Often Partisan

Shuffling the Pack

Gary Rowett has talked today in his pre-match press conference about the need for the players on the sidelines to step up to the plate with his squad facing six games in the next nineteen days before the next international break.

With Blues flying in fourth position, it’s easy to understand why fans don’t want to see anything changed team-wise. Unbeaten in seven games in all competitions this season, Blues look a team apart from the one that was about to get Lee Clark sacked at this stage last season – and with a certain cup match to follow in the next two weeks I’m with those who are adamant the best squad needs to be available to play.

I think the first thing to take into consideration is that I doubt Rowett is looking to make wholesale changes. I think more than anything Rowett is anxious that players like Andrew Shinnie, David Davis and Jacques Maghoma can come into the team and allow it continue playing in the same manner it has done this season – something I’m fairly confident they can.

Admittedly, Blues are a bit lighter in defence – a personal bugbear – but I think we have to accept Rowett’s faith in players like Paul Robinson and Shane Lowry to be able to give cover for the centre-back slots; and hope that Neal Eardley and Mitch Hancox can offer the same likewise for the full-back positions if needed.

One thing I’d like to see – and I understand how this will be difficult – is someone like Nicolai Brock-Madsen given some match time. Clayton Donaldson is essential for the way we play and I’d rather see him not run into the ground; I’m interested in what Brock-Madsen has to offer and why Rowett was prepared to gazump a Russian Premier League side and offer a four-year deal to bring him in.

Like everything, the next few weeks will be a test of the Blues squad and of Rowett himself; whether there is the stamina in the squad to play so many games in such rapid succession and whether Rowett can shuffle his pack enough to keep everyone fit,  happy and winning. Based on prior performance, I think it’s a test that he can pass – and I have a hope that come that international break Blues will still be in the sort of spot in the table they occupy now as well as be in the hat for the next round of the cup.

Speaking of cups, I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Blues Ladies on their FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup quarter-final win against Chelsea yesterday. Despite having a much superior team on paper Chelsea found it hard to break down Blues and a Jo Potter free kick special was enough to put Blues into the last four. It’s been a tough season for the Ladies but the last few weeks have shown marked improvement and maybe some hope that despite the financial disparity in the league they can still compete.

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45 Responses to “Shuffling the Pack”

  • KC says:

    Current strategy is working. Stay with it. Players look very motivated and want to play. Make the changes as and when the players start to look jaded either in training or during the games. Don’t make changes just to give back up players game time. GR’s tactical substitutions and the timing of them has been superb. Have every confidence in the current back up players in the wider squad of approximately 26 but don’t change a winning team unless there is a real need or reason.

  • Rob says:

    Share your worries defensively. Day off today so popped to watch U21’s. If we end up having to rely on Hancox or Eardly then I don’t hold much confidence. MH particularly would worry me. Still, it’s impossible to not trust Rowett to get it right

  • paul hawkins says:

    As much as I can understand the idea of utilising the squad, I can also see the idea of keeping a settled team as best you can. I was at the game on Saturday and I was excited about how Blues were good at going forward. Donaldson is a real work horse and doesn’t know when to quit,Demari Gray just keeps getting better and Cotterill is class. The Arsenal loanee is a player for the future.
    This really is a new dawn for Blues and we really can gradually move forward. If we can just get the ownership sorted then it really is great times ahead for everybody connected with Birmingham City

  • Lee says:

    Whatever happens, happens, bottom line is the players in the squad can all come on and bring something to the table, particullarly going forward, and I feel that whoever plays understands the role and will give 100%, sorry for being lazy but can anyone tell me what happens if it’s a draw after 90 minutes next week?

  • DoctorD says:

    This is where a manager earns his corn. Don’t give other players a chance and then, if your main guys get injured, you’ll be accused of never having giving others match time to fit in the team. Change the players to give some a rest and you’ll be accused of tinkering.

  • andy says:

    All successful teams are based on keeping the same 11 week in, week out, in the old days it was the way to win the league! Having said that, I trust that players such as, Brock- Madsen, Davies and Maghoma all have the ability to keep the steamroller going when called upon. In answer to your question Lee, there has to be a winner on the night next week. Extra time then Pens if needed.

  • Dave Mann says:

    I would bring shinnie , maghoma , Davis & Robinson In for tomorrow because I believe we can beat forest without Toral , gray, gleeson & Morrison and then revert back to main team for Ipswich Friday .. Just my opinion . Kro

  • Dave Mann says:

    Can’t rest Donaldson after Saturday .. We’re only in the second week of September so there’s no excuse for tiredness it’s just injuries that we worry about . Kro

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I’d leave the team as is for the Forest game, then rest two or three (maybe Gleeson, Gray and Donaldson) on Friday ready for the cup game.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Fair point because the vile said there gonna play there best team against us and so will we so best team forest and changes for Ipswich makes sense , yeah I think we’re go that way staffs. Kro

  • Lee says:

    We play Ipswich on the Friday, that leaves in effect 4 days till the vile game, no need to rest anyone, particularly for a game like that, if you can’t be fired up for that kind of game you shouldn’t be playing, I’m hoping the fact we have a settled side and they’re full of Johnny foreigners it’ll give us the edge, our lads will know exactly how important that game is

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    A different challenge for GR and intriguing to see how he’s going to change things. Maghoma I see as the obvious one coming in for Tirol or Gray. The real conundrum for me is how you give Donaldson a much needed rest when he is so integral to our shape and the way we play. Brock-Madsen needs his chance to show what he can do eventually so I hope he’s got a good engine on him if GR decides he’s ready.

