FanZoner Alex Byers is surprised none of the bookies are tipping Birmingham for the Championship title.
Unfancied Birmingham can still claim title
Take one peek at the bookies Championship title odds today and you would have reason to believe that Birmingham City have as much chance of claiming the trophy as Gareth Barry has of outpacing Bolt and Blake to win 100 Metre Gold at the Olympic Stadium this Summer.
Not featured in the top eight with most bookmakers at the time of writing, you have to wonder why, has Victor Chandler smoked too many cigars? Has Fred lost his marbles as well as his hair?
Blues finished above 21 teams in the 2nd tier last season, that was despite playing over sixty games whilst simultaneously attempting to gel eleven new signings during a pre-season that effectively lasted until September.
Without eventual top scorer Marlon King for the seasons first month, thirteen Summer player exits, a team that didn't know each other from Adam, and further sales in January, quite frankly, if you couldn't finish above Blues last season then logic will tell you it's going to be hard to do it this.
2012-2013 is different, It's no longer a group of blokes thrown together last minute and told to learn on the job, it's a team with a seasons worth of understanding both on and off the pitch under equally enthused management, a stronger squad that will be able to hit the ground running, not stumbling with a relegation hangover like it did 12 months ago.
We've brought in good players that have shone at this level before, Darren Ambrose, Hayden Mullins, and Peter Lovenkrands, with hopefully more to come. Marlon King is one of the league's best finishers, Nikola Zigic has looked lean in Pre-Season and the aforementioned Dane notched almost 1 in 2 when playing at this level a few seasons ago.
Throw in Chris Burke, Nathan Redmond and Adam Rooney to that attack and things look healthy. Burke grabbed fourteen goals last year from midfield and Redmond is one year older and will no doubt have an even greater impact next year as he matures both physically and mentally into one of the leagues most dangerous players.
In goal, Boaz Myhill has been replaced by Team GB 'Keeper Jack Butland, who Peter Pannu rated higher than the 6 Million Nigel Adkins dangled before his spectacles. Add arguably the best defender in the league in Curtis Davies to Spanish International Pablo Ibanez, in addition to the return to fitness of Stephen Carr and the eventual return of Ireland Midfielder Keith Fahey and you have a squad that is packed with versatility, experience, youth, and quality.
A European fixture free schedule is not something we will look at with glee, but it will undoubtedly give us a better crack at the league this term, as will the absence of the FA Cup run that we took on last season which included replays against Wolves and Chelsea, our fixture list is more A5 than last years scroll.
I'm sure, Bolton, Wolves, Blackburn, and Cardiff will make the task a tough one, yet the same favourite tags were applied to the likes of Leicester, Boro and Forest last year as Blues were overlooked. Like last year, attention is being afforded to off-field matters and people are ignoring that a 4th place team still remains and has been enhanced.
So whilst the bookmakers continue to put our chances in the same bracket as teams we beat by 10-15 points last year, do not rule out a Second City assault on automatic promotion this campaign, it would definitely be against the odds, yet the odds and their oddities are something I'm struggling to add up.