BIRMINGHAM CITY 1 DERBY COUNTY 0 / There’s No Point in Not Being Friends With Someone if You Want to be Friends With Them

January 28, 2009

Kept updated via text whilst out in Manchester)

DERBY: Bywater; Connolly (c), Albrechtsen, Addison, Stewart; Barazite (Sterjovski – 74), Savage, Green, Teale (Villa – 64); Commons; Hulse
OTHER SUBS: Carroll, Nyatanga, Barnes

Not a game we’d expected to win, but by God, a draw would have been a good result.

Tommo was in Manchester and we were out at ‘No Point In Not Being Friends’, Chris Killen and Sally Cook’s spoken word night at the Deaf Institute.  It was a special one, because Chris’ debut novel The Bird Room came out last week – more on that later.


We were having a drink in the middle bar when the text came in from Joe.  1-0.  Carsley.

As the night wound on, I was sure we would equalise (I always am), but then my dad called me, miserable, to tell me it had finished 1-0 and see how I had got on in London.  He rang just as the author Jenn Ashworth was launching into her reading.  She is incredibly softly spoken and the place was utterly hushed.  My ringtone, even from my pocket, was a huge embarrassment as I hustled outside in triple time.  Fortunately, I was stood very close to the exit.

(It’s only the standard issue tone, by the way – not ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’, or anything like that.)

During breaks between readings, Tommo and I went outside, to moan about the state of the team.  It hit me with brutal certainty that the problem is goals – looking at the stats confirmed this.  We haven’t scored in four league matches now.  The pressure is on Rob Hulse to deliver big-time, because the rest of the strikers – Ellington, Villa and Varney – have six league goals between them.  Hulse has got seven.  That’s just not enough for the top scorer at this point in the season.

I never rated him when he was at Derby, but by God, he's had a good career

Carsley - I never rated him when he was at Derby. I was wrong.

Hulse is going to have to score a lot more league goals and the others are going to have to chip in too.  Varney, Villa, Barnes, Barazite, Commons, Ellington and Green all have what Clough Snr referred to as a ‘moral responsibility’ to score.

Clough Jnr has referred to a lack of willingness to go into the six-yard box.

“That’s where you get your goals, but it’s also where you get hurt”, he said, after the draw with Forest.

“Are you saying your players aren’t brave enough?” Colin Gibson asked him.

“They’ll get brave enough over the next few weeks,” retorted Clough.

Nigel - in for the long haul

Nigel - in for the long haul

They’re going to have to, because last night’s results conspired to dump us into the relegation zone.

The current system is a 4-4-1-1, with either Commons or Barnes in behind Hulse, although Villa was brought on to replace Teale after Carsley’s goal, which meant 4-4-2 again.  But still no goals.

Why no Barnes?

Tommo had to shoot off to get his last train, but I stayed out late at the Deaf Institute.  It was nice to congratulate Chris Killen on his achievement – getting his first novel published by Canongate, no less.  I just finished it and I’ll review it once the hangover has kicked out.  It was a good night – local luminaries Socrates Adams-Florou, Sally Cook, Sian Cummins and Joe Stretch (love him or hate him) read too, amongst others.  I missed Richard Milward, author of Ten Storey Love Song, because I’d been out for a cig with Anne-Laure (whose new shop is opening in Affleck’s Palace on Friday).  We came back in just as he was finishing his reading.  He had a huge orange box on his head.

Once I got home, I sat staring mutely, disbelieving, at the results and the table. The bastards had all won – Doncaster, Watford, Forest, even fucking Charlton.  Southampton had drawn with Norwich, was the only sliver of good news.

We were 22nd in the Championship.

It’s ugly and it’s painful and if there was ever a must win game, it’s our next league fixture – Coventry City, home, Saturday.

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