Francis tips Brum to beat Owls in cup

Ex Owls boss Trevor Francis working at Brentford for SKY TV enjoys some banter with Wednesdayites
Ex Owls boss Trevor Francis working at Brentford for SKY TV enjoys some banter with Wednesdayites

Ask Trevor Francis about Sheffield Wednesday’s FA Cup clash at Birmingham City and he can’t win either way.

The fifth round tie at St Andrews brings together two of the clubs closest to the heart of the former Wednesday player and manager who launched his celebrated career as a 16-year-old boy wonder at Birmingham.

Pete Mckee

Pete Mckee

Wait for it, though, there is a prediction to come! But Francis feels it is no life-or-death struggle because both clubs are facing pressing issues in the Premiership and League One respectively.

For that reason - and the fact Birmingham have a Carling Cup final with Arsenal a week on Sunday - new Owls boss Gary Megson hopes his players respond to an escape from league pressures.

Francis, who managed Wednesday’s last successful team before his untimely sacking in 1995, told the Telegraph: “I’ll be following it very closely. I’ve got many friends in both camps going to the game.”

But he insisted: “It wouldn’t be the end of the world for either team to lose.

“Birmingham supporters are talking about a double Wembley appearance - and that rings a bell with me after those two finals with Wednesday in 1993.

“However, while the two sets of fans will want their team to progress they both have other priorities after losing in midweek.

“It concerns me very much that Wednesday are getting closer and closer to the relegation area. I hope Gary can change things.”

Francis has had a feeling about Saturday’s game - since before the draw was made! He chuckled: “I’m not pretending to be Mystic Meg or anything like that, but as I was watching the draw with my eldest son, Matthew, I said to him: ‘It’ll be Birmingham v Sheffield Wednesday. . . and Manchester United v Crawley.’ It’s uncanny the way both ties then came out.”

Trevor, you are not going to get away without making a prediction after that! “Okay, on current form I feel Birmingham will win narrowly - perhaps 1-0.”

But he is not ruling out an upset, adding: “Wednesday have great fans who travel in large numbers.

They are very passionate and while the ground will be nowhere near full, the away support will make it a very good atmosphere. Also, Birmingham will probably not play their strongest team whereas Wednesday will.”

Not that anyone including Megson (ironically dubbed Mystic Megson in his West Brom days!) will yet know exactly what that is.

Incredibly, Sheffield football has yet to see a league win on either side of the city in 2011. Let’s hope the cup is somehow a catalyst for improvement all round.