Often Partisan

Taking Down The Tricky Trees

Birmingham City bounced back from their 4-0 Boxing Day defeat to Derby with a televised 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest which puts the Blues level on points with the Tricky Trees in the Championship table. David Cotterill opened the scoring with a free kick that avoided the touch of everyone before going in before Clayton Donaldson added a brace to give the Blues a comfortable margin of victory.

From my vantage point in my armchair watching on Sky, the game seemed remarkably similar to the Reading one – no changes made following a defeat, low amounts of possession but clinical finishing giving Blues the victory. I thought that at times Forest looked good going forwards – their German midfielder Tesche was unlucky not to score with an effort that rattled the crossbar – but as David from inthetopone.co.uk said in an email to me following the game, our defence shackled the likes of Michail Antonio well and that was one of the key differences that gave us the win.

The other thing that was mentioned was the annoying effectiveness of David Cotterill. I will admit to being miffed because Cotterill likes a shot from anywhere – almost to the point of selfishness – but I don’t think you can be annoyed when he keeps on scoring as he has been. Cotts had one of those games where I don’t think he played that well – and yet he scored one, made one (yes, I think like those poor souls I know on twitter who had him to score two in the game at 100-1 I thought the second was his too) . I’ve always been happy to carry a striker who has a knack for popping up and scoring and I think I have to apply the same logic to Cotterill – he is inconsistent, he does give the ball away – but he has been one of the instrumental reasons for our recent great run of form.

It’s now ten games into the Rowett Revolution and we’ve taken twenty points. Blues seem fairly anchored into midtable; the team is settled and I think we’ve got to a point where wholesale changes of the squad are no longer seen as needed; under Clark I think it was difficult to see quality anywhere but something seems to have changed and the team looks a lot more like one that can compete in the Championship week in, week out.

The only thing that is concerning is something that has been picked up by Brian Dick of the Birmingham Mail – that if Blues score first then we look like winning – but if we don’t, we find it very hard to get back into games as we are reliant on this counter-attack kind of play. Going behind makes teams close up in front of us, denying space for us to play into and I think Rowett now needs to work on a plan for opening teams up – either with direct balls that are held up by a striker or by the old fashioned method of getting the ball to the byeline and crossed into the area. That being said, I don’t doubt that Rowett will have not picked this up himself and will be working on it too.

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42 Responses to “Taking Down The Tricky Trees”

  • Paul Hawkins says:

    Wow what a end to 2014. There has been so many highs & lows but that is expected when being a Birmingham City supporter. It looked very very gloomy for 2015 under Mr Clark but I can honestly say I’m looking upwards under the new management. I always knew the squad was better than the results suggested under Clark and I’ve been proven right. A big congratulations to Gary Rowett and his management staff for there hard work on turning this team around.

  • ChrisG says:

    If Cotterill can cut out the wayward passes he will no doubt be one of the top players in the championship, but as you say Dan you can’t really argue when he creates so much going forward.
    If anyone would have said a couple of months back that we would do the double over Forest, i’m pretty sure the men in white coats would have been paying a visit!!!!

    • Dave says:

      Totally agree Chris, but remember if he had that consistency wouldn’t have had so many clubs, and more than likely wouldn’t be with us to be honest.

      Enjoy the roller coaster ride that is Birmingham City FC !

      KRO

      Dave

    • Julian Glass says:

      If Cotterill cut out the wayward passes he’d be playing in the Prem.

      All of our players have faults which renders them mid-table Championship. That’s also why we can go from 6-1 to 0-4 to 3-1 with the same XI

  • JimC says:

    Another great win, took my 6 year old lad to his first away day, will have to take him to every away game now until we lose. Is it just me but from reading Stuart Pearce post match thoughts and Forrest fans views, I find them very disrespectful to the effort the lads gave, if you ever want to read a more one sided report on a game clink on the link (LAUGHABLE) http://seatpitch.co.uk/2014/12/28/fans-eye-view-forest-1-3-birmingham . Also to give Antonio MOM was the funniest thing I had witnessed at a football match in years, was the worst player on the pitch. Bring on the mighty Blythe Spartans, I will be ther but unfortunately my 6 year old lad Alfie won’t. KRO.

    • paule says:

      Just read Martin Valentines report *very funny it was too” personally i think he must be a very bitter man or he might need a trip to Spec Savers!! I’ve watched the game twice now and still can’t see what the Idiot from Nottingham is talking about, i thought we played the perfect away game & destroyed them something they couldn’t do to us a couple of weeks back, obviously Some Forest fans think they are better than they are!!! They might want to pop to Derby if they want to see a superior championship team.

  • Bluehobba says:

    Who’d have thought back in October we would do the double over a Forest side that was right up there. in the mix. If we can continue to pick up points ar home we can avoid the relegation scrap by the end of Feb. KRO

  • Art says:

    Just given my best mate a Forest Supporter some real stick.

