Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Birmingham City: The Only Way is Up

It was 27th February 2011, a historical Sunday when Birmingham City overcame Arsenal to win their first major trophy in half a century. It was a mere three months later when the Blues were relegated to the Championship after a two year stint in the top-flight of English Football.

The financial trouble was almost immediately apparent with tabloid newspapers latching on to a new financial problem every other day. Soon after, the fire-sale started with big names leaving City for pastures new. Craig Gardner, Roger Johnson and Sebastian Larsson were just a few of the stars to leave the sinking club.

With much of the 2010/11 starting line up gone and a dark cloud hanging over Birmingham City, the last thing the club needed was more instability and when the club announced that Alex McLeish had departed for local rivals Aston Villa, things only got worse. 
The board acted swiftly and brought in a replacement with proper pedigree; ex-Newcastle manager Chris Hughton, who had led Newcastle out of the Championship just a year earlier. 

New Birmingham Manager Chris Hughton

The new man got the approval of most of the fans and his first act was to bring in Veteran Centre-back Stephen Caldwell who quickly became a staple of the City defence. He then strengthened the squad with a variety of players including Jonathon Spector, Wade Elliot and young striker Chris Wood.

After a mediocre pre-season, City had a bad start to the season with away losses to Derby County and Middlesbrough and a disappointing draw at Watford. However as the team began to gel, things started to improve, the first sign of this improvement was the 3-0 mauling of Nacional in the Europa League in which impressive youngster, Nathan Redmond, bagged his first goal for the club.

Nathan Redmond Celebrates his first goal for the Blues

The confidence of the win spurred them to take another 3 points and record a 3-0 home win against Millwall with young striker, Chris Wood, on loan from West Brom scoring a hat-trick. Things were looking up for the Blues but they were brought back down to earth with a bump after recording three successive losses to Braga, league leaders Southampton and billionaire giants Manchester City.

After mustering a poor draw with Barnsley the Blues went on to win 5 games in a row starting in the Europa League with an away win at NK Maribor and, most recently an away win against Bristol.
Should the Blues continue in such a fine vein of form, they could well be contenders for promotion.

With a new look squad, a fantastic new manager and a brilliant, distinctive style of play, the Blues have been the dark horse of the league, they currently sit in 14th place with 3 games in hand over nearly every other team in the league, nine points from those games could see City propel themselves to second place, only a point behind the current leaders, Southampton. 

Everyone was very quick to dismiss the Blues at the start of the season but we now see that they might just execute a swift return to the Premier League and if not then it’s not necessarily the worst thing as it would give them a chance to stabilise themselves both on and off-pitch. Whichever way it goes, it’s clear that there’s only one way for the Blues to go and that is up.

Birmingham City play Leeds United on 26th October at St. Andrews, 19:45 Kick-off.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Summary Of My Life So Far

It's 3am and I'm sitting here having a long hard think about my life and where it's headed. These past few days have been five of the worst for me. I went from hope that I'd get into at least my Insurance Uni to despair to see that I couldn't even manage that. Then, a light at the end of the tunnel, an offer from the Uni I originally wanted to go to for a course I actually wanted to do and now, a rethink.

I have to wonder how my life got here, from being one of the brightest at school to becoming a serial underachiever. My whole life I've been tipped to be someone who would be getting the A Grades and I've just watched my life roll past me, always finding something better (or should that be worse?) to do with my time than sit and try to achieve my potential through hard work. I've sat and watched the best years of my life roll on past me, whilst I'm still sat at the station, always saying that I'll get the next train. It'll be fine. I've sat and watched my future crumble into dust, heard the diggers roll in to take the rubble of my pathetic procrastinations away. And every single time I've said "I'll do better next time", but there comes a time when there is no next time, where the chance to put things right has flown, whilst you're still waiting in the departure lounge.

And now, in the driving seat of my life, I've come to a fork in the road and honestly, I've lost my sat nav, there's no signs for me here, nothing to show me where to go or what to do, no-one around to ask directions from. I'm truly on my own, I've fallen over and cut my leg and the blood is dripping onto my jeans. I've crossed the road without looking and been hit by a truck. I've become the one thing I'd never thought I'd be. A failure.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Green Lantern: A Truly Awful Film

It’s rare that I come away from a film feeling cheated out of my hard earned cash, to the point I feel like I’ve been mugged. But this was one of those rare occasions; I came out of the cinema feeling cold and vulnerable, as if the multi-national cinema-monster had reached into my pocket, stolen £5 off me and left me a steaming turd in its place. In fact, scratch that, it’s an insult to turds.

The Plot:
Average superhero movie, average man is chosen to become superhero, finds inner strength, world needs saving, saves world. Mindless fun, right? WRONG.

The Review:
I went into the cinema screen with no expectations whatsoever, I had heard that the film was bad, but no warnings could have prevented my shock at just how awful Green Lantern was.

Having seen Scott Pilgrim vs The World and Kick-Ass and feeling them to be fair reflections on how great the comics are, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was more of the same, but, no, this is to the comics, what Premier Inn is to Hilton Hotels.

The dialogue and script are truly awful, all we ever hear is “fear” and “willpower” repeated again and again, the lines are written badly and Ryan Reynolds’ blocky acting doesn’t soften the blow in any way. The villains too are awful, we never feel that they are the villains, merely victims of the Green Lantern, most of the film is narrative, trying to tell the story without compromising the quality of the film, however it doesn’t do this well at all, with huge gaps in the story filled by a black screen, with the words “six months later”, you wouldn’t see that in a book “six months later” followed by hundreds of empty pages.

Now let’s get this straight, Green Lantern is apparently classified as superhero/action film, but it’s not much of either. In the whole film there’s about six minutes of action, I’ve seen more action in a romcom, the superhero part doesn’t come into play much either, with only a handful of scenes where we see the superhero.

At points the CGI is terrible, there is a scene where one of the Guardians is speaking and yet his mouth is moving in completely different patterns, I have seen better on cutscenes in games.

Most superhero films, if nothing else, have wit and humour all the way through, but not Green Lantern, never, it’s all serious business in Green Lantern and it can’t even do that right.

I have passed kidney stones that have given me more pleasure than watching Green Lantern, I would not wish this movie on anyone. But if you’re in a bit of a good mood and need to bring yourself down, go ahead and watch the Green Lantern, it will depress you to hell. Honestly, if this is the way superhero films are heading then someone please ban them.

My Rating: 1/10 – a real insult to superhero films and humans everywhere.