Often Partisan

Hope and Expectation – Norwich match reflections

Birmingham City were held to a goalless draw by Norwich City yesterday in freezing conditions at St Andrews. Shots on target were at a premium as both sides defended stoutly with both Paul Robinson and Jonathan Spector excelling at the back.

Although it wasn’t the most electrifying of games I’m quite mystified by the reaction of some afterwards; it appears that the run of wins that Blues had in the early part of Gary Rowett’s reign has made some think we should be beating all-comers at St Andrews. Blues were definitely set up to play on the counter, with Lloyd Dyer, Dimmi Gray and David Cotterill all tasked to break quickly when a Norwich attack broke down. It’s a setup Blues have had some success with this season, beating Reading 6-1 in exactly the same manner; the difference being that Ruddy and his defenders were in far better fettle than Federici and his cohorts were for Reading.

Although Blues struggled at times to get their passing game going – Cotterill being particularly wasteful in the second half – I think that there were some flashes of what Blues could do. Had Dimmi Gray been able to get any more purchase on Gleeson’s through ball in the first half we’d have all been talking about a wonder-goal; Gleeson spotting the teenager’s run and lifting a delicate pass fifty yards forward that caught both Ruddy and the Norwich defence wondering who should go for it; Dimmi was almost in but his outstretched boot could only touch the ball into Ruddy’s relieved hands. Likewise, Lloyd Dyer showed a flash of what he could do breaking into the Norwich box having beaten three men only to find Ruddy firmly block his shot at the near post.

The real bonus for me was at the back; when Jerome came on I thought we could be in big trouble because of his pace and indeed, the first time he broke it did look like he was going to get in behind. However, Spector and Robinson not only defended well but as a partnership – covering each other and giving each other an out-ball. Spector looked strong on his second game back after injury and although I fear (based on his past) that he may be injured again soon I think we’ve seen that he can do a job for the team. Robinson never ceases to surprise me; I thought he was shot last year but under Rowett he seems have improved again; no last ditch tackles clocking up the yellow cards but more of a steady presence at the back and a thoughtful passer of the ball.

I do agree Blues need to bring in players; the squad today picked itself with only three other senior players (Mark Duffy, Reece Brown and Koby Arthur) being fit and more than anything I think that shows there is a slight lack of balance in the squad. Yes, we’re unlucky in that we’ve got three centre-backs out (Gunning, Morrison and Packwood) but I also think there is a lack of cover at the back following the departures of Eardley, Hall and Edgar. Thankfully, from what I hear the club expect to be busy over the next couple of days and while that is no guarantee of anyone coming in I don’t think it will be for the lack of effort. I think some people need to realise that it’s a game of bluff over this transfer window; teams are reluctant to let some players go til they have to; players are reluctant to commit when they think that there may be a better offer on the table – it’s not just a case of Blues sitting around with their thumbs in their posteriors (or sending tweets) doing nothing.

The honeymoon period may have come to a close but I’m still a firm believer in the Rowett Revolution; Blues have gone from being unable to win at home to being hard to beat; from heads dropping at the first sign of trouble to being firm and resolute. It may mean a few games where Blues are grinding out results but I’ll happily take that over the way we were playing under the former management; I go to games with hope that we may win and do well rather than the expectation that we’re going to see another horror show – and that is all I ask for at this moment in time.

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61 Responses to “Hope and Expectation – Norwich match reflections”

  • chas says:

    Spot on,Daniel. Very good point against a very good Team.only compliant from me was the cold.

  • Lee says:

    i actually went to that game thinking we’d lose it, we dug in and earned that point, that’ll do for me

  • Eddie says:

    Sorry to go on a tangent,
    but does anyone know how I can follow the games out here in Worcester.

    Tom Ross didn’t cover it yesterday and neither did BBC WM, I’ve tried paying for Blues Player, but cant get it to work on an iPad.

    When we were Prem, I could watch every game on line, now I cant even get radio coverage

    • Fanny Schmeller says:

      How about you just get on the train and get off at Snow Hill in town, then walk to St Andrews?

      Also serves you right having an IPad. I have a HTC phone, that lets me play the audio commentey for away games (as I’m a season ticket owner) when I’m out and about.

    • alexjhurley says:

      Move house?

    • Raymondo says:

      The annoying thing about Radio WM and Freeview 80 (95.6 FM and 1152A..M.) is that time and time again they both cover the same match and Radio WM just says “those of you in the Birmingham area can listen to the Blues match on Digital Radio”. I’ve sent e-mails to both stations asking why they don’t get together and arrange for say, one to cover the Blues match and the other to cover the Villa but they don’t even have the courtesey to reply. Like you I live about 30 miles from Birmingham in the Ashby-de-la-Zouch area and can’t pick up the Digital Radio coverage. They both covered the Wolves match yesterday to give a typical example of their behaviour pattern. If I can’t go I just have to resort to Livescore.com on the internet.

