Often Partisan

Unsung Heroes and Inconsistency – Blackburn Reflections

Birmingham City played out a 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers last night as the season starts to wind down to a close. Goals from Jonathan Grounds and Demarai Gray cancelled out efforts from Matthew Kilgallon and Jordan Rhodes in the stalemate.

It was a strange one last night. Horrific traffic on the roads coming into the ground combined with the fact it was my third game in four days meant I arrived at the ground tired and feeling just a little flat – and it appeared I wasn’t the only one. For the first half it was like watching a pre-season testimonial – players seemed to be half or three-quarter hearted at most and with there being barely a couple of hundred away fans it was quiet enough to catch up on my sleep almost.

Whatever Rowett said at half time made the difference though as the second half was much better – indeed, we could have won it (and my little tip on Grounds to score two or more was so close to coming off) but bearing in mind Blackburn had a couple cleared off the line I think a draw was the fair result.

I’m glad Rowett praised his “unsung hero” Jonathan Grounds after the game. Grounds gets a lot of stick on some messageboards – mainly I think because he’s not Mitch Hancox but he has been very steady of late and but for a dodgy call on Saturday would have broken his league goalscoring duck for us then. I’m not convinced he’s a full-back – I’d love to see him tried at centre half because of his height and heading ability – but what I am convinced of is that he has been one of our more consistent performers of late.

One player who hasn’t been consistent is David Cotterill. He had a real curate’s egg of a performance – once again wasteful in possession, shirking a couple of tackles and spanking two free kicks 20 rows back into the Railway stand. Yet he once again picked up an assist – something he’s done all season, and I still thought every time he went forwards he could do something.

Randolph was the same. Two fantastic blocks to stop us going 3-1 down, yet an absolute ricket for their second. I guess it’s an indicator of where we are that players are going to come to us because they are flawed but it’s maddening at times when you can see that they could be so much better.

The positive though is that this match really didn’t mean anything. After all our recent travails it’s good to be in a position where we’re not watching other results like hawks and where our management team can plan for the season ahead. Watford will be interesting as neither Fabbrini nor Dyer can play meaning two spots on the bench become free – and I’m curious to see who Rowett brings in now he knows it’s just pride only.

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41 Responses to “Unsung Heroes and Inconsistency – Blackburn Reflections”

  • Suenoble says:

    I have to be honest I thought Grounds was a complete mug for the first 12 or so games. I went to Brentford and another mistake of his cost us the win. But I must admit I have changed my mind about him, I think in the second half of the season he has been one of our better players and last night I thought he was our best player, after Fabrini of course.

  • Mineheadblue says:

    I’m glad that GR got into them at half time and they were able to pick it up. The game ended on a much better note and some pride was restored. I know that the players have done us proud since GR came in but I do think it’s important that they’re mindful that people pay good money (when nobody has much these days) to support the team and 15,000 or so wasn’t a bad crowd last night.
    Keep it going Sir Gary and the lads!!!

  • Dave Mann says:

    Second Half came to life after a full first half but ended up being a good 2-2 draw and maybe a fair result though I will say that we could have nicked it at the end .. ( I meant dull ) looking forward to Watford now and putting a spanner in there promotion works! Kro

  • James says:

    I have to agree about Grounds, really warmed to him in the latter stage of this season, and I agree O would like to see him tried at CB alongside Morrison, especially as I’m not yet too convinced by Kiernan too. That way we could potentially look to bringing in a solid LB who looks to get forward a little (wishful thinking I know).

    Cotterill had a horrible game and arguably anyone could’ve played that ball across the box for Dimmy, I think a dropping for Watford would be a good decision on that front. Fabbrini was fantastic, notably there was an end product to all of his work rather than useless flair.

