After the Lord Mayor’s Show

Andy Munro on Blues’ game with Ipswich.

Birmingham City Football Club - St Andrew'sI suppose it’s nice to even mention that there was a Lord Mayor’s Show (namely Leeds) but our subsequent performance was truly rubbish. We suffered, as usual, from the Curse of the Returning Striker in the form of DJ but in truth Blues were very poor, particularly in the first half. In fact, Butland apart the whole team was completely woeful. Admittedly we had a better second half but in truth it couldn’t have been any worse.

In an after-match interview Lee Clarke said that he couldn’t put his finger on it, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in him. In fact I do take issue with his tactical selections – his mantra that he’s loyal to his players and therefore won’t change a winning team is in my experience, even as a parks level manager, a complete cop out. The skill of any manager is to manipulate his squad to meet the different challenges that are presented in any league, and also to have the bottle to tell players, even after a win, that they won’t be playing.

For example, for Leeds away you would look to play solid and neat possession football with the aim of frustrating and then catching the opposition on the break. In fairness that’s what we did at Elland Road. In the case of playing a rock bottom side like Ipswich, at home, the approach should be different because it should be all about  putting the opposition on the back foot.

What I wouldn’t do is play a left back at right back with a young and talented, but naïve, winger in front of him. I like Robbo but what Redmond needed was some speedy support to give him options, put the opposition in two minds and give him the opportunity to get one on one. What I wouldn’t do is play Wade Elliott (who arguably had the biggest ‘mare of all the under-performing players) on the flank and leave the most talented player at the club, Burke, to get splinters on the bench. If you only play one winger the opposition can focus their attention on stifling that single threat.

What I certainly wouldn’t do is play an average Haydn Mullins in the middle alongside the most talented player on the books ie Ravel Morrison. I would have gone for Papa D and if he’d run himself ragged early on, he could be substituted later. What I also wouldn’t do is play the vertically-challenged pairing of King and Lita up front. It worked at Leeds because it was about attacking a team on the break. However, at home, against a wall of centre backs waiting to repel boarders, I would have picked Ziggy with somebody playing off him. Despite the fact that Ziggy missed a couple of absolute sitters he made a big difference when he came on.

Finally, if the players ain’t doing it then Lee needs to read the riot act, get the hairdryer out and provide some inspiration and passion. Can I see the mumbling Geordie doing that with his Scouse sidekick a la Harry Enfield? Not in a million years.

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