June 10, 2014 by bluenosebible
By Nat Peters
I’m unlike many other Blues fans in that I’m not overly disappointed that Nikola Zigic and Chris Burke have departed Stan’s. Really, I’m not that disappointed because I expected both of them to leave; I know we made them offers to stay, but really there will be other clubs who can offer them far more than we can right now, both in terms of financial inducement and prospects in general on the pitch. You can talk about players being mercenaries and a lack of loyalty in today’s game, but to be honest if you were offered a contract by one company to do a job and offered a much better contract to do the same job elsewhere you know what you would do, and it is no different with footballers.
Also a part of me feels that it may be best for both of them to move on, and could be good for the team as well. Chris Burke’s performances last season were often a mere shadow of the sort of majestic contributions he made on a regular basis in his first season at the club. He was never a particularly quick player, but it seemed to me that he has lost a yard of pace; he still retains the footwork and flair to beat a man with the ball, but perhaps lacks the acceleration to get away from his marker. Then again it is arguable that a winger is always reliant on being in a decent team to an extent simply because they need regular service and for that to happen they need to be in a team with a chance of dominating possession. It is also arguable that Burke may well have struggled in the drop in standard of the players he was playing alongside; going from being in a team that nearly got promoted to the Premier League and holding its own on the European stage to a team barely able to stay out of the Third Division inside two years must have taken some getting used to. He probably could do with a fresh start elsewhere; sometimes that’s all it takes to re-ignite a player’s career.
As for Zig, he has been a focal point of this football team ever since he arrived. But as well as being a very popular talismanic figure at times, he has also been the target of criticism at times. In a way he is the symbol of everything that has been wrong about Blues under the reign of Carson Yeung and company – the over inflated wages, the lack of planning in that those wages didn’t come down in the event of relegation, the four year contract given to someone who was hitting thirty when he signed for us in 2010; it’s a deal that smacked of the naivety and incompetence that have become all too commonplace over the course of the last few years at Blues. Those wages have been a massive drain on the club’s dwindling bank balance over the past few years, and that has been a big bone of contention with some Blues fans who feel that he should have done a lot more for the massive pay cheques he was receiving. I don’t personally have a go at him for the money he was earning; ultimately he didn’t force the club to hand him such a lucrative contract and no-one in their right mind would turn down a deal like the one he got. I do think that his contributions have at times been very docile to say the least, especially for a player of his attributes. He’s had games in a Blues shirt where he has given some of the very best defenders in world football a torrid time, and he’s also had games where he looks as if he had been dragged out of the Royal George at five to three having been on a forty-eight hour bender. Overall, his contribution to the Miracle of the Reebok means that he will leave Blues a hero, and I for one am happy to see it that way.
Overall, both players should be thanked for their performances in a Blues shirt. Chris Burke in 2011-12 was the best player in the Championship in my opinion. The guy was absolutely magic. He would regularly score goals that were breath taking and his goal scoring combined with his assists meant he had a hand in over forty goals in the league for us that season; an incredible amount. He was a massive factor in what was an incredible campaign; a good cup run, a solid showing in Europe and a near miss with regards to promotion. In the sixty-one (yes, sixty-one) games that season he played he was nearly always one of our best players (if not the best). He showed only glimpses of that sort of form in the two seasons afterwards, but the fact he couldn’t recreate that magic on a regular basis doesn’t take away anything from how good he was in that first season.
Then there is Ziggy – there is probably no player who has intermittently infuriated and exhilarated a group of supporters like this man. At times he was about as useful as a fire extinguisher filled with petrol. But on the big occasion, Zig always stood up to be counted for Birmingham City; scoring the winner past the Villa in the League Cup quarter-final, the general mayhem he caused vs. West Ham in the semis and of course his goal and all round performance on that glorious day at Wembley vs. Arsenal – his contribution to this club’s greatest ever triumph cannot be overstated. Then there was his performance at Bolton; scoring the first goal of our comeback, effectively setting up the second; it’s arguable that in igniting that comeback he saved us not only from League One but footballing oblivion. But if nothing else, he did make the Villla fans cry and he was the first Blues player to do that for a long, long time.
But as those two depart, new heroes will emerge from their shadow. In scoring that aforementioned second goal at the Reebok Paul Caddis has made sure that he won’t have to buy a drink in Brum for a while. Who will be the next hero of St. Andrew’s? I’m not sure, but there will be one. People may despair at us losing big names and replacing them with signings from places such as Oldham and Milton Keynes, but let’s face it we can’t afford any better right now so we may as well get used to it. And I think it could be a lot worse, I mean we could’ve signed some donkey like Phillipe Senderos after all…
How do you feel about the news?
You can read more of Nat’s thoughts on his blog: http://nattubes.wordpress.com