Often Partisan

Dare To Dream: Leeds Reflections

Birmingham City made it two away wins in a week with a convincing display away to Leeds United.

Here are my reflections on the game (admittedly based on watching from a dodgy internet stream).

An outstanding performance

First off, I want to pay tribute to the quality of the performance. Every single player had a good or better game; every single player knew what their role was and played it well. Much credit has to go to Gary Rowett, who has tweaked things well bringing back David Davis to give a little extra bite in the middle.

Despite Blues not having anything like the majority of possession, to me they never looked really in danger. I know people harp on about Blues not having the ball but I think it works well; both goals came from good counter attacks which caught the Leeds defence flat-footed and both were finished with some aplomb.

Gleeson’s ball forward for Donaldson at the start of the move for the first was delicious and although Donaldson’s first touch was heavy he was able to do enough to bring in Gray who had done his job in getting up with the striker to support the move. Gray’s finish reminded me of his hat-trick goal against Reading – pulling the ball to the right side of the area in the clear and then lashing it home giving the keeper no chance.

Maghoma’s goal came after Blues had been under the cosh for a while and it was everything I would want from him; a strong, incisive break and a clean finish to wrap the game up. While his miss across the expressway hurt I think the Congolese winger gives us another option wide and I can see why Rowett brought him in.

No need for a plan B?

With two wins, six points, four goals for and none against Blues fans have every right to be happy with the week’s work – and a few are using it as a reason to lash out at anyone who criticised Rowett or the team in the wake of the defeat to Rotherham. I think this is misguided; both wins this week came away from home in situations where we were expected to be able to play on the counter; I think we do need a little more work at home against teams who shut up shop.

The reintroduction of Davis is an interesting one because I think in some ways that is a tweak that could help things; especially as both wingers became more wide forwards and were more advanced in support of Donaldson. I wonder if that could be the basis for a plan B – ie take out the attacking midfielder to ensure we have the bodies to recycle possession in midfield and push the two wide men up to support Donaldson so the defence has much more to think about.

I still would like us to look out for a nippy forward to bring on so that we can use pace against tiring defences; I agree that we shouldn’t bring players in for the sake of it and I would like to believe Rowett is always looking at players who might be able to improve the team on the off chance he can actually get one of them in.

The “P” Word

Is it too soon to be talking about the “P” word? Probably, yes – the season is long and with Mitch Hancox gone to Crawley on loan Blues have (until the return of Shinnie and Eardley) 18 fit senior pros – with Alex Jones, Connal Trueman, Reece Brown, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Charlie Adams as youngsters to add to the squad.

As always I’m concerned we haven’t the depth for a serious charge – but look at it this way: In 43 games Gary Rowett has secured 70 championship points. It’s getting harder and harder to deny that Blues don’t have a chance if they can maintain things as they are. Can we dare to dream?

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66 Responses to “Dare To Dream: Leeds Reflections”

  • Richard Granfield says:

    In the last few weeks I have posted that Gray needs to be relieved of as much defensive responsibility as possible.
    The last 2 games, with Davis in the side, HAS allowed Gray to do what he is best at….Attack.
    I hope Gary continues with this 4-3-3 system in home games. Donaldson, Cotterill and Gray interchanging positions creates panic in opposing defences.

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    The Stats again told we only had 32% of possession and 5 corners to their 13. Playing away suits our style of play and Clayton Donaldson ….well where has he been for the last ten years?
    Burnley are the living proof in recent history that this sort of thing can be pulled off and why not believe. After all GRs overall record since he arrived puts us well in the playoff zone.

  • BluesBlues says:

    Another great away day performance – really suprised at Robo inclusion for the last two games I thought his playing days had all but finished . But fair play to him for his organising skills and never say die atitude a true blues legioned.

    The players are doing there bit now it is up to us to do ours, the last two games have been flat in regards to singing and atmosphere. We should not have to wait for a goal to get going come on the time has arrived we can do it.

    Would it be great if we managed to get up and them lot of historians were relegated – just a thought


  • Art says:

    Dream High and Dare To Achieve!

  • David L says:

    Gosh – doesn’t this feel good!

