“If Pedersen’s shot had flicked to the other side of the post or if Dutch Mike’s shot had hit the net, rather than the M61 then we’d all be celebrating a dominant win. A handball cost us instead so it’s time for some fans to announce the relegation party”
The newly formed Birmingham Fan TV (@BirminghamFanTV) sent out a tweet asking for score predictions prior to kick off in Bolton. I thought about it, considered our performance against Swansea, took our draw with Norwich into account, pretended the Boro game didn’t happen and then replied with a confident “3-0 win”.
So strong was my confidence, that I even went onto my second favourite betting app (I had a couple of quid left in my account) and placed one whole English pound on the aforementioned outcome. There’s not a lot you can get for a pound these days, but you CAN add a twinge of excitement and optimism to a game of football that is destined to end in disappointment.
Blues fell at the hands of Will Buckley as he sent the ball past Lee Camp with Maradona-esq precision. The undeniable handball was missed by a long-sighted ref that somehow managed to spot a foul worthy of a yellow card from 20 yards away but was unable to spot a left hook right under his nose. Admittedly Blues’ defending leading up to this slam dunk wasn’t worth raving about but it doesn’t make me any less bitter.
Regardless of the loss, Monk stated in his post-match interview that he was “so happy” with the players that they were “doing so much right”. The question is, should us fans feel the same way?
Firstly I’d like to say how great it is to see the manager stand by his troops. During the Cotterill era, I was constantly writing articles comparing the club to a sinking ship and slating Stevie-C for his refusal to go down with it. Cast your minds back to when Steve ducked down an escape tunnel following another home defeat whilst his team were forced to walk past a horde of bloodthirsty Blues fans, climbing over each other to air their opinions publicly.
Instead of making excuses, ducking interviews and hiding from fans, Garry stood proudly and defended his squad in an act of solidarity and resolute optimism. Although we expect our managers to be honest with their post-match analysis, it’s refreshing to see the boss back the boys.
Fans are different though. There are thousands of us, each with differing opinions. From the doom and gloomers to the blind optimists, each opinion is as valid as each other and no one should be silenced. With this in mind, here’s my quick thoughts and how “happy” we should be with the boys in Blue.
Reasonably. How’s that for a sitting-on-the-fence answer?
Obviously the lack of goals is a concern. I know it, you know it, Monk knows it and the guys on the pitch certainly know it too. As GI Joe used to say “knowing is half the battle” and the training schedule this week is sure to focus heavily on attacking prowess.
Goals win games and we’re still searching for our first 3 points. As I said in my previous article, I believe there are goals in this team and even more goals waiting to return to the team in the shape of Isaac Vassell. (Isaac if you’re reading this; I need you to hit the ground running when you return because I’ve kinda been writing a lot of cheques that I need your shooting boots to cash)
We’ve had 46 shots in the last 3 games but haven’t scored a single goal, resulting in a grand total of 1 point. (I stole those figures from @jackblenkiron, you know I don’t like doing actual research). This is not a good conversion rate. In fact, this is an appalling conversion rate, but it’s not completely without merit. Compare our 46 shots with the sort of figures we were seeing last year. Many-a-game would go by where 3-5 shots would have been a minor success and the chance of any of them being on target was slim at best.
We have the quantity of chances, now we just need the quality. As I’ve said before though, the goals WILL come. If nothing else, it’s the law of averages…. surely?!
After his fiery start against Swansea, Omar Bogle looked to be almost too eager to score against Bolton. There were a few instances where shots should have been passes and an extra bit of thinking time and a quick look up could have made all the difference. As for Lukey-Jukey; I think he has a crucial role to play in holding up the ball and feeding the pace players around him. However, this constant desire to hoof the ball up in the hope that Juke can perform miracles is a bit naive and completely ineffective.
The long ball method has almost been the only tool at our disposal over recent seasons since we lacked the skill to run the ball up the pitch, but these days we have guys like Jota, J-Mags and Max Colin who are all capable of taking on their man. Add to this Craig’s little brother, Lil’ G, who had the midfield under control during the Bolton game and was used as a playmaker to great effect against the Swans. This squad is generally comfortable with the ball at their feet and we always look more dangerous when steaming forward.
We shouldn’t be “happy” with the amount of wasted chances, but we can certainly be excited about the fact that we’re forcing teams to flood their own boxes with a reinforced defence. Teams will begin to fold under pressure and the more we pile it on, the more confident our boys will be.
One man we should all be “happy” with is Jota. I was one of his loudest critics in the early stages of last season but now it’s like watching a totally different player. Rather than just hanging out on the wing, Jota is willing to help out in defence and retreat back to gather the ball before taking on 2 to 3 players as he charges forward. Jota’s end product may still leave a little to be desired, but his work rate has gone through the roof. He links up perfectly with fellow former-Bee; Max Colin and the pair are as solid in defence as they are dangerous in attack. (There’s my weekly declaration of love for Max).
“Happy” may seem like an odd choice of word; especially after a loss, but I can see where Garry is coming from. Regardless of results, the Blues have improved massively on last season and the puzzle pieces are all there. If Pedersen’s shot had flicked to the other side of the post or if Dutch Mike’s shot had hit the net, rather than the M61 then we’d all be celebrating a dominant win where we relentlessly attacked them up t’north. A handball cost us instead and we weren’t clinical enough to seal the deal so it’s time for some fans to announce the relegation party.
I, for one, am “happy” with what I’m seeing on the pitch so far, even if I’m not overjoyed with the results. It’s still so early in the season that these results simply don’t matter all that much. If we’re still in this predicament in 5 games time then I’ll change my tune but the Championship is such a hotly contested league that a little run of form can see you fly up the table and right now Monk and his team and laying the foundations of form.
By Mark Watson