  • andy says:

    So long as the players are fit and eager to play, changes are not needed for any game and I know every player wants to play against the vile

  • ChrisG says:

    I’m really surprised that GR didn’t bring Clayton off with about 5 mins left on saturday to give the fans chance to show their appreciation of his hat trick & also give Brock-Madsen a run out. My worry is that GR doesn’t have a plan B as he seems reluctant to make changes, he also seems to make the same substitutions every game, then on the other hand I suppose there is a case for “if it ain’t broke don’t try & fix it”!.

    • Waycoolblue says:

      Well we played the same 4-2-3-1 BUT Gray and Cottrell where higher up the pitch and Toral occupied the space depending on witch of them was up. That is the plan B Plan A is what we are use to.
      So GR as a plan B we just seen it in action V Bristol City.

      • ChrisG says:

        That’s not exactly what I would call a plan B mate, pushing 2 players further forward in the same formation, a plab B for me would be changing the system altogether i.e 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 etc

  • David L says:

    Will Wenger insist that Toral isn’t cup tied, making him unavailable for next week?

    Given a choice would people go for 6 points but getting knocked out of the cup, or 3 points and a cup win?

    I know I might get marmalised for this, but I’d go for the points any day.

  • Dave Mann says:

    We’ve got him on loan all season so don’t know if that will make any difference .. That is actually a great question because there point from these two games and a definite win against the vile would propably suit me to be honest purely because of our start to the season .. If we were bottom four then it’s six points all day ! Kro

  • Dave Mann says:

    There means three , sorry . Kro

    • atko says:

      I think we have the potential to win all 3. None of the 3 teams….Forest, Ipswich or Villa are playing well at the moment & all are beatable by this Blues team. I’d be disappointed & I think GR will too if we lost any of these games given our performances to date. I’d rather not look at the “which would you prefer” scenario given the way we are playing & the opposition we are talking about going off current form.

  • oldburyblue says:

    I think I would prefer a full strength team start tomorrow but with 2 early second half substitutions to give at least 2 key players a rest and 2 off the bench some decent play-time. As for our Ladies…I really enjoyed the game on Sunday and it was brilliant to see again that money isn’t everything in dictating results.

  • Bluey says:

    I`d play as strong a team as possible for the league games and give some a rest for the vile match. Much prefer 4 or 6 points than a cup victory even against Aston.

  • Adam True Blue says:

    As much as I want us to thrash the vile, I think the 6 points are more important with us maintaining the momentum we have gained and keeping the belief in the team, plus I do believe our second team would beat the vile anyway. Kro

  • Shirley Blue says:

    I am probably going to get a fair bit of stick for saying this but don’t be too surprised to see weakened teams for the cup game next Tuesday. Especially for Villa every Premiership point is precious for survival and has got to be their priority. I would say GR would also take a couple of League wins over the next week or so rather than winning the cup game. Sherwood and Rowett are professionals not fans – they will see it different to us.

    • Dave Mann says:

      Cockney Clark as already said that he’s playing is strongest team against Blues so can’t see weaken teams next Tuesday Shirley. Kro

      • Shirley Blue says:

        Cant see that happening Dave. He has got West Brom the weekend before which he probably sees as a must win game and Liverpool the weekend after who are very beatable at the moment. I cant see him putting his best team out three times in a week. To be honest I dont give a stuff about the Vile or the League cup game. We havnt got a big enough squad to sustain a top 6 place and a prolonged cup run. If we could get 6 or 7 points from Forest, Ipswich and Brentford we could go top two.

  • atko says:

    I think he might go for a similar team to the one he played in the last round for the cup with possibly Brock-Madsen making his debut & Clayton on the bench given that Thomas isn’t here. I think those that he might rest he might have on the bench in case they are needed. He will know the importance of the game to the fans so expect more first teamers on the bench in the hope they aren’t needed. I think the reason we haven’t seen anything of Brock-Madsen is he needs to see first hand the system we play & get him up to scratch with that system. It would be unfair to him to throw him in there & then have some fans on his back from the start if he cannot adapt to it straight off. Had we have gone 3 or 4 up without reply on Saturday I think he might have come on but the fact we conceded left the game still in the balance for a large part of the game. Brock-Madsen is here to bring something different to Blues but we could look at it like as he hasn’t been called upon yet then Plan A is working well & we all want that ;)

  • Ken says:

    If you look at GR’s record since he came and extrapolate it over 46 games…that is promotion form. From that its clear he knows what he is doing in terms of strategy, tactics, player management etc…they all play with a smile on their face so its clear they all respect him and want to play for him. From his comments today…well firstly he’s hardly likely to discuss pre-match tactics in the media so its obvious he’s just talking generally. For instance, no manager in his right mind would “rest” a player who’s just scored a hat-trick! I think he might well be preparing people to the idea that the Capital One cup team will indeed face the vile nxt week….if not, then he has to keep those players happy in another way and that would mean dropping players for league games from his “best” team

    • Hvala Obafemi says:

      You’re quite right – he really does know what he’s doing – great isn’t it?