    It’s clear we have – as GR said somewhere a week or so ago – a bunch of intelligent, hard working footballers with a great team spirit. Huge credit to all concerned.

    It’s also equally clear that we’re not fussed about having 40% or so of possession : we’re organized in defence and accurate on the break.

    That’s just the thing to see of mediocre teams at their place. The only chink in the armour – and the need for, if not a plan B, then at least a plan A part ii – is we don’t seem to have worked out how to deal with teams at B9 (Forest, Millers) who do to us what we’ve just done to LUFC. Perhaps a bit more study of the Clough game book will be needed.

    But, 10 games in, if that’s the only worry…………

  • Teerev says:

    According to Phil Thomas on sky sports,Rowett is fancied for the Sunderland job!!

    • steve says:

      Don’t think we have to worry about Sunderland. They need experience. Big Sam will go there.

    • Shirley Blue says:

      He might be better off waiting for the Chelsea job!
      If we are going to play the 4-3-3 at home then we have got to get midfield runners into the box when we have the ball wide or it will be too predictable against teams defending in numbers away from home..Our three central midfield players are all more naturally defensive than attacking – we haven’t got a Lee Bowyer type so it’s something they are going to have to work on in training. We are also going to need to be patient and sometimes if you can’t win a game at home make sure you don’t lose it.

      • atko says:

        Not sure I would agree with you on the defensive midfielders there, Shirley. We do have Gleeson who can play some killer balls at times. I think his performances this season are a big part of the reason why we are doing so well.

        • Shirley Blue says:

          Totally agree about Gleeson but against Forest and Rotherham he usually only had Donaldson to aim for with two centre backs to look after him. We need to get more men in the penalty area. If we are going to have three central midfield players at least one of them has got to get up in support.

    • chris says:

      don’t believe any crap opinion on sky unless it’s a fact , just a way to find mugs to use skybet or whatever it’s called, dumb punters

  • Murph says:

    He can keep he’s big nose out ! Think Rowett be loyal .

  • ChrisG says:

    Well this feels a lot better this saturday than last. Good solid performance today & now for the majority of the team a well earned rest & come back refreshed for our next home game against QPR.

  • rhees says:

    Did say last week we would beat Brentford and Leeds. Were better away than home.
    Don’t want to put pressure on squad talking premier at this early stage just enjoying the ride at mo

  • andy says:

    I think Blues already have that nippy forward in the ranks Dan, Koby Arthur.

  • Alan Watton says:

    have to say that I was one who criticised Rowett for not recognising the weakness of our left hand side and Cotterills ability to avoid any bodily contact. To keep 2 clean sheets with the addition of Robinson was nothing short of Miraculous. I admit my dislike of Robinson goes back to his malicious assault on Damian Johnson and his woeful display against Bournemouth. However his performances this week commands respect . In the end I am sure he would rather be respected than liked. As for the manager he will be a Premiership boss .. To do it with us would be a true miracle

  • Marcovanbreadbasket says:

    Another game you didn’t go to. Speaking with real authority

  • andy says:

    It surprises me that Koby hasn’t made it into the 18 especially after Wes Thomas went. Maybe Gary Rowett has him down as a winger and nothing else but he shone as a striker whilst out on loan.

    • jonno11blue says:

      have it on good inside authority that Koby has the same problem as Reece Brown attitude. They think they’re made it and don’t listen to advise etc.

  • KC says:

    GR to manage the England rugby team- but only on a part time basis!

  • atko says:

    Outstanding performance by everyone today. Kevan Broadhurst made two interesting points on the Blues Player Commentary. He said the performance was the best under Gary Rowett. He also made an interesting point which actually disagrees with you Dan. He said Clayton Donaldson is the only player who he is concerned about cover for. He feels we have sufficient cover in every other position but Clayton’s is a worry as he doesn’t think Brock-Madsen is quite ready yet. Interesting comments & on today’s performance I’d have to agree with him.


