Baz was unable to do his usual “View From the South” for last night’s game, (I must reduce his fees), so Nick has kindly stepped in. Here is his take on a much needed victory for the Blues:
WILL THE REAL B.C.F.C. PLEASE STAND UP?
Reflections on Birmingham City 2 Bristol City 0 6.11.12
After the recent spate of dreadful home performances by Blues, I was looking forward to last night’s game versus Bristol City with as much enthusiasm as the prospect of a genital waxing. It seems that many Blues fans shared this view with a depressingly low crowd of just 14,380, our lowest league home crowd for over 15 years. Our home form has been appalling, no ifs or buts.
Not without some hesitation, I abandoned the real fire, cold beer and remote control for a trip to the Blue Camp, Small Heath. I’m glad I did.
Whilst the crowd was poor in numbers, there was a surprisingly good atmosphere and you could sense the crowd were willing the players to get this season back on the rails. Either that or I’d contracted mad cow disease from my chicken balti pie.
The game began and I almost had to pinch myself. Had the players taken leave of their senses? We were closing Bristol City down. We harried them. We moved the ball quickly. We looked threatening. Nothing like the tripe served up versus Barnsley, Huddersfield and Ipswich.
Admittedly, Bristol City were one of the worst teams I have seen at St Andrews for many years. When your star player is Jon Stead, you’ve got problems. That said, you can only compete against the team opposing you and, for once, Blues competed for 90 minutes.
Chris Burke was back to his best, beating players for fun, taking a pot shot now and again and delivering threatening crosses. King was terrific in his hold up play and linked up well with Zigic and Burke, particularly for the first goal.
Three players deserve a special mention.
Zigic played extremely well. Nimble on the deck, held the ball up well and never stopped trying to impose himself. He has his critics but so long as the match referee does not over-protect the opposition’s centre-halves, on this form, Ziggy is unplayable. What’s more, he cares. He wanted to take the penalty and was rightly miffed when Shabba refused to hand over the ball. His efforts last night earned him the right to take the penalty.
Ravel Morrison is blossoming and growing in stature with each game. Sadly, he’s not our player but his technique, awareness and the timing of his runs into the last third make him a special player at this level. His attitude and application may have been lacking earlier in the season but so long as he is involved, encouraged and valued (and providing he puts the effort in) he should prove to be a pivotal player for us.
Finally we come to Hayden Mullins. I have to say, I’m not his biggest fan. Bar the game against Barnet, he has been very poor this season. Pedestrian, ineffective, careless with the ball and offering very little thrust in midfield. Think of Dougie Bell but without the technique or speed. Last night, against an admittedly poor Bristol City, he did what he ought to say on the tin. He regained possession, he fed the wide players, he kept encouraging Ravel and generally kept things ticking nicely over in the middle. His best game in a Blues shirt by a mile.
Overall, a comfortable win once the first goal went in and 3 much needed points.
There are, of course, still concerns about the team and squad. Robinson is a committed, wise old head and I sense he’s a useful leader on the pitch but he’s no right back. His reliance on his left foot unbalances the side. When Caddis regains fitness, he will add more balance and verve down the right flank.
Elliott is not a left sided midfielder. Last night he played well but kept drifting inside where he could have more influence. Oh for an out and out left winger such as Andros Townsend.
Keith Fahey is too good a pro to be consigned to the sidelines. Rumours abound of discord between Fahey and Lee Clark and he hasn’t made the last 3 match squads. Whatever problem exists between the two (and there must be one for a half fit Diop to be preferred on the bench) should be resolved quickly and effectively.
So where does this leave Lee Clark? I have to say that if the club’s finances had been in a better state, with the club enjoying stronger leadership at the top and able to absorb the financial implications of his dismissal, he probably would have had more time to dedicate to his golf swing by now. One swallow does not a summer make but it’s a start. I sense he still has a lot of goodwill to make up with the fans and that will only happen with results. I remain a sceptic but accept the fact that he’s going nowhere soon.
Driving home last night, listening to a euphoric Tom Ross, you’d have thought we’d outfootballed Real Madrid. Bless him!
Only 5 points off the play-offs now? To coin a phrase: You’ll do for me!