    • philip says:

      try google uk tv the commentary is always on there

    • Stephen Wood says:

      Welcome to the Championship my friend . Anything outside of the Prem is a little Mary Celeste! It does not exist ! Any football reports in the National Dailys you will need a Magnifying glass to find . Stick with Often Partisan for anything detailed. May i also suggest you can get a scrolling match report if you Search Birmingham Mail Web site on match days. I also find it annoying when both Radio WM & BRMB report from the same match as was the case of the Wolves game. Plus they reported the Villa Away match on WM last week when Blues were at home to Baggies . Nonsense
      Good luck Dude

  • krosotv says:

    very good summary.

  • Art says:

    I’m a little stunned at some of the negatives comments I’ve read on other forums about GR,his team selection and tactics.

    This is only my opinion but I can’t think of many managers who could have turned this club around in such a short time and has almost guaranteed survival in this league.

    I’m completely baffled by the moaners!

    • Raymondo says:

      Unfortunately Art there always are the perfectionist moaners who are never satisfied. If we get new owners and a bottomless pit full of money they’ll still go on moaning and moaning and………..Just ignore them. KRO

    • Fanny Schmeller says:

      Probably Villa fans in disguise, trying to stir up trouble. As their the only type to B*tch and moan about every manager they’ve had.

    • steve says:

      It would be pretty boring if people didn’t have different point of views. I am one of those moaners that wasn’t happy with GR selection against WBA. If Gray and Zigic or Thomas had started,i think we’d have beaten them. It doesn’t mean i don’t think he’s done a brilliant job. It just means i won’t kiss his arse every week. If i think he’s messed i will say so. After all i spend a lot of money watching Blues.

  • Steve says:

    Catch a train to Birmingham or drive to St Andrews and watch the game?

  • Jaffa says:

    How can anyone be moaning.what Rowettt has done is nothing more than a miracle.We won’t beat everyone and we won’t play well every game.We have become a hard team to beat and that will do for me.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Bore draw but a good draw and another clean sheet but also another goalless game but no complaints from me…that’s won8 drawn5 and lost3 under Gary rowett …not bad when we only won 2 of our first 14 games in the league … Now Fulham next Saturday and looking forward to a nice trip down to London and three points to move us on to 40 for the season!! Kro

  • Stevie W says:

    Dan my sentiments entirely, some Bluenoses seem to have forgotten the dire stuff served up before GR and it is GR that has taken those same players and turned them into a more gutsy team.

    The honeymoon maybe over but the revolution continues

  • Texas Pete says:

    A great analysis and view of the game, Dan.
    I totally rely on this website for my Blues fix. I can only say that some snotty responses to Eddie’s desire to get access to matches is because of the level of commitment to the club by OP followers. However attending worship at St Andrews depends on circumstances of individuals. Collectively we want to draw people in, so helping fans who do not attend is very important. In the 21st Century my best access to live coverage is Brian Dick’s telegraph readouts which is insanely frustrating.I dont understand why I cannot buy an online (season or individual) ticket for the privilege of watching every game live via the internet. This season i have seen only Wolves, Notts Forest and W Brom via cable. Come on blues, there must be ten thousand homeaway and awayaway fans waiting with their wallets open, for this to happen.

    • Shirley Blue says:

      Pete – for you ex-pats (and I may be one too one day when I retire) I can completely understand how you feel but that sort of service you have suggested could have a significant negative impact on crowds. We struggle to fill half the ground for home games as I it without people being able to sit at home and watch the game live on the Internet at presumably much lower cost than going to the games. For the Man U’s and Arsenals where demand for tickets exceeds supply doing what you suggest makes good commercial sense. For clubs like the Blues it could be financially disasterous.

      • Smudge says:

        As another expat living States side i fully understand Pete’s problem. Every week i trawl the internet looking for reliable feeds and also rely on the measured reports (for everything blues related) by OP. Thanks. The online newspapers seem more concerned with everything premier league. The one thing i have managed to do recently is to subscribe to the digital match day programme and purchase the season review dvd’s. As a general comment the football over here is covered quite well but i have enjoyed more coverage of the early Championship games, so as a football fan i am happy but as a blues fan would like more (never happy lol).

    • Beegeeblueboy says:

      Don’t blame BCFC. It’s to do with what rights have been sold by the Football League.

  • garconsavage says:

    As a born and bred Brummie well stricken in years sadly I have to admit that my fellows like to moan.

    As my old mum (God Bless Her) used to say, “some folks are only happy when they are miserable!!”

  • mark says:

    tbh it was one of those games to forget…..i can see why zigic is not first choice striker…..

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I don’t think there was anything wrong with the line up yesterday, but we didn’t really get the three behind Donaldson going. When the opposition use the same tactics against us, it will inevitably end in stalemate… unless we can change tactics slightly within the game, to get our ‘flair’ players into the game more.