  • Dave Mann says:

    Ime feeling quite chuffed this morning after a lovely day out in dirty Leeds yesterday ..sorry more like dodgy Leeds …a great all round performance from kuszczak two fine saves to Gray and Maghomas two fine goals .. This side and formation is the job and hats off to Gary Rowett for sticking with it .. After loosing last Saturday to Rotherham I thought it would be no supprise to me if we won at Brentford and Leeds because like the advert says it’s what we do .. 4rh going into the break with Qpr to come at home .. Let’s get over 20,000 win then I can go on holiday straigh after the game buzzing and happy.kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Are you slowly warming to Maghoma now Dave? ;)

      • Dave Mann says:

        Ime warming to all our first team staffs but maghoma is certainly coming to the party now where as before he was the party pooper, very pleased mate. :) kro

        • StaffsBlue says:

          I think he’s getting and will get better the more game time he gets. Same with all our fringe players. It must be hard to come on every now and then and try to impress in just a few minutes.

          • chris says:

            GR probably doesn’t want them to impress but do what’s best for the team, but it must be hard not to feel you have to do both as super subs.

  • swissjonny says:

    We are only in October so lets all stay grounded.Gary and the lads have done a great job thus far but lets not put undue pressure on them.Gary says he is happy with his squad-however I would like him to have money at his disposal to add if he feels that any relevant players become available.Im not sure that this money has been made available.

    • almajir says:


      The thing is he does have some (not a huge quantity but some) money to spend. He’s chosen not to spend it yet.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      It makes sense to keep his powder dry. We’re doing fine with what we have atm (centre back notwithstanding,) if he needs to add to the squad for any reason in January, he can. He wouldn’t be able to do that if he’d used all the money now. It’s a good strategy, because who knows what will occur with injuries and suspensions in the meantime,

      • atko says:

        Agreed Staff! Not to mention I always think that the best transfer window is in January. You see who is in & out of favour at clubs & as a manager you know who can fit in to your team. Most clubs want to hit the ground running & spend in the summer but when it doesn’t quite work that way they have no budget for January without having to get rid of a player or two. January for me is a better window of opportunity.

        • StaffsBlue says:

          I like the January window too. You can pick up some decent players who are in the last 6 months of their contract, either permanent, or on loan with a view to a permanent deal. The downside, of course, is that other clubs might come in for our best players.. but it’s the same for all clubs I suppose.

          • chris says:

            the more he can save each week by not spending that spare cash now on wages the more he should have in Jan.
            it may mean we can afford higher quality too especially if its deals or loans from Jan to June

          • atko says:

            True Staff on your downside point. That said, now we have seen the latest accounts, unless something radical has changed since June (which I think highly unlikely) then we have no need to accept any offers for any of our players unless they are ridiculous bids that are too good to turn down of course. Every player has a price. That said, I am confident that nobody will be leaving without a definite replacement in line already. There are 3 players who we are sure to have interest from other clubs that we know of but they will have to pay silly money for GR to let them go I would hope.

  • fallengiant says:

    I was at the game & Davies ran the midfield, Birmingham were organised & committed aggressive even contesting every ball, Leeds were lightweight & short of ideas until Botaka came on & then had a good twenty minutes…Birmingham very similar to Ipswich no major stars but a proper team….

  • Dave Mann says:

    Swissjonny, ime well grounded but it doesn’t mean I and fellow supporters coming back from Leeds can’t party and enjoy it to its max because that’s what we’re aloud to do and let’s enjoy it while it lasts and keep it going for as long as possible , right up to the end of the year then who knows , the owners might spend a few quid thinking of premiership millions to come , let’s all hope so but there’s no pressure on Gary Rowett or the team to stay in the top six from supporters I know so grounded were stay but enjoying it at the same time . Kro

    • atko says:

      Couldn’t agree more or have put it better, Dave! Enjoy it when we take 3 points. Remember it’s a long season & all teams have a bad patch at some point. It doesn’t mean they are doomed when they do. The objective is to get back to winning ways as soon as possible. We hit a bad patch which coincided with some tough opposition & in the middle of a great number of fixtures in a short time. As it was pointed out on Blues Player yesterday, we have just played 7 games in 3 weeks. The fact that we have come out of that period sitting in 4 place, some great results & pretty much injury free too is testament to not only Gary Rowett but every player that has played their part.

