Often Partisan

First Half Subs

Birmingham City slumped to a 4-2 defeat against Blackburn leaving them outside the Championship relegation places on goal difference only. A first half hat-trick from Rudy Gestede along with a deflected effort from Todd Kane gave Rovers a commanding 4-0 lead at the break and while Blues gave the scoreline some respectability by pulling back goals with Nikola Zigic and Demarai Gray it was another sorry afternoon at St Andrew’s.

The numbers do not make for good reading. In twenty Championship fixtures in 2014, Blues have won just four and drawn three – fifteen points from a possible sixty. Yet there is an underlying trend that shows up what some of the problems are. In those twenty fixtures, Blues have conceded first seventeen times. The three games they didn’t (Barnsley, Charlton and Millwall) they either drew or won. In the seventeen games they did, they only won twice – Doncaster and Blackpool – and drew twice – Burnley and Derby.

What I think is more disturbing is that in thirteen of those twenty games, Lee Clark made a substitution before the second half kicked off. In all thirteen of those games, Blues had gone at least one goal down and Blues only rescued seven points out of thirty-nine (Doncaster, Blackpool and Derby). Admittedly, in the Derby game the substitution was down to the injury to Tom Thorpe but to have to do it so many times – including each of the last five games suggests that Clark cannot select a starting XI to do what he wants.

Which leads me onto the team selection. I will admit I laughed out loud when I saw the team selection. Then I thought “oh, they’ve just made a mistake, I can see how they should line up”. And then when it was confirmed the positions were right, I laughed once again. I’ve joked before about Lancelot and set of balls number six but this really did smack of pulling names out of a hat with not one but two bonus balls in Peter Lovenkrands and Brian Howard.

Clark talked about how none of the players were out of position really, with Will Packwood having played right back last season, Paul Caddis having played central midfield for Swindon and Celtic, Callum Reilly having originally started at left back before moving to left midfield and then central midfield and apparently Tyler Blackett has played development squad football for Man U partnering Tom Thorpe. Unfortunately none of that argument washes for me – and I think it’s Clark trying to justify his thrashing around in the dark trying to come up with something, anything that will win at home.

Yes, Packwood played seven times at right back last year – but we have a perfectly good right back in Paul Caddis. Play him there – he’s not brilliant but he’s a right back, he knows the position. We have three centre halves available – Tom Thorpe, Aaron Martin and Will Packwood so the argument for playing Tyler Blackett in the middle doesn’t wash. If it was Jonathan Spector or Hayden Mullins and the argument was to bring some experience into the middle, I’d buy it but Tyler Blackett is a rookie. Saying he’s partnered Tom Thorpe in a development squad XI is a nonsense too – James Fry and Nathaniel Kelly play there for our u21s and I wouldn’t pick them either. Callum Reilly tries but he’s not a left back – if Blackett can’t cut it and Hancox isn’t fit can’t we recall Bell? He’s got two goals for Kiddy of late too – he’s match fit and in form. The argument to play Caddis in midfield is the worst – if there is one position we have a bazillion players for, it’s central midfield.

As much as I think it needs to happen, Clark is going nowhere. It’s not that I think we’d bring in a replacement – I suspect we’d see a management dream team of Paul Robinson, Nikola Zigic and Scarf Lady should Clark go but right now I think almost anyone could do a better job. The home form is a monkey on Clark’s back he can’t shift and we are now in very real danger of falling through the trapdoor. If we can’t turn over a Leeds side in freefall next weekend we are deeply in the doodoo and we might be going to the Reebok once again looking down the barrel of relegation – but this time to League One.

I want to be positive, I want to believe but right now it’s kicked out of me. Lets hope come six o’clock on Saturday we’ve picked up three points and potentially in the position where we are all but mathematically safe (which is possible). Defeat right now is unthinkable.

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51 Responses to “First Half Subs”

  • DoctorD says:

    I’ve always tried to stay positive about Clark, but today’s result has left me furious. I think he sees himself as a master tactician dealing with top-notch, totally versatile players. He’s not and they’re not. Anyone with an ounce of wit would realise the limitations of the players and stick to a system. The writing was on the wall for Clark from day 1 in his job when we scraped that draw at Charlton in August 2012 and he already started fiddling around with things. I’m afraid League One beckons — our only hope is Blackpool are more rubbish than us.

  • TommyBlue says:

    Laughed out loud? You and me both. I phoned my Dad to tell him as it was such an outrageous team selection. The guy hasn’t got a clue and to be 4-0 down at half-time in such a crucial fixture is a sackable offence on its own, never mind the rest of this seasons home campaign. Get rid now and get Trevor Francis in to oversee the last three games otherwise we’re down

    • Tebily says:

      You must have a short memory, TF was the master of tinkering with the side at crucial times. Remember Barnsley in the playoffs?