  • Tony E says:

    Must admit Cotterill is doing my head in at the moment. His dead ball delivery, with one exception, was abysmal, he regularly gave the ball away when in promising positions and he bottled out of several challenges. I know that this is where we currently are, but how I wish we could afford someone who is more consistent.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    True, Grounds doesn’t race down the wing and get crosses in, but isn’t that what wingers are for? I want my full backs to be solid defensively and Grounds is pretty much that. I’ve said all along that he would come good.. and 41 league appearances (joint with Randolph) backs that up. I think that maybe a centre back position beckons for next season.

    Cotterill, as has been said, is an asset when he’s on the ball.. but when he isn’t, it’s like playing with 10 men… Caddis has to do twice as much work.

    The biggest thing on my wish list for next season, is a tall, commanding centre back who is good in the air. At the moment, we don’t have one. I’m not sure if it’s still the case, but a few weeks ago, we had conceded the most goals from headers in the division. Can’t see that would have changed much.

    With Dyer and Fabbrini unavailable on Saturday, I can’t see beyond Gray and Shinnie filling those positions.

    • TR7 says:

      Have to disagree about Grounds I’m afraid Staffs . I think people are confusing ‘featuring largely’ in the game as him being a good player. Yes he can head a ball and even get in to some significant positions. But , and it’s a big but , he will then give the ball away 9 times out of 10 , and usually put us under extreme pressure. He constantly does that , you can set your watch by him. Goal after goal against us, has come from him .
      He’s willing , but he’s a liability . He may fair better in the middle of defence , but expect a regular ‘howler’ every 15 minutes or so , he can’t help it.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        Point taken TR7. He’s nowhere near our best player, but he’s nowhere near the worst either. Grounds is solid enough in what he does and, there isn’t a player in our team that isn’t liable for a cock up or two. But every single player we have, has their good and bad points. We could spend all day listing them. Also, without Grounds, we’d probably never win a header at corners.

        • TR7 says:

          Yes Staffs , I take your point as well . I don’t want to go off on a negative rant about the many shortfalls we have . All of the regular supporters see them for themselves every home game . G R has had most of the team playing to their utmost ability since his arrival , and it’s an undeniable fact that we have more than a few very average League 1 players in our set up . That’s due to the state of our finances/owners etc etc.
          Gounds is not the worst by any means , I was just trying and nip any ‘elevation’ of his standing in the bud , so to speak.
          I’m a mean bugger really ………..

          • StaffsBlue says:

            Not at all. Everyone sees the game a slightly different way, that’s why there are so many different opinions. I still think we’ll see the best of Grounds at centre back.

      • beegeeblueboy says:

        Hooray. Someone other than that can see Grounds as a weak left back.

        Now if someone can say they’ve seen him make a good fist of centre back maybe he will show is true worth there.

    • steve says:

      Don’t you think Morrison is that Centre half you’re looking for Staffs. As for Cotterill,i would get rid.He’s not even effective on the ball anymore.

  • Tony says:

    Once again Randolph showed he is a weak link, its not the shot stopping that makes a good keeper its doing the simple things well. things like collecting crosses and gathering the ball cleanly not spilling it.
    If we are to be serious next season we need a new keeper.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I have to be honest, I really don’t rate Randolph. Far too many faults for a goalkeeper at this level. I’m hoping we bring a decent new No.1 in next season and promote young Townsend to the bench.

      • steve says:

        Agreed.Randolph is no better than Doyle imo. He doesn’t catch the ball enough for me. I would even try for Shay Given next season.

        • chris says:

          he wouldn’t come for £5k a week

          • steve says:

            GR is looking at a squad of 22 next season Chris.that means a fair few will be leaving. It could free a few extra quid to bring in a bit more quality.

  • Andrew says:

    Was a bit of a slow start for the first 45 but all in all i enjoyable to watch a team that is able to play with freedom to express themselves and i have to say it was a fair result. Your right saying Randolph could have done better with Jordan Rhodes goal, he made a great snap save latter in the game though from a great header i thought was a cert goal to make up for it, which like you say is annoying to see players doing the hard things right but making a meal out of the basics. we scored at the right times too, from points of play where we had strong spells with possession, you have to make them count. But it shows we have character to come from behind twice. Fabrrini looks like a great signing the more i watch him, i know its only two games but the quality on the ball is like he has magnets in his boots! Never gives up even a couple of times he lost the ball, chases it down again, the little feints of movement just entice defenders to foul him resulting in free kicks which cotteril wasted. Either team could have won it in the end. That team could be great if we had someone backing the club properly.

