Often Partisan

Time to go direct

Blues face Wolves on Sunday in what really is a crunch match for their playoff hopes. Defeat on Tuesday didn’t help matters but almost every single other team around them dropped points and as such Blues didn’t lose any ground on 6th place.

While it’s true that for the budget they are playing on in comparison to the teams around them, Blues are over-performing I also believe there is nothing wrong with hoping for Blues to push on for the playoffs. Clearly Gary Rowett agrees with me, saying on the FL72 podcast that Blues “haven’t hit the ceiling” on what they can achieve and he identified the three consecutive home game spell against Leeds, Burnley and Preston as the time they really want to be in the mix for the playoff push.

If Blues are to be in the mix, then they really need to improve their away form. Blues have won one in nine games away from home since the 5-2 demolition of Fulham, picking eight from a possible 27 points. In that period, they have kept four clean sheets but they have only scored six goals – and half of them were against Derby in the 3-0 win at the iPro Stadium.

Wolves isn’t going to be an easy trip either. The last time Blues won at Molineux in the league was in 2009 when a single Lee Bowyer goal was enough to give them the points. Although their home form is patchy and they’re lower in the league than I think they think they deserve, derby matches are always tough and I believe Sunday will be no exception.

Rowett has called for more from his forwards – which is unsurprising as we’ve scored just three goals in our last six games. With Vaughan and Brock-Madsen out it’s left a lot on the shoulders of Clayton Donaldson and I agree with him that Blues have struggled at times to get enough players in and around him to give him the support he needs.

I’m of the belief that Blues need to look at their midfield and potentially go to a three man midfield of Kieftenbeld, Gleeson and Davis to allow Rowett to play three up top. I’m going to be controversial here too, in that I think if Blues play this formation I don’t believe either Toral or Fabbrini should be in the team; I’d be looking to pace and directness out wide to press back the Wolves defence and as such I’d be picking Maghoma and Cotterill as wide forwards – although I’d not overly complain if Toral was picked rather than Cotterill as I think the Welshman may struggle in an overly advanced position.

I’m convinced we play on the counter because we cannot hold onto the ball for long spells – which is fine – but I think it means we need to be more direct and pacy when we counter. I also think if we can win the ball more often higher up the pitch we’re more likely to force the Wolves backline into mistakes which will translate into more chances for us.

With Cardiff playing Ipswich we’ve got a chance to pull away from one of those two teams on Sunday – I hope we can take it with both hands.

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76 Responses to “Time to go direct”

  • Dorsetblue says:

    Toral has got to play Sunday for me. I can see it being a bit of an ugly battle at times that may need a spark of intelligence to find a key pass through the middle.

  • Everything you say is right DAN which just goes to prove that we still haven’t a full squad of the players we need , in other words we are a mix and match squad and will continue to be so unless we we sign two good all-round strikers that can pass a ball that can dribble very well that can cross a ball and is a good goal scorer , we need the likes of tesche in midfield and a centreback and fullback and then we will be looking at a complete squad KRO

  • Dan says:

    Toral has been the best player this season and a real goal threat. Given the lack of goals I don’t think leaving him out is the answer. Love Donaldson but is it just me that thinks he hasnt quite been the same player since he returned from injury? I suppose he is 32 now …

  • Bluenosesol says:

    The tactic of giving possession to the opposition and hitting them on the break, means that our attempt at goal numbers are below par, resulting in our very poor score rate. We need to take a leaf out of Brian Clough’s book and get back on the front foot (Attack is the best form of defence and its a numbers game. More attempts mean more goals). ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!. No more of this sitting back BS!! KRO!!

  • Brian says:

    I’m sorry but the so called counter attacking option is just an excuse for being a poor team. It’s a simple game the more you have the ball the more chance you have of scoring and the same for the oppression. We have hardly ever dominated a half let alone a game, our defence is alway under presser. You must look at controlling a game not let the other team do it. We are just not ready yet.

