May 2009 Archives
It finally appears that the long-running (and very boring) Bobo Balde saga might be drawing to a close.
The Celtic outcast has had as many links to the West Midlands as Kevin Phillips - yet the Guinea defender has probably never set foot in the region.
That may be about to change with the 33-year-old finally looking closer to sealing a move to Blues that was originally mooted 12 months ago as his contract at Parkheard enters its final weeks.
In the last year Balde, who has also been heavily linked to Villa and Wolves in the past, has been happy to take his ÃÂ£30,000-a-week salary while enjoying the odd kickabout with Celtic's youth team (as well as continuing to develop his love of photography, as has been suggested by sources in Scotland).
Why anybody would want to sign a player with a proven track record of being a troublesome character remains to be seen, but Big Eck obviously has faith in the big African.
I was interested to see the name Andy Cole linked back with Birmingham City.
However, on closer inspection, Alex McLeish is not adding another experienced head to his recently promoted squad.
No, this latest news isn't about Andy (sorry, Andrew) Cole the retired striker who was on loan at St Andrew's for the tail-end of Blues' last promotion-winning campaign in 2007, this time it's Andy Cole the consultant agronomist for Sports Turf Research Institute.
While McLeish plots his summer moves, the St Andrew's pitch is currently being ripped up to make way for a long-awaited undersoil heating system and a much-needed new surface.
And a Mr Cole, who knows more about planting seeds than planting balls in the back of the net, gives his expert view here
I couldn't agree more with Villa boss Martin O'Neill's view on the all-new Europa League (UEFA Cup to you and I).
In it's current and future format, it is still a poor man's Champions League and will always remain so until the group structure is scrapped.
A straight knockout would be far more exciting, entertainingly unpredictable and would also stop managers moaning about the congested fixture schedule that the competition creates.
I'M AFRAID I raised a few eyebrows with my line of questioning at Villa's post-match press conference following the victory over Hull - including Martin O'Neill's.
After filling my dictaphone with all of the necessary reaction quotes I tried to take advantage of the manager's happy mood by asking him about the goalscorer's latest fashion fad.
"Martin, is there any reason why John Carew has modelled his eyebrows on Ming the Merciless?" I enquired, after noticing the Norwegian had shaved stripes into his brows.
To which O'Neill replied: "I have looked at his face, but you wouldn't believe this, Mat, I didn't check his eyebrows.
"I think he would be very concerned about me going that close. I think he might look at me in a different light!"
Despite their promotion, Birmingham City fans have still never rated Alex McLeish as their Messiah but, as the picture below suggests, Big Eck must possess some kind of magic.........
Relive the jubliant scenes at the Madejski Stadium and hear the views of Blues correspondent Colin Tattum, boss Alex McLeish and goal-scoring hero Keith Fahey by clicking here.