Often Partisan

The Case for Brock

Nicolai Brock-Madsen struggled in his third start for Blues on Saturday, making it eight appearances for the club without breaking his goalscoring duck. The young Dane was restricted to one real chance on goal in the first half which he could only nudge wide from a David Davis cross.

I’ve seen and heard people slate Brock online and with his lacklustre return I guess it’s to be expected. However, on the basis of what I saw on Saturday I’m not sure it’s deserved and I worry that our biggest signing of this season so far has become somewhat of a scapegoat since Donaldson’s injury. Yes – he did miss the chance he had, and yes I think Donaldson could well have scored it – but should we really castigate a striker who is given one clear cut opportunity in a game?

Truth is, his performance reminded me of Heskey at times at Blues – he tried manfully, he battled (and lost unfairly as he had little protection from the ref) with a strong pair of centre-backs and he was isolated by a midfield that stood fifteen yards off him. I honestly believe Donaldson would have struggled with the same lack of support – you cannot ask a striker to come up with the ball when it’s hoofed at his head from fifty yards and there are three defenders around him. Remarkably, Brock-Madsen did come up with it once or twice – he really did try.

I’ve seen people calling for a 4-4-2 at home but I think that’s misguided as well – Blues actually played with three up front on Saturday (Gray and Toral being the two wide forwards) but they weren’t effective in supporting Brock either. If anything, the problem lies in midfield; Davis tried hard to support the front men but he struggled while his team mates Kieftenbeld and Gleeson were both unable to win or retain possession.

I think if Toral had played where Davis was and Maghoma had started wide we may have had more luck – I thought Toral showed flashes of what he can do when he passes the ball and played centrally it’s a lot easier for him to control play. As I said on Saturday, I think Vaughan coming in could make a difference too; maybe resting Gray who looks a bit jaded. It’s a lot to ask of a 19 year old to be a creative force and fulcrum for a team and I think giving him a breather might help.

It’s going to be tough for Brock – the longer the goalless run goes on, the more stick he’s going to get; I sincerely hope he can break the duck because I think once one comes more will too – there is something there but it needs help and support rather than isolation.

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47 Responses to “The Case for Brock”

  • Bluenosesol says:

    Dan, I feel for the kid, but I read an article recently whereby the supporters of his old club were somewhat surprised at the fee they received for him as up until the time they sold him. he had not lit any fires. The fee we paid for him naturally set expectations. As much as I don’t like to put our players down, in honesty I think that you have been generous in your assessment. I thought he was anonymous against Huddersfield, but yet again our problems were more defensive failings than any other department. If we are conceding nothing goals on such a regular basis, then the forwards have an impossible task. Stating the obvious, but our forwards would have needed to score 3 goals at home on Saturday against a very poor side to secure a narrow victory!

    • almajir says:

      I remember saying I thought we robbed Crystal Palace over Andrew Johnson. Fans have been known to be very, very, very wrong.

      I’d also point out again that he had no support. It’s very difficult to do anything when you’re not given any chance to do anything.

  • KC says:

    Please don’t remind us of the Andrew Johnston fiasco Dan. Aj and a couple of million for Clinton Morrison. What a disaster Nearly as bad as the Alex Harley deal but that one was before your time.
    Like your optimism and really hope you are right on B-M, but Colin Todd does not appear to have done one of his old clubs any favours here .Laughing all the way to the bank.

    • almajir says:

      It wasn’t a disaster though. AJ got 8 in 80 odd appearances for us and was never going to do – and barring a penalty-laden season at Palace I don’t think ever really did it. People under-rate Morrison – Forssell and Heskey both played their best with him doing the donkeywork.

      Kinda proves my point.

      • KC says:

        Dan. Very rare occasion where I beg to differ. Take a look at AJ;s career on Wikipedia and you will see how bizarre the AJ/CM transfer was and exactly how many goals he scored when he left Blues. And of course he played for England 8 times. Sorry never felt CM gave us much.

