Andy Munro on Blues’ game with Millwall.
Blues on a decent roll? Millwall managed by the sad faced clown that is Ian Holloway? Millwall struggling with poor form and with a lamentably poor record against upwardly mobile Rowett’s Revolutionary Army? Surely a nailed on certainty of a home win but this is Blues we’re talking about and they inevitably Blues surrendered tamely to a Millwall side that can’t have believed their luck.
The atmosphere can’t have helped the Blues with a dreadfully poor attendance reflected in the Millwall following. Amusingly, their ‘fearless’ few didn’t sport any colours that might identify them in any way – undoubtedly the rosette and scarf seller down the New Den must be heading for bankruptcy!
Right from the start, the Blues looked off the pace and, if there was any justice, the Lions should have been out of sight, Bournemouth style, by half-time. The whole side was woeful apart from Randolph whose performance kept us in with a mathematical shout. Passing was abysmal, the reaction to the second ball zombie like, movement off the ball non existent and we ended up playing more long balls than ManUre did against the Hammers.
Of course, one hopes that it was just a solitary bad day at the office although it was more like a sackable day. However, Rowett can only play the hand he’s dealt although one wonders sometimes about the cards selected. Certainly, the centre of midfield was poor and Davies looked like the secondhand Wolves cast-off that he is while Gleeson’s ‘outstanding’ ability is at Division One not Championship level. No particular criticism of Cotterill who never stopped trying despite it being one of those days.
However, Dyer on the other wing was well-named and how they could afford to sideline Demi Gray on tactical terms is beyond me. Would Real Madrid drop Ronaldo on that basis? You build round your best players. Shinnie played his drifting role too literally and was put in the shade by the Millwall number eight who showed what it is to be both creative and effective.
Donaldson soldiered on up front huffing and puffing without having the genuine pace to cause problems and when they brought on Novak, he plugged away fairly fruitlessly in a similar way. Our secret weapon was brought on for the last 15 minutes but Memo to the team. When Ziggy comes on, play the ball to his feet and get close enough for the lay off. Keep reminding Ziggy to play central and in the advent of a ball slung to him in the air be close enough to him to anticipate the flick ons from the 70% of the ball he wins. Finally get some decent crosses in from the byline rather than humping long diagonal balls from the halfway line like a poor man’s David Beckham.
One wonders if Wes Thomas has killed a man because why wasn’t he in the squad? However, I do think that we need to trust Rowett and the only good news to come out of this game was that in keeping a structure we limited damage to one goal but playing this cat and mouse game was probably a mistake. For once, we should have played a pressure game on an opposition initially bereft of confidence but instead we gave them the space to allow that confidence to grow.
It’ll be interesting to see how we perform in our next match against the Boro but let’s hope Demi Gray starts and Wes Thomas is in the squad, then maybe we will have already used the loan window to buy two midfielders – a powerhouse defensive midfielder and a creative player to play alongside. Either way, a lower mid-table position beckons and for that, I suppose, we should be grateful given the current club situation.