Barnsley Stormed

Andy Munro wonder how much worse it can get for the Blues.

It’s difficult to know what to say after we suffered our heaviest home defeat in a quarter of a century, while crowds are at a 15 year low. To rub it in, the pacy and impressive Barnsley forward who scored four goals is apparently a Brummie who still has his hair cut down the road in Small Heath.

If Lee Clarke is ‘hurting’ and his wife was crying, can he imagine what it’s like for long-suffering Blues fans? Lee is, I’m sure, a decent bloke but I have to say that he is increasingly looking like a poor man’s McLeish. If he says that that he judges players as footballers and not men then his judgement appears to be sadly lacking.

Firstly, he decided to make the worst midfielder to don a shirt for many years into the worst full-back for many years. He then set us up with an uninspiring, ‘safety first’, midfield lacking width – no wonder that Chris Burke (one of the few players who tried) is always surrounded by two or three defenders because the opposition know he is the only creative outlet. In the centre, the only semblance of creativity is an obviously half-fit Fahy.

Meanwhile, talented game-changing players with pace such as Morrison and Redmond are left on the bench. Up front King seemed to be repeatedly caught offside simply because, with his lack of pace, the only effective option is an early run. For that he needs an early ball. Leroy Lita looked, if you’ll excuse the pun, ‘litaweight’ and was bullied by the bigger opposition defenders, showing no appetite or resilience to change that scenario. To be fair, if you’re going to play the ball up to two small forwards then it has to be on the ground and played early with a supporting run – a step too far for Blues’ one paced midfield.

Obviously the worst department was the defence and the fact that Jack Butland was probably man of the match in a 5-0 reverse says it all. Ibanez, Caldwell and Mullins were both slow and un-coordinated whilst Elliott played slightly better at full back than his nondescript performance in midfield.

Well, where do we go from here? I can’t see Lee Clarke walking because, to be fair, he’s not a quitter. Equally I can’t see him being pushed by an almost bankrupt Blues who couldn’t afford the cost of dispensing with him and his team of hangers-on. Will Lee begin to understand the importance of playing players in their proper positions and the importance of pace and youth (and therefore enthusiasm) in the side? I doubt it somehow, but perhaps the most worrying thing is the way the players gave up the ghost so easily, which must bring into question their relationship with the manager.

With such a depressing scenario, taking into account the fact that Murphy, Carr and Caddis are likely to be injured, I have tried to imagine a side that might bring a bit of hope to Bluenoses…

Butland; Spector, Davies(C), Caldwell, Davies(B); Burke, Morrison, Fahy, Redmond; Zigic, Lita. Subs; Doyle, Packwood, King, Aswante and Elliott.