    • atko says:

      So you are saying that the likes of Arsenal are a poor team, Brian? They often allow teams to have a lot of the ball then hit on the counter. So have other Premier League clubs and done it with good effect. If anything it is the opposite, we haven’t the players to properly counter attack. They simply haven’t got the legs, the footballing brain to switch from defence to attack mode or the combination as a unit. Good counter attacking teams know where each player is going to be with the ball and without it. They move the ball in to those positions quickly & effectively but we cannot do that because we have lost possession whilst we are busy loking up for one of our players!!

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I’ve advocated the 4-3-3 for a few weeks now and couldn’t understand why Rowett discarded it, after it had brought us 8 points from 12. As I’m not a fan of 4-2-3-1, I’d feel quite happy if we reverted to 4-3-3. Personally, I’d have Toral to the right of Donaldson and Maghoma to the left. I don’t think Cotterill has the fitness yet and would be better used coming off the bench for the last 20-25 minutes.

    Although we’re very short up top, Vaughan (4 starts 8 subs) and Brock-Madsen (2 starts 3 subs) have scored a total of zero goals between them, so it’s not a massive loss… well, not one that’s particularly cost us anyway. With Donaldson playing most of the games, it’s just about bodies on the bench really.

    Personally, I don’t think there’s a better time to play Wolves, they’re in transition and are very up and down this season. Frustrate them, get their fans on their backs (not hard these days) and I see no reason why we can’t come away from there with the 3 points.

  • suenoble says:

    Having probably two of the most creative players in the league we must find places for both Toral and Fabrini to keep teams on the back foot, but we must get the ball up to them. So a midfield three of Davis, Keiftenbeld and Gleeson and a front three of Toral Fabrini and Donaldson, Unfortunately having to sacrifice Maghoma but thats life.

    • Bluenosesol says:

      Have to agree Sue. Not withstanding that GR cannot afford another Brock Mardsen style financial disaster.

    • Dave Mann says:

      suenoble, I think playing Toral, Donaldson, Fabbrini in a forward three is a great idea with the protection of Davis, Kieftenbeld and Gleeson in a 4-3-3 , Why the hell not ? .. We need goals and it’s only the dingles so Ime well up for it . KRO

  • Shirley Blue says:

    Don’t expect any major changes for Sunday. If someone had told me before the season started that with 11 games to go we would be in touching distance of the play-offs I would have been chuffed to bits and somewhat surprised so why change what has got us into this position? Yes we have had some disappointing results recently but so have the teams around us. Its all about scrapping and fighting for points now and its going to be as much about what the others do as we do. We can probably only afford another couple of defeats and as much as anything we need lady luck on our side.

  • Gerard says:

    how about
    KUZACK-CADDIS -GROUNDS- SHOTTON or ROBINSON- MORRISON- DAVIS- VAUGHAN- DONALDSON-TORAL- FABRINI

    • dino tiltoni says:

      Vaughan is injured, Shotton won’t get a game ahead of Robinson (unfortunately) and we need Cotterill to supply the ammo. I’d alwaya play 4-4-2 (with Toral supporting Clayton) but Dan’s 4-3-3 is an interesting idea.

  • Gerard says:

    11th- player OTABAR

  • Andrew says:

    Davis has to play no question, at the back tho ive wanted to see robinson replaced but i think this is the sort of game where he does show his value so id leave it the same. as for forwards i dont see why we cant play toral up front, might sound a little crazy but hes been playing support striker to donaldson majority of season so he might be ok up on his own. with this you need players to get in and around him to support when hes on the ball!

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Davis has to play because, after Tuesday’s lacklustre team performance, no one will be more up for this game than him. He’s the one player you can guarantee will put in a shift.

  • oldburyblue says:

    The formations that GR plays is based on the players available. The formations can be used for attack…..but because GR does not trust the back 4, our midfielder’s first responsibility is defence. If he trusted the defenders more he would encourage more attack.

  • Mitchell says:

    I know hindsight is a great thing but I wonder if GR would have preferred keeping Novak as a left sided partner for Donaldson at certain parts of the game. Vaughan and Brock.have posed little or no threat whereas Novak did give a muscle for hurting the opposition. Wolves game not easy to predict but this league is full of flukes so I go 3-0 blues with tons of luck going our way.