    • Andrew says:

      ….I also found it funny when i went to my seat to see you mr ivery! I must have been 6 seats away to your left in the row in front haha.

      • almajir says:

        was you in the captain’s club?

        • Andrew says:

          Very good yes, it was just one of those things that takes you by surprise. A bit like the idiot who ran over the pitch near the end of the game; probably drunk! Just wasn’t expecting to see you sat there haha. First time in captains club, very nice in there.

  • beegeeblueboy says:

    The term ‘flawed players’ is very good. If you to make the play-offs then you cant afford any. In the past I’ve seen players get in the team week in, week out and thought to myself we wont progress until they’re replaced. Examples of such stalwarts are:

    Damien Johnson
    Garry Pendrey
    Jim Herriot
    Ray Martin
    Malcolm Page
    Roger Hynd
    Cameron Jerome
    Martin O’Connor

    • garconsavage says:

      Or to put it another way, Bluenoses have always needed a “Scapegoat”.

      Grounds is merely the latest in a very long line!!

    • MattNL says:

      Didn’t we get promoted with Cameron Jerome? twice even? plus he’s got a good chance of going up again with Norwich this year.

      Point taken on Grounds though – I think fullbacks are key to getting attacking moves going, so they need to be comfortable and with a bit of skill on the ball, otherwise it ends up with the centre backs having to punt a hopeful ball forward. I think Caddis has that bit of skill, but Grounds not – getting a left back that can play a bit would help alot.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Talking of heroes… although I voted for David Davis as my Player of the Season, I think the hero this season has been Clayton Donaldson.

    Every other player in the team has help all around to do his job.. but Donaldson plays every game up there on his own. He’s been battered from pillar to post and always comes back for more. Even the refs don’t give him any help. I think that 50-60 yard run last night, to stop the ball going out for a Blackburn goal kick, epitomised the guy’s attitude. A few more goals would have been nice, but you can’t ask for much more from a freebie. Well done Donaldo!

  • oldburyblue says:

    I know we all have our different opinions beegee but I cannot agree with you. I would welcome most of your list in our team today.

    • alex T says:

      Im pretty sure he was being Ironic, in that all of those players were ‘flawed’ but were either iconic players, played at top level or were in promotion winning teams

    • BhamCityJulian says:

      Well some yes if you’re looking to improve a mid table Championship team. Not Herriot and Martin.

      With respect you are missing my point. At the time they were playing every match I assert they needed to be replaced.

      • oldburyblue says:

        I bow to your greater age/memory re Herriot and Martin. Both were in the Team when I first started going regularly to the Blues as a young teenager. At that time the whole team were great as far as I was concerned as I had nothing to compare them with. If you are “beegee” I still dispute your list though. ps. If you ARE beegee, why do you feel the need to have more than 1 identity on 1 site? Just asking as I suspect there are a few people on here who have 2 or more so that they can ‘like’ or agree with their own comments. Genuine query.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Gianni Paladini is in talks to takeover Bradford City. Does that mean the 7 bidders are now 6?

  • RichardM says:

    Can’t understand the flak Grounds gets, every time of seen him he’s been excellent IMO. That’s certainly how GR sees it given the post-match interview he gave to Tom Ross as well.

    Cotterill was bloody awful last night, it was like playing with 10 men, but big thumbs up for me for Fabbrini, Tesche (first time I’ve seen him play), Caddis, Kiernan, Donaldson and Gray.

