January 2, 2015 by bluenosebible
By Oliver Osborn
Blues goalkeeper Colin Doyle has warned the side against complacency ahead of their third round FA Cup tie at Blyth Spartans.
With over 140 league places between the two sides, Birmingham City are clear favourites to go through to the next round, but the goalkeeper believes they must remain focused on the job and will not take the part-time club lightly.
“If it was at St. Andrews the game would be a lot easier, but going up there will make things difficult and hopefully we’ll come back with the victory we want.
“We’re professional footballers and we know we’ll need to be professional on the day and not be complacent.
“It doesn’t matter whether we were drawn against Manchester United or Blyth Spartans, we will treat every team with respect because it’s still 11 vs 11 on the day.
“We’ve been underdogs in this competition in the past and we can use that to our advantage because it’ll help us work out how they’ll set themselves up.
“Everyone in the country will expect us to win and we know we have stayed focused because football doesn’t always go like that.”
While staying overnight in Blackpool before their match with the Seasiders, the Birmingham players actually watched the Spartans’ second round win over Hartlepool at the hotel.
Doyle admits he did not know much about the seventh tier club before the draw was made and feels everyone involved with the club should be proud of their achievements regardless of the result on January 3rd.
“That was the first I had seen of them and they played very well, stuck to their game plan and deserved the last minute winner.
“They’ve done unbelievably well to reach this stage of the competition and deserve all the credit they get.
“Lee (Novak) knows one or two things about them and a couple of players because he is from that area, but other than that we knew very little.
“We’ll be well prepared before the game though and will know exactly what we need to do to come away with the victory.”
Before becoming a footballer, the Irishman was always a keen follower of the English game and, in particular, a supporter of Manchester United.
When Doyle was growing up during the 1990s, it was a great time to be a fan of the Red Devils as it was an era where the side won an array of trophies, including four FA Cup titles.
The first two against Crystal Palace and Chelsea were a little too early for the 29-year-old to remember, but he has fond memories of the victories over Liverpool and Newcastle United in 1996 and 1999.
“My hero at the time was Peter Schmeichel and I’ll always remember the 1996 FA Cup Final he played in against Liverpool when Eric Cantona scored the winner.
“I was wearing his replica jersey while watching that match and it inspired me to want to become a footballer.”
During both seasons where United won the famous cup competition, the club also were able to claim the Premier League title too.
Add to this the season under Chris Hughton where Birmingham came just two wins away from promotion via the play-offs and you can see why Doyle doesn’t agree that a run in the cup competitions can hinder league performances.
“A cup run is always a help with your league form.
“We always want to win every game we play in and with every win brings a big confidence boost to the team, which can make us believe we can beat anyone.
“The league does come first, but we always want to go on a run in the cup as well because both the fans and the players enjoy the big days out and all that comes with it.”
That 2011/12 season was the goalkeeper’s favourite of his 11 at St. Andrews.
Despite being seen as a first team regular on few occasions, Doyle has had plenty of great days in the cup campaigns, most coming
Blues took part in the Europa League for the first time in 50 years and reached the fifth round of the FA Cup, a time the Irishman says he will not forget in a hurry.
“It was a crazy time and a great time to be involved with the club, it’s a shame we didn’t get promoted through the play-offs that year too.
“The European campaign was amazing and I’ll never forget the trips away to play on a Thursday night.
“It was difficult at times to get ready for the league match the following Sunday but it was a fantastic experience.”
In the five matches Blues played before being knocked out in a replay by eventual cup and Champions League winners Chelsea, Doyle picked up three clean sheets and was awarded man of the match in the original fifth round tie at Stamford Bridge.
The game ended 1-1 after Daniel Sturridge cancelled out David Murphy’s shock opener for the away side, but Doyle will remember the game for one other incident.
Wade Elliott brought down Ramieres just before half time and Juan Mata stepped up to take the resulting penalty.
Doyle dived the right way and brilliantly pushed the ball onto the post.
The same happened in the replay as well when Fernando Torres was brought down late on in the game.
During his time at Blues, the goalkeeper has saved six penalties in regular matches, a record he is delighted with.
“The good thing about penalties is that the player is always expected to score so there is no pressure on me to save them. If you save it you’re the hero, but if it goes in it isn’t your fault.
“The most important thing is to pick which side you’re going to dive and sticking with it because you’ve always got a chance if it goes that way.
“When we played Chelsea I did exactly that and thankfully I saved both. It’s something I have a good record with and I’m proud to have saved some important ones.”
Since Gary Rowett has taken charge, Birmingham has moved out the relegation zone and well on their way towards the top half of the table.
Doyle is pleased with the start under the former Blues defender and the improvement that have been made in defence.
“We’ve made a really good start under the new gaffer and picked up some good results along the way.
“Maybe we would have liked to turn some of the draws into wins, but we are pleased with what we’ve done so far.
“The defence looks so much more organised and kept some clean sheets so if we can score the odd goal in games we will win matches.
“The lads are enjoying training and going into each game knowing we can get good results which will see us move up the table.
“Considering we stayed up last season with a goal in the last minute, a top half finish would be a great achievement, especially with how late Rowett has come in.”
Even with their start under Rowett, come kick off against non-league Blyth Spartans the side will be purely focused on the cup and reaching the next round of the competition.
“We aren’t making targets for the cup, we’ll take each game as it comes and if we progress then it’s great for everyone.
“We’ve got Blyth Spartans in the third round and as favourites we will try and win the game.
“Our plan will be to just take it one game at a time and hope that if we go through the draw will be kind to us!”