Being a veteran of Luton 1988 and Zaragoza 1995, I wasn’t surprised Birmingham 2011 went the same way. My Dad was also with me, veteran of Swindon, Leeds, Ipswich, West Ham and Valencia – the writing was really on the wall.
(Can I just say my Dad was also there in 1970 (Fairs Cup),1971, 1979 and me in 1987, 1993 (x2) and 2002- so not all bad!)
The Carling Cup has always been to me a very minor trophy in the grand scheme of things, but it represented our easiest chance of silverware and get that 6 year monkey off our back for bit.
I was very excited to get tickets – a day out at Wembley is always fun – but as the heavens opened – again, the writing was on the wall.
I must say, the Arsenal fans disappointed me. Just like at the Emirates, many seats remained empty right up to kick off, giving the Birmingham crew the shouting rights at Wembley. Good luck to them – if we really wanted to end our 6 year wait – they were waiting for nearly half a century. Their fans wanted it more than us – that was clear. The writing was on the wall.
Our fans didn’t seem to be really up for it until we had our backs against the wall (after the 1st goal) and when we turned the screw with about 15 mins to go.
For me, the writing was on the wall once we knew Cesc and Theo were out – this team just don’t seem to function when some of the cogs are out missing. Without Theo, we have to play in front of teams and without Cesc we don’t have anyone as good playing balls through.
We started OK, but no surprise that their first set piece produced a goal from that lanky annoying Zigic. We all know we can’t defend set pieces – so no surprise there. We responded well and duly got our reward with a fine goal by RVP after Jack rattled the cross bar.
It was tinged with see RVP go down – when he does, he rarely gets up. To his credit, he did, but once he went off, the writing was on the wall. I just couldn’t see how we would score (especially with Bendtner and Chamakh on!). If early rumours are true and he is out for a bit, the writing is on the wall for the rest of the season.
What was interesting, when Birmingham scored, hundreds of gooners got up and left – not sure to where, but I hope a majority missed RVP’s goal – are people incapable of sitting for 45 mins and cheer on their team? If you have weak bladders, stop drinking. If you needed another pint, you may have a drink problem.
The opening 20 mins of the 2nd half came and went, where we looked ok, but I really enjoyed the last 15 mins or so where we really tried to turn the screw – Extra Time was the last thing we needed. From what we mustered – well played Ben Foster – who was equal to everything.
What can I say about their winner? Well done to Dave and Chesney, the now proud holders of the Gus Caesar League Cup Gaff award. I am not going to dwell on it – but someone said to me that the reason it happened was because both couldn’t understand ‘Mine’ in their respective languages.
A lot have now called on mental strength for the rest of the campaign. Wenger’s team over the last 5/6 years have ridden on confidence. When that goes – so does our season and I think the one minor trophy may have cost us the three major ones. I go back to the defence not being good enough and the squad not being big/strong/experienced enough.This squad is not equipped to play in England.
I feel very sorry for Jack Wilshire in particular – he was again magnificant. Rosicky inclusion baffled most. It can only be becasue Diaby, once again, must be injured. The Glass Brigade is back in force and will cost us.
So let’s forget about this. Well done Birmingham – we just couldnt shake them and they were always in it.
Let’s try to look forward to a big 2 weeks of our season – Orient, Sunderland, Barca and Manure (maybe). All I can say is that the writing is on the wall for us.