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Birmingham City
Posted by Arun Verma on 05/08/2011

Birmingham City stand within touching distance of safety and another season in the Barclays Premier League, and in all honesty, it's down to the old heads. A select group of players have performed once again, and it is a core nucleus of players who are looking to see Blues over the line. Numerous players have joined the club, but once again, it is the same old faces who have done the business

The likes of Ferguson, Bowyer, Carr, Johnson, Dann and Jerome (arguably!) have performed magnificently over the past couple of seasons for the club. They have given their all for the club and have succeeded...most of the time. Ben Foster has replaced the excellent Joe Hart, Craig Gardner has come to the fore, and James McFadden has sadly been the victim of numerous injuries, but by-and-large, it has been the same few players who have kept this club on a steady keel.

Players have come and gone. Who remembers the Zarate kid? or Chucho? Or even, Carlos Costly?! Okay, granted, I have tried to block out the last one - the only player to do a 180 degree turn with the ball slower than Emile Heskey. I mean, come on!

But, this article is about a different man. Coincidentally, he had an absolute shocker at the weekend, and it's all the more ironic when you consider the fact that I am about to praise him to the heavens!

Any ideas? Well, it's our very own Super Swede, Sebastian Larsson. Since arriving from Arsenal on loan (remember the good-old days when Wenger liked us? Ah well!), Larsson has been a magnificent servant to the club and despite everything, he has performed with consistency and aplomb, be it at Championship or Premiership level. At Blues, he has gained recognitional on a national level, On first glance, there seems to be nothing truly spectacular about Larsson. He's of average height and average build, but that's where average becomes a word non-existent in the description of the Swede.

From dead-ball situations, he's one of the best. In the assists from set-pieces bracket, he's in the top 3 in the League in my view, and the stats this term have him in the top 5. Fancy that. A team who can't score for love nor money, but they still possess a real threat whenever they win a free-kick or a corner, and that is mainly down to the dead-ball expertise of Super Seb.

When he first signed for the club, it was the others who signed alongside Larsson, notably Nicklas Bendtner, who immediately hit the goal trail. Fabrice Muamba was immediately taken to, and seen as something of a cult hero in the stands for his tireless work-rate and his determined play...oh, and for his distribution and accuracy, which is about as good as Torres in a Blue shirt.

However, it was the silent Swede who made his way onto the scene, striking a partnership and friendship with many at the club, winning friends and slowly winning the hearts of Blues fans. Bluenoses had just seen Jermaine Pennant depart the club, and there was a gaping vacancy on the wing. Blues needed a man to step up and be the man. Sebastian Larsson stood up. And boy, did he. McSheffrey one side, Larsson the other, with Bendtner and Jerome up-front. It was magic. Championship defences became terrified of the foursome, with Bendtner and McSheffrey receiving the majority of the plaudits, but it was the role that Larsson and Jerome did in creating chances for the others that this writer applauded as much as any other.

Larsson was always one of those players who got his head down, and simply did he job for the club. Goals against Crystal Palace and Newcastle (FA Cup) in his first season were crucial in our charge through the FA Cup and up the league. The 5-1 demolition of Newcastle, at St James' was simply amazing, and Larsson was one of the shining lights on a night when Blues belittled their Champhionship-Underdog status and threw Newcastle out of the Cup.

And then, there was THAT goal. Blues needed to beat Sheffield Wednesday at home if they were to all-but seal promotion to the Premier League. Things were going well, but then, Fabrice Muamba's 58th minute sending off made it look as if all hope was lost. Cameron Jerome scrambled in a 74th minute goal, and in the 84th minute, Larsson scored one of the best goals I have seen at St Andrews. Remember the tension, the drama, the amazing work-rate by the Blues players, and when you sum that all up, it makes his goal even more amazing.

