Nail Biting Time – By Cliff

Posted on February 23, 2007 
Filed Under Articles By Cliff

It’s been a funny week, we have drawn a game that was always going to be tricky and we played without a player that a lot of people do not like, but did we look any better?

Before the game against Sunderland I would have taken the draw, during the game I would have taken a narrow defeat! Second half we played better but for the initial 45 I thought Sunderland simply looked a better and sharper team than us. Personally that’s the best team I have seen play this season and I think they will be in the top 2.

Then onto the game itself, Johnson did not play. I sway with Johnson like the wind, but we missed him I think. Larsson did not play too good and looked lost sometimes, one thing about Johnson I think is that he cannot play central, now I am not sure if I would want Larsson or Johnson on the right.

One player who is concerning me is Bendtner, not his work rate which has always been suspect, but his positional play. Over his last few games he seems to be playing more and more like a midfield player, dropping deeper and deeper. Maybe that’s just to get the ball as the service is poor I do not know, but when we then play the ball forward Jerome is on his own.

After the game people have been saying that Campbell should start, Blues fans (maybe all fans) at the moment seem very knee jerk. Yes Campbell came on and scored, but does that make him a starter? I think his best role is off the bench, he has pace and that last twenty is ideal for him. I am not sure he is a first choice player, now or maybe ever. I think any defence is going to be physically tested with Jerome’s movement, then Campbell can come and push them further!

One small issue at the moment is goals, Jerome for all the best will in the world is not that great at finishing, so he needs a partner to notch some up. Bendtner has not scored now for quite a while and I cannot remember him having missed many chances. I am not saying Bendtner should not be playing but I do think he needs to get back in and around the penalty area and not in his own half looking for the ball.

Prior to the game I wondered if the older hands of Taylor should have been recalled but I think Doyle played well. I do worry slightly his decision making is not quite right but he is young and his shot stopping looks to be superb. Saying that I am still not too sure what Taylor did wrong really.

Looking at the league table we are now in a superb position, weird since we have dropped a place! Games in hand are not ideal but win them and we are top and the others have to chase us again. The bookies have put us back as favourites in a league which no doubt will have a lot of twists yet. Before the season I said to myself at least we will not be worried about opposition teams coming here, I was against Sunderland, maybe nerves are now coming into play.

People keep saying that 90 points will take you up, well on that basis we now have to average 2.07 points per game, looking at the remaining fixtures we can afford a couple of slips I reckon as they look ok. Hull and Leeds provide the next tests and they are going to be very tough games, both clubs fighting for survival. Realistically if we are going to go up we have to beat the teams down the bottom.

Then we have Cardiff followed by Derby, two games which could shape our final position no end, Cardiff appear to be playing a lot better again, personally I think Derby may now have a dip.

At the end of the day, before the seasons started we would have taken this position at this stage, now we need to finish the job off, let’s start with three points tomorrow!

Hull 0 – Blues 2.


11 Responses to “Nail Biting Time – By Cliff”

  1. Tired and Weary on February 23rd, 2007 1:48 pm

    Good Read Cliff

    I think that we seem to get our tactics spot on away from home, but not so at St Andrews. Our away record is absolutley superb. Our home form isn’t bad, but recently, we’ve dropped too many points here.

    I think we may be worrying too much, which I suppose the old adage that if something can go wrong it will go wrong for Birmingham.

    As Cliff said, that Sunderland team are the best side at the moment, and in this league at least half a dozen sides have been the form side.

    Cardiff back in September, then it was Preston, before Christmas it was us, Baggies followed with a very rich run of form along with Derby and now it’s the turn of Sunderland.

    Whoever peaks in the next few weeks wins it.

  2. cliff on February 23rd, 2007 2:01 pm

    Thanks T&W.
    Lets just pray it is going to be us!

