Friday, 27 May 2011

And So It Begins...

As the greality of Championship life after relegation from the Premier League begins to set in, the transfer season has officially begun at St. Andrews. First to officially leave was Jiranek, followed by other players whose contracts had similarly come to an end and an option was not going to be taken up, as well as the loan players who returned to their parent clubs.

Martin Jiranek
Singing in the Summer for cover for Johnson and Dann, the Czech Republic international didn't get much of a look in until he somewhat cemented his place against West Ham in the cup after Dann's untimely injury. His performance in the Carling Cup Final was brilliant. In a game which he hailed the highlight of his career, he put on a magnificent performance and seeing him take the ball off a number of Arsenal players with such a cool and calm attitude was great to watch. His death stare is pretty intimidating too! Hard as nails and a good solid defender. Offers in Russia saw him leave the club the other day and I wish him the best of luck in the future.

Stuart Parnaby
Unfortunately plagued by injuries, it is safe to say we haven't been able to see the best of Stuart Parnaby. Signing from Middlesbrough in 2007, he made the majority of appearances when we were in the Championship in 2008/09, and showed signs of what a great defender he is then. He's struck up a great relationship with the fans via Twitter and from that I've found out what a top class and down to earth man he is. It's refreshing to know that footballers actually have time for their fans, and I want to wish him the best of luck for the future because people like him deserve a bit of good fortune.

Kevin Phillips
Playing a big part in Blues history since he signed, Super Kevin Phillips has been a brilliant acquisition. Scoring the goals to help us gain promotion back in 2008/09, Phillips has been a rare starter in the team, yet he's popped up with important goals in the appearance he made, his last minute equaliser against Arsenal last season to score his 250th goal is one that sticks out. At a few years shy of 40 years of age, he was still scoring at the highest level and he'd be worth a punt for any of the promoted teams because like he's proved time and time again: he's still got it. Thank Kevin for the goals, absolute legend in the Midlands.

Lee Bowyer
Bowyer's arrival at Blues came with raised eye-brows. Upon trying to sign him a few years previous, fans had actually made a petition as to not have the "racist thug" (to steal a quote of everybody who thinks they know Lee Bowyer) at our club. A few years on and those same fans were eating their words. He grew up when he came to Blues, and became a better person for it. I remember his debut, a really awful game against Cardiff on a freezing January afternoon, he scored in the last minute to equalise. From then on he's been an asset to the Blues team, creating a wonderful midfield partnership with Barry Ferguson he played with passion, fight and even chipped in with a few great - and important - goals. He started the comeback against West Ham, and he was in the Carling Cup winning side. What else can I say? Thank you Lee Bowyer, I hope more people have a more positive view of him now, because he's not the person people make him out to be.

Seb Larsson
It's been a weird season for Seb Larsson. Unsure about his future, transfer speculation going on for the majority of the season, and fans actually booing him when he came on the pitch at Old Trafford. Yet the performances he's put in this season tell a different story. A real hard worker who will run all day for you, he really is a great player. Maybe not the box to box winger we want, but he gives you the grafting side, and also takes brilliant free kicks while he's at it. For his performances over the five years he has been here; for the freekicks he has scored; for THAT goal at Spurs a few seasons ago and for that mazy run from the half way line to seal promotion against Sheffield Wednesday, I will remember him. Thank you for the memories Seb.

Maik Taylor
Initially signing on a one year loan deal from Fulham, Maik Taylor made a permanent switch to the club in 2004 and since then has played an important role in the Premier League, promotions and unfortunately relegations. Boasting over 200 appearances for the club, the experienced shot stopper has been a great and reliable servant to the club over the years he has been here and has played a big role in the team over that time. Whatever he goes on to do in the future, be it playing for another club until he retires or going into coaching, I wish him the best of luck. Genuine down to earth guy and I want to thank him for the many great performances he has put in whilst being in a Blues shirt over the years.

Amongst these, Alex Hleb, Matt Derbyshire and David Bentley, the three rather unsuccessful loanees, have returned to their parent clubs. While things did not work out the way we wanted to to for the trio, I wish them the best of luck in the future.

Of course there is one loan player that made one of the biggest impacts in the club's history, and despite the fact he only played a handful of games for the club he will always be remembered: Obafemi Martins. For that goal in the Carling Cup Final he will always be a hero; it may have been a goal anyone could have scored, the "easiest goal" he has ever scored, but he was in the right place at the right time to win the Carling Cup for Blues after another wonderful mishap by an Arsenal goalkeeper. One last time for the road: who put the ball in the Arsenal net...

Amongst all the goings out, captain Stephen Carr, goalkeeper Colin Doyle and young Spaniard Enric Valles who has been out for most of the season with an injury have both added an extra year to their deals keeping them at the club until the end of the 2011/12 season. Promising youngsters Ashley Sammons and Luke Hubbins have both been offered six month contracts, whereas elsewhere, Marcus Bent, Mitch McPike, James O’Shea, Robin Shroot, Dan Preson and Luke Rowe have all left the club as they came to the end of their contracts.

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