THE MIDLANDER: The good, the bad and the ugly: 2009 Midlands' awards
Birmingham Airport to be told that Villa had left most of their first-team at home for the Uefa Cup trip to Moscow. First press box I've been to in 20 years where they handed out blankets, too. The 300 fans who travelled out there earned their free dinner, believe me. It was very, very cold. All change: Zat Knight (right) tracks Vagner Love in Moscow Most bizarre momentWatching a bloke who was down on his luck approach Nigel Pearson at a football writers' lunch in Birmingham and ask him for some cash, without having the faintest idea who he was. To his credit, Leicester's boss handed over a fair few quid without a murmur. Nigel, Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh were a credit to their club that day. Thanks to all concerned. (Including Barclays, who footed the bill!) Scratching your head momentLovely lad, but Luke Young's decision to call time on his international career still baffles me. Biggest disappointmentTony Mowbray not finding it within him to say 'Thanks' to 3,000 West Brom fans who had donned Mowbray masks at Ewood Park, despite the Baggies' relegation, upon his unveiling at Celtic Park. Highly-rated: Gonzalo Jara Player most likely to leave club in 2010Nicky Shorey (Aston Villa) You'll just have to trust me on that one. Players to watch in 2010Brad Guzan (Villa), Gonzalo Jara (West Brom), Kelvin Wilson (Nottingham Forest),. Chris Wood (West Brom) is going to be a right handful if he keeps growing and improving, too. Keith Fahey (Birmingham) should be recognised by the Republic of Ireland, too. Lovely feet. Hopefully Sammy Clingan (Coventry City) will get some decent players around him, too. The lad can play. Most gobsmacking momentSven at Meadow Lane Most predictable storyNotts County fall Best Mick McCarthy quotes'I couldn't sleep, so I got up and varnished my garage door.' Mick goes big-time before Wolves secured promotion against QPR. 'We have been slapped about a bit.' Mick after two four-goal defeats against Arsenal and Chelsea. 'I hate this 'plucky losers' tag. It's like we are being patted patronisingly on the head and sent on our way down the M6. I don't like it. And I don't like losing.' Mick after Wolves tumbled out of the Carling Cup at Old Trafford. Best Martin O'Neill quote 'I haven't enjoyed a match in 20 years.' The Irishman greets Villa's record-breaking win at Manchester United. No fun: Martin O'Neill watches Ashley Young go past Patrice Evra at Old Trafford Best Alex McLeish quote'I've cooked the turkey on Christmas Day for 20-odd years now. First thing in the morning though, it's scrambled egg and smoked salmon. Oh, and a can of Irn Bru for the hangover.' Best Billy Davies quote'Is that you, Neil? You are a ******* ****.' Say hello to.Carson Yeung. Here's hoping you've brought your wallet with you, Carson. Wave goodbye to. David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady. Do West Ham really understand what they are letting themselves in for? Let's hope the Hammers' fans bring their wallets with them, too. Managerial awardAlex McLeish. In January, punters were calling for his head following an awful show at Bloomfield Road. After earning promotion under the most intense pressure from his owners, McLeish now has Birmingham City going into Christmas one point ahead of Liverpool, despite only having spent £10m. Notable mentions for Messers O'Neill, McCarthy and Pearson, but 2009 belonged to the Scot. Predictions for 2010Villa win the Carling Cup but are pipped to top-four finish. Birmingham finish comfortably in mid-table, Wolves just survive. Forest to make automatic promotion, West Brom and Leicester scrap it out in the play-offs. Derby and Coventry live to fight another day too in the Championship. Clough and Coleman to stay in jobs and find some fairy-godfathers Most predictable story of 2010Billy Davies moaning about David Pleat/asking for a new contract. Sven leaving Notts County. And (hopefully) Pete Colley from Sky Sports getting caught doing a managerial impression by one of his subjects. Have a good one.