Often Partisan

The End of the Road?

Normally when I when I write these previews I look at statistical sequences, injuries and what-not and write a factual piece. However, we already know a bit about Blackpool – we’ve played them three times this season, including on Friday night – so I’m going to skip all that and tell you how I think Blues can win the tie.

To go through to the play-off final against West Ham United at Wembley, Blues have to win by two clear goals in normal time or extra time – or win by one and then finish Blackpool off on penalties. The away goals rule doesn’t count – it’s a straight aggregate win or penalties.

With this in mind, Blues have only one option. They must attack Blackpool, and look to score more than once. Keeping it tight and trying to nick one isn’t going to work because Blues need two goals to go through without the drama and lottery of spot-kicks. If we accept that Blackpool are more than likely going to score as well (and having watched them on Friday I’ll be very surprised if we can shut them out), then we must also accept Blues need a minimum of three goals – something they achieved against the Seasiders back on New Year’s Eve.

There are no changes to the squad; Keith Fahey, Steven Caldwell, Stephen Carr and Boaz Myhill are all still ruled out through injury. Jonathan Spector however is fit to play and has been tipped in some quarters to start the game in central midfield.

Starting from the front and working backwards, it’s my belief Blues will need two up top from the start. King is the proverbial no-brainer – he’s bagged eighteen this season to be Blues top scorer and was unlucky to hit the woodwork twice at Bloomfield Road. His partner I think will come down to a choice of two – Nikola Zigic or Adam Rooney. Rooney offers a lot more mobility than Zigic and would potentially cause more problems for Blackpool as they play a high backline. However, Zigic is talismanic – he has the knack of coming alive in the big games and turning it around for Blues – the Villa quarter-final, the West Ham semi at home and Wembley being three games in particular where I think the big Serb showed his worth. So I’d go with Ziggy and put Rooney on the bench to bring on if we need an extra bit of spark up front late on.

Chris Burke is the shoo-in on the right; I think Hughton will go with Andros Townsend on the left to provide another wide outlet and to help pin back the Blackpool full-backs. As good as Thomas Ince and Matt Phillips were against us on Friday night, I think if we can push onto their full-backs hard and have David Murphy and Peter Ramage helping on the overlap it will not only offer us a viable attacking threat but negate some of the danger from the Blackpool pair.

In the middle – well, it’s a tough call. Guirane N’Daw was dreadful on Friday and Jordon Mutch was pretty shocking which means either you stick with them and hope they come good or change things. My preference would be for Morgaro Gomis and Mutch but as I say, the word is it’s very possible Jonathan Spector will be given a chance. Blues have to be tighter on the ball tonight and not allow dangerous players like Stephen Dobbie any chance to create anything. There has to be better ball retention, actually finding Blues players with passes and supporting the forwards in the attack. If Spector is to play then I would pair him with Mutch and tell the American to sit deep and to anchor the midfield whilst Jordon pushed on and linked up with the front four.

The backline picks itself; I thought Ibanez and Ramage both had okay games on Friday and I suspect Curtis Davies will want to atone for what was for him anyway a poorer performance than we are used to expecting from him.

Can we do it? Yes, I think we can if the team believes in itself and the crowd backs it. The most important thing is that Blues don’t concede early on and that the fans don’t get on their backs if we’re not 3-0 up in twenty minutes. Will we do it? I hope so. Let’s hope that tomorrow we’ll be planning one more away trip to finish the season – I hear North London is lovely in May.

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39 Responses to “The End of the Road?”

  • JohnnyZulu says:

    thanks for that. nothing that’s not in the paper

    • Euston 9.18 says:

      The above was not in the d.mail.
      More doom & gloom from moxley,him & his paper have not written one good report for the BLUES all season.
      He doesn’t rate C.Hughton & the d.mail blog for the championship predicted C.Hughton would be SACKED by November last year.

      WIN or lose tonight,for me it has been the most ENTERTAINING season supporting BLUES.

      So a big thank~you to C.HUGHTON & THE PLAYERS for that.

      K`R`O.

    • Blue in Spain says:

      Nobody forced you to read it! And if you want something different get off your arse and write it yourself. You comments are cheap and ungracious. This is the best site for Blues features on the net!

