistle. It was a miserable conclusion for the London club and their wonderful supporters.

McLeish was left to reflect on his pride at leading Birmingham to Wembley - and as he prepared to celebrate with friends, he laughed off the uncertainties and insecurities of management.

He has been, according to some speculation, under pressure - an unusual state of affairs given the scale of his achievements at Birmingham, having guided them back to the Premier League, stabilised them in the top tier and now steered them to Wembley.

"I just keep working to the best of my ability and what happens happens," said McLeish. "I'm not invulnerable if results don't go my way. We are in a results business and I got a good one tonight. Maybe I will be here for a few more days yet."

Grant will presumably be at West Ham for a while, too, given the very public support offered by the club's board in the wake of the stories linking them with Martin O'Neill. This, however, was not a night that added any gloss to Grant's managerial reputation.

The explanation that West Ham's loss was down to a failure to deal with Birmingham's threat from corners was simplistic in the extreme. There appeared to be a lack of direction from the dug-out as the home side took a measure of control on affairs that Grant's side never looked like wrestling back.

West Ham defended so deep they were almost behind the goal, while Grant did nothing to cut off the supply line to Zigic, whose height means he is inevitably going to present problems in the air.

Instead, Barry Ferguson was allowed the freedom of midfield to prompt attacks - indeed he was almost encouraged rather than allowed - that invariably ended with a ball aimed at Zigic's head.

It was a flawed approach from Grant and West Ham, one that proved fatal. It invited pressure. It invited defeat.

In Grant's defence, he was robbed of Frederic Piquionne, who was controversially sent off at Everton on Saturday following some overzealous goal celebrations. The striker would have been invaluable with Cole tiring as the game went on.

Grant will also have cursed the absence of the unpredictable and pacy Victor Obinna, especially as legs became weary. He, too, was suspended, dismissed in the first leg.

The manager might have had more options, more chances to make significant changes, had the pair been available to him. Scott Parker and Kieron Dyer missed late chances to rescue West Ham, too, but this was Birmingham and McLeish's night.

Grant behaved with great dignity when the storm raged around him recently and vocal support from Upton Park's board was slow to arrive. However, there remains serious doubts about whether he has the qualities to move West Ham forward.

Green fails to keep out Gardner's strikeGreen fails to keep out Gardner's strike. Photo: Reuters

While McLeish produced the oratory and the proactive approach to revive a team that looked beaten, Grant and West Ham seemed to shrink from the challenge once the pressure was on. It was a hugely disgruntled visiting support who made their way back to London at the conclusion of a depressing night.

Grant had a golden opportunity to put clear daylight between himself and further speculation about his future by taking West Ham to Wembley. But he allowed the game to drift out of West Ham's control completely. Yes, the players on the pitch must take responsibility but Grant did not appear to give them clear direction either.

The jeers of their Birmingham counterparts were transformed into scenes of unabashed elation when referee Howard Webb blew the final whistle. A club that has spent too much time in the shadow of neighbours Aston Villa will spend a richly-deserved day in the sun.

McLeish knows the realities of facing Arsenal, though. "We will be underdogs of course," said the 52-year-old Scot. "Arsenal will be hot favourites but we will work hard to get our tactics and strategy right to hopefully pull off a major shock.

"It's a really exciting moment for me. Leading Birmingham out at Wembley will be one of the proudest moments of my career. We always want to achieve something when we come down here from Scotland with a bit of chip on our shoulder, to show we can live with you guys down here."

McLeish's achievements in Scotland automatically afford him respect south of the border - and his work with Birmingham City has only increased his stock.

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    La la la, la-la la-la, la-la la-la, la-la la-la!!
    La la la, la-la la-la, la-la la-la la la Blues Blues Blues Blues!!!

    Fantastic result last night and hopefully we can take that performance after half time to the Premier League and, of course, Wembley.

    Great article Mr. McNulty.

  • Comment number 3.

    Alex McLeish is an excellent manager.

    Well Done Birmingham, good luck for the final it will be needed.

  • Comment number 4.

    Arsenal vs Birmingham in Carling cup finals now. Great game last night, Ben Foster and Roger Johnson were excellent.

    It will be a tough game for Gunners, hope we will come out trumps. And also let’s hope we win on Sunday against, cannot afford more replays in FA Cup. Players need rest before big games & important games in Feb and March.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great ad for Championship football

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    I managed to watch about 30 mins of the match with the volume muted after about ten minuetes.

    Singing the praises of a team and manager who failed to turn up against man utd only to save themselves for a CC Semi Final 2nd leg.

    I was however eager to hear what Redknapp&Co had to say on the game and
    Merson is spot on we can see how the final will pan out, one team will be playing football, the other will be punting hopefull balls up the park for second phase play. what a spectacle that will be NOT!

    It is my view that all replays should be scrapped in all Domestic Cup Competitions and furthermore 2nd leg ties also perhaps then the " magic " will return to the Cups instead of what we see now, teams such as BCFC rolling over in the PL in order to gamble on a place at Wembley
    yes it worked but at what cost to the aunthenticity of the so called best Leauge in Europe gifting opponents points because you want a " day at Wembley "

    And as for Mcliesh being a great manager? in the SPL maybe ( but thats not exactly hard is it now ) a cursory look at the PL Table will tell you how " great " he is now he is in a proper league. BCFC are two points from bottom place! who knows had they have played " out of the skins " against man u they may have been 5 points from bottom. As it is
    the " great " man and his " wonderful " team are in a relegation dog fight.

    Still no worrys BCFC could be looking forward to a CC win and Championship Football wow what a " great " manager NOT!

    Up the Arsenal and let us hope that come the Final Football will prevail and that McCliesh's gamble seriously backfires all for the glory and attentions of " leading his team out at Wembley " odds are he will be sacked if you go down greatness my backside.

  • Comment number 8.

    #7 Management is about doing well with the resources you have, so in this regard McLeish is terrific. It is extremely unlikely they will go down and remember they finished in the TOP HALF last season which you have to agree was a super achievement.

    Infact, it might have got AM manager of the season were it not for our Arry aka GOD! Your lot might play pretty football but what we you won in 5 years?!

  • Comment number 9.

    Pretty decent performance there by Brum!

    @HAHACharadeYouAre, you're my Arsenal buddy here on these forums ;) but I have to disagree with you on the Birmingham and McLeish aspect. I think McLeish has done quite a good job there by getting them promoted, having an excellent season last year and now reaching a final. Also, I'm not sure if it's all his doing, but he's built a very good defence and brings out the best in Gardner, Seb Larson and Bowyer. All players who were deemed surplus to requirements at other clubs.

