Often Partisan

Consolidation

Birmingham City extended their streak of draws to four with a 1-1 stalemate against Fulham on Saturday. A raucous contingent of away fans were on hand to see a David Cotterill free kick cancel out Hugo Rodallega’s opener as Gary Rowett’s men continued to consolidate their midtable position.

As I wasn’t able to attend the game I can’t comment on individual performances however from listening to Gary Rowett talk to Radio WM after the game it was interesting to hear his take which almost seemed to be “two points dropped”. It’s great to hear we’re creating chances but what impressed me more was Rowett talking about how he tweaked the tactics in the team to counteract the diamond formation that Fulham play; dropping Clayton Donaldson back ten or so yards and pushing the two wingers out wider to the touchlines. I’ve admired the way he has remained consistent in his team selections and basic formation and I think those tweaks show that radical changes aren’t needed to improve the way the team plays in differing situations.

Millwall represents a different challenge for Rowett. They come into the game in trouble at the foot of the table with an awful record of late against us and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them shut up shop at St Andrews intent on nicking a point or three. Blues counter attacking approach probably won’t work against a team that keeps players behind the ball and I’m interested to see what he does when he knows that the team need to be on the front foot. At Blackpool Blues struggled on a bog of a pitch to a 1-0 defeat against a team they were expected to win; at Croft Park Blyth Spartans took a 2-0 lead (albeit over a somewhat weakened Blues side) and I suspect some that people are looking at those games and thinking Rowett may struggle when the onus is Blues to push on.

What I hope we see is a Blues side that can attack – but more importantly some patience from the fans. It always makes me cringe when we’re playing some nice possession football, stretching the opposition and using the width of the pitch and then some loud voice in the crowd yells “gerrit forward!” As much as we want to see the team score goals and win I think we have to accept that at this moment in time midtable in the Championship is about as good as it’s going to get, and as such we’re not going to play every team off the park at St Andrews. The early stages of the Rowett Revolution spoiled us somewhat with some amazing wins and lots of goals and now we’ve settled down into the grind of things I think we need to take comfort in the fact the end of the season could be somewhat boring for us – no chance of going up nor down, just consolidation. As much as it’s not the rollercoaster us Blues fans are used to after the tribulations of last season I’m actually happier for that.

Off the pitch, things have quietened down but there has been some movement in the squad; Neal Eardley evidently failed to impress at Brisbane Road and has been sent home from his loan spell with Leyton Orient early while there have been reports in the news that former Dutch u21 defender Kees Luyckx has arrievd on trial at Wast Hills this week. The 28 year old centre-half was with Greek Superleague side Niki Volos this season, making ten appearances but left in December due to the money troubles at the Greek side. Prior to that he played for NAC Breda and Roda JC Kerkrade in the Dutch Eredivisie.

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35 Responses to “Consolidation”

  • AndyW says:

    I agree Daniel. It was a bit much to expect to keep that fantastic run going, but the performances in general are still a vast improvement. I too will be happy to see out the season knowing the team have secured their place in the Championship for next year. It has to be said though that we will need investment just to stay there. With each passing season this division gets harder to climb out of, as the money teams coming down from the Premier League will begin to dominate, and the inevitable gap arises between the have and have not’s? Nothing will really change until the club is sold, and we all know that there is nothing certain in that direction.

  • DoctorD says:

    I think any talk of play offs can be put firmly to bed, but Saturday was exactly the kind of game we’d have lost under Clark, I am sure of that. Oh to be 11th at the end of the season — I’d have snapped your arm off last year for that level of safety.

  • rhees says:

    I agree play offs out of sight but more than happy with out a religation struggle
    That would a great season

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Neal Eardley has returned to the club from his loan at Orient. Maybe due to lack of playing time.

    28 year old former AZ and Roda JC defender Kees Luijckx is to spend this week on trial at the club.

    Both stories in the BM.

  • rhees says:

    Garry knows who he wants I’m sure

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Blues’ have taken Kees Luijckx ( pronounced Loikes) or how a yam yam pronounces likes on trial.
    He will be 29 on Wednesday and is a former Netherlands Under 21 International.
    Subject to the form of Packwood and the injuries to Morrison and Gunning (who I believe is now running) I doubt whether Rowett will be busy in the loan market.

  • Mineheadblue says:

    It’s a shame but I think it’s quite telling that Neil Eardley has returned to the club. It looks as though he was deemed NOT good enough for Orient!
    For me, he’s been disappointing at Blues and has cost us, either with being sent off at crucial times or simply not being good enough to cut out opposition scoring opportunities. It may be a crisis of confidence but in my view it’s best that he moves on and I wish him luck should he do so.

    • Richard Granfield says:

      That bad injury Eardley suffered last season is the reason imo that he has not regained his best form.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        I think Eardley’s form has been very disappointing. He looked quality when he was at Blackpool. Maybe that injury has had a major effect… but he wasn’t that hot before it tbh. But, if you’re not good enough to get into Orient’s team, where do you go from there?

  • Dean says:

    Three dull draws after sacrificing the FA Cup. Was is worth it?

  • Agent McLeish says:

    Eardly is an interesting one. Maybe his fitness was not at the required level yet or maybe it was a personal reason – who knows, but being sent back after only two weeks seems odd.

  • Blue Lizard says:

    Maybe Clarkie will take him back to Blackpool with a bit of luck….

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way we play, as such, in fact, it can be quite exciting in full flow. But, if the main striker is firing blanks, where are the goals coming from? Other than Cotterill, there’s not many goals coming from other areas. If it wasn’t for his fortunate goal on Saturday, we could easily have lost that game, even though we should have been leading by 2 or 3 goals by half time. (Looking again, at the highlights, how we didn’t score 6 I’ll never know.)