    He visited us in September when Forest were on a roll and his rendition of “We are Top of the League”was relentless..

    Goes around Comes Around!

    Sheer Joy!

  • Tony says:

    It was like the Reading game, Forest had chances but didn’t take them we did, it was a great result but I see where Dan is coming from on this.
    We never seem to dominate a game ,we afford the opposition chances Reading and Forest passed them up Derby did not, we need to stifle teams, don’t give them space to create chances, I know its being picky but if we can do it it will make a world of difference.
    In the window I would like to see a specialist left back we are weak in that area, we could also do with a big commanding centre back.
    No one can complain about GR First ten games he has been a revelation, fantastic, long may it continue.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      If we bring players in Tony, surely some have got to be going in the opposite direction. I’m wondering where it leaves our younger players, the likes of Mitch Hancox, Amari’i Bell, Reece Brown, etc. We also have Edgar and Hall kicking their heels. We, more or less, have 2 or 3 players for every position and bringing players in will bloat the squad even more.

      Am I right in thinking that the squad and squad numbers are re-assessed after the window?

      • Tony says:

        Yes Staffs we have to get rid of a few we have quite a big squad ,personally I dont think Grounds is up to it, Hall to seems surplus Bell I have doubts about same as Relily who passing is terrible. Edgar could go too for my money, He a bit of an enigma he was a much better player for Blackpool than he has been for us but hes had a bad injury

    • Paul Hawkins says:

      At the end of the day we have got 20 points under Gary Rowett which Is promotion form. So how people can moan is beyond me. Yes there are things to work on and all that will come in time

  • Bluefire says:

    A brilliant response to what was a comprehensive home defeat. If we kept averaging two points per game until the end of the season we’d get about 75 pts, a play off spot for sure. However, I think this is highly unlikely. There are sure to be injuries, suspentions and loss of form and we’re not sure whether GR knows his next best side outside his “best eleven”. We’re also reliant on a lot of teams above us dropping points. A top half finish is a realistic aim for this year. We’d all have taken that back in August.

  • Always a Blue says:

    The turn around is remarkable just goes to show that Gary Rowett is an excellent manager and Lee Clarke is a very good scout as excluding Morrison it is Clarke’s team.

    Highs like yesterday and lows like Saturday is fine as I would taken two points from the last two games anyway.

    Special mention for the defence yesterday and for Robbo two games in three days.

    Always Always A Blue

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I think that with the 4-2-3-1 that we play under Rowett, we’re set up not to concede early and to win the battles, which invariably are leading to the chances we’re getting and, at the moment, we’re putting them away. But as OP mentioned, we do need a plan B, for the Blackpool and Derby kind of games, where we can’t make the breakthrough.

    One thing that does still exist from earlier in the season, is the propensity to defend too deep at the start of the second half, which usually invites pressure. Cotterill really needs to cut out those sloppy cross-field passes, or he’s going to cost us goals. Other than that, I don’t see too much wrong with the way we’re going.

  • Dave Mann says:

    10 games 20 points under rowett and were on course for the playoffs if that continues to the end of the season so very good first half. Not so good second half but can’t be picky after chalk and cheese games against derby and forest. Kro

    • Jazzzy786 says:

      Someone pointed this out to me

      Gary Rowett
      P10 W6 D2 L2 Pt 20

      Lee Clark
      P12 W2 D5 L7 Pt 11
      P10 W1 D5 L4 Pt 8 (record aa Blackpool manager)

      So Lee Clark haa got 19 pointa in 22 games which is still 1 less point than what Gary Rowett haa
      achieved in 10 games.

  • rhees says:

    Great result wonder what Jan will bring left back another midfielder I hope

  • Richard Granfield says:

    With the Blyth game coming this week it will be an opportunity for Rowett to play some of the fringe players.
    Blyth are in the same league as Halesowen Town, Stourbridge and Rushall Olympic, so shouldn’t cause an upset whoever is selected.
    My lineup would be…..Doyle, Eardley, Hall, Edgar, Hancox,
    Moussi, Reilly,
    Duffy, Brown, Novak
    Thomas
    Subs. Townsend, Grounds, Davis, Arthur, Shinnie, Zigic, Donaldson.

  • Hillfield Blue says:

    We were staring at div 1 and dead in the water after the 0-8 a couple of months ago so it’s nice to be basking in a bit of mid table security for a change,but play offs…..no way. The most positive thing for me is the fact that it’s bought us a bit more time to see if we can get rid of these bloody HK cronies before they can do any more damage.

  • Adam True Blue says:

    Just a point of interest, Bournmouth have averaged 2 points a game, what a shame we started the season so poorly under Clarke.

  • BlueSteve says:

    I think Grounds has been harshly criticized in these comments. He is no world beater but defensively he has been very solid up against some of the championships best right wingers. For me he is miles ahead of Mitch Hancox.