    That said, however, I do hope they get battered in the CC final! If I'm honest, I don't think B'ham have what it takes to beat us in the final. Good performance nonetheless by reaching the final

  • Comment number 10.

    @ No 7 - you sound a very unhappy chap, why not be pleased, as we Blues fans are, that you are in a cup final with a chance of some silverware?

    You haven't won anything for 6 years, we haven't won anything ever, so let's try and enjoy the game instead of all this spite and vitriol, eh? I'll buy you a pint before the game in Wembley and you can tell what it is that that makes you so bitter, we'll hug it out together.

  • Comment number 11.


    Anyone who knows anything about McLeish's achievements in Scotland know what a fantastic job he done. At that time Rangers were downsizing and he was up against a Celtic team marshalled by the 'legendary' Martin O'Neill.

    McLeish still managed to win the league twice and won the same number of trophies with Rangers as O'Neill did with Celtic. It was, and remains, a sizeable achievement. Granted the SPL may not be competitive but, given he context, his achievement with Rangers was above the ordinary.

  • Comment number 12.

    "Anyone who knows anything about McLeish's achievements in Scotland know what a fantastic job he done."

    Didn't he get Hibs relegated?

    I agree with the comment about downsizing blah blah, but anyone in Scotland who is realistic knows that McLeish is a very lucky manager! Winning two league titles both on the last day of the season (one on goal difference and the other during Celtics Uefa final run), qualifying for the second phase of the CL with the lowest points ever (four draws and one win says it all!) and playing very poor football- with few exceptions! And thats before we begin to mention the duds he signed in amongst the Artetas and Prsos, and the fact he broke the record at Rangers for the longest run of games without a win....

    I don't think anyone truely thinks that McLeish is anything other than ordinary so I don't understand why people (#7)are moaning!

  • Comment number 13.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre, spent a few mintues trying to make some sense of your inane ramblings, i will not label ALL Arsenal fans the same as you & a few others, who seem to think that Arsenal have the God given right to win every game & if they get beaten, then its because the other team are thugs, lucky or the officals were against you!!
    I agree that B'ham are not a great team, like many other teams in the Premier, but when any of these teams do get their chance in the spotlight, prima donnas like Charade, should come down from their ivory tower & give credit where credit is due, yes, Arsenal should beat B'ham in the final, but if the impossible should happen & B'ham manage to beat Arsenal, then please don't have deluded fools like Charade, come on here & bleat that Arseanl were robbed by thugs, luck or one sided officals.

  • Comment number 14.

    ok i agree .

    you brummies enjoy your momment but i realy do hope that come the day you are hammered convincingly i want football to prevail but i have a sneaky suspicion this wont be the case.

    as for us not winning anything for 6 years we have been a mighty lot closer than Birmingham thats for sure. and also may i add competeing each year on several fronts with the same number of squad players as everyone else.

    i do not buy into this notion of " resources " at all, look at Leeds? look at Blackpool? the latter a beacon of fresh air and dispelling the myth spouted by McCliesh/Allerdyce/Pullis that " we cant compete "

    as i say have a great day at wembley but i hope we hammer you and due to really handing man u 3 points for the sake of this trophy i hopw you have a good time in the Championship next season.


  • Comment number 15.

    Isn't being lucky in itself a major quality for a manager to have?

    Incredible achievement by the club to get to the final. It'll be an very tough game to get anything out of but take away the 3-0 reverse at St Andrews last month and our recent record against Arsenal isn't that bad at all, so who knows?

    I ripped into McLeish after the first leg for not playing with an extra striker when we had the momentum so it's only fair I praise him this time for tactical and inspirational greatness.

    That road is long, by blimey, could there be success at last?

  • Comment number 16.

    Is it just me, or has Phil been eating his hyperbole pills for the past few days? I felt like I was reading a suspense novel or something, lol

    Congratulations to McLeish and Birmingham. I really expected West Ham to finish the blues off but football, eh? Bloody hell...
    Hoping for a cracking final with both teams going for a clean win. Should be a good watch.

  • Comment number 17.

    Very poor article Phil

    Praising McLeaish's tactical nous?!?-Phil, all he did was put a beanpole up front and play hoof ball up to him

    I don't get all this praise for McLeish, he is a decisively average manager

    He got lucky at Rangers, his "success" with Brum is a result of some of the most dour and negative tactics out there

  • Comment number 18.

    Should be a good final.

    A nice McNulty-ism from a recent match report;

    “It was a bitter pill for Holloway and his players, who performed magnificently in the first half to take full toll on a shoddy United display, to swallow as they slumped on the turf at the final whistle.”

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    17. At 09:06am on 27 Jan 2011, Terry and Lampard-true Blues brothers wrote:


    spot on and his post match comments confirmed this to be the case it had as you say nothing at all to " tactical nous " but an act of sheer desperation, no wonder he looked relieved at reaching the final.

    I suppose at the end of the day the pundits and media in general will be looking forward to blabbing on about " contrasting " styles etc etc but if all we are to see is Basketball from one side and Football from the other, with the odd stamp or two thrown in for good measure it wont be much of a final.

    Arsenal need to be up for it thats for sure the pundits will have a feild day if we hit the post 12 times and fail to score and one long punt wins the game.

  • Comment number 21.

    Surprised people are not more pleased for Birmingham City and Alex McLeish instead of sniping about his luck and decrying his record in Scotland. Great night for him, Birmingham and all Blues supporters.

    And yes, I will praise his approach, even if it was hardly a subtle one in introducing Nikola Zigic. Anyone questioning it need only to have been at St. Andrew's to witness the change from the first half to the rest of the match. It got the job done.

    Zigic seems a fairly divisive figure among Blues fans, even last night. Would you play him against Arsenal and adopt the same approach?

    I realise West Ham fans may not wish to dwell on what turned into a nightmare for them, but I would be very interested to hear your views as well.

    It was all looking good at half-time, but I must admit I was surprised at how Avram Grant did not seem to adapt to halt the siege his side found themselves under.

    West Ham supporters, be very keen to hear your views - and the other side of the argument if you feel it is the players who need admonishing rather than the manager.

  • Comment number 22.

    As a Gooner I'd have preferred to face WHU but still, the cynic in me wonders if Birmingham will be more up for it than we are?

    See you at Wembley.

  • Comment number 23.

