Stopped in our tracks

Andy Munro reports on Blues’ game with Ipswich Town.

There’s a saying that it can’t get any worse, but if you’re a Blues’ fan, you know that’s just an old wives tale.

Despite the sunny weather the crowd was disappointing although luckily bolstered by a decent following from the Tractor Boyz. Pundits reckon that we started brightly at the beginning of each half but if that was a bright start, it shows how dire was the overall performance.

Nobody can fault Blues’ efforts but players like Novak, Adeymi and Eardley are just triers with nothing really extra to add. ‘Shinniesta,’ as he has been dubbed, seems to already be lacking confidence despite having the kudos of being a Scottish Player of the Year contender. However, that may be a reflection of the dire state of the game north of the border.

Certainly, if it wasn’t for an outstanding display by Darren Randolph, the Tractor Boyz would have been home and hosed and tucking into a Ploughman’s by half time. The goal that we conceded was sloppy and predictably came down our right and only the usual Trojan display by Dan Burn and to a slightly lesser extent Bartley, stopped us being breached earlier. The second half only improved when Shane Ferguson came on and took the weight off Burke’s shoulders and allowed the latter some freedom instead of being the only outlet. His goal was slightly deflected but was nethertheless a perfect cameo of Burke’s ability to twist and turn to make himself some room. We also seemed a bit more dangerous when Scott Allen came on and slightly tighter with Spector on for the injured Eardley. Mind you, on the negative side, Allen can over-elaborate and carries a little bit too much timber for my liking. Overall, in retrieving a point we got out of jail and certainly lack both quality and balance.

We can’t do much about the former given our parlous financial state but we can do something about the latter. If we play 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1 away from home) then we need to play it not play AT it. This means two proper wingers with a place for Ferguson as well as Burke. In midfield, if we need a hard-tackling grafter then Reilly would be a classier alternative to the labouring Adeymi who, to my mind, doesn’t punch his weight.

If Blues are at home then I would play Allen as the ‘creative’, and when he ran out of puff, bring on Shinnie. Away from home I would go one up front – needless to say not Novak – and then play Shinnie just behind. Up front, it’s a nonsense to play Novak and Lovenkrands (if the latter was put in the shop window against Ipswich, it was in both senses the worst display that I think that I’ve ever seen). This combo has no pace, no power, no real height; a recipe for mediocrity. In fact, I would go as far as to say that if Ziggy was fit – and he will be one day – I would play him and Green or Aswante.

The central defenders Burn and Bartley thankfully pick themselves with my preferred full-backs Murphy (when he’s fit) or Hancox with Spector on the other flank. Will any of this happen? I doubt it.