“Jota picked up a well deserved Man of the Match award which could have just as easily found itself in the hands of J-Mags, Max Wingback, OB14 or Craig’s little brother. Blues were exciting to watch and if this continues then the goals WILL come”
I haven’t watched Kevin Costner’s ‘Field of Dreams’ since I was about 12 years old. If I’m honest, I don’t fully remember what happens in it other than the fact that some guy (possibly a farmer) builds a baseball stadium in the middle of a field and then some random players turn up for a game. These players might be ghosts actually, although I could be confusing the film with ‘Angels In The Outfield’….
A decent writer would have Googled the synopsis but it’s 1am and after 40 minutes of singing half-remembered nursery rhymes to my 7 week old daughter, I finally have her sleeping in my arms and I fear that any movement towards an ethernet cable may awaken the dormant volcano of tears.
Anyway, Costner builds stuff and good things happen – that’s the important thing. It’s a long old process and there are trials and tribulations along the way, but eventually success is achieved and the protagonist’s belief and determination ultimately pay off.
What does this have to do with the Blues? Well Garry Monk currently finds himself in the midst of a rebuilding process with minimal tools at his disposal. Monk & co are on the hunt for goals and with the tactics employed against Swansea last week accompanied by an attack-minded team sheet, it looks as though they may have stumbled upon the building blocks of success.
Granted, he didn’t manage to get on the score sheet, but is there anyone out there that wasn’t just a little bit impressed by Omar Bogle last Friday night? His tenacity and hunger certainly brought a massive smile to my podgy, ginger face.
Omar’s enthusiasm was as infectious as it was pleasing to watch and his visible frustration at misplaced passes provided further evidence of his desire and desperation to start his second Blues stint off on the front foot.
As my regular readers will know (all three of them), I’m a huge fan of Isaac Vassell and have high hopes for his explosive return from rehabilitation. An official date has yet to be confirmed though, so it’s a relief to know that Bogle can fill in during the interim and is likely to provide stiff competition for a place in the starting 11 once Vassell is back.
I’m unsure whether Isaac and Omar would work together as a front two due to them having such similar styles of play, but utilising the pair as rotating strike partners for the Juke could be devastating for opposition defences. Bogle and Lukey-Jukey ran Swansea ragged last week and Omar’s pace and strength seemed to catch the Swans off guard. This caused them to focus heavily on the nuisance from Sandwell and leave our big target-man with more space than any intelligent defence should allow.
Admittedly, both men began to tire around the 70th minute mark but it’s understandable and expected considering it’s the most action either player has seen in a very long time. This forced Monk to make the change in the 79th minute (a little too late if we’re honest) as Che Adams was sent on and our attack slowed a little.
Again, my few regular readers are well versed in my opinions of Che; but imagine if we had Isaac Vassell available for selection instead and were able to throw him into the mix at the 65th minute mark. As a very poor former-defender myself, I know there’s nothing worse than seeing the striker that’s been terrorising you (and making your moobs bounce around) for an hour FINALLY start to tire, only to get replaced by a fresh faced Tasmanian devil. That’s the potential scenario at our disposal.
Goals have been hard to come by over the last few years. Monk & Co have worked hard to make St Andrews as much of a fortress as possible and we’ve only conceded 4 goals in the last 6 home games. However unless we start scoring ourselves, these home games are going to continue testing fans’ nerves and player confidences will start to take a hit once again.
After 17 shots with 8 on target though, the lack of goals is certainly not through lack of effort. Swansea barely left their half of the pitch and were forced to defend in numbers for the majority of the game.
Take that in. Birmingham City; the relegation candidates pinned ex-Premier League Swansea back and forced them to suffer a barrage of shots from our dangerous looking front 4 for the best part of 90 minutes.
Jota picked up a well deserved Man of the Match award which could have just as easily found itself in the hands of J-Mags, Max Wingback, OB14 or Craig’s little brother. Blues were exciting to watch and if this continues then the goals WILL come.
In Max Colin we have, in my opinion, the best player the club has seen for years. Harlee is solid, Morrison may slip up from time to time but is in a good run of form and Pedersen is starting to adapt well to the pace of the Championship. Aside from the ongoing goalkeeper saga, I’d say our back 5 are pretty safe and reliable, especially considering we have Wes Harding and Marc Roberts waiting in reserve.
Such reliability allows us to play with attacking freedom and to say the tactic worked well on Friday is an understatement. The scoreline flattered the boys from the Valleys massively and any other day could have seen the Blues romp to a 3 or 4 goal lead.
Gary Gardner played like the cool-headed playmaker we’ve been searching for whilst Dutch Mike was busy picking pieces of bone out of his shin pads. Jota and J-Mags controlled their respective wings and at times the Swansea defence were dizzy from not knowing which way to look. If it wasn’t for the very obvious tiring of our front two, I think the Whites would have snapped under the unyielding pressure.
Alas, it was not to be though and the good guys were left with a sense of two points lost rather than 1 gained. We did come away with something so much more valuable than points though; confidence and a future recipe for success.
If Monk continues to build this team around fast, exciting players then the goals WILL come. The lumbering, liability N’Doye has gone, Craig has possibly been displaced by his brother and Adams has been given a break in favour of a hungrier Bogle. If we attack Bolton with such ferocity on Wednesday then I have no doubt that we’re in for another successful away day at the Macron.
We may be waiting some time for another prolific, 20-a-season goalscorer to arrive at St Andrews but there are undoubtedly goals in this squad, with each of our front four being more than capable of bagging 8-10 a year. We just need to keep putting the lads in the position to strike and keep the pressure flowing whilst other teams continue to under-estimate us.
Through hard work and determination, Costner got his baseball game (possibly with ghosts?) A voice inside his head told him; “if you build it, they will come”. Well If Monk continues to build this exciting team and persist with an attacking, free-flowing mentality then the goals WILL come and we’ll happily coast to a nice, easy, mid table finish.
By Mark Watson