  • Mineheadblue says:

    I thought that it was a brilliant piece of management by G.R. to pick an unchanged side, Like most people, I would have expected changes after Derby and in my view, to challenge the same players to put in a performance was very clever.
    I think that G.R. and his team are learning all the time and that can only be good for the club. KRO

  • Dave Mann says:

    Great point mineheadblue because I was also thinking changes for forest but rowett must have said to them” you mucked up against derby so put it right against forest ” and they did do well done to the players and the manager but I would be staggered if there wasent at least half a dozen changes against blyth and I would go Doyle , Spector, Hancox, Edgar, Morrison, moussi , rilley, Novak, Duffy, shinnie and Thomas or something Long those lines . Kro

  • supporters advocating Reilly for Saturday obviously was not watching very closely yesterday.The lad honest enough can not water let alone football

  • Pete says:

    I am reckoning play offs in in sight. Anyone remember in 2002 and where we were in November, but we went on a hell of a run. I am not saying it is bound to happen, but I will not rule it out. The only thing is players need a rest time- starting against Blyth. Let them have a few days off- which most other sides do not get the chance to do.Will paty dividends!

  • BlueSteve says:

    I think GR has a tricky decision to make against Blythe. Will wholesale changes affect the momentum we have got. I think we have to rest Robbo and Donaldson as a minimum. I would be tempted to play a completely new 11 and role the dice.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Randolph, Grounds, Cotterill and Donaldson have played 23 league games this season, with Caddis on 22, Davis 21 and Robbo 20. So I think at least some, or all those deserve a rest.

    My starting XI would be similar to Dave Mann’s: Doyle, Eardley, Morrison, Edgar, Hancox, Duffy, Gleeson, Moussi, Shinnie, Novak, Thomas.

    • richardm says:

      I think the only way Blyth will win this is if we do exactly this – make about 10 changes and bring in players who have not started a game in 2 months. Let’s treat them and this game with some respect – we can’t afford another humiliation in one season after the record breaking 8-0 reverse to Bournemouth. The ghosts of Altrincham and Kidderminster haven’t gone away….

  • Tms blues says:

    We took our chances yesterday and withstood a lot of pressure but Forrest wasted their possession and conceded 2 soft goals and one very unlucky rub of the green putting them three down. If the situation had been reversed we’d have felt we’d been mugged and hard done by as a couple of key decisions went against them one a reasonable penalty shout and the other a clear foul on the edge of the area. Against derby we weren’t mugged we were beaten by a team which unlike forest converted it’s possession into goals.
    Nevertheless football is about making the best of your opportunities and Blues certainly gave the perfect example of how to do just that. They also showed a strong team spirit and commitment to defend against the strong pressure that forest applied particularly after the break. Must admit I thought Antonio was going to murder us at the back with his pace but he never got a look in after the first 5 mins which perhaps emphasises this point. Rosette is certainly showing that average players can punch above their weight when they perform as a well drilled team.
    We do still need players in and some out I think and some options should be tested Donaldson got the vital touches but he rarely won balls up to him or held the ball or laid it off, zigic came on and gave a demo of just how to play that role. Maybe Donaldson should play off him. I would still look for another striker. I too think we need a left back and also we need to ease Robbo out of the centre of defence using Edgar as his replacement. It would also be nice to have a midfielder with some real guile and skills like ravel m provided to sit in with the excellent Davies who’s been a real star for us.
    Whatever changes occur gr has turned the club around in a few short weeks just think how things would be looking if we had relieved the previous incumbent of his duties in the summer. Well done to the boys in blue here’s to a great 2015!

  • ,B123 says:

    great result, but wny o why did we allow that last minute goal. As others have written it just took about 7 minutes. Reality, Forest were on top in mid field and if it they could have shot with any degree of accuracy we would have gone down. This is the fact we must face . We were like the blues of old. defending well but even then the home side were able to get in shots luckily for us inaccurate, otherwise the result could have gone the other way. Having said that the first two goals were lucky carbon copies, and with the rebound from the right cross set up a good result. perhaps it`s me, but what ever happens to put ourselves in front there is always a nagging concern that things will go wrong. Perhaps it is the result of the years. of that sort of happenings On the positive side we do seem to get good results away.
    Any road up as they say it does seem we have a side that is capable of hanging on until the legal chains are lifted from he, club, and we can compete.One last comment ,it was comforting to see the attendance against Derby that shows there is still hope and if…….?.

  • Paul says:

    What a difference a new manager makes…
    Paul Robinson in particular must be commended. After the Bolton game on the 18th October, Robbo had amassed 4 bookings and one more before the end of the year would have seen him banned for a game. To not get booked in two months and god knows how many games especially how he plays has been a revelation (is it Morrison next to him taking the pressure off him?).
    Maybe in the next few games he’ll get stuck in more now that the pressure of a ban has subsided a little…I hope not. However saying that I still think he should be replaced with a new/different player and let him play the cup games like Doyle


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