  • Masaccio says:

    Play Gomis and Mutch in the middle – I think we really miss Fahey if he’s not available. Ziggy/King up front and Townsend and Burke on the wings. The back four will pick themselves as we don’t have many options. I’m going for 3-1 to Blues on the night.

  • Wingman Blue says:

    It’s down to us as much as the lads tonight. We need a wall of sound to totally dominate and overawe Blackpool. To help acheive that I’d play Spector…

  • skareggae72 says:

    Hopefully Zig will partner King up front,and its likely we will reach the usual penalty shootout.Hopefully the tiring Zigic will be subbed in ET,as the thought of him taking a key penalty makes my legs shake.KRO

  • Gregj says:

    I think starting Spector is a great shout, but who to start beside him? I believe gomis would work brilliant with Spector allowing Spector 2 get forward n leave gomis to clean up the midfield. He will also b able to get a lot closer to dobbie n cut out some of his tricks. My only worry with that would be how hot headed he can get at times

  • Matt says:

    Spector in midfield? the guy can hardly pass. Right back fair enough it’s less of a problem, but centre mid, you’re basically forcing Mutch to make every pass, or committing yourself to hoofing it over the midfield. I guess if Zigic is playing that’s not so bad, but I still wouldn’t go for that.
    For me it’s Mutch with Gomis or N’Daw in the centre, though N’daw certainly needs a kick up the arse from Fridays performance.

    Fingers crossed for tonight anyway – it’s going to be one hell of a ride! C’mon you Blues!!!!

  • Mike says:

    Was that “Wall of Sound” in operation when you played Fulham?

    Face it brummies, like Cardiff, you’re bottlers.

  • skareggae72 says:

    Bottlers?
    Yes we really bottled it didn`t we,especially when we beat multi million assembled/international superstars & massive favorites Arsenal at Wembley(on there own London patch)and out sang them all game!,then had all of that side sold off,& also battled against off field problems all season to reach the play offs hmmmmm…

    • Mike says:

      Wow, outsang Arsenal? Some real deal fans you must have!

      Don’t tell me, after outsinging Arsenal, you nipped down to Southall and outdrank all the Sikh lads?

      All you did was prove Arsenal are even bigger bottlers than you are!

      • almajir says:

        So, Mikey, who do you support?

        • Mike says:

          The team that, after this evening, will have won 11 play off games on the bounce.

          • almajir says:

            The team that bottled it 3-0 at our place on New Year’s Eve?

            The ONLY team to lose by two clear goals to a McLeish side last season in the league?

            The team that got humped 7-1 at our place in 1994 despite us giving you a goal head start?

            Gotcha.

            Btw, if you have nothing constructive to say (and you clearly don’t), don’t bother commenting.

            Ta ra

          • Mike says:

            Haha, alright I’m obviously on the wind up, but in all seriousness I’m struggling to put a fag paper between us.

            Zigic has caused us major problems in the past and I was suprised he didn’t make an appearance on Friday, as such he’ll be making me nervous if he makes an appearance this evening. Does his presence encourage a longer, more direct playing style from you though?

            Our best chances at scoring will probably come from break away efforts from Ince, Dobbie and M Phillips and later in the game, Dicko. Expect M Phillips and Ince to double up on one side from time to time as they often get joy from this away from home.

            Centre-mid, we did well on Friday and it’ll probably remain unchanged, with perhaps Keith Southern coming on later in the game as a replacement if we need to bolster things. Goes without saying this is the key battle and I’m encouraged by what I saw last week.

          • almajir says:

            Problem with ziggy is mobility, I think the key problem was that with a high backline he wouldn’t be very effective. Expect him to play tonight though

      • Macc lad says:

        I’m sure that’s meant to be some sarcastic comment with the reference to sikhs .. but I think you may have your religeous tolerances mixed up there. Muslims abstain from alcohol. Sikhs most certainly do drink, as demonstrated by the landlord of the Milestone in Handsworth back when I was a youth.

        • Mike says:

          Oh really? Fair enough. I work with a few and they’re all vegan teetotallers so I just assumed they all were! Showing my ignorance.

          • almajir says:

            You don’t know booze until you’ve been to a Sikh wedding.

          • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:

            They’re all taking the pee out of you Mike.

            Perhaps not to show you up in the drinking stakes in case you might try and dive off a certain crappy pier…………

  • Macca says:

    What a smug turd you are, you were shite on friday and I believe you’ll be the same tonight.

