Enemy Lines - Birmingham City

After a midweek break for the Carling Cup, Enemy Lines returns ahead of Sunday's game with Birmingham City at the Reebok Stadium.

Birmingham enjoyed a great first season back in the Premier League last year and will be no doubt hoping to replicate that this time round.

So what did Blues fan of 37 years and owner of Joys and Sorrows, Kevin Ball, put last season's achievements down to?

It was a great success. Obviously the signings were a really key part of the success. Dann, Johnson and Ferguson coupled with the loan signing of the season in Joe Hart gave us strength in key areas. However McLeish somehow got a real team spirit going. Actually it's something I've not seen since Barry Fry was manager in the 1990's.

And what does he expect of this season? Time for some questions:

There's always talk of the so called 'second season syndrome' when a club does well in it's first season. Is that something that concerns you or are you expecting to push on this season?

Good question. I don't think there would be many Blues fans who wouldn't admit we "punched above our weight" last season. As a result, it would be nuts to suggest we'd push on from there.

But there are a lot of interesting factors. In the same way that the top seem to be pulling away, the bottom sides seem to be falling away too. So that has to help the likes of Blues and Bolton.

The team spirit I mentioned has already been demonstrated in that we have 4 points from 2 games that we were behind in. Other than (Joe) Hart, we haven't lost any key players and actually we've been busy looking to strengthen.

So after saying all that, for the first time in I don't know how long, I'm not concerned. However I think we'll probably finish a few places down on last year and I'll happily take that.

With the transfer window drawing to a close, how would you rate your window so far? Are there any last minute deals you'd like to see go through?

It's difficult to judge new signings on 2 games, but yes I'm happy. I think once Zigic gets fully fit and gets to flow with the pace of the Premier League, he'll be a good asset. Foster also seems very confident, but having our two CB's in front of him must help. Alex has also bought a couple of younger players including Valles, who looked very sprightly during the pre-season tour.

As for targets, we still need some pace in the middle and today we have had a bid for N'Zogbia accepted. I'd really like to see him arrive. McLeish has said there are a couple of other targets too. Another forward and another defender, along with N'Zogbia, would mean a very successful transfer window for me.

With Carson Yeung pumping some money into the club, you're obviously in stark contrast to Bolton where we've dealt mostly in frees and loans this summer. Are we the sort of team you'd expecting to be pushing ahead of now?

I think that is another good question. Yes I think so, just. That's not meant as any disrespect to Bolton at all though. You've always been a hard working side - and you have the same points tally as us at the moment. Over the season, with our squad, I would like to think we would be - but I don't think there will be much in it.

After just a couple of games, what early tips would you give for champions this season and which teams do you expect will be playing Championship football next season?

I can't see the title going to anyone other than Chelsea again. They have too much strength in depth. The rest of the top 4 I think will be United, City and Arsenal. It's anyone's guess what the order will be.

The relegation candidates. Wigan and Blackpool plus 1 from Fulham, West Brom, West Ham and Bolton - sorry I mean Blackburn!

Have any players impressed early on this season that we should be keeping and eye on this Sunday?

Seb Larsson seems to have found his passion again, and McFadden has played better than he finished last year. As I said, Zigic will become more and more dangerous as the season goes on.

Are there any Wanderers players who've caught your eye so far this season?

I'm sorry I've only seen brief highlights on MOTD - not enough to give an informed answer.

And finally, where will the points be going Sunday afternoon?

I'd take a point to be honest, but I think Sunday might be our first league defeat of the season. 1-0 Bolton.

Burnden Aces would like to thank Kevin Ball from Joys and Sorrows for taking the time to answer our questions.

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Rochdale 34 36
20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
View Full Standings >>


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