Birmingham City Vs West Bromwich Albion – Preview By Hoobs
Posted on October 27, 2006
Filed Under Previews By Hoobs
This will be the last match preview that Hoobs will ever do for Joys & Sorrows. He now has more commitments and I’d like to publicly thank him for his work on the site over the last year or so.
This is it, this is my final preview, changes to my work mean I’ll no longer be able to offer my thoughts on Birmingham City FC, not that I expect anyone to be unduly bothered.
It’s been an interesting week, from the edge of dismissal; Steve Bruce managed to conjure two away victories. The first being Derby thanks to a fortuitous goal, the second being a shocking 2-4 victory and Sheffield United, I say shocking in the fact that we scored 4 away from home.
This has given Bruce a bit of breathing space, but do these victories point to a revival or are they papering over the cracks? Personally, I think a bit of both.
The Derby victory was won with a defensive midfield (predicted here last week) with Clemence, Nafti and Johnson across the middle. It’s a typical Steve Bruce tactic, stop the opposition by stifling the game and then hope to score a late goal. It worked perfectly, but in the main to Derby’s lack of a decent forward line, that particular tactic won’t win enough games for automatic promotion, and once found out is a disaster in the Premiership, as we’ve seen.
Sheffield United was a totally different team, young and pacey the Sheffield defenders struggled to cope (although it was David Unsworth and Craig Short – combined age 146). It’s interesting that according to Bruce one of the reasons that we’ve struggled is because we have a young team, now our young team has gone and scored 4 at a Premier League ground!
That’s not taking anything away from Bruce, he stood up to the critics and the results were good, but we’ve a tough run of games to come, and I don’t think the problems for him are over yet.
One thing that doesn’t change is Bruce’s capacity to excuse, his latest pearl of wisdom is that the 7-0 defeat to Liverpool was almost excusable. Trust me Steve, I was there, there was nothing excusable about that! But should we read too much in to what he says, I’ve come to the conclusion that we shouldn’t, it’s simply because he spouts so much nonsense, so many excuses, so much blame that anything sensible is lost within the borderline insane.
What has been good is that, temporarily, Bruce forgot the excuses, the hand-wringing, the puppy dog face and actually got some fire in to the team. For too long I’ve criticised Bruce for standing in front of the camera’s after another dreadful performance with the “It’s the worst night since I’ve been here, I’ll be looking for a reaction in the next game” speech. Bruce had got too cosy in the job, too complacent. If last weeks events knock that complacency out of him then that’s great, I only wonder why it took two years for him to realise.
On to Saturdays game, and another Midlands derby against West Brom, they are in a great run of form and are scoring goals. Since Robson’s removal they are rejuvenated, and with the appointment of Tony Mowbray look like a good bet for one of the top two spots.
This will be a tough game, and the starting line-up will be interesting. We’ll be looking to see if Bruce reverts back to his trusted favourites or sticks with youth. I think he will go for the Clemence, Nafti, Johnson partnership and try to stifle West Brom’s attacking edge, so I’m going for a tight, close-fought draw.
Hooby prediction 1 – 1 Jaidi to score (well, he’s going to eventually)