    • Shirley Blue says:

      Its the very fact that he has offloaded players like Novak that we are where we are – very close to a play off place. Novak is playing at his correct level – nowhere near good enough for the top end of the Championship.

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    Toral in for Cottrill on the right and Davis in midfield in a 4-3-3.We need to take the imitative and show our intent if we’re going to stay in the hunt.If it’s not working then you’ve got plenty of attacking options on the bench.Sitting back and inviting them onto us in the hope of countering them is asking for trouble.If we want the playoffs we have to earn the right to be in them.

    • atko says:

      Spot on Hillfield Blues! The ony game we had any notion of initiative was against Hull. We need to take the game to the opposition, defend from the front & press hard when we haven’t got the ball. The annoying thing is we have proven we can do it but we seem to think that certain opposition isn’t going to cause us as many problems so we relax more & switch off.

  • .KC says:

    If Maghoma plays just hope he does a bit more going forward rather than chasing shadows if he is against an attacking full back.Having said that I would go for the Derby team including Davis but that leaves out Fabb and Cotts. Tough call for GR in the search for a few goals.

  • Pods says:

    This is definitely Davis game to start against his old club and I am sure would benefit us with perhaps something to prove.
    Gary Robert must dip into the loan market for a striker to help us in run in.
    This is a must win game.
    1 – 1 sorry to say because we struggle to score lately.
    KRO

    • Shirley Blue says:

      Who is going to let us have a on-form striker on loan at this stage of the season?

    • StaffsBlue says:

      To be honest, I don’t see the point in bringing anyone else in. Whatever striker he brought in, would have to sit on the bench. We already have two to do that. We have enough in defence and midfield too. Bringing anyone in at this stage would just be another body on the bench… and a wasted wage.

  • Pods says:

    Just heard Bristol City have signed Peter Odemwingie on loan for the rest of season.
    I wonder if Rowett had looked at the possibility for blues.
    What do you all think.

  • Retired&Weary says:

    I agree with the opinion that we need to return to a midfield 3, but not with Cotterill & Maghoma up front.
    Cotterill in particular has been even more light-weight since he came back, leaves the right hand side very exposed. Yes he puts in a (very) occasional excellent cross, but his so-called wonder strikes have dried up lately.
    Why not a 4 3 2 1 formation with Toral & Fabbrini as the 2? They could be given licence to roam in the space behind Donaldson, wide & in the middle. We might even keep the ball a bit more & create more chances.
    Whatever happens I’m sure GR will want a more solid line up – rather have a 0-0 than a 2-0 defeat.
    I still think a draw would be OK at this stage.

    • atko says:

      Agreed about Maghoma Retired&Weary! He would be the last person I would put up front. We don’t create enough chances as it is and of the few we have had he has had his fair share & fluffed them. I definitely wouldn’t want him up front.

  • Mitchell says:

    Macheda to Forest.interesting.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Annoying more like Mitchell . KRO

    • BlackCountryBlue says:

      Half a dozen off him between now and the end of the season could have been the clincher for us.

  • peteblue says:

    i think we DO need to dip into the loan market now , because if clayton is going to play for his country ?, looked what happened last time , he got injured , we have no real back up for strikers , vaun & brock , won`t be up to match fitness for a while . also magomah could get injured . gr spoke about the shortage of strikers not long ago ?, and yet Macheda to forest ?, and owdemwingie to bristol city , now maybe its because we can`t afford there wages , but it shows there are strikers available out there . but in gr i still trust , but we need to score goals . kro

  • ChrisG says:

    After what I witnessed on tuesday I would send Cottrill on a very long walk off a short pier, he just looked totally uninterested. I know this will never happen but i’d love to see 4-4-2, Grounds, Robbo, Morrison & Caddis at the back, Mags left mid either VSO or Buckley right mid, Fabbrini & Davis central mid, and push Torel up alongside Don. I think with Torels height, skill & eye for goal he could play well up top. Well it doesn’t really matter what I or anyone else think, mr “one dimension” Rowett won’t change his style if his life depended on it & without doubt it will be the same players as tuesday again.
    #losingfaith