      I agree that the match we play with the most changes from the “norm” will be against the sh*te – mainly because it’s a midweek game in the middle of the mini-glut of games, rather than it being a cup game – albeit not just any cup game. But I’d say it would be 3-5 changes, rather than the whole shebang. He knows what that match means to us because of the opposition, and he might just fancy a little cup run in any case, so I can’t see him tinkering across the board.

      In all fairness, we need to have faith in the guys that have to come into the frame when any of the current regulars are off form/suspended/injured/knackered, so some changes will need to be phased in at some stage to ensure those on the sidelines keep their hand in. Rowett is clearly very keen on avoiding square pegs in round holes – and that’s a massive reason why we’re doing so well right now – and I’ll happily trust his judgement of when is the best time to make those changes.

      I just hope the historians are uged to treat it like a cup final (rabbits in headlights – no shots on target etc, etc), in which case we could stop worrying and get away with resting everyone and playing the Blues Ladies team.

  • swissjonny says:

    A great win on Saturday.Sorry but I really dont care about the Vile game.I dislike this tawdry collection of tossers as much as anyone but we need to play with our heads and not our hearts.A cup run with our stream lined squad is a bridge too far.Give the fringe players a start and lets see what they can do.A couple of injuries or a red card or two in this game could really impact on the traction and momentum that we have in the league right now.
    What a great position Trillion are in right now.I dont think that the football club have seen much if any of the promised cash.So for little or no investment they may have a potential premier league side on their hands.What a great deal for them!! However with the rumpus in the Chinese economy and markets getting value from the listing may be nigh on impossible.

    • AdamTrueBlue says:

      I have to agree with you SJ, I see the lack lustre Vile trying to hit us hard and nothing would please them more than an injury to Donaldson, Gray or Toral which is something we can not afford with our squad, If we beat the Vile with our second team then even bigger bragging rights, if we did lose then we only fielded our second bow and would leave us with the league to concentrate on, but as I said in an earlier post I really believe our ‘Bench’ boys woul;d turn over the pink and blues. Kro

    • Waycoolblue says:

      I want to beat the vile and get all 6 Points in the league. I don’t care if we get knocked out the cup after stuffing the Vile. just us beating them and shutting them up. its one game not a cup run we have been there dun that. KRO SOTV..

  • darren says:

    clearly rowett is warming everyone up to resting players against the vile, like we did against west brom last yr, which is disappointing but prob the right thing to do for the league.

    However the lost to the albion last yr had a knock on effect in the league – so keeping a winning mentality is not to be underestimated.

    I cant understand why he didnt take donaldson off on sat with 15 mins to go, the game was won, but in GR we trust

  • Andrew says:

    A couple of injuries or loss of form to just one of those players right now or in the near future would be devastating to say the least and is a probability when fatigue sets in to the team. We do not want players burnt out so rowett needs to bed some of them into the team with real match time. The thing is you should never change a winning team or formula. Davis and magoma have had a few cameo 15-30 minutes so I am sure they are OK to come in but when you start to mess with the back four it gets difficult. Manager will work it out, he’s been with us long enough to know his players and what to expect from them. I just hope we don’t take any risks. It would be nice to beat the villa, give em a game, but at what expense? I’d rather we get beat gracefully and keep our squad fresh for the more important league games as a cup run I just don’t think we have the squad for.

  • Dave P says:

    Dan, you’re right about the financial gulf in the WPL becoming a bit of a concern, especially when you consider the owners of Man City Ladies “paid” for their inclusion into the WPL when they finished fourth in the division below, nowhere near a promotion place a couple of seasons back, see below.

    Football unfortunately is well and truly elitist at all levels and it’s nice to see so-called unglamourous clubs doing well against the perceived better clubs. Congratulations to the Blues LFC and let’s look to another three points at St’Ans tonight! KRO SOTV

  • Texas Pete says:

    We are very fortunate with the sequence of the three games. The choice to change the team comes after each game. The league cup being the last and most likely to offer/need changes. So go for an unchanged team tonight (Brock madsun on at 75mins). Ipswich away game strategy (same as home games and swap outs in 2nd half). Then depending on health and the results acheived field the best avaiable team. I hope other players get an opportunity to be a full part of a rotating squad.
    Anyway first off its defeat of forest and 2nd position.

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