    Since Dyer came in, we’ve not used him properly. He’s getting the ball so late, he has his back to goal and a defender up his a*se. We need to get him facing forward in space and give him an early pass. Then he can do what he does best, attack the space behind the full back and get crosses in. That was highlighted with the pass for Ground’s goal against the Albion.

    Cotterill, apart from the odd goal has been very wasteful lately, especially from free kicks and corners. How about someone else having a go now and again? Some of his infield passes are extremely sloppy at times and will inevitably lead to us conceding. Maybe a couple of games on the bench will help him refocus. The only other thing I would say, is that Donaldson can’t always do it on his own. Other than those things, I didn’t see too much wrong yesterday… and a point was a good result. Full marks to our defence again.

  • chudlt says:

    I agree with Dan when he talks about raised expectations since the teams improvement. Unfortunately the crowd increase has meant a return of some of the moaners who still think we have a Premiership squad and should beat all comers. The seats next to me was occupied by Mr. Happy. He ripped Cotterill apart the whole game. Loudly applauded Norwich substitution when Cameron came on but did not applaud when Zigic was brought on!!! Sometimes I think it’s better when the ground is full of the 14000 or so die hard fans who support the team through thick and thin.

    • Dave Mann says:

      Chudlt, could not agree more, I had more run inns with the part time supporters against the baggies last week than I do when the real hardcore blues fans turn up every time at st . Andrews like yesterday … They just turn up and criticise and moan and I just tell them to shut it and give me your opinion when I see you more often and then I might just listen and take note but until then no way…having a go at players you can’t be bothered to turn up and see when they do go down doesent help us all the team but then many will say that they are entitled to there opinion..I beg to differ but that’s just my opinion and I know it’s not appreciated by many fans but then that’s not my problem just my opinion! Kro

  • Mineheadblue says:

    The glass is absolutely, definitely half full and not half empty!!!!!!!!

  • blusnoserob says:

    I have complete confidence in GR , we don’t have the players to boss every game.But we can go into every game now knowing we are going to compete.This is a complete change from LC.RC has given us a team to be proud of and one to cheer on .We can look forward to the rest of the season when before only the most optimistic of blues fans could see anything but relegation.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Arsenal have stomped the Vile 5-0 today. A addition or two to our ranks tomorrow and it will have been a decent week all told. :)

  • Dave Mann says:

    Yeah as le tissiere said it wasent a 5-0 game, IMO it should have been an 8-0 game! …10 hours and 6 and a half games in the premier league without scoring ….worst record in all four divisions with 11 goals and Donaldson as scored 12 in all competitions .. Absolutely pathetic and lambert should be given a new 5 year contract to take into the championship with him next season for is fantastic end to end attacking football..see you next season scumbags!!! Kro

  • rhees says:

    Draw was better than expected Norwich will be in play offs poss promoted good point.
    Go on harry rowett

  • Blues girl says:

    Who’s Harry Rowett?

  • Alf Tanner says:

    Should be a place for Zigic..no one mentioned his knock down in the last couple of minutes when Shinnie should have done mutch better..but overall a good hard earned piont….

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Stuart Pearce sacked by Forest…. and replaced by Dougie Freedman. :S

  • Shirley Blue says:

    Friedman – that is a strange decision. Nearly as useless as LC. At least they havnt come sniffing round Rowett.

  • Beegeeblueboy says:

    Until there’s investment we are a mid-table team. If you’re disappointed that your playoffs expectation are not being filled then adjust your sights

    • Raymondo says:

      Of course and if because of CY’s interference in th club’s owners business recently we could get a ten pont deduction then of course adjust their sights. Supporters have gone from one extreme to the other lately and common sense needs to prevail. Survival is attanable and promotion is a bit ambitious. Still, I wouldn’t object to it. But wouldn’t we get slaughtered in the Prem? Just like Leicester is getting now. It’s such a huge step up i n quality. As I’ve said before the only way you will get even steven in the Premiership is if there is a limit imposed on transfer fees and wages, as in American soccer leagues. Fat chance since Sky sport!

      • StaffsBlue says:

        My sights are set on the same target as before the season began. I always thought this squad was capable of a top half finish (10th-12th,) and I’ve seen no reason to alter that target… unless of course we’re a few points away from the play offs by April. Top half will be a cracking season considering our circumstances.

  • Alf Tanner says:

    Why was my comment earlier not published ? …Thank you…

    • almajir says:

      Because the auto-moderation filter picked it up, and unbelievably I’m not around 24/7 to monitor them. I’ve mentioned before on here that sometimes people need to be patient…

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Unconfirmed reports that Denny Johnstone has signed for Cheltenham Town on loan. It’s a step up from Macclesfield I suppose.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Marcus Nilsson a Swedish international centre half 26 being mentioned for blues..we’re see!! Kro

  • StaffsBlue says:

    According to Sky Sports: “We understand Bournemouth have put in a fifth bid for Birmingham winger Demarai Gray. It’s a cash bid of £5m and we understand that’s been rejected by Birmingham.”

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