  3. Jacko on February 23rd, 2007 2:15 pm

    I find it interesting that finally we played the eleven players for which all the bloggers have been screaming (including me). It was even suggested that DJ’s injury was a story so that SB would not loose face after submitting to the pressure to play this eleven. Then we were completely outclassed. Now it’s all gone quiet. Maybe SB does know more than us.

  4. Llansteffan Bluenose on February 23rd, 2007 2:37 pm

    Of course SB knows more than us!!!!

    However, I do hope he leaves bentner out on Saturday and gives either Rowan Vine or DJ Campbell a start.

    He’s making the right noises in the press about freshening it up although worryingly he has stated that he doesn’t need to change the defence. If I was picking the team I would bring in Kelly for N’Gotty as we haven’t got any pace at the back.

    I’m going to the Hull game, my first away game of the season, and I feel pretty positive about it.

    Prediction Hull 1 Blues 3 (Vine, DJC, Danns)

  5. Aff on February 23rd, 2007 2:43 pm

    In my defence, I wanted DJ to play on Tuesday :p

  6. Worcs Blue on February 23rd, 2007 3:03 pm

    Sunderland started the game (away to a top team i.e. us!!) with 4 recognised strikers in their starting 11. I think SBs confidence is low and he still plays it too cautious against the lower teams. He said himself that we have the best results in the League against top teams but are only 11th best against the lower teams.

    I think he needs to inject a bit of Roy Keane confidence/arrogance into our play and go for it. We’ve got fit, fast, young and hungry players and should be capable of easily seeing off Hull. The onus will be on them to attack us as the home team and we should be able to nail them on the break (as we did at Newcastle).

    For me, I’d bring Kelly in at right back for N’Gotty as he’s quicker and fitter. I’d replace Muamba with Kilkenny or Danns in the centre to give us some more creativity, keep Larsson on the right and make Clem captain. Up front I’d partner Jerome with Vine and have Maik Taylor, DJ1, DJ2, Bendtner and Muamba as subs.

    Hull 1 Blues 4 (McSheffers 2, Jerome and Vine to score)

  7. Bazzathebluenose on February 23rd, 2007 7:42 pm

    Regardless of whom SB picks providing we go at them with a high tempo and work hard throughout we will win. Basics first frills second. I’m not predicting the score because I’m rubbish at it.


  8. fingles on February 23rd, 2007 8:09 pm

    Well I don’t think Johnson would have made one jot of difference.

    All of Sunderlands midfielders were attack minded,so if it wasn’t one who caused damage it would have been another.
    What we need to do is impose ourselves on the other teams rather than be frightened of them and play defensive midfielders to counter their threat.
    let them worry about us.

    But, I know SB will continue with the plodding,sidewise pass,back to the keeper then hoof it’ football.
    Does my head in for all the money he has spent.


  9. alastair on February 23rd, 2007 11:12 pm

    well said fingles :>)

  10. alastair on February 24th, 2007 11:56 am

    you could argue that they overwhelmed us in the first half, but we managed to keep them down to one stunning goal.

  11. chris on February 24th, 2007 12:05 pm

    I dont think its a case of not liking johnson. Its SBs persistence in playing him in any position just to keep him on the pitch.

    I personally think he is a very good player to have in the first 16 as he is versatile and can do a good job. BUT i also think that he is not the best player in any position at the club. i.e he is not the best right back (kelly), not the best right winger (larsson) and he is not the best central midfielder (not sure myself here though clemence and muamba are doing well).

    I agree with fingles. He brought Danns in who scored nearly 20 goals last season to attack, spent a million on larsson, and has kilkenny who has shown he can pass the ball forwards. Plus Nafti who if not playing, surely should have been released in January to free some funds.

    I would wager that johnson gets chosen infront of all of these players everytime bruce has to choose.

    There is not one single player at blues who is good enough to be guaranteed a shirt every week with the exception of Mcsheffrey and that is partly due to the fact that Julian Gray would probably be his replacement

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