DOES David Sullivan dress like that all the time? There was the Birmingham owner, sitting in the directors’ box at the Reebok Stadium in a ushanka hat and a Russian-style overcoat, looking for all the world as if he was off to Red Square for Christmas.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune can be as eccentric as he likes, and Birmingham’s owner (still, despite Carson Yeung’s hoverings) is universally acknowledged as one of the richest men in Britain.
But that eccentric dress sense appears to be spreading to Birmingham’s kit. It’s not enough that Brum are this season playing in one of the club’s periodical attempts to revive the penguin-style shirts that Trevor Francis wore when he was dancing around opposing defenders in muddy 1970s St Andrew’s goalmouths. No; judging by the highlights of their defeat at Bolton, they’re now wearing their kit in random combinations, too.
I still haven’t figured out how to get pictures into these blog entries yet, so if you want to see the full sartorial horror of Birmingham’s attire at the Reebok, there are some pictures here on Birmingham’s website. They played in a blue shirt with the penguin white stripe down the front, red shorts and red socks. They looked as if they had got dressed in the dark.
Clearly, the BBC placed them last on this weekend’s Match of the Day so as to avoid frightening the children.
Last night’s final match: Bolton 3 Birmingham 0. Commentator: Ian Gwyn Hughes.
And if the weird kit didn’t scare the children, Birmingham’s defending certainly would have done. (I blame the kit for that as well.)
Stephen Kelly’s slip, which allowed El-Hadji Diouf to score Bolton’s first goal, wasn’t great. But the second goal was a masterclass in defensive buffoonery.
Johan Djourou is being recalled from his loan spell at Birmingham by Arsene Wenger, because he wants him around when Kolo Toure heads off to the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast next month. I hope for Wenger’s sake that he didn’t see Djourou attempt a 30-yard throw-in back to his goalkeeper, which fell well short and allowed Nicolas Anelka to score easily. Birmingham’s defence then went to sleep again at the end as Anelka scored his second.
“I can’t change 11 players,” McLeish said ruefully, while hinting at major transfer dealings next month. If I were the kit man, I’d be feeling a bit jittery.
It was the second weekend running that Birmingham were last on Match of the Day. No one’s made it a hat-trick yet this season; but given that Brum are at home to Middlesbrough on Boxing Day, I reckon they’ve got a chance. A 0-0 draw would do it. Oh no, hang on, that would require half-decent defending.
One team who have managed a hat-trick of sorts, though, are Fulham, who were on second last for the third week running as they drew 1-1 with Wigan. In the world of the Gubbometer, though, you get nothing for being on MOTD second last.
And that means that the festive, holly-bedecked Gubbometer looks like this:
1. Derby: 5
2=. Wigan: 4 (Gubba difference: +1)
2=. Fulham: 4 (GD: +1)
4=. Reading: 3 (GD: +1)
4=. Bolton: 3 (GD: +1)
6=. Aston Villa: 3 (GD: 0)
6=. Birmingham: 3 (GD: 0)
8. Gubba: 2
9=. West Ham: 2 (GD: 0)
9=. Chelsea: 2 (GD: 0)
9=. Sunderland: 2 (GD: 0)
12=. Everton: 1
12=. Middlesbrough: 1
12=. Newcastle: 1
12=. Bury: 1
12=. Workington: 1
12=. Huddersfield: 1
12=. Grimsby: 1
(NB. Where teams are level, positions are decided by Gubba Difference; the number of times a team is on Match of the Day last with Tony Gubba commentating.)