Andy Munro on another Blues late show.
In truth, the team didn’t play particularly well and owed a lot to the exploits of Jack Butland although that’s not to say that Colin Doyle couldn’t have done a good job as the keeper. What it does emphasise, however, is that whilst Pannu commendably played hard ball on Davies, Burke et al, he has presented Stoke with the bargain of the season. If young Jack was worth £6 million at the start of the season then £10 million would now be a more realistic valuation.
Lee Clark set up the team in a perfectly sensible way with the two wingers balanced by playing Wade Elliott just behind King. On a bobbly pitch where results normally have to be ground out, such tactics couldn’t be criticised but, apart from occasional dangerous flashes, we never really hit any decent spells of fluency.
Obviously the back four currently picks itself but fielding two players without any pace – Robbo and Caldwell is always going to be difficult and heap more pressure on the more mobile Caddis and Davies. It also means that we are a bit lopsided down the left with the winger being a bit isolated in the absence of a genuinely overlapping fullback.
In the centre of midfield, Reilly and Gomis struggled manfully but something doesn’t seem quite right. In fairness, Lee Clark’s oft-quoted instruction for the centre to get the ball out to the wings early is sensible but for some reason doesn’t always happen. Thankfully Burke can make a silk purse move out of a sow’s ear pass but on the other flank Rob Hall seems to be effective only in fits and starts.
Up front, despite his advancing years, Wade Elliott continues to confound. Whilst it might be stretching it a bit to call him the Frank Lampard of the Championship, he undoubtedly has a habit of weighing in with points accumulating goals. Meanwhile Marlon King is going through a comparatively barren spell, for him, and certainly when we play Udinese next week, we need to bolster the forward line and put the Hornets on the back foot. On paper our team should be looking upwards not downwards but with all the struggling teams getting good results, there is certainly no room for complacency, despite our mini revival.
Food for thought
Is it time to give young Reilly a rest?
Would you play two up front against Watford, who are likely to be strong in midfield?
If Keith Fahy returns, would you bring him into the centre of midfield?