“If this was Fifa, I’d have rage quit by now. If this was Championship Manager, I’d by furiously typing in cheat codes and if this was Subbuteo, I’d be snapping my little men off at the knee caps and microwaving their little plastic corpses”
There’s been a number of things that have earned me a backlash over the last year or so. The time when I knocked up a fake ‘Missing’ poster for Jota or the time I admitted I was too harsh on Stevie-C for example. Most recently I aired my views on both Che Adams and the Stockdale saga which went down like a led balloon (although I see more and more people agreeing with these sentiments everyday…)
Allow me to throw up yet another big ostrich egg that will inevitably land on my face in 24 hours time. We will beat Leeds and Elland Road.
I said it. You read it. Quote me on it and laugh in my face tomorrow if you like; I’ll probably laugh along with you. Wouldn’t it be the most Blues thing to do in our current situation though?
We’ve already walked all over the likes of Swansea and West Brom this season and we shattered the post more times on Wednesday night than United had shots on target. If this was Fifa, I’d have rage quit by now. If this was Championship Manager, I’d by furiously typing in cheat codes (parents; ask your kids what those games are) and if this was Subbuteo, I’d be snapping my little men off at the knee caps and microwaving their little plastic corpses (kids; ask your parents and DON’T microwave toys!).
The biggest understatement in world football at the moment is that Birmingham City are long overdue a win. Not only have we outplayed almost every team that we’ve come up against – many of which are top 6 contenders, we’ve also hit the post more than any other English team in the top 4 divisions. If that doesn’t scream “we deserve this” then I don’t know what does!
That’s not to say we don’t have weaknesses that need addressing though. The most obvious being a lack of a clinical goalscorer. Jukey’s contributions to the side this season are arguably his greatest since joining the club. He may not be peppering the goal with shots and near misses, but his hold up play is phenomenal and he’s proving to be an absolute handful for defences. One only has to look at his dripping brow at full time to know that he’s left every bit of energy he had on that pitch and no one deserves a good run of goal scoring success more than him.
Then there’s Che. Oh Che, why won’t you be the player we so desperately want you to be? There’s a long held theory that Che Adams has ample talent and ability but just fails to perform on the day. As time goes on, I wonder if that ‘hot prospect’ myth is deemed to go down in history as just that, a myth.
When Che turns it on, he can be a joy to watch but I find myself increasingly frustrated at the lack of basics. He’ll back heel it with a touch of flair without a moment’s hesitation, but the rest of the team don’t know it’s coming and these sparks of brilliance are often met with dumbfounded looks from his team mates as the ball casually rolls out of our possession. Perhaps our style just doesn’t suit him?
It’s no secret that we need a goal scorer and many have touted Kyle McFarlane as a viable option. For me, Ronan Hale is the guy we should be looking to bring back home – although I have no idea what the terms of his loan contract are. With Bogle struggling to find his feet during the minimal playing time he’s been given, surely it’s time to call one of the youngsters up/back. A spot on the bench is certainly within their reach.
Perhaps not so much of a secret anymore is the fact that we are still weakest in the left back position. Chris Wilder and his squad were present at St Andrews during the West Brom game and they obviously pinpointed Pedersen as the weak link in an otherwise solid defence.
Max Colin is possibly the best right back in the division, so the Blades were always going to move the ball down their right hand channel and they found relative success when running at Pedersen, whom they caught frequently out of position. An argument could be made for switching Max to left back and bringing Wes back into the side on the right, but Colin’s link up play with Jota is borderline majestic and losing that could ultimately hurt us in the long run. Having said that, Jota flat out refuses to cross the ball with his right foot, so maybe he should switch sides too!
At this point you’re probably wondering why I started this piece talking about how we’ll beat Leeds, before going on to point out a bunch of negatives. Yeah, I’m wondering that too.
I don’t think the Pedersen issue is season-threatening, but I do think it needs addressing. As for Che. Well, I hope I’m proven wrong.
Brushing aside those two issues though, Blues have been absolutely fantastic for the most part. Gary Gardner is a revelation, Dutch Mike’s blood lust is as effective as it is scary, we’re solid at the back (yes that includes Camp, so far) and the team are playing as a cohesive unit. A win under our belts will see us go on a streak and fly up the table, I have no doubt. It’s all about getting that first 3 point scalp.
Will that be against Leeds though? Yes. Yes it will. Put the house on it. Sell the car, sell the kitchen sink, sell the kids even and put it all on Blues to win 3-0.
Of course, the minute that statement is committed to print, I’ve effectively sentenced us to a thrashing, but a man can dream!
Leeds are fast paced and punishing. They’re flying high at the moment and are guaranteed to underestimate us. Much like Cardiff did when we beat them 1-0 last season.
Leeds have some of the best players in the league and Kemar Roofe is a constant threat. Much like Ryan Sessegnon was for Fulham when we beat them 3-1 last season.
You see where I’m going with this?
Liverpool, Arsenal, Man United back in ’78, the list of big guns that we shouldn’t have competed with at the time goes on. Blues turn up against the tough teams, we always have. There’s no tougher team for us to meet this Saturday than Leeds and there’s no better way to kick off a run of wins than putting them to the sword.
The ingredients are all there, the ‘big game’ vibe is there and nearly 1.5k Blues fans will be there to roar the boys home. We’ve been playing out of our skins and our only real issue is the failure to convert chances; but we ARE creating chances which is a hell of an improvement on last year. We shouldn’t be asking “how can we beat Leeds?”, it should be “why wouldn’t we beat Leeds?”
Prior to kick off, did any of you have much hope of a result against Swansea? The Baggies? Norwich? Did any of you even predict that we’d absolutely dominate those games? If you’re being truthful then I’m guessing the answer’s “not really, no”.
So I ask again, why not Leeds? I’m not saying it’s going to be a walk in the park but a result against the league leaders is far from impossible. If we Keep Right On with what we’re doing and put yet another dominant shift in, then tomorrow is anyone’s game.
The real task at hand is placing the ball in the bloody net. Just think where Blues would be in the table right now if we could convert just half of the chances we’re creating…
By Mark Watson