    #19 - "most unwelcoming ground in the country"...?? pardon!!? have you ever been to the den..!!? a ludicrous comment..ok, so its not old trafford but none of their fans are true mancs and its full of prawn sandwiches.. st andrews may not be the best facilitated ground in the country but it certainly isnt as bad as you make out..

    ok, so our chances of winning are very very slim but we know that and, to be honest, arent too bothered..

    with regards to tactics, if you have a 7ft striker what do you expect us to us.. and anyway.. England do it with Crouch.. teams use the tactics that suit the players..

  • Comment number 24.

    Surprised at how Grant didn't seem to adapt his tactics? Don't quite know why you're s surprised Phil. The man hates making changes

    Brings back memories of his time at Chelsea, his tactical ineptitude, his unwillingness to make any sort of change until there is 10-15 minutes of the match to go

    Don't quite know how this man has received so little of the blame for West Ham's shocking season

  • Comment number 25.

    Yeah, what a genius. Sticking a big bloke up front and then hoofing it up to him. They're also lucky West Ham had Rob 'Hero of Rustenberg' Green in goal.

    Never liked McLeish since he walked away from managing his country mid-campaign, to join a nothing team like Birmingham City. What kind of man does that?

    I'm no fan of Arsenal and their precious attitude, but I still hope they stuff Brum in the final.

  • Comment number 26.

    @CHaradeYouAre - seems to be worried about bot hte specialness of the cup AND the authenticity of the Premier league - which do you think suffered again?

    The cup suffered from a team frm Englands 2nd city showing guts and determination in the face of adversity?

    The league suffered from possibly ManU's best performance (until the next game against Blockpool) of the season so far?

    Birmingham City cannot be expected to fight a full scale war on all fronts - but it's not like they sent a reserve team to Old Trafford.

    Uing what he has, Big Eck has achieved a wembley final.

    I'm guessing as a gooner, HaHACHaradeYouAre must simply dislike Birmingham City (probably for the accidental injuries some of his players have sustained at Birminghams hands) - as I am sure, much of the nation will be pleased that teams LIKE Birmingham can achieve such a thing - and thus giving others hope (like Stoke, Wolves, Blackpool etc...) of doing the same.

    Up the Blues - best of luck. Hopefully Arsenal will get the date of the final wrong :)

  • Comment number 27.

    birmingham are a poor club

  • Comment number 28.

    "Zigic seems a fairly divisive figure among Blues fans, even last night. Would you play him against Arsenal and adopt the same approach?"

    Despite what his height would suggest, he's a lot more comfortable with the ball played to his feet. When we played Arsenal at the Emirates earlier in the season, we hardly ever hoofed it up to him. The only reason we lost that day was because Chamakh dived for a penalty. Most of the Blues fans I know have slagged him off from pretty much day one, but I've never lost faith in him. I think he has to play up front with Jerome in the final, Arsenal's 1st leg against Ipswich shows how much they struggle against so called "Rugby tactics".

    P.S We're not JUST a long ball team, we can pass it around quite well when we want to.

  • Comment number 29.

    What i never get, is why teams who are winning and seemingly dominating- like west Ham yesterday- come out in the second half defending so deep and basically park the bus.
    do they think that by putting 10 guys behind the ball the whole half that they are going to cope better with the long balls?
    Surely it would be better for them to kepp two upfield to pressure the oppositions defenders who are supplying the long balls and to keep a number of the opposition defenders occupied?

    Its funny that pretty much any game you watch the team who are chasing an equaliser late on are always allowed to lump the ball in. If you managed to contained the team for so long why not continue to play as you have been?

  • Comment number 30.

    Surely the whole point of any sport is to win. It doesn't matter if you have a much prettier looking way of playing than your opponent. If they score more goals/points/runs etc than you, you lose.

    Alex McLeish and his team won the match and reached the final. Avram Grant and his team lost the match and didn't get to the final. That was all that mattered on the night.

    Why have a completely pointless debate about tactics?

  • Comment number 31.

    I haven't watched the game. But Birmingham were okay last season and are fighting for survival this season. I think Grant seems to thrive on adversity, he really needs West Ham to beat the drop or his career is as good as over. Two clubs two relegations in two seasons can be good for anyone.
    Liverpool prove that by putting two back to back wins together in the league you can go from relegation worry to European hopeful, West Ham, and more likely Birmingham have plenty of time to improve their position, but the pack haven't exactly pulled away. I would imagine this cup final will be a nice reward for Birmingham and they are the type of team Arsenal are prone to slip up against. IF Arsenal lose the final they can start looking for a fresh manager at the start of the season.

  • Comment number 32.

    What does Grant say (or more to the point, doesnt say) at half time?

    We were completely in control, players playing well, in no danger and could have added to the lead. Compare that first 45 with the next 75 and the team was unrecognisable. Actually, it was worse than that, it was a disgrace.

    Birmingham make 1 obvious change at half time bringing Zigic on and we absolutely fell to pieces. If 1 target man makes that much of a difference then what does that say for our team? Truth is, we had no back up plan and no motivation from the sidelines. Grant should have been in there at half time, demanding another goal to kill off the tie.

    Instead we sat back, inviting pressure and then when we needed to chase a goal, we couldnt get the momentum back that we had in the first half.

    The team dont deserve the fans. 4,000 up there freezing our behinds off to watch a capitulation like that.

    Not sure what was up with Noble last night, I would say that was his worst performance for the club, very sloppy on the ball, constantly getting caught out.

    The pitch was terrible, cut up very badly and our players seemed to get bogged down with it. Think that was why we played our best football in the 1st half, when the players were fresher and pitch played better.

    However, no complaints. Birmingham completely deserved the victory. Truth be told, we were lucky to get the tie to extra time anyway.

    Another crushing disappointment, though what else do I expect as a west ham fan?

  • Comment number 33.

    #7, you have been rather harsh on Birmingham's performance at United, they had just lost Dann who has been awesome in their first two seasons in the premier league so their defence is bound to take some time to recover. They also came up against a United playing very fluently.

    I am not surprised to read the anti Brum feeling from Arsenal fans though after what happened to Eduardo and the fact that that game basically stopped your title challenge.

    McLeish is a decent manager. He did well in his first season in the Premier League with Birmingham, they were very difficult to beat, this season though I reckon they are suffering because Foster isn't as good as Joe Hart. Scotland may not be as competitive as the Premier League but Rangers still weren't the number one club when he was there so they won more than they should have which I give him some credit for.

    Arsenal will win the final quite comfortably, no matter how much effort Birmingham put in they just don't have the quality to match the top teams when it comes down to it.

  • Comment number 34.

    Still a mickey mouse cup though....

  • Comment number 35.

    OK. An excellent game. WHU were great for 45 minutes then ran out of steam. It happens. Brum deserved to win. But McNulty, NINE mentions of Grant's "unsuitability" for the job in one blog. Do I sense an agenda here?