      • TommyBlue says:

        Whether we like it or not, one of the main reasons our home form is so bad is the total apathy of the crowd. Would TF get the fans behind the team? I think so.

        • Stan031 says:

          Absolute rubbish Tommy Blue! The fans are bored to tears watching the dross LC sets his team out to play. The fans are supportive but bored- there is nothing to chear, till we start our regular comeback once he changes to 2 up top, unfortunately it’s usually too late by then.

          • TommyBlue says:

            Bored? yes, supportive, No! You’ve just said that there is nothing to cheer! I’ve been to enough games this season to know that the atmosphere is non-existent. Until this changes it will only have a negative effect on the players, particularly young and inexperienced ones.

          • Stan031 says:

            I agree it’s quiet, but my point is that this is a result of the way we play. As soon as the team are positive then fans are right behind them. Unfortunately LC sets out his stall to stop the opposition which is not conducive to getting the fans excited- surely you can agree that? The fall from grace since we won the league cup is of course going to be of detriment to the enthusiasm of the fans but the manager is not helping the situation. I have not heard the fans at any point turn on the players, they are patient and waiting for some inspiration!

  • LOLman says:

    We’ll beat Bolton we do well against mediocre teams away from home/

  • Chris W says:

    I have was anti LC last season and said we should give him the benefit this season given the fiasco in Hong Kong.
    Today, the group I sit with were trying to work out some sort of formation, the players were everywhere bar in the position they should have been.
    We have complained about tinkering all season, Spector’s injury and Robbo’s suspension should have been the only changes Caddis into Spector’s slot and Hancox in for Robinson and push Reilly back into midfield, simple.
    I felt for Howard, he hasn’t had much game time and it showed, Blankett for all his efforts is way out of his depth at this level, a talented prospect but not ready for Championship football.
    The supporters have been very restrained towards the players and LC at St Andrews but today I think cracks were evident that tolerance is now in short supply.
    Nothing less than 3 points Saturday will be suffice as I can’t see us getting any change from Wigan.
    LC, in my opinion, has lost the dressing room and any credence he did have with the supporters, we have no one who will sack him as we cannot afford to pay him off and he won’t walk.
    Hopefully we should have some news on Wednesday regarding the four offers allegedly on the table, and give us hope for the new season as this one has been one of under achievement even allowing for the quality of players we have and had to loan in.
    KRO+DNM

    • Andrew says:

      jury’s always been out on Clark for me, im yet to see him play convincing football. yes i haven’t been much this season to see the games but its not much different from last plus he had better players last season!

  • matt says:

    You’ve lost your mojo dan!

  • cheese says:

    Team selection doesn’t even surprise me anymore. We will see reece brown play as lone striker next.. Congrats to dimmy on his first pro goal.

  • Alan Watton says:

    I travelled 7 hours to get to St Andrews and back. No sympathy I don’t have to do it. When you have battled with Bank Holiday train cancellations the London Under ground etc only to be presented with that line up before you reach the ground is gut busting. There was never any doubt that we would be torn apart with that back line. I am tired of pointing out that we score 90% of our goals when Ziggy is on the pitch plus he is invaluable when the opposition have set pieces.

  • Art says:

    Sadly we are now paying the price for not getting rid of Clark last season.I don’t think it was a question of affordability but more like a total lack of interest from the owners combined with a couldn’t care less attitude.

    If he had any decency and respect for the club and some of his loyal supporters he would resign now but we know he won’t because he wants a pay off.

    He should be ashamed of his atrocious record!

    • Andrew says:

      The board will care when relegation brings admin. Hits them where it hurts them most, their pockets!

      • Art says:

        You are right and I have said for a long while that when the money runs out they will be forced to sell.The clock is ticking quickly but sadly it may be too late to save us from relegation…I really thought we would survive by the skin of our teeth but Clark appears to have pressed the self distruction button.The defence is leaking goals and I doubt his ability to put it right.

    • Geoff S says:

      Well said, Art.

      Football calls for a lot of hard decisions and, whilst a weak squad is obviously partly to blame (where the off-the-field turmoil also has an effect), a home record showing only TWO wins out of over TWENTY matches played is indefensible.

      It also says a lot about the current owners and let hope they won’t be around for too much longer.

      • Geoff S says:

        No manager should be allowed to carry on with that sort of record.

      • Pete says:

        Don’t get this weak squad view, if I look at our programmes for the season there isn’t another team with a squad as big as ours. There is a lot to be said about playing players consistently, tinkering does us no favours at all

        • Geoff S says:

          Pete. I reckon it’s a quality v quantity thing with the squad and too much reliance on loanees (especially short-term ones) doesn’t seem to me to be a sign of strength.

