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Work to be done - 30/04/2003

Work to be done
He'll be confident but focused
   Steve Bruce
   Birmingham City
   West Ham United

It was a great win – if not a great performance against Sunderland, but although it’s improved our chances of Champions League qualification, there’s still work to be done! Birmingham will provide tough opposition on Saturday, they’re playing without pressure, they’re enjoying themselves and they’ll be confident – not many teams can say that when they’re due at St. James Park.

In my newspaper article for ‘The Pink’ on Saturday I wrote about how the team were missing Gary Speed. He’s such an unsung hero, and it’s funny that he should be getting so much praise when he’s not in the side. Basically he does the unspectacular very well, and as a result is rarely given full credit – even when it’s regularly due. For me, Saturday’s game would have been made for him and he’s going to be missed.

Steve Bruce has done tremendously well for the club, and in bringing in players such as Aliou Cisse and in particular, Christophe Dugarry, you have to applaud both him and his board! A lot of pundits thought that he’d brought too many new faces in. It’s true, players take time to settle, and in addition to the two above, Stephen Clemence, Jamie Clapham and Mathew Upson were also introduced before the transfer window closed. Since then Birmingham have gone from strength to strength, the derby win against Villa was ‘well fought’ but a balance to the steel of the side is the flair of Dugarry. It’s going to be tight, and we’ll have to take the game to them right from the off.

Missing Al won’t be easy, but in looking for positives the captains injury will give Shola a well deserved chance to finish off the season in style. He can play the holding role and a little bi tmore, his flicks can bring Bellamy into the game – it’s still a potent strike force. It’s good to see Nobby Solano getting back to his best, it’s also well timed. He’s struggled at times this season and although we all know what he’s capable of, he simply wasn’t playing with his usual confidence. He’s found his form now and I hope he can maintain in over the next couple of games.

Chelsea have a couple of really tough fixtures – away to West Ham and then it’s the decider against Liverpool. The Scouser’s play Man City at home, that should be three points, before their visit to Stamford Bridge and it’s obviously going to go right to the wire. The bottom line is that our future is in our own hands, and with two games to go, and arguable against weaker teams than both Chelsea and Liverpool have to face, then we should be confident. But don’t mistake confidence for arrogance, Bobby Robson won’t!

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