  • Comment number 36.

    hope the final is an entertaining one and birmingham go for the throat rather than park the bus - will be hoping for an early arsenal goal so they have to push on a bit

  • Comment number 37.

    Fantastically exciting game, loved it. Big congratulations to Birmingham for the way they turned it around, and McLeish provided fiery inspiration while Grant, as usual, stood stolidly on the sidelines looking like death warmed over.

  • Comment number 38.

    "#7 Management is about doing well with the resources you have, so in this regard McLeish is terrific. It is extremely unlikely they will go down and remember they finished in the TOP HALF last season which you have to agree was a super achievement.

    Infact, it might have got AM manager of the season were it not for our Arry aka GOD! Your lot might play pretty football but what we you won in 5 years?!"

    I agree with most of your post, but can you come up with some thing other than

    5 years
    5 years
    5 years
    5 years
    5 years
    5 years

    seriously. you sound worse than a man u vs liverpool argument.

  • Comment number 39.

    Wow. Two teams in the final who's brand of football equally bore me to sleep. I dont know who I want to win. Guess i'l go Birmingham since I cant stand the Arsenal pansies.

  • Comment number 40.

    Big Eck,

    He is not an inspirational character, you can see that from the look of him during interviews etc...However, Phil is right, he has decent tactical awareness, is a solid (good guy to the players) and has improved Birmingham's league position and win ratio since he came along. Why put him down like an unwanted puppy in bath water all the time?

    He doesn't have a team of silky players so he can't play the silky football, Scotland is a poorer than standard than England but lets face it he took Rangers to the Champions League knock out stage and if it wasn't for Kris Boyd may have got to the semi-final.

    Give him a break, he's barely spend a penny in comparison to every team below him including Wolves.

  • Comment number 41.

    To answer your question on why Grant did nothing to counter Brums hoof-it high tactics, Grant stated in a SKY interview before the match that West Ham can not adapt their tactics, they know one way to play and have to play that way.

    West Ham have the same problems against all the hoof-it-high teams, it is obvious to any manager that the long high ball will ultimately produce chances against them, specially when you have a giraffe waiting to let the ball deflect off of his head, neck, shoulder or arm.

    The only surprise to me was that the Brum manager tried to play West Ham at their own passing game in the first half, but it was painfully obvious to all the Hammers fans that even the Brum manager would realise by half time that his biggest (tallest) weapon was going to be his most successful against the West Ham defense.

    As has been quite correctly pointed out by the Brum supporting posters, (congratulations and I hope you enjoy your day in the capital) winning is the name of the game.
    Brum are in the final and in my opinion, stand a better chance of beating Arsenal than West Ham would have, Arsenal being another side who react badly to the hoof-it-high, direct tactics, although Arsenal are obviously far better at the passing game than West Ham.

    The Brum manager will have to employ his hoof-it-high tactics from the start against Arsenal in the final, or his side could find themselves too far behind at half time to recover from.

  • Comment number 42.


    Not sure where you get your information from? Many children, women, fathers etc all go to watch Birmingham and are very well looked after by everyone around them. There is rarely any trouble at Birmingham matches and even when there is trouble it is most often away from the ground and carried out by people that did not even attend the game. Yes there are occasional instances of trouble just like most football clubs as it is impossible to eliminate 100% as it only takes a couple of idiots to spoil things for everyone.

    I have been on the rough end of quite a few football fans over the years (a bottle was thrown at us while in the stand by visiting liverpool supporters and hit a woman square in the face just in front of me leading her to be taken to hospital, I have had bricks thrown by visiting Leeds supporters, watched as birmingham coaches have had their windows smashed by millwall fans and watched Newcastle fans rampage through Birmingham city centre attacking villa fans) Do I think all these clubs are thugs clubs? No of course not as the trouble is only caused by a small minority and generally looked down on by the rest of the fans.

    As for the quality of Birminghams football, well that is a matter of opinion. When Arsenal are on form they play some of the best football I have seen, but it always depends on which Arsenal turns up as their alter ego certainly does not play great football and I can also remember back to the 90s when they were very famous for just lobing the ball straight down the middle of the pitch (remember the chants "Boring, Boring Arsenal!"?).

    Birmingham deserve to be in the final as much as Arsenal do and as much as West ham would have had they beat us last night. Bring on the Final and lets see a great game hopefully with one team excelling at great flowing football and the other at great tactical play and grit.

    If Birmingham play the first half like they did against west ham last night it will be all over before the half time whistle has blown, but if they come out like they did in the second half there is a good chance of a big upset for Arsenal.

  • Comment number 43.

    @39. does watching barcalona bore you as well? arsenal can be labelled a lot of things but boring?? behave!! and fair play to birmingham, you play to your strengths, if thats what works for you then its daft to do anything else!

  • Comment number 44.

    @ HAHA CharadeYouAre

    Didnt Arsenal rest many players midweek against wigan, and drew 2-2, in order to save there best team to play away against blues on the saturday. So you play a weakened team and wigan get a point and then we get beat by you best XI.

    Is it ok for your team to rest players and effect the relagation battle but not ok for for us to do the same and man utd get the three points they would probabaly get anyway?

    Seems like a typical arsenal fan who only sees what affects his own team...just like Arsene Wenger realy

  • Comment number 45.

    "At 10:30am on 27 Jan 2011, Mr Chelsea wrote:
    Wow. Two teams in the final who's brand of football equally bore me to sleep. I dont know who I want to win. Guess i'l go Birmingham since I cant stand the Arsenal pansies."

    Can't imagine how bored you must be watching chelsea then. Most boring top half of the table team by a mile. ok, i take thast back, i'll put on even with blackburn and stoke.

  • Comment number 46.

    Comment 42 I hope you are right and clearly you know what the situation is at your own club but whenever I see Birmingham on TV there always seems to be a really hostile atmosphere with plent of yellow/orange coated stewards and police trying to keep the Birmingham fans from attacking away support. Mind you I went to Bolton with my club (York) the other week and to be honest it seems most of the few Bolton fans who turned up only came to shout abuse and try to climb into our bit to attack us. Must be a premier league thing......

  • Comment number 47.

    I can't believe that they were saying if Birmingham lost then McLeish could be out of a job, the sack race has gone crazy lately and managers are given no time at all to settle into a club these days. Sacking the manager is not always the right thing to do, take a look at this article

  • Comment number 48.