    When things aren’t quite working during a game, we need to change things a bit, get more than one player in goalscoring areas. Donaldson can’t do it on his own ever game. Bringing Zigic on is just the green light to bang it long… and shoving Gray in the hole isn’t going to work either. The last couple of games have proved that’s he’s far more effective out wide. What Thomas has to do to get a crack I don’t know.

  • rhees says:

    3 pts against millwall and all will be happy

    • StaffsBlue says:

      8 or 9 points this month and things will look pretty healthy… and should put any last fears of the drop to bed.

  • BeeGeeBlueBoy says:

    “Neal Eardley evidently failed to impress at Brisbane Road”. Maybe he should try the Yellow Brick one, because he’s heading down the Long and Winding one

  • nigel sale says:

    I haven’t seen blues lately only the Bournemouth and darby home matches as l live in Bournemouth but do get up for London matches as my son lives up there.l went to fulham match which l enjoyed even though we should have won by an hatfull.l was really empressed by some flowing moves from wing to wing with both full backs pushing forward the outstanding player for me was shinnie who now is full of confidence could he be Blues John White who inspired spurs in the 60’s

  • Bluenosegaz says:

    Gary Rowett is supposed to be looking at a defender from Halifax don’t know if he’s any good though I trust our manager knows what he’s doing.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Our support at Fulham was truly magnificent and we out sung a Fulham contingent as quiet as i can remember …they caught us cold at the start but from then on we were well on top for most of the game and how Donaldson missed that one towards the end from where we were standing was hard to understand but if he bangs a couple in tommorow i might just forgive him . Kro

  • richardm says:

    Yeah, tomorrow’s going to be interesting, I’m also wondering how Rowett will play this one, and whether the usual play deep and stretch them on the counter-attack(which has worked admirably so far) will work against a side like Millwall or their game plan tomorrow?

    Am I alone in thinking Donaldson might be due a rest, maybe give Wes Thomas a run-out?

  • John says:

    Why would Donaldson need a rest. He only has to play football, hasn’t he ? Or is he on the night shift at the jag, as well ?

  • Dave Mann says:

    I Agree that Donaldson shouldn’t need a rest and having scored 11 this season he will want to get 20 won’t he? … He works tirelessly for the team but then he’s earning £8 k a week which includes scoring bonus so he would want to play every game but Thomas is a good sub and maybe against millwall we should play both up front but can’t see that happening so start with gray on the left and cotterill on the right with shinnie behind Donaldson and 3-0 should be a good score line ! Kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I don’t really believe that players should be rested (except for youngsters.) Footballers usually play less than 200 minutes per week. I know it’s a physical game, but it’s hardly rugby. If the modern footballer can’t do 2 games per week standing on his head, then there’s something wrong. The only reason to leave a player out is if he’s not performing. You can’t really say Donaldson isn’t performing, because he works his nuts off every game… but if he keeps shooting like his feet are screwed on skewiffed… then there has to be an alternative at some point. Either replace him after an hour, or give him some help up there.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    If MIllwall come and match us up, as Norwich did, then it could be a very tight affair. We seem to struggle playing against our own tactics. I just hope Rowett has a few tweaks up his sleeve to break them down if that’s the case. I would definitely utilise Thomas’ speed and strength at some point in the game… and I don’t mean the last 5 minutes.

  • clubclassblue says:

    I think Thomas has looked quite sharp on his rare outing, he may not like it but he is an ideal type of player to have on the bench. I would prefer to start with Donaldson and possibly give him a rest later on when the damage is done. Ziggy always seems to upset Millwall so we have options up there.
    I hope the centre half situation is resolved soon (either by recovery or replacement) Robbo and Spector have done ok but the likes of Boro may find them out.

  • swissjonny says:

    Im not the greatest Zigic fan but your right club class .It will be a physical affair and im sure GR will have realised this.

  • Shirley Blue says:

    I’m a great believer in not changing a winning team. I would like to see the four up top who were scoring goals for fun (Donaldson, Shinnie, Cotterill and Gray) start the game and Dyer’s pace would be a great asset to bring on in the last half an hour.

  • Jazzzy786 says:

    After watching our performance versus Fulham I am confident that we should be too good for Millwall. I will be disappointed if we don’t get 3 points. I’m not surprised GR felt we should have won versus Fulham ww played some fantastic football and missed some great chances. We should’ve been out of sight by half time.

    I think about 45 points will see us safe. I hope once this happens GR starts to blood some of our youth in building for the future.

    • Richard Granfield says:

      Jazzy…..I think you have miscalculated. 45 points would see us relegated. It would mean us taking only 7 points from the next 17 games!

      • Dave Mann says:

        We stayed up by the skin of our teeth with 44 points last season so 45 might be enough but talk about relegation is ludicrous because a win tonight takes he to 41 and only 3 behind the whole of last season with 16 games to go ..if Watford loose at brentford and we win then its only 9 points behind sixth place and with so many games left I certainly will not loose the faith but they win and we loose then I must admit its game over with a gap of 15 points !! Kro& ktf

        • StaffsBlue says:

          Absolutely no chance of going down. We no longer need to look over our shoulders… instead, just keep looking up. Four consecutive draws has probably put paid to any tilt at the top 6. Whichever way you look at it, you can’t see the present incumbents falling away enough to let us in. But, a top 10 place is there for the taking.. but we need a winning run.

  • a hawkins says:

    Even tho i also think the play offs are now out of the question but i do believe that we have alot to play for and that is too finish as high as possible. By doing so we are showing òur intent for next season.


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