  • Adam karim says:

    No passion, no desire and no application, enthusiasm is contagious and it’s obvious lee Clarke and his team do not now how to motivate there team never mind organise them. Our performances at home are not acceptable even if we were mid table team never mind a relegation battle . We don’t defend as a team and we don’t attack as a team, we are predictable, push the ball up to Burke and that’s it, we have no dimension unless ibe going down left flank which clarke never utilises, everyone blames the board but there’s still eleven men out there with a general whom should be passionate about being no1 and playing to the best of there abilities and they clearly don’t give two shades off poo , that’s get our own youth players in the team who will care about what division they are playing in next season!!

  • Chas says:

    First match I have seen live for ages, and I wish I hadn’t bought the three tickets. It was only luck that it wasn’t 6-0 at half time. Play the team that finished the match against Leeds , use our own players, they could do no worse. The match was a shambles. Luckily I am not able to hear what Clark was drivelling on about, but I can now understand why the Fans jeer so much at him.

    • Andrew says:

      was on my was back from easter break, funnily and quite coincidentally drove past blues ground an hour before kick off i said to my missus shall we go, the games on there playing Blackburn, i had a good feeling. she said no we can go another time. one of the only times ive ever been thankful for listening to her

  • Raymondo says:

    We might as well sack the man now. I’m sure he thinks he knows what he’s doing but I think that any of us could pick a better team.

    • Mezz says:

      As my Dad said to me after the game you could have asked 30k Blues fans and not one would have picked or even dreamed up that back 4 as it was so clearly not an option that would work.

      • Tony says:

        Hate to say this but I was right most of you were wrong, the man is a complete disaster, a disgrace and without any sort of moral fibre, he has not the decency to walk.
        He could not manage a sunday league team, he should have been sacked after the Barnsley debacle last year..
        One can only wonder at his thinking just what is going on in his mind ?and to think the club payed for him to visit Barcelona to study how they do things, my god. Put him on Gardening leave, humiliate him as much as possible get him putting the white lines down on the pitch maybe then he will crawl away back up the north east.

        • Chas says:

          Very silly, Tony . Why humiliate the Bloke , he has tried and found wanting, lets keep a sense of perspective

        • OftenPartisan says:

          Tony

          What’s it like to live a life so fuelled with hate, vitriol and bile? Dude, relax…

          • Tony says:

            Dan I have said from day 1 the guy is useless he is not good enough ,and you and others have defended him. Well the chickens have come home to roost, and look where we are, I make no apologies for attacking Clark just get him out.
            Why humiliate him? well he humiliates himself every game we play he has no shame if he had he would walk. Chas you talk of a sense of perspective but we are on the verge of relegation with a team easily good enough for midtable the perspective is real and its happening.Clark has been found wanting for almost two years, he couldnt get a job as a pit pony
            I defy anyone to explain to me that team selection Im not an unreasonable man I want to understand I really do.

  • Dino Tiltoni says:

    Absolutely spot on. We laughed in the pub when we saw the side, thinking like you it was a misprint. We weren’t laughing at half time and I even wondered if someone had bought the game. Clark has learning difficulties, he takes nothing on board. Constantly changing the team and the formation helps no-one, the players must be as confused as we are. There seems no way other than down.

    • Andrew says:

      You are one of many who would have looked twice to see how the team would have fitted to a normal blues line up. then only to stand bemused at the strange choice of a manager who now seems to not care.

  • edd77 says:

    Disgraceful no passion fight ,and to start with that defence and wait till we 3 0 down to change it ,when every1 in the ground at 0 0 could see what was coming is unforgivable,the absolute least you expect is to play defenders in their positions when he changed it we won the rest of match 2 1,he had 4 players out of position ,you save that for friendlies clark ,massive school boy error

  • Richard Granfield says:

    I have always defended Lee Clark due to the lack of resources at his disposal. However the back four on Saturday, made up of 20/21 yearolds with little first team experience and all played out of position bar Thorpe defied belief.
    Since his appointment in June 2012 he has chopped and changed the team and still doesn’t know his best first eleven. I am sad to say this but Blues are one of the 3 worst teams in the division.

  • tmsblues says:

    Put Clark on gardening leave which will cost nothing but may just save the team. Clark has more midfielders than you can poke a stick at and he plays Caddis there. You are so right. Clark is and has been the problem for ages.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    We need to recall Hayden Mullins from Nott’s County to give some experience to the back four.