      There may be more bad patches ahead but it is how we bounce back that matters. We won’t be the only team that has them. Let those who dream of the playoffs or automatic promotion even dream, dreams do come true. I can assure you everyone connected with the club will be remaining firmly grounded as that is how Gary Rowett will have it. It’s these people that matter when it comes to this sort of thing. No matter what though they need the fans to back them at every home game like they do at away games. Don’t be getting on players backs, look at the bigger picture & what we have achieved so far.

      Sing your hearts out, back the team & I’m sure results at Stans will become as equally impressive as away from home. After all we have only lost 2! Now let’s enjoy the international break & more importantly allow the players a well earned rest! KRO!!

  • Bluey says:

    Very pleased with the way things are going and i hope we can have a solid mid-table finish.I don`t however think we have the quality in depth for any more than that especially if suspensions and injuries start to bite over Christmas and New Year to our better players. Imagine what GR could do with even half the budget of some clubs in the Championship.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Nice of you to be so positive again Bluey .. Realistic maybe but it’s less stressful to be happy than sad . To be positive than negative .. If Mr Rowett did have money to spend would it be a cert we would make top six , Ime not so sure pal ..keeping positive is making me feel good , keep taking the medicine . Kro

    • chris says:

      not negative to be realistic.
      our budget imo puts us in the bottom 6 so half way would be a good season, anything above that would be most welcome and a great season and i’m happy with anything except a relegation battle and only 30 more points needed !

  • ChrisG says:

    The testament of a good team is bouncing back after a poor performance & result as they have this week, what’s impressed me is reading interviews with a lot of the players they actually looked at their own performances & accepted they weren’t good enough last week. True to their word they’ve upped their game & got two great results, total professionals to a man. I wonder if the so called world class Chelsea players are capable of doing that.

  • Dave Mann says:

    I think so Chris .. jose won’t put up with it much longer . Kro

  • Give rowett a new long term contract now! pay him what he deserves include a hefty release clause in case a premier club coming knocking. We have one of the best young English managers around right now. Massive asset to the club and the club need to recognise this sooner rather than later. He and his coaches have proved it over 46 games that they are doing an incredible job with an average point return of a team that finishes in the playoffs! GR is a winner and his man managing is the best I’ve ever seen from any manager down the blues. You only have to hear him speak in his interviews to realise what a calm intelligent guy he is no wonder the players work for him! I’m not bothered about any new players coming january. The biggest signing for me would be securing the manager. It would be a disaster to lose him. With the takeover process ongoing it would be worth potential investors TTA dangling the carrot now and persuade GR he will be a part of their plans if a takeover is completed. probably the biggest asset the club has right now and is the reason why everything is getting better on and off the field he has the fans and the players believing again. kro

    • ChrisG says:

      Totally agree that GR should be rewarded for his efforts, I don’t want to be negative though but nowadays a contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, it’s all about ambition & if a big club came calling it’s always difficult for a manager to turn them down, I imagine a lot of clubs have been watching him very closely

    • chris says:

      too right , it should be Panos’ number one target GR and the backroom signed up on at least a three year contract, which imo would put off most Championship sides but no Prem teams and there’s little we can do about that unless GR etc allow a sell on clause.
      i do wonder in Panos has discussed this and been rebuffed as they have done this with so many players but not the important memebers of the structure.

  • Dave Mann says:

    Cannock bluenose , could not have put it better myself , absolute legend :) kro

  • Richard Granfield says:

    After 47 games in charge Rowett has a win percentage is 46.81%.
    That is 22 wins, 13 draws and only 12 defeats.
    Lee Clark’s win percentage (with largely the same players) was 28.45%. Also Clark’s win percentage at Blackpool was 09.09%.

  • Dave Mann says:

    I think we’ve all got the jist Richard that Rowett is better than Clarke ..it’s not rocket sience pal! :) kro

  • atko says:

    Thankfully I think it would be a brave Premier League team to come in & enquire about GR! The Premier League as we know is big business now with the latest TV deal & clubs tend to be looking at candidates with Premier League experience & failing that they will look abroad to the well known names. I don’t think we have anything to worry about with Premier League clubs. We are more likely to have enquiries from other Championship clubs to be honest & hopefully GR will see there are not many clubs in this league as big as Blues. The fact that he has played here as well, I think he will want to finish what he has started. The Rowett Revolution in only just begun. The next stage is obviously pushing for Promotion whether that be automatic or through the playoffs. Are we at that stage now? Not far off, I think GR will want to improve on last seasons 10th place which will take us not that far off. Half a dozen games more last season & we would have been close then even. Once promotion is achieved & the Revolution is in full swing I think he will then be judged on his first season in the Premier League. At that point we will know more in my opinion.

