All five West Midlands sides have had contrasting fortunes throughout the 2010/2011 season and there is still plenty to play for.
The West Midlands has certainly proven to be a hotbed for football this season as there are currently four teams from the patch in the Barclays Premier League.
Here are my thoughts on the season so far and what the future holds for each of our sides.
It has not been the best of seasons at Villa Park and fans of Aston Villa will be hoping this season was just a blip. They will also be praying their side end up as the top dogs of the West Midlands this season.
Question marks were raised when Gerard Houllier was appointed as Martin O’ Neill’s successor. Now there are definitely question marks as to whether Houllier will remain manager after the Frenchman was admitted to hospital with chest pains earlier this month.
Health and family are more important than football and if it means Houllier has to stand down due to health issues, then this would be the right call in my view. But who would replace him?
It will no doubt be an interesting summer for Villa both on and off the field. It does seem inevitable Ashley Young will be on his way out of Villa Park but I’m sure he will not be the only one leaving Villa in the summer.
The 2010/2011 season has been a disappointing one for everyone associated with Villa and the team have flirted dangerously with relegation. But results have improved recently despite losing at The Hawthorns against West Brom.
Darren Bent’s goals have been crucial and the likes of Young, Stewart Downing and Nigel Reo Coker have improved as the season has gone on.
Mark Albrighton has been a revelation for Villa this season and he has a bright future ahead of him. I find it hard to believe why he has not been starting games in recent times.
Villa do need to start building a squad around the likes of Bent and Albrighton. If they can bring in at least four/six quality players in the summer, then they may find themselves challenging for a Europa League spot.
Plenty of work to be done in the summer but there is no doubt Villa have the potential to go onto bigger and better things.
If you said to any Blues fan at the beginning of the season they would win the Carling Cup and they would be four points above the relegation zone with three games to play, they will have taken it.
Birmingham need at least one more win to guarantee their survival and if they can win either up at Newcastle or at home to Fulham, then Blues will stay up.
The last two seasons have been nothing but remarkable for Alex McLeish and Birmingham. Next season will be a test for Blues since they will be in the Europa League and the Premier League provided they stay in the top flight.
Buying players is a must for the St. Andrews outfit this summer. If they are able to attract quality players, then Birmingham might just have a 2011/2012 season to remember.
Getting a striker is a must. Even though his work rate is superb Cameron Jerome has not scored enough goals, Kevin Phillips is not getting any younger, Matt Derbyshire has not been given enough opportunities and Obafemi Martins has been injury plagued since joining the Blues on-loan from Rubin Kazan.
Ideally Birmingham should go for someone who has had experience of playing in the Premier League and has scored goals on regular basis. But who do you get? Realistically who can Blues go for? I’d be interested to hear from Blues fans.
Scott Dann has been sorely missed and he will be like a new signing once he gets back to full fitness. Four/six good signings in the summer and I can see Birmingham having a decent 2011/2012 season.
West Bromwich Albion
The aim at the start of the season was to survive in the top flight. Three games to go and West Brom find themselves 11th in the Premier League with 43 points.Mission accomplished.
It has been nothing but a roller coaster of a season for Albion.West Brom have had many highs and lows during the 2010/2011 season but at the end of the day they will be playing Premier League football next season.
At one point,West Bromwere as high as fourth in the league and everything seemed to be rosy at The Hawthorns. But one turning point of the season came at Bloomfield Road as the Baggies lost 2-1. Two men sent off and a defeat. That was the start of Albion being in freefall.
After suffering 13 defeats in 18 games in all competitions since the away game at Blackpool, Roberto di Matteo was sent packing his Baggies. It was a shock decision and I was one of those who thought Jeremy Peace made the wrong decision.
Roberto’s dismissal was a real surprise despite the club being in freefall. However the chairman could not have appointed a better successor to di Matteo in Roy Hodgson.
Hodgson failed to deliver at Liverpool but I was very pleased with the appointment of Hodgson being Albion’s new Head Coach. But no doubt Roywill have been tearing his hair out after the 3-3 home draw against West Ham.
The former Fulham manager nonetheless has turned West Brom into a tough nut to crack and Albion have only lost one game in the last nine.
Defensively, the Baggies have improved considerably and the team effort/spirit is nothing but sensational. A top half finish would be a fine achievement and everyone associated with West Brom will be hoping this is the time Albion can finally establish themselves as a Premier League club.
Peter Odemwingie has to be a contender for bargain of the season. 14 goals in his first season in the Premier League. Not bad at all and he might score more goals before the end of the season.
Where do you start with Wolves? They have been able to beat the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United and yet Wolves have struggled to beat the teams in and around them.
Mick McCarthy’s side have struggled with their defence throughout the season and January was a perfect time to strengthen their defence. But it wasn’t to be and their defensive frailties came about again when Michael Mancienne was at fault for Birmingham’s equaliser in the weekend.
Losing Kevin Doyle was a blow and the fans have questioned McCarthy’s team selections in recent weeks. What has happened to Adam Hammill and why is Mancienne in the starting XI.
Wolves could have done with having more Premier League experienced players in their squad. Most of the players in the current squad have plied their trade in the Championship.
McCarthy has done a decent job at Molineux but I just feel he missed a golden opportunity in January to strengthen the squad. This may well come back to haunt him and Wolves come the end of the season.
It is getting to a point now where the games against West Brom, Sunderland and Blackburn are must-win games. If Wolves fail to get a minimum five points then it could be curtains to their Premier League status.
There is still hope but Wolves must start winning games.
And finally we come onto Walsall. They may not be in the Premier League but they themselves have had a roller coaster season. But it is not over yet.
With one game to go, either Dagenham and Redbridge,Walsall or Notts County will be relegated to League 2 on Saturday.Walsall have a tough trip as they face Southampton. The Saints will be playing Championship football next season after they were promoted on Monday. So perhaps this could play into Walsall’s hands on Saturday.
The Saddlers seemed destined for League 2 after the sacking of Chris Hutchings in January of this year. But Dean Smith has done terrifically well and Walsall are now above the relegation zone by one point.
Every Walsall fan will have snatched your hand off in January if you said to them, they would be one place and one point above the relegation zone with one game to go.
Walsall can still pull off the Great Escape but they will need to be at their best if they are to get a result at St. Mary’s on Saturday.