Arsenal, Dogging and Doctor Who
After a weekend without any proper football, The Blues Brother looks ahead to the clash with Arsenal and takes a slight detour via former Aston Villa player Stan Collymore's outdoor activities and Dr Who actor Tom Baker's childhood habits.
The whole argument about the FA Cup being great for the neutral is hard to believe. Sure, we saw Barnsley beat Liverpool at Anfield but for whatever reason it wasn't really a great shock. And the supposed "tie of the round" between Manchester United and Arsenal ended with Sir Alex Ferguson's boys handing out a spanking to London Foreigners FC.
It will make no difference to our match with Arsenal at St Andrews on Saturday (Feb 23). Nor will their midweek clash against AC Milan. For all the talk about how teams involved in European competition can become distracted, it rarely actually happens - it's just that when it does happen, it's used an as excuse and is given undue prominence.
So as someone who doesn't expect us to get anything against Arsenal, I'd love Alex McLeish to experiment slightly. For me, that means starting with Mauro Zarate. We have him on loan, we may as well make the most of him. Somebody at the club must have been sure he could adapt quickly when he was signed, because bringing a South American from the Middle East to the Midlands in the middle of winter just seems too bizarre otherwise!
Let's give the 20-year-old a chance. He has played in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup - admittedly not the strongest of competitions - and knows how to score goals. Sure, his comments about moving to Qatar for the money were not the most impressive words a professional footballer has ever spoken, but at least he was being honest. He's here, we need points, Arsenal are likely to beat us, so at least he'll get some match practice for 90 minute so he can explode against lesser opposition.
When I noticed "Stan's Villa Regret"' as a headline when browsing the web I assume overpriced pub player Stiliyan Petrov had been released by the Americans across the city. Sadly, just as I was preparing to unleash my pen on the Bulgarian international, I realised it was dogger-extraordinaire Stan Collymore having a whinge about opportunities lost.
Collymore's autobiography is well worth a read and some of the situations would be hilarious if they hadn't actually happened. Though I'll never look at Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers in the same way again. Then again, after reading former Dr Who Tom Baker's autobiography, which touches on subjects ranging from group masturbation to tying the reproductive organs of dead males (go on, check for yourself!), I am tending to avoid "warts and all" books.
I do have genuine sympathy for Stan Collymore but the constant "if only I did this" comments he comes out with do not reflect well on him. His career stats will not secure him a place in the history books, and the phrase "a great player on his day" could have been coined for him. Unfortunately, his day never came often enough. Fortunately, the stories of car parks, chocolate-coated biscuits and, ahem, ample girth will keep "Stan the Can" as a topic of pub conversations for a few years yet.
Alex McLeish seems happy to ignore contract talk and concentrate on obtaining points towards league survival. Is it really impossible to do both at the same time?!? Sure, points are crucial but when you are dealing with professionals who need to know where their cash is going to come from once their contracts run out in the summer, surely they'll be more focused if they know? But he's the boss and he hasn't done too badly so far...I suppose.
On that note, I'm off to find some more salacious autobiographies - if anyone has any recommendations, be sure to let me know!