    @FoxGell (46)

    The stewards are there to stop fans from getting on the pitch for their 30 secs of fame (it is very easy to get on to the pitch at St Andrews) and it is very rare for anything other than mischief to occur. The away fans sit directly under a home stand and nothing ever rains down on them. The other problem is that the stewards as St Andrews seem to stick out like a sore thumb while at other grounds they seem to be more hidden behind advertisement signs etc (there is not enough space around the pitch for this to happen at St Andrews) so there is clearly an incorrect impression being seen on TV.

    There is also a problem with the fact that there are 3 large football teams very close to each other around the city centre which means that the fans can quite easily meet each other (and yet given this there is rarely any trouble at all in fact given the intense rivalry between Villa and Blues you can often find both sets of fans enjoying drinks with each other on matchday evenings).

    There were a mere 17 arrests last night relating to the game and of those only a handful were for violence and even of those it was half west ham, half Birmingham supporters that were arrested and all of the arrests were outside of the ground.

  • Comment number 49.

    Zigic taking all the credit but Cameron Jerome put in a much better performance

  • Comment number 50.

    Wow the Carling Cup still exists?

  • Comment number 51.

    There are far too many sanctimonious Arsenal fans who seem to have forgotten that just 20 years ago their club was the epitomy of boring football....and that it won them a couple of pots to boot.

    I'll be going to Wembley to see my team try to win a trophy, unlike most Arsenal fans it would be the first trophy of note in my lifetime. Heck, it will be the first of note in the clubs lifetime (if the League Cup against Villa in the early days of the competition is discounted)

    HAHA CharadeYouArea and his ilk appear to imply we're not worthy of playing in a final. Well pardon me for us interrupting your perfect vision of how the game should be's comments like that that almost make me hope we win very ugly

    I expect we'll lose, and fear we may get thumped....but then I thought we'd thrown away our chance of going through when we didn't win the first leg against 10 men.

    As for Zigic - he often looks ponderous, but to be fair to him the forwards are often left stranded by a midfield that lacks pace and who spend more time helping defend. In the league at least, Bentley will hopefully improve this situation. Also Jerome isn't always close enough to pick-up on any flick on when we play 442 and he isn't good enough on his own to play 451.

    I'd like to think he will start the Final, but suspect that McLeish may view him as an "impact player" and will start 451 hoping to get to half time all square and effectively make it a 45 minute final...

  • Comment number 52.

    As a neutral I have to say I am fed up with managers like McLeish. Their style is just so typically British. Work hard, defend, defend, defend and try and scrape a goal somehow. No emphasis on passing, skill or technical ability.

    That's why our national game is in the doldrums, and will continue to be for generations.

    If only there were more like Ollie!

  • Comment number 53.


    "Zigic taking all the credit but Cameron Jerome put in a much better performance"

    Jerome would have been anonymous without Zigic up there. Jerome is good at one thing and one thing only and that is running after the ball. When he is on his own up front this just leads him into dead ends and that is only when he the defender does not try to confuse him. However he is more effective with someone like Zigic being able to get to the headers.

    Birmingham desperately need new forwards though as our defense and midfield are not too bad now but our forwards are struggling to get goals (Just take last night, 2 goals from midfielders and 1 from a central defender)

  • Comment number 54.

    @52 spot on

  • Comment number 55.

    Well done Birmingham. An astonishing comeback from a team who looked beat last night. Congratulations.
    However, McLeish didn't outwit anybody last night. Grant stated that West Ham would find it difficult to adapt because of a lack of quality and strength in depth. Trying to play the system they played led West Ham to tire, many are playing well short of match fitness. That, coupled with, some senior players who consistently fail to step up and take responsibility. The tactic was to challenge the lampost and win the second ball, which is high risk. I don't think Grant and Downes could have changed a great deal given the bench but would be interested in your views of how?
    The difference in the sides was not the managers but the ability to change they way they played. It doesn't take a genius to put on the lampost and hoof it high and long if the pitch is cutting up and the opposition will tire, particulary as it by-passes where the game was being lost. Cole tired and could not longer hold the ball which is why West Ham brought on Dyer. Ferguson dropped deeper and hit the ball longer while both Parker and Noble stuggled with fitness. This created the space.
    One final thing, if McLeish had been so convinced that this system would win the game might he have started with Zigic?

  • Comment number 56.

    Arsenal are all show...and no go.

    All the gear... and absolutely no idea.

  • Comment number 57.

    "'s comments like that that almost make me hope we win very ugly"

    regardless of any comments made its the only way you really know in order to survive playing in the premership.

    as a previous poster has pointed out 52. At 11:29am on 27 Jan 2011, davidmcc123 wrote

    this is a major factor in the decline of technical skill in england.

    carry on playing ugly in fact i can forsee some very " ugly " scenes both of and on the field of play when the fight for relegation begins.
    all those " passionate " tackles flying in left right and centre in order to survive the drop. a few more " stamps " !!! perhaps just think if you channel that passion into actually bothering to play against man u i could have some sympathy.

    I forsee your " great " manager taking you down to the championship.

    have a nice day at wembley.

    PS: leave the goal posts in tact please others will want to use them after you.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ HAHA CharadeYouAre

    Are you bitter because, when it came to it, Birmingham had a plan B that your beloved Arsenal seem to lack when they're up against it? In that respect you could argue that Mcleish is every bit as intelligent as a manager as Mr. Wenger because at the end of the day he's bringing the potential out of individuals and players in a system that works for them rather than blaming losses on youth, inexperience or that the other team were out to kick his boys off the park.

    Maybe we should ask you how you'd feel about a more direct approach when Arsenal try to beat Barcelona at their own game and get humbled doing so?

  • Comment number 59.

    56. At 11:38am on 27 Jan 2011, Superpony wrote:


    your a useless Carp Angler as well then.

  • Comment number 60.


    You are very mistaken. Macleish plays to the strengths of the team and the weaknesses of the opposition. Birmingham just do not have the quality to out play teams like ManU or Arsenal on skill and passing as unfortunately these teams have stretched the cost of great players to galactic proportions so only the select few clubs can afford them (and even those can't really afford them if the debts are taken into account). Birmingham can and do play some very nice football at times but when it comes to playing the top teams they have to play carefully otherwise they would be torn to shreds. To be honest in my opinion it is teams like ManU where all players surround the ref at every opportunity especially Giggs who will run from the other end of the pitch to get to the ref- that bring football down or teams like Chelsea who will buy brilliant players seemingly just to keep them away from other teams as they spend more time on the bench than on the pitch while also pushing the cost of players higher and higher.