Don't remember it? Shame on you, but take a look, because even if you do remember it, it's worth watching over and over again:

It was no surprise that Blues made the transfer permanent, and all for the minimal fee of £1m - bargain. Blues were back in the big-time and Seb Larsson slowly, but surely, started to make his mark on the Premier League. The shame was that, due to injuries, we saw Seb fill in at right-back and left-back a few times too many, but when on the right wing, Seb was always dangerous. In the 07/08 free-kicks, Larsson scored more free-kicks than any other player, and his dead-ball reputation was growing yet further. Having scored 9 goals the season before, Larsson added another 6 in the Premier League and proved to be a dangerous threat in a Blues side that lacked any real cutting edge.

Times changed, Steve Bruce left the club, and Big Eck walked through the door. And boy, what a start.
A fantastic strike from Seb sealed a 3-2 victory and the McLeish era was well and truly underway. At the end of that season, of course, relegation was the end result, but Larsson scooped 5 trophies at the end-of-season awards, including Player of the Season, Players' Player of the Season and Goal of Season, a tremendous reward for the winger.

The promotion season which ensued was not the best ever for the Swede, with transfer talk and speculation clouding over him. However, as the end of the season approached, Larsson, and Blues, got better and better and despite never really convincing all season long, Blues sealed promotion and a return to the Premiership. Last season was a great one for the club, and maybe not the best for Larsson but 4 goals was another good return for the midfielder, before a summer of uncertainty over whether he would stay with the club. Would he sign a new deal?

Even in January, we were sure that Larsson had gone. The deal was done. He was going to Newcastle. Gutted. But no! At the last minute, McLeish pulled the plug and Seb stayed - for now. The confusion and the arrival of David Bentley seemed to inspire Seb and in the past few months he has been possibly Blues best player. Casting aside the mistake at Newcatle, he has scored two winning goals at St Andrews through perseverance and determination and he has fought for the cause as much as anyone else.

Will he stay? Does he want to? It would surely tug on the heartstrings for Seb if he was to leave the club, only his second club in his career and the place where he has really made a name for himself. The St Andrews crowd simply adore him and the feeling is no doubt mutual, but will the board meet his wage demands? Of course, we are not privvy to conversations behind close doors and so we do not know why he does not want to sign the contract on offer, be it wages or other clauses, but can we sort it out?

I mean, Mr Carson, please? Please can we sort it out? Seb is fantastic and we need him. Lose him, and we lose one of our biggest goal threats as well as a player who gives 200% week-in week-out. It appears that Blues haven't really realised what they would be saying goodbye to if they let him go.
Below is a Facebook group that has been created by Blues fans, with the hope that someone at the club will see and realise the desperation of the fans for Larsson to stay at the club.

I know what you're thinking. 'Just a group...who cares...they won't listen to you fans...its stupid'.
Well, maybe it is. Maybe. But is it not worth a shout? Join it and spread the message that we are desperate for Larsson to remain a Bluenose.

If you're unsure then just answer this, who could replace him? Bentley? He looks like he'll be on his way out the door again. Wright-Phillips? Larsson may be slower, but is stronger, better at crossing and more intelligent on the field. Unless if you have Nasri lined up to work the right-flank, I'd love to hear who you guys think would be a better fit than Larsson and Blues.

He may be an 'old head' in this Blues side, but players like Larsson may be the key to our future.

Who else could fill the role? And, what're your views on Larsson? Want him to Stay? Why?


Posted by Steve Heaven on 05/16/2011

Larsson needs to be kept his ability is superior, passing accurate, freekicks excellent, hard worker. In my opinion the players that need keeping are B. Foster, S.Carr, C. Davies. R Johnson, L. Ridgewell, J. Beausejoir, D. Bentley, L. Bowyer, B. Fergusson, C, Gardener, S. Larsson, O, Martins, J, Mc Fadden, K, Phillips ( For one season as a reserve player) N, Zigic ( Maybe if he shows his quality. The rest can go in my opinion. Cameron Jerome is not a premier league player, he has good points such as being strong and not being bullied off the ball but he is no proven goal scorer, he belongs in a lower division. All the players i have mentioned are fighters and runners. Please get some players who will shoot at the goal from long and short distances. I mentioned Bowyer and Phillips regardless of their ages they have another season in them and can motivate younger players to follow their roles

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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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