    • Hillfield Blues says:

      We have been playing like that away from home for months and I don’t get why GR seems reluctant to go with the 4-3-3 that paid such dividends against Fulham and Derby.If The Wolves game turns out to be another one of those performances then it’s simple….we’re just not having a go and relying on counter attacking,set pieces or lots of luck.GR may be being too cautious and I agree that we should be incorporating both Fabrini and Toral into the same team and go at them on Sunday.Fabrini came to Stans with Millwall and tore us to bits with his movement so we should be encouraging him to do the same for us.

      • ChrisG says:

        Thing is mate, I have no problem with the system if it’s working, but it’s not, to play counter attacking football the midfield & forwards need to get forward quickly & that’s just not happening, I don’t understand how Rowett can’t see that

        • StaffsBlue says:

          We used 4-3-3 against Forest, Derby, Ipswich and Brizzle City. W2 D2 L0 F7 A1 Pts 8. Then we switched back to 4-2-3-1 and won 7 points out of the next 18. If we’d continued as we were and bang in form, I believe we’d be in the play-off places now. But it’s only my opinion.

          • ChrisG says:

            Like I said staffs, we can all see the problems but it’s the man who picks the team can’t. Before the Blackburn game we said he should change it but both agreed he would go with the same ream that beat Hull & he did. I really hope he proves me wrong but I can see the same on sunday. I think GRs way of thinking is: if they play well there’s no need to change things, if they play bad he thinks it’s up to them to redeem themselves.

          • StaffsBlue says:

            Sometimes, it seems like he misses the blindingly obvious.. but then, he’s the manager and paid to make those decisions. There’s been a few times this season when I’ve thought his selections are a bit awry.. but they surprise us with a win. In fact, most of the season, I’ve been as surpised by some of the defeats as I have some of the wins. Swings and roundabouts? I’m not sure tbf.

  • atko says:

    What exactly is wrong with Vaughan & Brock-Madsen? Not being funny here but how the hell can they be injured when they aren’t playing? It seems to me the fact that they are NOT getting regular game time is contributing to their lack of fitness & subsequently prone to injury more!

    • Mitchell says:

      Vaughan has always been injury prone- not his fault but fact. Brock is better served away from the championship. Not his scene and kinder to let him nurse an injury. Our search for a striker has been thwarted all season hence my previous comment that better to have kept Novak who would have provided some muscle support to Don.when up against it in certain games e.g Blackburn with Hanley and Duffy to contend with.

      • atko says:

        I don’t know what Scout thought he saw that was so special about the Brock to be honest. That’s not me being mean to him but to snap up a player who has had no experience in England full stop let alone the Championship is mind blowing when it was clear we needed a prolific goalscorer. I think that Scout was high as kite that day!

        I wonder if someone should knock on Gary Rowett’s door & remind him that Wes Thomas is a striker & still a Blues player! I would rather give him a go than bring anyone else in who will make no difference at this stage of the season. At least Thomas won’t cost us & in my opinion he is more likely to score for us than Donaldson right now. Always felt sorry for Thomas who should have been at the very least on the bench a couple of weeks ago.

        • Hillfield Blues says:

          Thomas is no Harry Kane but I agree he is an option to the Don and has pace.If he’s ours let’s utilise that option because he’s a better bet to get us a goal than BM or Vaughan who haven’t scored a goal between them.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    I think we have to find a way to start with our most technical able players. For me that means Toral, Fabbrini and Buckley have to start.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    My team for Sunday in 4-3-3 formation:-

    Kuszczak
    Caddis Morrison Robinson Grounds
    Gleeson Kieftenbeld Davis
    Fabbrini Donaldson Toral

    This formation gives strength in midfield and allows our three most talented attackers more scope to get forward.

    • Hillfield Blues says:

      Like it Richard.Can it be any worse than what’s been happening away from home recently.Lets show some intent and impose ourselves for a change.