    Up the Pool

  • WhooKed says:

    If CH plays exactly the same squad as last Friday we will struggle to score two goals.

    One of the reasons I thought we played so badly (along with Jordan Mutch being dire) on Friday was Redmond. I think the lads brilliant, I really do, and he has great potential. But he has the ability to blow hot and cold, and as a result of the ‘cold’ performance he put in last Friday, he offered King no support as a result. King was isolated and was forced to look a fool by the number of times he was offside.

    On the other hand though, as relatively poor the Blues were at Bloomfield, Blackpool lacked the killer edge. We’re fortunate to only be 1-0 down, so lets get behind our boys tonight and make St. Andrews rocking.

    KRO.

  • Paul says:

    Ooh, invaded by Warrior-like Seasiders. Has it really come to this?

    • Blue in Spain says:

      Theres more of them on here than managed to turn up at their own ground,must have been free donkey rides on the beach!

  • BobbyBlue says:

    I’d play Spector right back… if anywhere. Have never liked him in the centre mid, let alone with such little match practice. So I’d go for Mutch and N’Daw. Trust N’Daw to find his form tonight. He can dominate a midfield at his best. As for the front two, King and Ziggy. I’d tell Zig he is playing an hour and not to hold anything back (no that there is much to hold back!) – the guy simply withers in the second half of a game. Bring Redmond on for him and play Reds off King.

    Its gonna be close and, if it does go to pens, we have a keeper with an incredible record of saves!

    KRO

  • Mike says:

    Tell me honestly blues, it’s 1-0 to you with ten minutes left, it’s been a tight, nervy, edgy game with both sides squandering gilt-edged chances. Holloway brings on Kevin Phillips. What’s your reaction?

    • almajir says:

      Reaction?

      None really. I don’t think he did much in yout home leg (offside goal aside) and personally I’m worried about Stephen Dobbie.

  • Jay Sidney says:

    Almajir and other Blues fans on this site have clearly got the measure of this “Mike” chappy. And I remember the 7-1 mauling of Blackpool (the Seasiders were lucky it wasn’t a double-figure score for Blues that day). Do you remember that one, Mike?

    The foolish remark about so-called Sikh culture in Southall tends to show the Mikes of this world would probably do better to empty the content of a few of the bottles he seeems so obsessed with down his clownish throat and then sleep it off..

    Come to think of it, he may have already done just that before he stumbled across OP…

  • Mike says:

    Jay, regarding Sikhism and alcohol, I’ll point you to this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibitions_in_Sikhism. If my error was in overestimating the religious observance of certain members of a particular community, so be it.

    No, I don’t recall the 7-1 defeat, but I was a youngster at the time.

    I do however recall this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0DswfClw9Y which was on the back of a 6-0 defeat. This is why I responded with sarcasm in the first place.

  • Bluehobba says:

    Blues to win 2-0 King and Davies the scorers. Davies to score late on. I don’t think it will go to pens but if there are will they be taken at the Tilton Road end. Tonight will be a night to remember but not for Phillips or Fergy. KRO

  • Spotlight Kid says:

    With this in mind, Blues have only one option. They must attack Blackpool, and look to score more than once. Keeping it tight and trying to nick one isn’t going to work because Blues need two goals to go through without the drama and lottery of spot-kicks.

    Err, no….! What Blues do not want to do is to rush forward like headless Venky’s chickens, and get done early on the break and so be chasing 3 goals instead. Thankfully CH is in charge and I’m certain priority one. two and three will be not conceding. If the defence can remain awake & alert chances will present themselves (as they did last Friday) and it is up to those paid to score to earn their corn, simple as that.

    As ever, the battle will be won and lost in the middle, and a far better performace is required by the usually solid central staff (who lost the plot in the first leg). However if the defenders start backing off again or defending deep from the off I can see Ian Holloway rubbing his hands in glee…. Game over.

    Tight, total possession football. Don’t gift the ball over and over to the opposition (it was 60:40 Blackpool last Friday) and they’ll have less opportunity to score. Progression should be a formality, there’s nothing special about Blackpool football wise – except perhaps that they believe in themselves.

    Blues 4-2 ‘Pool (penalities not required, but extra time and tranquilisers might be)

  • DoctorD says:

    Bollocks


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