    • AdamTrueBlue says:

      I think your thought process is very true but does not take into account a premiership team that is struggling both on and off the field, I agree that one of the ‘bigger’ teams would not look at lower leagues for management, but a cash strapped team threatened with relegation might? We just have cross our fingers that there is more honour and job satisfaction in getting a middle of the table team promoted than there is in getting a premiership team relegated.

      • atko says:

        I agree but I don’t see many Clubs struggling in the Premier League off the pitch with the TV deal they now have. Struggling on the pitch is for the new manager to out right obviously & there is a need for a manager to instantly get it right. No disrespect to Gary Rowett but that would be a big gamble with so much at stake.I can possibly see a relegated club maybe looking to steady the ship & rebuild at the end of the season if they have released their manager but I really think even for a team struggling at the foot of the Premier League there is a need to get it right first time.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Before we all get carried away a defeat instead of a win could have put us 12th

    • atko says:

      I don’t believe too many people are getting carried away Julian! I agree, people were talking about Playoffs, etc after our start but after the slight dip in results the majority who were getting over excited have realized it’s too early to be talking like that. Most people are simply happy we are back picking up points again & happy to celebrate a win no matter who the opposition is, home or away.

      I believe the conversation here has switched to Gary Rowett’s future long term & regardless of people getting carried away or not, nobody can deny his record at Burton Albion & continued at Blues in what is a much tougher league is nothing short of outstanding given what he has to play with financially. We won’t suddenly become a bad side overnight nor will GR become a bad manager overnight.

      Admittedly there is a lot of luck involved when it comes to avoiding injuries & suspensions, especially with a streamlined squad but I don’t think people are getting carried away at all. I think the attitude of posts has changed from the start of the season & our unbeaten start, we had people talking about promotion. Now a lot more people are realistic. That doesn’t stop fans from celebrating a win though.

      Take each game as they come & celebrate a win then look forward to the next game, win or lose. See where we are at when the season ends then let’s celebrate what promises to be a good season whether we do get promoted or not!

  • Dave Mann says:

    Julian , we won and were 4th so get carried away .. You are aloud to you know , it’s not a ctrime to go out and celebrate the fact were over achieving .. I start being miserable when things go tits up but for know we’re 4th not 12th so let’s stay realistic but positive .. It is less stressful you know.:) kro

  • AdamTrueBlue says:

    Its nice to be able to even mention play offs and Blues in the same sentence, whether we really believe its possible or not, as a Blues supporter I live in hope and would rather think play off than relegation and with our form over the last season why not?

  • Dave Mann says:

    Too right Adam, let’s talk playoffs rather than mid table because we’re in that position at the moment .. We’ve had two bad results at home to forest and Rotherham but have bounced back just as fans were beginning to think the rot had set in and had we lost those two away games then the panic button would have been pushed.. But we won them quite easily so positivity over reality for me at the moment .. Just enjoy it for now that’s what Ime doing !! Kro

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I think we’ll have a better idea how our season will go after the busy Xmas and New year fixtures. If we’re still in the top 6-8 by then, we’ll have a wonderful chance of a top 6 finish. It’s too early to get carried away, but there’s nowt wrong with hope and expectation. Without that, we may as well all go home. :)

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Until it’s a very real possibility, I don’t think the word promotion should be mentioned. If we aim to stay in or around the top 6, then who knows what can happen. That’s as far as I’m letting myself think thus far.

    • AdamTrueBlue says:

      Staffs, if you listened to GR on Radio WM phone in last night, when a caller said he was hoping we would scrape into the playoffs GR’s response was that he was hoping for better than scraping in ! I know who’s thought I would rather have.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        Of course, we’re all hoping for better, but it’s too early to get carried away with the P word. Surely we’d all be happy with a top 6 finish this season? I’d back us against anyone over two legs.

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