    The one conundrum for me is Gleeson. I’m sure many of you have seen him play more often than me (I can only make mid-week games), but every time I’ve seen him play this season he’s been virtually invisible. Of all the new players this season, he’s perhaps been the most dissapointing, as he came highly recommended as a guy who can pick a pass to unlock defences – but I’m just not seeing it. Is it just me? To think he’s picked ahead of Davis makes absolutely no sense to me, but I’m sure we all see different things?

  • Steve in Yorkshire says:

    I do find some of the marmite sentiments towards Randolph and Grounds bizarre. I think a lot of it just comes down to consistency. Many seem to dismiss the fact that Grounds was a free from Oldham in League 1. He would need to adjust and improve to become a Championship player, I think he certainly has since Rowett has come in. He’s not a world beater, but of late is he a competent mid table Championship performer? I would certainly say so, let’s not forget afterall that Blues are a mid table team. Given the fact that Rowett himself was a taller full back, couldn’t it be argued that by this time next season Grounds might even be one of our key performers with further coaching and experience at this level. having said this, I do think Rowett sees his future at centre half and will bring Graeme Shinnie in at left back.
    Randolph’s criticism I just don’t get. I think it’s largely due to the fact we have been spoiled with some top keepers over the past 20 years, even most of the loanees! Yes he is erratic with crosses and drops the odd clanger, (similar criticism directed at Hart and Butland!) but it’s the nature of the position that a mistake will most likely lead to a goal. Given our finances it’s the choice of a consistent keeper who is limited but scoring a proverbial 7 every week or a keeper like Randolph who may be less consistent, but in my opinion ranges from 9 – 6. I would certainly favour the latter, a keeper who will win you the odd game or draw with a top performance. I don’t recall MANY games where Randolph has singlehandedly cost us the result. I hope we don’t lose him in the summer, then realise what we have lost when it’s too late.

  • Blue Steve says:

    I think Grounds has been unfairly criticized on the comments of this blog. He is a league 1 free transfer who has performed very well. Occasionally there has been a clamor to get Mitch Hancox into the team ahead of him. Whilst I think it is great for us to produce players from the academy that are blues fans for me when picking your best 11 its all about ability. I don’t care where our players come from as longs as they perform. A full backs priority in a back 4 is to first defend and Grounds is a one of our better defenders. So for me currently he is our best left back by miles.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Blues U21s lost 1-0 to Sheff Utd U21s. Gavin Gunning and Matt Green both completed 90 minutes. Matt Green had a couple of decent efforts well-saved by United keeper.

    “Both of those players came through the game well,” added Beale. “It was good to see Matt getting a few chances today because he didn’t really get much to work off over the last few games and Gavin was solid in the centre of defence.”

    Good news. :)

  • Lets get real the team and manager have done us Proud. Now is not the time to single out players for criticism! Grounds-Donaldson-Randolph etc etc – ” They all give there utmost even though Cotterilll does shirk some challenges he has still over-All been decent for us. Player of the Season for me is Donaldson – Great work ethic plays for the team in a difficult position as the Lone Striker.

    The minutes applause on 13 Minutes for Logan was brilliant – our Fans showing again that we care about our own. My condolences to his family. RIP Logan. KRO! M

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Denny Johnstone scored Burton’s equaliser tonight… in the 98th minute!! Keeps Burton 2 points clear of the Shrews.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Burton and Shrewsbury will both be promoted which is good news all round so Coventry and Walsall will have some local games to look forward to ! Kro

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    I look forward to being proved wrong with Grounds and Kiernan i.e. they would fill two places in our promotion team. It would be a feather in the cap of GR and his coaches.

  • Captain Blues says:

    From a dire first half I thought the second half was as entertaining as I’ve seen all season with it being end to end and with us being safe it could be enjoyed as a spectacle (in start contrast to Blackburn at home last season which was almost 12 months to the day).
    On the subject of Grounds I thought he was dreadful in the first handful of matches but since GR arrived has looked a much improved player (there are a few you could say the same for).

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Grounds is our main, maybe only, threat at free kicks and corners. Take him out and we’d have no threat.


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