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Posted by Arun Verma on 09/01/2010

Oh dear, deadline day. Love it.

The incessant commentary provided on Sky Sports by overexcited Scotsmen and the Chief News Correspondent and his little touch screen computer. Magic. The excited reporters standing outside grounds with expectant fans looking for their ten seconds of fame...and then you hear it.

“Exciting news for Birmingham City fans, let’s go over to our correspondent in the Midlands who’s outside St Andrews..”

You jump up. Your heart is in your mouth. You race for the remote and turn the volume up and up and up. The room falls silent apart from one man in a suit holding a microphone.

“Yes, I’m here at St Andrews, the home of Birmingham City...”

Yeah...get on with it!

“Manager Alex McLeish has endured a frustrating transfer window, missing out on the likes of Delembee and after the whole Charles N’Zogbia debacle, he has been left high and dry..”

Grr, get a move on!

“That was then.”

You take a deep breath. You open your eyes are far as they’ll go. The world stops turning and all you care about are the words that you’re about to hear. Please don’t be another Marcus Bent. Please.

“...But that was then. Birmingham City have signed Alexander Hleb.”

You hit the roof. Jackpot. Magic! Would you believe it?!

“That’s not all too. They’ve also signed Chile winger Jean Beausejour, and defender Martin Jiranek”

Oh well, you can do nothing but punch the air in delight and anticipation. Hleb. Alex Hleb. The Arsenal our club. But then...

“However, that’s not all.”

Your head jolts back and your eyes become once again fixated upon the strange man in a suit.

“Alex McLeish has done one last bit of business...”

Oh man, don’t waste my flipping time again.

“He has used the loan market to send....”


“...a striker on loan to near neighbours Wolverhampton Wanderers”

What?! Someone wants one of our strikers?! Oh no...can’t be?!

“...Marcus Bent.”

Hail Mary. There is a God. You hit the roof harder than ever before and you take your place upon Cloud 9 with about 30,000 other Blues fans. He’s gone! Finally! And who was stupid enough to take him?!...The Dingles! Magic! Happy days!

What a deadline day, and what an end to a transfer window that has been full of built up hopes and disappointment (not much new there, then.). However, Alex McLeish has once again caught the eye of Blues fans, and no doubt numerous pundits up and down the country with the acquisitions of particularly Hleb, the Barcelona midfielder, and Jean Beausejour, the Chile winger who excelled at the World Cup. The signing of defender Martin Jiranek should help to ease the burden on the talented if inexperienced pairing of Johnson and Dann, and all-in-all, Alex McLeish can look back on his dealings with more than an ounce of pride.

I mean, come on, how many of us could have predicted this? Ben Foster, England keeper. Nikola Zigic. Matt Derbyshire, fox in the box. Alex Hleb, Barcelona midfielder and ex-Arsenal star. Jean Beausejour, exciting and talented left winger.

Add in Jiranek and Enric Valles, and Blues have done some good business. McLeish has long spoken about enhancement instead of just replacing like-for-like, and on the whole he’s done that this term. Foster may not quite be at the level of Joe Hart, but what some Blues fans haven’t quite acknowledged is that this boy is ours. No loan. No going back to United. He’s ours. For good.

While we can’t yet say the same about Hleb, both the club and player have a tremendous chance here. Hleb has endured a difficult few years since leaving Arsenal, being frozen out at Barca before spending last season on loan at Stuttgart. He needs to re-ignite his career, and Blues need a star. We need a Dugarry-type player to give us flair and create something out of nothing. When McFadden doesn’t sparkle, Blues lack a cutting edge, and with Hleb being only 29, he should be there-or-thereabouts with regards to the so called ‘peak’ of his career.
The good thing about signing Hleb and Beausejour is that now the likes of Seb Larsson and James McFadden have genuine competition for a place in the starting line-up. Where McLeish will deploy Hleb is up for debate, but having already admitted that he still does not know James McFadden’s best position, maybe McLeish should look towards a 4-5-1? The performance at Bolton was nothing short of excellent, and I’m sure that Faddy would relish the opportunity to link up with both Hleb and Seb, with possibly Gardner and definitely Ferguson filling in across the middle.

Sound exciting?

What about if i say that Blues could then turn to the likes of Zigic, Bowyer, Beausejour, Fahey, Super Kev, O’Connor and Derbyshire from the bench?

My my...We’ve made some progress.
Long may it continue. Keep Right On.


Posted by andybrum on 09/01/2010

The good thing about signing Hleb and Beausejour is that now the likes of Seb Larsson and James McFadden have genuine competition for a place in the starting line-up.

and Martin at the back. We had a poor run in at the end of last season, but now there is competition throughout the whole team. Was it fatigue, complacency, who knows, Villa are trying the experiment with no new players (Ok 1 with Ireland). Let's see how they get on.