    Also defend, defend, defend then scrape a goal is not at all the reason for ruining the national game as Italy have won far more world cups than England and they do it by playing in exactly this way! I have no doubt that if mcleish keeps Birmingham in the Premier league for a few more seasons and the team improves accordingly then you will see far more of the passing game from them.

  • Comment number 61.

    @ Andrew Gillies

    "He doesn't have a team of silky players so he can't play the silky football"

    Neither does Holloway (except adam maybe) but blackpool play some pretty silky stuff.

    @ the_fantastic_alistair

    "Management is about doing well with the resources you have"

    I suppose then that this is a good achievement because Birmingham have no resources. Compared to say Blackpool though (I hate to use them again as an example but its true,) Birmingham have quite a lot of resources. So why are they above you?

    On another note, hope the finals a good'un. Though I get a sneaking feeling the most likely match to occur will be like arsenals second leg against Ipswich, and I hope it turns out the same. Not because I dislike Birmingham, but because I loves the gunners.

  • Comment number 62.

    58. At 11:40am on 27 Jan 2011, Jammy_Boonhead wrote:


    regarding our game against Barca. this actually holds no worrys for me at all, im more concerned with what happens when we meet schalke in the next round.

  • Comment number 63.

    @ Hammer #32 - pretty much spot on.

    Phil, you asked for WHU views. IMO, the whole sorry business is totally encapsulated by a single quote, which appropriately enough, comes from Avram Grant himself:

    "I didn't know what to say to them at half-time. But then Birmingham put pressure on the team and we didn't deal well with the two corners that led to their first two goals."

    Evidently, Grant wasn't astute enough to think that McLeish and his players would came out firing on all cylinders. He perhaps expected that another Premier League side, in the semi final of the League Cup, at home, was going to roll over?

    Is it somehow surprising that Birmingham were going to come out hard, and if there was any doubt about how, the six and a half foot centre forward might have been a bit of a clue.

    On this occasion, I can't fault the players (although a couple - Noble, Parker) have had better nights - I thought the work rate was generally very good, but the tactics were all wrong - we got bogged down, and defended far, far too deep, and just kept lumping the ball away every time it came near.

    Yet another capitulation from a strong position - the confidence in the dressing room must be shattered.

  • Comment number 64.

    @HAHA CharadeYouAre (57)

    Are you old enough to remember the 90s?

    "Boring, Boring, Arsenal!"

    If so, were you complaining so bitterly about hoofing the ball forward then?

  • Comment number 65.

    58. At 11:40am on 27 Jan 2011, Jammy_Boonhead wrote:


    it has nothing to do with being " bitter "

    what erks me is a one trick pony manager is being classified as " great "
    clearly he is not " great " if he was you would not be 2 points away from the bottom of the PL and also a great manager would have at least known how to give man u a game even though he had both eyes on a second leg tie for the CC.

  • Comment number 66.

    Deary me, some of you lot need to do some simple research & thought before you type nonsense. Managing in the SPL is 'easy'??? and how bad he was at Hibs??? etc...

    As Motherwell manager:
    "His first season at Motherwell saw him take the Lanarkshire club to second in the Premier League behind Walter Smith's Rangers. However, he failed to build on this success and the next two season were spent in relegation battles."

    As Hibs manager:
    "McLeish took over a struggling Hibernian side, which was relegated from the Scottish Premier Division in 1998 despite a slight upturn in fortunes under McLeish. He then guided the Edinburgh team back to the Scottish Premier League at the first attempt by winning the First Division championship."

    "Hibernian consolidated in their first season back in the top division, finishing mid-table and reaching the Scottish Cup semi-final. In the 2000–01 season, Hibs started very strongly. Eventually they had to settle for third place and a Scottish Cup final appearance."

    Overall a pretty good record, especially for managing teams in the SPL outside the Old Firm.

  • Comment number 67.

    Congrats to both Arsenal and BCFC for getting to the final. I don't know why there are so many bitter people on these blogs. I may want Utd to win everything every season but being realistic I know this cannot happen, so when we are out of a tournament I just sit back and enjoy watching football (unless it's Liverpool, Leeds or Man City :p). It probably won't be an open game as Birmingham know that Arsenal will probably trash them if they played like that, but Arsenal have shown real frailties this season and BUFC can exploit them, and if the defensive problems at Arsenal aren't sorted this month then Birmingham have a real chance. As for all the haters posting on this blog, grow up.

  • Comment number 68.

    Someone please sack Grant i dont know how he stayed in the job so long. I think the extra time team talk in the CL final with Chelsea tells you everything you need to know about the leadership qualities he has. When he just stood on the peripheries and let the players manage themselves. Would mourinho have ever done that?

    I dont think so, Grant needs to go and thy need to get someone ho can at least inspire the players. Its also not as if Grant is a great tactician either in the stile of say bentez who may be cold but is at least tactically aware.

  • Comment number 69.

    @Quick_Single (63)

    Commiserations for last nights loss as although I do think we deserved the win in the end we certainly did not show any fight in the first half of either leg.

    I am sure as long as the west ham players can keep themselves motivated they can stay up as they certainly show some quality at times (we could certainly do with your forwards). As for Grant, I am still not sure about him, but he has certainly not had a good time of it and Sullivan (as usual) seems to have treated him terribly.

    I hope West ham stay up (although not at the expense of us ;-)).

  • Comment number 70.

    7. At 08:00am on 27 Jan 2011, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    "the so called best Leauge in Europe"

    which is called as such only by one country in Europe

  • Comment number 71.

    Nikola Zigic = The Balkan Kevin Francis.

  • Comment number 72.

    Congrats Brum and to my fellow hammers supporters yet more bubbles burst. We saw once again last night why we are league strugglers; inconsistency and naivity. We all knew that once Brum got one goal then we would capitulate and so it proved. No excuses please (lack of fit players and near misses)--we were just not good enough over 90 minutes. In both games we played like heros for the first 45 minutes...but then we just don't know how to suck up pressure and do the simple things correctly.
    Saw Dyer take a fall on the touchline...did he get back on? Or did he go straight to the ambulance? He should have scored with a simple sidefoot and he shouldn't have been caught so badly in possession for the winning goal BUT that said we conceded yet another soft headed goal (what was Upson doing?) and for the winner we conceced our first goal this season from ouside the box!!

  • Comment number 73.

    Congrats to the Blue Boys for making the final from a Villa fan. The second City teams are starting to take Wembley over!

    I can't help but have to say though that we Villa boys got one hell of a battering on here and everywhere else over how the Carling Cup is mickey mouse. I just hope maybe this years efforts have changed your perspective on the cup we have won more than pretty much everyone else, and it can be given the credit it deserves the other side of the City.