      • Shirley Blue says:

        I would go 4-4-2. Donaldson and Toral up front as a proper partnership. Davis right hand side of midfield. Gleeson and KB in the middle. Maghoma left hand side of midfield.

        • Hillfield Blues says:

          Wouldn’t argue with that either.Lets change the emphasis and play to our strengths.We have to turn up at Wolves on Sunday and show them why we are playoff contenders.We’ve rode our luck quite a lot to get where we are but let’s make the most if it.We could spend millions next season and be a mile away as the likes of Fulham have shown us.

        • StaffsBlue says:

          I’ll have a bit of that SB. Good selection.

        • Dave Mann says:

          Sounds good Shirley but as we all know by now Mr Rowett won’t start with 4-4-2 but may finish with it . KRO

    • swissjonny says:

      Perfect mate. I would go with that.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Ronan Hale has signed his first professional contract. 3 years. Best news I’ve heard all season. :)

    • Dave Mann says:

      Stick him on the bloody bench !! KRO

      • StaffsBlue says:

        It wouldn’t hurt. Can you imagine the adrenelin rush the kid would have, even if it’s just the last 10 minutes. I cannot imagine for a second that the likes of Trevor Francis would be given a chance at 16 in the modern game… but we all know how that worked out.

        • almajir says:

          Staffs

          It’s way way way way too early for Hale to be near the team. He’s not even a regular in the u21s yet mate.

          Yes, TF made his debut at 16 but he was a once in a generation find. This kid isn’t.

  • mark says:

    imo i think either team could possibly win 1-0 again imo both team are evenly matched so 1-1 draw from me.

  • craig says:

    4-4-2 diamond would suit us best giving us more attack threat whilst also giving cover for our defence with a cdm.

    • craig says:

      kuszczak

      Caddis Morrison Robinson Grounds

      Kieftenbeld

      Cottrill Maghoma

      Fabbrini

      Toral Donaldson

    • StaffsBlue says:

      The only trouble with the diamond formation, is that it makes the midfield very narrow and exposes the full backs. Tbh, with Caddis and Grounds, that’s the last thing we need.

      • Craig says:

        I agree with the potential of being narrow but it can also be also be played wide like Chelsea have been known to play and it would also give total and fabbrini chance to rotate the attacking midfield role. In an ideal world better full backs would solve the problem so maybe one idea for the future.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Very attacking Craig and I like it so as I’ve said lately many times , Why the hell not ?? KRO

    • Shirley Blue says:

      Probably because with only one real midfield player in there we would be very exposed and lose.

      • Craig says:

        I slightly agree but subtle changes could be made to that line up depending on opposition for example drop fabbrini for example for gleeson/Davis and play a more 4-4-2 but when needed or chasing a game change it to a diamond. Food for thought I think.

        • StaffsBlue says:

          Only way I could see Toral and Fabbrini in the same team, would be in like a 4-3-2-1, or something similar.

          Kieftenbeld Gleeson Davis
          Toral Fabbrini
          Donaldson

          • Craig says:

            Interesting definitely worth a try I think once our defence is strengthend we could have a lot more options. Kro

          • StaffsBlue says:

            The reason for that selection, is that with Fabbrini and Toral in the team, you have to have a strong wall behind them, or we’ll be ripped to pieces. There’s no way I’d play those two in a 4-4-2.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    My team and formation would be exactly the same as I picked for Blackburn.

    Kuszczak

    Caddis Morrison Robinson Grounds

    Kieftenbeld Gleeson Davis

    Toral Donaldson Maghoma

    • Craig says:

      Yeah I agree with what your saying what I meant was play 442 with kieftenbeld and gleeson/ Davis. Then if we need to chase the game replace gleeson/Davies with fabbrini and go into a diamond shape with fabbrini behind total and Donaldson.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Leeds winning 2-0 at Blackburn with 20 mins to go. Would you adam and eve it.

    We need Forest to beat Sheff Wed today and Cardiff and Ipswich to draw. That way, a win at Molineaux tomorrow would move us into the top 6. Simples. :)

  • Dave Mann says:

    Yes it would staffs . KRO


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