16 October ~ Unless you support one of the so-called top five or six, following your team is a cyclical experience. Sometimes you have the thrill of feasting on the crumbs from the big table, sometimes you're outside in the cold, gazing longingly at the revelry wishing you could once, just for once, join in. While these ups and downs can be maddening, frustrating and downright annoying, they nonetheless make following your team all the more interesting.
Both Birmingham City and Leicester City are going through their periodic cycles. Both are yo-yo clubs, naturally at home in limbo between the top flight and second tier. However, whereas Leicester appear to be on the up after the best part of a decade beset by problems, Blues are taking time to adjust to the realities of life outside the Premier League. Overall, Chris Hughton is quietly helping Blues make this transition. Given the well-documented questions over the club's finances and ownership, Hughton is assiduously creating a squad that appears – presently at least – to be able to cope with the demands of both domestic and European football.
Given that our starting XI usually only consists of three or four players from last season with the remainder coming from the youth side, free transfers or loan players, it is hardly surprising that we currently lie in 17th place. However, despite the odd glitch, the players are slowly adjusting to each other. Chris Wood, on loan from WBA, has now scored eight goals in 11 games and has publicly thanked Marlon King for mentoring him – surely the first time such an endorsement has been made. The 17-year-old Nathan Redmond, whose performance against Nacional was variously described in the national press as "outstanding" and "stunning", is quickly adapting to having regular starts and Jean Beausejour likewise appears to have finally adapted to the English game.
More importantly, Hughton is prepared to change tactics and systems. He's also prepared to attack more, so the contrast with the somewhat dogmatic and inflexible approach of the past few seasons is clear. Just ask any Villa fan. Of course, it is too early to predict how both clubs will end the season. Leicester's relative wealth and strong squad may well hold them in good stead. But given our overall circumstances and uncertainty, mid-table mediocrity augmented by the distraction of a few glory nights in Europe would be welcome.
The aforementioned worries over our ownership and finances have prompted some Blues to try and create a supporters' trust to build a structured dialogue between the club's board and fans. A public meeting will be held at the end of October and representatives from Leicester's Foxes Trust will be on hand to provide support and advice. Given Leicester's own recent history of relegation, financial uncertainty and remote owners, they will no doubt be an invaluable source of guidance. Chris Sanderson