Andy Munro watches Blues good home form suffer a setback.
We were generally on a roll with a prestigious Boxing Day fixture and a comparatively packed house so it was all looking tickety boo. However, it’s Blues that we’re talking about so it was unsurprising that Derby didn’t so much rain on our parade but do the proverbial. If it hadn’t been for the fact that he was alive, I could have sworn that I sensed the presence of the ghost of Lee Clark.
Even more typically, one of the Derby players that ran us ragged was ex-Blues loanee Jordan Ibe. How predictable was that? To be brutal, we never got going and our defence looked suspect for the first time, not helped by off-key displays by their midfield protectors, Davies and Gleeson. Even more influential was that the recently impressive displays of midfield creator Shinnie was overshadowed by a masterclass in that subject, in the shape of Will Hughes – surely an England prospect in the making.
Early on, we were lulled into a sense of false security as the Rams kept possession without really hurting us until Ibe ran at our retreating defence before smashing the ball home in a style unfamiliar to watchers of his previous performances in the royal blue shirt. Worse was to come as Will Hughes danced his way through the Blues defence before earning a free kick, despatched Cotterill-style by Derby’s leading scorer.
It was interesting to note that in his after-match interview Gary Rowett, always understated in his tone of criticism, suggested that the Derby players, their wingers in particular, were braver than their opposite Blues numbers. I recall that years ago, as a defender, I loved playing in wet conditions in the driving rain but NEVER allowed a winger the luxury of space to run at me, which would then become a nightmare when a shimmy was unstoppable as turning became a nightmare. Unfortunately, this was exactly what Blues allowed, not getting tight on the wingers and allowing them to run riot.
As Rowett pointed out, Blues attackers failed to do the same, never really going for the jugular. Cotterill had a nightmare and Demi Gray played like a youngster without conviction. Tom Ross reckoned the Albion scouts were at the game to run the rule over Ibe although it was more likely they were checking out Gray. So every cloud has a silver lining, as they would hardly be impressed by his below-par performance.
Two-nil down, Wes Thomas and Ziggy came on and did themselves no particular harm as we battled to get back into the game but, quite frankly, the service was abysmal. Predictably, we were done twice as we pressed forward and when we brought on the two forwards, I would have also sent on Guy Moussi (Guy WHOOOOO?) to shore things up elsewhere with his physical presence.
Was this a disaster? In the grand scheme of things no but it was certainly a reality check against a quality side who showed that Gary is still trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.