    • Andrew says:

      I never want to see mullins in a blues shirts again! an the same goes to ambrose, lovenkrands, shinnie and all the loan wasters that are just not good enough to play for blues, especially when we have players in those positions on our books that have shown more effective. lingard was a great signing at the start of the season, but to just think we can dip into man utds other youth team for players and unearth a gem is wildly naive.

  • JJ says:

    It’s outrageous for Lee Clarke to defend his selection by saying that no-one was played out of position; if that’s the case, why did he move Caddis back to right back, Packwood to centre half and Callum Reilly back to midfield at half time, after which we won the second half 2-0? Why not play Mitch Hancox for the first half instead of the second? It’s like Wigan taking penalties against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi Final – why leave your best to last? It might be too late by then. Dreadful.

    • Andrew says:

      I sympathise with him but i think hes given up and just showing to the world that he cannot work with what he has. a bad work man blames his tools but by the same token the tools(players) he has bring choclate and fireguard to mind. no excuse still as there are thousands of fans who come to watch a team perform, who pay very dearly to do so

  • RichardM says:

    The only positives from Monday is that we’re stil in control of our own destiny and Gray’s 1st senior goal. Other than that shambolic. It’s alreaby been pointed out on here by several others the farcical team selection. I’d have a lot more respect for him if he’d simply put his hands up at the end of the match and say “OK, I got it wrong, I take responsibility” rather than the derisory justification he tried to give for this abomination. I’ve had a lot of sympathy for LC this season, but Monday’s team selection really displayed to all (or should have displayed to all) his own shortcomings as a manager, absolute hit and hope. I’m now wondering if Clark walked (and we put Beale and Watson in charge till the end of the season), what difference would it make? Would anybody notice?

  • tmsblues says:

    Said to my son at the start of the season that the Leeds (he supports em) might just put us down. Sadly it might be right ! They are in a mess but they have the challenge of playing for new contracts with the Italian owners whereas what do our loanees and ‘out of contracters’ have particularly when being picked by a looney tunes boss with no future? If we have potential new owners in the offing then I just hope they have all got relegation clauses in the small print cos this lot might be worth nothing minus a pay off to the most scatterbrain manager I think we have ever seen!

  • Mezz says:

    When I saw the team I thought not brilliant but at last he is playing people in correct positions i.e. Caddis at RB Reily in CM Packwood and Thorpe at CB and Blacket at LB. When I saw them line up before kick off I was utterly amazed at it. Of course within the first 2 min Reily got skinned alive and the ball over Blacket had no idea where to position himself. The thing that really boils my blood is that within 5min we all could see that it wasn’t working and he had the players on the pitch to move it around to play their correct positions no sub needed. Then we concede the first goal does he change it then… NO then we go 2 down still no change, only when we were 3 nil down and effectively any hope of a positive result gone does he actually change it to how it should have been. Sorry but that is bang poor inexcusable management. Now I have said for 2 seasons under this manager no matter what players we have the Curtis Davies or kids on loan we have always been shockingly organised at the back. I’ve never known us to be so easy to beat and so clueless in any attacking game plan. That isnt the players it can’t be over 2 seasons its the setup and the way they are drilled which is Lee Clark’s job. Make no mistake under this guy we are heading down if he isn’t gone by before Leeds we have had it. He again will play players out of position and we will probably lose and actually only look half decent after he changes it to how he should have started and come out after and say we won the 2nd half and I dont know why the players didnt do that in the first half. Sadly Mr Clark we know why this is and its not rocket science!!!!!

  • Andrew says:

    Hey maybe if clark does somehow leave we can get david moyes in to replace him. heard he may be looking for a new club ;)

  • Sam says:

    The sad thing for me is I didn’t even have the energy to boo at h/t f/t as it was so envitable. The lack of leadership was so evident on the pitch too, I thought that was the best Rodney (Zigic) has played for a while, infuriating as he is I’d start with him !

  • The Timms says:

    Tombola Clark strikes again!

  • Oldbluenose says:

    I have always been in the camp that said — Give the guy a chance — At times, everyone and his dog finds both his team line up and his tactics totally bewildering, but Saturdays line up and the failure to remedy it until far too late, takes the biscuit, !!.

  • Pete says:

    Not only the team selection, he can’t have done any homework on Blackburn. Their strengths were in the air and down the wings. So we play inexperienced full backs and our tallest players were on the bench. Proper muppet, if he had any dignity he would resign and give last months wages to the Blues Trust. In terms of backing, I think the fans have been good since the Anti Carson protest a few months back, plenty of atmosphere, and a great rendition of ‘Your nothing special, we’re useless at home’ when the third trickled in

  • bluedaddio says:

    I have to say that i am a little bit worried TBH. with the vacant managers seat at old trafford, they might be after Lee Clark.


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