The taming of the Tigers

Andy Munro gets some pre-season training at St Andrews.

Birmingham City Football Club - St Andrew's

I decided to go and watch my first, and the last, pre-season friendly against Hull to check out ‘Lee’s Lads’. Usually friendlies aren’t a good indicator but I always think that the final one before the season proper is important in terms of the confidence factor engendered by a victory.

The crowd was predictably modest but for a fiver sitting in Club Class (although give me a seat on the Tilton anytime), it was decent value and deserved a better response. Some things hadn’t changed. For example, the ballboys were inept – one lost the ball in the empty seats for about five minutes. The sound system still sounded like a Dalek after ten pints of lager but one thing that had changed was the scoreboard. Now proudly advertising our new sponsors, they’ve conspired to reduce the font size of the names of players so it falls between my own failing long sight and my pocket reading glasses. This disorientated me so much that I turned to my son to express my pleasure at the early play of loanee Bartley in the centre of defence to be told that it was my footballing anti-hero Haydn Mullins. Embarrassing or what?

Despite a couple of badly misplaced passes Blues moved the ball around well, albeit a bit slowly, and limited the Tigers, who to be brutally honest looked an ordinary side who will undoubtedly struggle in the Premier League. In the Blues’ defence, the big lad Burns looked decent if a little Ibanezly clumsy at times whilst Mullins alongside showed he might still have a future. Robbo was solid as usual if limited going forward and I liked the look of Eardley although whether he will have the panache of Caddis remains to be seen.

Midfield also started promisingly with Fergie elusive on the wing and the Albion loanee Allen looking class although he obviously still needs to sharpen up. Reilly battled manfully but it was Adeyemi who impressed me looking strong throughout. Up front with other forwards injured Matt Green showed a willingness to chase and took his goal well from an INSWINGING corner (yes, that’s not a misprint!). Andrew Shinnie looked a class act in his slightly deep-lying role although not too deep to not take advantage of goal number two following a mistake in the Tigers defence.

Hull got one back through a very debateable penalty but Blues deservedly held on thanks to a great save by the impressive Randolf – and by the way we seem to have last got ourselves a keeper who can actually kick it!

Overall, some promising stuff but, of course, the real tests lie ahead.

Food for thought:

3-5-2, 4-4-2 or 4-5-1? Why don’t we set our own stall and let other teams adapt to OUR style?