  • Comment number 74.

    I mustve watched a different game last night because I thought Zigic looked a player short on confidence due to his managers lack of belief.
    Brum got to the final more on the back of a wilting West Ham and carried by good home support than McLeish management/tactics. Who plays 1 upfront at home in a semi-final!?. Dour tactics by a percentages manager.
    Zigic looked lifeless and hardly ever chased back when West Ham were searching for a goal that would have nicked the tie on away goals. Jerome was far more influential and put in a proper shift.
    Birmingham gained far more from the runs of Bowyer and Gardner than they did from any longballs.

  • Comment number 75.

    Both teams played their part in a really exciting game. It should be an interesting final. Football isn't about being eye-catching, it's about being effective and I think Birmingham have a good chance.

  • Comment number 76.


    Did you even watch the game. Or for that matter even read the reports?

    "Who plays 1 upfront at home in a semi-final!?. Dour tactics by a percentages manager."

    Check your facts before posting, avoids making yourself look silly.

  • Comment number 77.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre

    At least Birmingham are difficult to beat, which is more than can be said for your sorry bunch. 2-0 up at home at HT, then what happened.....

  • Comment number 78.

    as a neutral watching the game (with WestHam supporting friends) i was hoping they would win. Only caught the second half and then ET, but was a cracking game i thought, even if Birmingham played balls into Zigic - which you can't criticise, thats surely the idea of playing him.

    I thought they were quite lucky with the winner though - looked a clear foul on Dyer by Carr to allow him to win the ball. And I felt Barry Ferguson was lucky to stay on as well after kicking out at Dyer (following what looked like an innocuous clash when Dyer had the ball) - seen many players sent off for similar (even Obinna's in the first leg was the same sort of thing). Either of these decisions going West Ham's way would have changed the game.

  • Comment number 79.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:
    "regardless of any comments made its the only way you really know in order to survive playing in the premership.

    as a previous poster has pointed out 52. At 11:29am on 27 Jan 2011, davidmcc123 wrote

    this is a major factor in the decline of technical skill in england."

    Please tell me when the technical skill in England was actually better? In the Wenger generation, how many of Arsenal's best "technical" players have actually been English? Is it not the case that the football you play is mostly down to the fact you have a horde of foreign imports?

    Unfortunately not many managers have Wengers nose for the gifted players he finds from the continent, but then similarly not many clubs have Arsenals spending power, scout network and generally be able to offer Champions League football season in and out.

    ...and besides...its all very noble saying how the game should be played, but then Arsenal are never likely to be in a relegation battle are they? I daresay you wouldn't have such a holier than thou attitude if you supported a team that

    ....and people can quote Blackpool as much as they like - but to a large extent no one expected them to stay up, and the limited spending there is no real pressure on them. If they survive in the Premier League for 2/3 seasons - after which point their financial commitments will more in line of other teams - I'll be suprised if they are so carefree.

    "carry on playing ugly in fact i can forsee some very " ugly " scenes both of and on the field of play when the fight for relegation begins."

    ...oh yeah, I forgot: Birmingham fan = thug.

    "all those " passionate " tackles flying in left right and centre in order to survive the drop. a few more " stamps " !!! perhaps just think if you channel that passion into actually bothering to play against man u i could have some sympathy."

    ....still not over Eduardo are you? It was a clumsy challenge by a player who's disciplinary record should show you was not the type to make malicious lunges. No doubt, like many Arsenal fans, you'll have selective memory of some of the challenges Arsenal players produce.

    "I forsee your " great " manager taking you down to the championship." wouldn't be the first time we've been relegated, and it wouldn't be the last. In the world outside of the "big 4", fans deal with these sort of things.

    "PS: leave the goal posts in tact please others will want to use them after you."

    ....but after we've won after barging the goalkeeper, and crippling Fabregas I'll want a little keepsake

  • Comment number 80.

    @ HAHA CharadeYouAre

    Those grapes must be sour. Blimey, imagine the amount of egg on your face if Arsenal lose the final!

    The best team over two legs won the game. How can it be otherwise?

  • Comment number 81.

  • Comment number 82.

    'McLeish outwits Grant'

    Presumably that's what's called damning with faint praise.

    Seriously though, congratulations Brum fans. It's lovely to see a bit of glory going the way of a club not in the top four.

    Have a great day out.

  • Comment number 83.

    @76 JP.... yes I watched the game..though tbh I was half watchin Liverpool v Fulham at same time.
    Yes I realise that Derbyshire was in the team with Jerome but I didnt think they played like an orthodox 2 together.
    I actually really rate Zigic from watchin a lot of Bundesliga on ESPN. I just feel he needs a proper run in the team but not on his own. You have the players like Larson to provide for him ....just Brum need to be a bit more adventurous against the top 6 and not set up to bore them to death. If they have a go at Arsenals back 4 at Wembley i think they will get the rewards. Nothing to lose and they will only gain from neutral support.

  • Comment number 84.

    The simple failure of some football fans to allow “lesser” teams to have their day in the sun is just astounding. I’m so sick of watching the big teams disappoint in major finals, it’s refreshing that a team like BCFC has a chance of some silverware, and a place in Europe. That’s surely what the Carling Cup is all about?

    McLeish has come in for some criticism from blues fans (myself included) but at the end of the day, this is a monumental achievement. People seem to forget that we tore West Ham to shreds in the 1st leg by playing some superb stuff. And have the Blackpool fans forgotten that we have done the double over them by ;playing them at their “own game”. We had our backs against the wall last night and plan B was to throw on the Big Man. He’s never implemented those tactics this season unless we are desperate. Maybe Holloway and Grant should take note.

    I was at The Emirates earlier this season and Zigic scored a superb goal. We should’ve won that game only for a typical cheating dive from an Arsenal player. So Arsenal fans, pipe down and just enjoy what I hope will be a terrific final.

  • Comment number 85.

    Great night for Birmingham and fully deserved, in my opinion anyway. Lets hope you leave the arrogant Arsenal fans that seem to think the trophy is an absolute certainty looking silly.

    Although after hearing 'we're Birmingham City, we'll do what we want' being sung last night, could I ask if you're planning to steal any more of our songs?!

  • Comment number 86.

    Funny thread. About 25 people have replied to one person.

    Here are my thoughts on the final.

    Arsenal will win, but it won't be all one sided. Birmingham will have some good spells of pressure with long balls and set pieces, but will tire late on after lots of ball chasing. Birmingham have just lost a bit of their defencive solidity this season, while Arsenal have looked good at the back and red hot up front since the turn of the year (15-1 in the last five games, not bad). How ever, if Fabregas or Van Persie should get a knock and miss the game, I feel it will be even.

