Let’s Begin At The Beginning


“5 Cuban dancers strutting their stuff in the background as 48-year-old Baz from Chelmsley Wood face plants the turf after sending the ball 6ft wide of the post – that’s a license to print money!”

I can honestly say that I witnessed one of the best performances in recent memory on Saturday. The formation was perfect, the group all looked happy to be there and didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon. They had style, they had grace and one of them even waved at me; it was a thing of beauty. Yes, the Cuban dancers were one of the most stunning things I’ve seen down at St Andrews for quite a while!

Except my wife.
Whom I love with all my heart.
And am lucky to be with.
And she is beautiful.
And I don’t want to sleep on the sofa.

That’s about all I can say about the first half really. J-Mags and Jukey had a couple of chances and Trueman made a cracking save but other than that it was a snoozefest. I think I even saw N’Doye having a kip on the subs bench at one point…

In reality, the first 45 looked to be a feeling out process. Some have said we were sitting back, which may be true, but it was through choice rather than necessity. We were put under very little pressure by the Canaries and the immense heat seemed to be getting the best of both sides.

All that changed after the break through.

Perhaps it was a rousing team talk by Monk and co. Perhaps it was because the temperature dropped off a little. Or perhaps it was the knowledge that if spectators can score a penalty after running around a ball 10 times, then paid professionals could do it whilst perfectly balanced.

If that sentence makes no sense to you, then I assume you either missed the game or were stuck in a FarcePay queue at the time. Either way, stick around for the halftime antics at Blues’ next home game because you’re in for a real treat!

Luckily for the near-capacity crowd, the second half more than made up for the boredom of the first and provided the level of excitement that an opening game should consist of. After Norwich failed to make Blues suffer for the wealth of possession afforded to them early on, Monk’s men decided to take the game to the part-time farmers as J-Mags, the Congolese Prince of St Andrews, picked up right where he left off last season and fired Blues into the lead.

The boys managed to hold onto their lead until Hernandez left Pedersen in no man’s land and slotted home the first of his two goals. Fresh from his stint at Blackpool, youth product Viv Solomon-Otabor pulled us back in front just 6 minutes later, making it 2-1 with only stoppage time left to play.

Now, I always say there’s no better feeling in football than a last-minute winner but last minute equalisers come pretty damn close. Unfortunately for us, it was Hernandez that earnt the right to feel that elation and play closed at 2-2 with the boys in Blue being handed their first point of the season.

All in all the second half was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster and was ‘typical Blues’. It would be silly to pre-judge a season on just one performance and probably a bit misguided to look for signs of things to come and make a list of things we learnt from just 90 minutes of football.

So with that in mind, here’s a list of things that we’ve learnt from our first 90 minutes of football:

1) Our youth setup is a credit to our club. Sure, you could make the argument that FFP has forced us to dip into our youth system in order to fill up the first team, but with prospects like ours, why wouldn’t you?! Viv came on and bagged his first goal since his return and Trueman looked like he’d been playing Championship level football for years. Add that to the fact that Wes was waiting in the wings and Charlie Lakin isn’t too far from claiming a spot on the bench next to Josh Dacres-Cogley either. Necessity may breed invention but maybe we’ve uncovered a bit of a gold mine? Our youth are definitely our future and Richard Beale and Paul Robinson have done an outstanding job. Loans will be vital if we’re going to flesh out our squad, but they shouldn’t be relied upon when we have youth players that can do an equal if not better job.

2) Our starting 11 is nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe. There were very few games last season where I honestly thought we deserved all 3 points. “Robbed” is probably the wrong word as that implies outside intervention but we certainly should have sealed the win at the weekend. We may have sat back in the first half but we dominated parts of the second. Jota was quiet; but still a terror. Dean was solid. Che put more effort in during the 90 minutes than he did for the whole of last season put together. Mags proved why he won POTS and Max Colin is easily the best player I’ve seen at St Andrews in years. Even Gardner who’s come in for some stick over recent months was like the Gards of old – set pieces aside of course. Injuries may be an issue, but I guarantee we will not be fighting relegation again during this years campaign. You can quote me on that.

3) Pedersen could be great for us, in time. He’s big, he’s drop dead gorgeous and he loves a crunching tackle. Unfortunately, he was left for dead a few times by Norwich’s dangerman though. Pedersen is good on the ball and pretty tight in defence but the pace of the game seemed to catch him off guard a little. I have full faith that he’ll be up to speed soon enough but until then it’ll be down to Harlee and Morro to provide the coverage.

4) We have a good enough squad to stay up, but a new striker will be essential if we want to challenge the top half. I like Jukey, I think he’s a powerful nuisance. I also think Vassell could be the answer to our problems once he’s back fit again. However, we have lacked a real goalscorer at the club for quite some time now. Obviously, such coveted players demand obscene transfer fees and high wages but we’re currently relying on wingers to provide the firepower. With the imminent addition if Omar Bogle, Monk is obviously looking to resolve this problem but as our current squad stands, we’re only a torn hamstring or twisted ankle away from starting Beau Brummie up top.

5) If ITV don’t pick up “Dizzy Penalties” as their new prime time Saturday night family show, then someone needs to get fired. They could even have combined this with the Cuban dancers and recreate my halftime experience. Just imagine it, 5 Cuban dancers strutting their stuff in the background as 48-year-old Baz from Chelmsley Wood face plants the turf after sending the ball 6ft wide of the post. That’s a license to print money, advertisers will love it!

By Mark Watson


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