Posted by Northfield on 09/01/2010

Hope Mikel gets a chance at some point too? KRO

Posted by Scott on 09/02/2010

what a season this is going to be. dare i say this puts us into contention for a European spot? Europa League at St. Andrews in another year? I can't handle even the thought of it

Posted by Dhairya Thakker on 09/02/2010

Very well written Arun... I'm very happy for Birmingham city fans... after all the wait they finally have something to feel excited about... City in Europa league? Hell ya!

Posted by wisdom on 09/02/2010

Yes he is a good guy I wish he was still with Arsenal but all the same I wish him the best of luck.

Posted by lansana Alfred thoronka on 09/02/2010

I just don't know why ARSENE WENGER can't sign Hleb again He was really a magician for us. I am really missing his style of play in the Arsenal team. Anyway the professor knows much...So all the best Hleb wish you good luck..OP u were still with with the Gunners..

Posted by gee on 09/03/2010

I am very excited about Birmingham this season. I am NOT a Birmingham fans, but I have been very delighted with the progress the club has made so far this season.
Yes you guys are a European contender, now go beat Liverpool!

Posted by Daniel on 09/03/2010

I'm not sure about the rest of the two signings, as they may or may not excel in the EPL. They are certainly on paper; fantastic signings for a club of Birmingham's stature and quality wise.

But I must say, Hleb is the one that turns out as a surprise. To me, it's the biggest signing Birmingham will look back in days to come; if Hleb is being used efficiently.

I have been a Hleb fan since I took real notice of him in EPL with Arsenal. He has made me a big an of his. However he gets little credit in Arsenal, while Cesc gets them all. That was during his tenure.

But if most watches the game, you'll notice that on paper, Hleb has little assist and little goal scoring stts. But the thing about Hleb is, you can read him on statistics. As Wenger pointed out, Hleb has the ability to get through an eye of a needle. Hleb has always been "the pass before an assist" guy. Most bitter Arsenal fans will disagree and biasly dislike him. But in my eyes, he made Arsenal's football much more creative

Posted by Daniel on 09/03/2010

I believe if Alex uses him properly, and efficiently to his best, which is to let hm sit behind the forward, something Wenger did only a couple of times. ANd I still rmb he was excellent, ad scoring/assisting when giventhe opportunity to play in his best position, as an absolute playmaker. Although it is very rare. But given the fact he's at Birmingham, let him be the star, and he'll deliver it. Give him the ball, focus on him and with such attention, although he'll risk losing it a couple of times, but when he succeeds, it'll pay off.

Hleb and Cesc one two was the best combo I've seen on the right flank of Arsenal for some time to come. Most of Cesc assist that season itself was mostly due to Hleb.

I wish him all the best, and I will really enjoy watching him play. He has EPL experience, plenty of them, CL experience, and a lot of quality not to be benched. I hope Alex won't treat him like a newcomer, he deserves to start right away. I'm sure he's eager to play.

Let him then...

Posted by Lee on 09/03/2010

Don't hate on the arsenal fans, we missed Hleb too. Wenger rarely goes back on a player once he is sold. The exception being Campbell and that was unique because of all the injuries and the ease of the acquisition. That being said, if Arsene ever revised his policies, I just want Henry back.

Posted by ram on 09/06/2010

Just like many other players who made it at Arsenal, Hleb wanted a move to greener pastures.So Arsene was not in a position to stop him,its not that he didn't want him.Anyways, good luck to him.

Posted by Harsh on 09/06/2010

I'm an Arsenal fan and I think we really miss Hleb. The team lacks players that can dribble 1-on-1 excluding Arshavin, Walcott, and to a certain extent, Nasri. Hleb was an excellent link up player; he complemented Cesc and RVP brillianty, and was part of the best midfield in the league in the 07-08 season with Flamini, Cesc, Rosicky, and himself. He'll do well at Birmingham as long as you don't play him on the wing. For some reason, all managers put their best dribblers on the wing against fullbacks that can counter them. Hleb excelled in the hole and hopefully that's where he plays for Birmingham.

Posted by maurish on 09/07/2010

the hleb transfer is a great signing!!!way to go blues!!!

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Arun Verma Arun Verma - I'm a student, and a massive Birmingham City fan. Football has played a massive part in my life since I was just a child, and the World Cup in '98 turned me into a footballaholic; my very first love was the beautiful game. My aim for the future is to become a sports journalist and in little over a year, I can say that I feel extremely privileged to have received the opportunities that have come my way. Apart from ESPN Soccernet, I also write for the official Birmingham City Football Club Matchday Magazine, Made in Brum, which is an unofficial Blues magazine, and (using the tagname akvbcfc). If you would like to contact me about anything I have written about, feel free to email me at

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