    As for Birmingham's style. They can kick it long if they want, that's their call. What I can't stand for, though, is their over aggressive play style. We seem to lose lose a player every time we face them. Some one tell Lee Bowyer it's football, not kick boxing.

    I hope for a cracking final, with both teams playing their best and Arsenal coming out winners =)

  • Comment number 87.


    Fair dos then mate, but it was definitely a 4-4-2, even if they didn't exactly play well together.

    Starting to agree with you on Zigic, especially if yesterday is anything to go by.

  • Comment number 88.

    Anyone talking about McLeish being lucky in Scotland is talking rubbish. You can't be lucky to win a league, you have to be the best team over 38 games. McLeish took the mighty Gers to titles, cups and European pride against the best Celtic team in the last 20 years. He also led Scotland to THAT result against France. He's a legend, lay off him you bitter lot.

  • Comment number 89.

    Arsenal have 36 yellow cards and 5 red cards compared to our 31 yellow cards and 1 red, surely that says it all? Arsenal fans seem to forget football is a physical game and instrumental aggression is LEGAL. I'd like to hear Arsenal fans opinions if Keown or Adams played against them now.

    Finally whats with all the animosity towards blues, we got to the final so therefore deserve to be there.

  • Comment number 90.

    Look on the'll be cheaper to watch Birmingham and West Ham in the Championship :-)

  • Comment number 91.

    @ #86 "Derek" RE What I can't stand for, though, is their over aggressive play style. We seem to lose lose a player every time we face them. Some one tell Lee Bowyer it's football, not kick boxing.

    You clearly don’t remember Wilshere’s two footed lunge on Bowyer at The Emirates this season. He was out for a while and it could’ve been a career ender. Pot? Kettle. Your team isn’t a bunch of angels you know. Arsenal have an AWFUL disciplinary record under Wenger.

  • Comment number 92.

    "@39. does watching barcalona bore you as well? arsenal can be labelled a lot of things but boring?? behave!! and fair play to birmingham, you play to your strengths, if thats what works for you then its daft to do anything else!"

    Dont be daft, you cant compare Arsenal to Barca, Barca can play a different way if needed and grind out results.

    Arsenal, well this is Arsenal.

    Pass,Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass, Notice a player within 5 miles of you, FALL OVER DRAMATICALLY, Wave arms about, miss long ball 70 yards towards your goal, concede a goal.

    Repeat, Repeat....

    However congratulations to both Arsenal and Birmingham on reaching the final, and may the best team win on the day.

  • Comment number 93.


    Will you please stop labelling all Arsenal fans as arrogant, high and mighty, speaking from their ivory towers etc.! We're not all like that.

    I'm a life long Arsenal fan (only 29 though) and I was proud of Arsenal lifting the UEFA cup and playing horrible football and i'm proud of them now for the way we play (or at least try to play) despite not having won anything for what seem a lifetime! I support Arsenal coz I'm orignally from North London and not because they play pretty football now or have won things in the past.

    Congratulations to Birmingham C for reaching the final! I hope people won't label me as being arrogant for thinking we're going to win though!

    Also, I hope I won't be called arrogant for pointing out to the so-called Mr Chelsea that labeling Arsenal as boring is quite a strange statement. I may be biased, but I cannot imagine anybody thinking our style of football has been boring these past year. If you say we're boring, you must think watching your own team is worse than watching paint dry as Chelsea are hardly entertainers now, are they?

    Anyway, again congrats to Brum. I like seeing a "smaller" team reach finals! I even enjoyed Millwall getting to the FA Cup final.

    As for the comment about only English people stating that the PL is the best league in the world, you're probably right. However, I've lived in Holland and France and I often heard people there say that it was definitely one of the toughest and most entertaining leagues in the world! Not a bad compliment to get as an Englishman!

  • Comment number 94.

    Well done Birmingham great comeback against a very poor West Ham, whom I support.
    However as for McLeish being a great manager, erm not really I have to disagree, what he done in Scottish football I mean against Celtic shouldnt really count and his comments regarding Zigic should have really read a little more like this "He was unplayable - after all if he doesn't know or have any control over what he is doing with his body or the football, then what chance do the opposition have"

  • Comment number 95.

    i wasnt comparing us to barca i was simpley pointing out the fact that arsenal are far from boring - especially when compared to chelsea although i must admit that under ancelotti they play better stuff than they previously did

    oh and you missed out another pass :)

  • Comment number 96.

    For all those slagging off AM, remember he was ONE win away from taking the Sco national teamto the Euro Championships at the expense of France or Italy, the 2 teams who contested the previous WORLD CUP FINAL!!! They did the double over Les Bleus and smashed WC q. finalists Ukraine as well...So he's a rather good manager ;)

  • Comment number 97.

    Arsenal haven't had a decent goalkeeper since Dave Seaman & despite playing some good football, you have to laugh at the antics of recent Gooner keepers, priceless or what!!
    I know a few Gooner fans & they are able to take their rare defeats on the chin, but for me, when baby Gallas threw his toys out his pram & sat on the pitch at St. Andews in a big huff complete with pouted bottom lip, sums up the big girls blouse's on here.
    I can't help thinking that Man Utd supporters are able to take defeat better than Gooners, Chelsea & Liverpool & those "supporters" who think B'ham is a rough house, must have led very sheltered lives following their teams, EVERY club has their morons & a few of them come on here thinking Arsenal are the greatest team in England, but what have they won recently, OK they might win the Carling cup against boring, thugggish Blues, big deal, compared to Man Utd & Chelsea, thats just a mantel piece trophy, try mixing it with the big boys, instead of knocking teams like Brum, Stoke & Ipswich.
    As for West Ham, Grant should have had an answer to Blues second half assault, perhaps some one like Di Canio, to put some fire in the players, Parker & Cole must be looking for the exit at Upton Park & as for Benni McCarthy, did he break into a sweat, hardly touched the ball & looked half the player he was at Blackburn, bring back Mido quick.

  • Comment number 98.

    Your match report is incorrect. Kevin Philips was an unused substitue. Your getting Philips confused with Murphy.

  • Comment number 99.

    Doesn't Alex McLeish look a little bit like an old Tintin in the press photo?

  • Comment number 100.

    Zigic is one of the worst players I've ever seen.

    Praising someone who is 6'7" for winning aerial balls is amusing. Anytime he had to hold the ball or play a simple pass he was shocking. I saw him get a ball from Jerome and instead making use of it, he kicks it out into touch???

    Shows how bad West Ham are....


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