Following the disgraceful scenes at the Olympic Stadium this week, attention turned quickly to this weekend’s derby meeting with Birmingham. Steve Bruce asked if everyone could play nicely together and in a moment reminiscent of The Life Of Brian, threatened to send everyone to the naughty step if they were “proper nawty” on Sunday.
I’m not condoning violence of any sort nor am I trivialising it. OK, I am but not the violence just football’s response to it. West Ham are imposing bans on 200 fans after the midweek violence, rightly so but I wonder if anyone will be banning West Ham as their PR team looks to shift any hint of an inquiry about the lack of policing due to radios not working inside the stadium?
Fans are responsible for their actions, nobody forced them into the fight but the situation is of the club and stadium management’s own making. It’s incredible that what has always been a high-risk fixture was treated so laxly. Sunday will be a different story and if you’re travelling to St Andrews, I wish you well. Oh, and make sure that your jabs are up to date; wouldn’t want you to catch tetanus, cholera or any other horrible disease.
It’s our second city so Villa versus Blues is always going to be right up there in terms of derbies. But we don’t want a repeat of what we saw on Wednesday night. They were horrible, ugly scenes. Yes, shout loud and make your feelings known. But we don’t want a repeat of last night, we want the spectacle everyone’s keen to see.
It certainly is Steve but not in the friendly terms which we told the Merseyside derby takes place although anyone who’s ever been to one of those games will quickly put you right on that score. Like all matches, that one has an undercurrent of malevolence.
But those cheeky scouse chappies hide it all with their comedy permed wigs and black ‘taches. There’s no attempt at hiding the disdain in this weekend’s match nor should there be. Why change the habits of a lifetime?
Bruce knows all about bragging rights but there’s something more important at stake: promotion. Three points on Sunday will take us significantly higher up the table with a number of the teams above us playing each other, starting tonight with QPR v Brentford. A six-point gap at the moment to the play-off places isn’t insurmountable by any means but at some point the top group will begin to pull away and it’s our job to stay in touch at the moment.
Unbeaten in his three games so far, he’s got off to a promising start. So good that he’s even thinking about giving Gabby Agbonlahor a seat on the bus. A six-week trial has been handed out to the wayward striker and if he gets fit, finds form, well, Bruce thinks he’s worth a punt. If ever anyone was trading on their reputation, it’s Agbonlahor.
Still, if plays Sunday and scores the winner, no-one will care about the past. For a while at least. Never let it be said we’re anything but fickle with our affections towards players.