Blues were expecting to continue their winning run on Saturday. Andy Munro witnessed developments.
It’s now fairly well known that seagulls are becoming a pest problem in Brum but I didn’t expect it to extend to the St Andrew’s pitch. In fairness, Brighton have a good team and a decent record despite the last few games and they’re no pushovers. However, buoyed by recent results I think most Bluenoses thought it would be a walk in the park.
Gus Poyet is rightly proud of his team’s ability to keep possession but if it wasn’t for the effervescent Craig Mackell–Smith, it would be pretty (literally) pedestrian stuff. Overall the game was fairly drab, although in the first half Blues looked the team most likely to and Marlon King was unlucky with an angled drive while Chris Woods was a whisker away from continuing his excellent scoring run. Brighton had plenty of possession but rarely threatened partly thanks to a solid Blues back four and an increasingly impressive Myhill.
The second period was fairly similar and one of the problems for Blues was the fact that their wingers were fairly ineffective, Beausejour particularly, who was up against Brighton full back Jara, arguably the most impressive player on the pitch. On such occasions you look for some inspiration from the centre of midfield and unfortunately that’s not realistically going to come from the likes of Fahy and Spector.
In an attempt to change the pattern of play, Hughton brought on Ziggy and Rooney but, to be frank, Ziggy just looked clumsy and was annoyingly outmuscled more than once. His strength is causing trouble on the back post but to do that he needs decent service which wasn’t really forthcoming. His partner Rooney looks the raw £200,000 recruit that he actually is and tends to run around Jerome like with no real sense of direction or guile. It certainly confirmed to me, once and for all, that any mixing and matching of forwards mustn’t result in a Ziggy and Rooney pairing.
Near the end of the match Brighton actually had their most productive period against a visibly tiring Blues, but further excellent work from the Blues defence made sure the scoreline stayed blank. Curtis Davies received man of the match and I wouldn’t particularly argue against that although personally I’d have given it to Stephen Carr, classy in defence and our best attacking option on a bad day offensively speaking. It was crying out for Redmond rather than Rooney to come on from the bench but one mediocre performance doesn’t mean that panic buttons need to be pressed, just a timely reminder not to be complacent.