Blues seeking revenge on Benitez for 'darkest day'

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The Independent Online

The Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce, has admitted that he contemplated resigning from the Midlands club in the summer after their relegation from the Premiership.

Bruce spent time with his family weighing up whether to end his four-and-a-half-year association with Blues, but ultimately opted to rebuild a new team with the aim of regaining top-flight status. Birmingham are challenging strongly at the top end of the Championship but will take a break from League action for tonight's Carling Cup tie with Liverpool at St Andrew's.

It will give them the opportunity to try to avenge last season's humiliating 7-0 reversal by the Reds in the FA Cup on the same ground.

Bruce said: "Did I think of walking away after the Liverpool game? I don't think as a manager you can take a reaction from just an individual performance. The closest I came to walking away, if that is how you want to put it, was the summer.

"I reflected then on what had gone wrong, what I could have done differently, the challenges that were ahead and what I wanted to do myself.

"That was the big time. I have never thought after a defeat, 'I am packing it in.' That's not in my nature at all. I've never contemplated that. The big time was the summer when I went away with my family. But even then I didn't really want to walk away after being relegated. I wanted to try to get a new team and get us back to where we were four or five years ago and start all over again."

Bruce has been lifted by the return to action of Matthew Upson, who came through 60 minutes of a reserve game on Monday - his first action for nine months. The England defender was out of action with pelvic and Achilles tendon problems since February but suffered no reaction to his comeback against Nottingham Forest.

Birmingham's central defender Martin Taylor will be striving to wipe out the memory of "my worst night in football". Taylor is one of the few survivors still at Birmingham of the side annihilated 7-0 by Liverpool in that Cup tie. The former Blackburn player was substituted at half-time as City crumbled to their worst defeat for 48 years and, in the aftermath, the club's co-owner, David Sullivan, launched a stinging attack on the players.

Now Taylor has the chance to make amends in the fourth-round encounter with Rafael Benitez's side after regaining his place in the first XI."It was a depressing night when you just wanted to get out of the ground and home as soon as possible," Taylor said.

"I still try not to think about it. It was a horror show when everything that could go wrong did. It was the worst night ever in football for me. It will always be my darkest day and the kind of game you never want to happen to you," he said.

"As footballers you have your pride. That night it took a real hit. But we are a different side now, full of young players who have never faced Liverpool. There will be no fear. There are only a handful of survivors from that night. Last season we were ravaged by injuries. Now the confidence is flowing.

"We want to get into the quarter-finals of this competition and we are not going to roll over and give them an easy ride. Liverpool have star names and quality players in every position but we will get stuck into them."

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