        • Andrew says:

          Morrison did more for us than ever Walter pandiani did and I’d rather have had him than players like rowan vine, Marcus bent, Carlos costly to name but a few

        • almajir says:

          I’ll repeat – he’d never have got those goals for us

          • pandiani says:

            I vividly remember seeing AJ in an interview with SkySports during his time at Crystal Palace whilst he was hot property at the top of the goalscoring charts (more than half of these being penalties, as previously mentioned) and he himself said he wouldn’t have been the player he was if he hadn’t had to work so hard to prove himself after he left Blues.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I think that to bring a young, untried lad straight into championship football is asking too much tbh. He would have benefitted from a loan to a League 1 club for at least half a season before we pitched him in. Unfortunately, because we were left with no other alternatives, he’s had to be thrown to the wolves.
    I still think it’s best to use two strikers, but that seems to be a thing of the past. To use one striker and just lump it up to him is negative football imo. Is it any wonder there’s a shortage of goals.

    As for the chance Brock-Madsen missed, I’ve seen Donaldson miss far easier chances. so I won’t hold that against him.

  • Waycoolblue says:

    He will get there you can see he as some quality . Its unfear to judge him after just 2 first team starts but he needs help he did not get much in the way of support in ever of his starts. Just want to add Blues are having a look at former PSG trainee Christy Manzinga. He will play in the Under 21s match today 1pm kick-off. What I know of him is he holds the ball up well and as a good finish and can play CF or on any wing as In side forward. He sounds a good player.

  • theguvna says:


    Notwithstanding the fact that he was isolated, and that nearly all the team ( and manager ) had a shocker, and the chance that he spurned, he just looks out of his depth. Sitting near the halfway line, you can see how time and time again, he doesn’t seem to be able to read the flight of the ball. As a result, he ends up being wrong side of average defenders. He is slow to react, and just doesn’t seem to have the positional sense or nous to get into the right positions often enough.

    I really hope the kid comes good and would be delighted to eat my words, I just do not see it happening.

    If we did actually pay 500k, for a club with our limited resources, it now looks way too much for a
    ‘development project’. We need players that can come straight into the side and make a difference immediately. Anyway, time will tell…..

  • I agree with Dan’s assessment that the lad ended up isolated; I said as much in my report on Joys and Sorrows: http://www.joysandsorrows.co.uk/2015/12/view-from-the-south-birmingham-city-v-huddersfield-town-3/? In my opinion, from what I’ve seen of Brock-Madsen, he doesn’t look ready at this level but in fairness the two wider players weren’t close enough to him and the support he received from them was atrocious. Toral looked out of sorts and needs to be in the middle not out wide, Demarai Gray didn’t do enough and is not taking on his opponent when in one on one situations but tending to take the easy option passing back to the full back instead of getting to the byline to cut back to B-M who may then be more effective. There were too many people out of position in my view on Saturday and both full backs had a mare; Grounds didn’t know whether to stick or twist because Toral kept moving inside leaving masses of space for Scannell to exploit and Eardley was nowhere to be seen when Lolley tapped in. Defensively we were a shambles but we didn’t defend as a unit so the blame is not entirely with the back four. We were poor all over the pitch and contrived to make a below average side look good. When our first eleven is not fully fit we struggle to be competitive and that is the stark truth. We will do well to avoid a good hiding at Middlesbrough on Saturday I’m afraid. Normally, I look for the positive aspects of a match but there were simply none to be seen against Huddersfield. If we can’t beat teams like these, Rotherham, Forest, Wolves and Charlton we don’t deserve to be in the play-offs. We should be content to get to 50 points plus anything else as a bonus. We have over performed to date and recent games are a reality check. Gary Rowett cannot escape criticism either since I felt he got the set up wrong on Saturday and I wasn’t sure I understood the substitutions either. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see us getting any points in the next couple of weeks at least.

  • Rich says:

    The problem with Brock Madsen was more evident against Charlton, he fails to get on the end of things and doesn’t make that natural striker instinct to get on the edge of the six yard box. He stands off instead of sliding in, I know Claytz would have bundled the ball in in that first half against Charlton when he just stood there waiting. He didn’t have the opportunities against Huddersfield as I think the whole team were off the pace, but for me he doesn’t look like a natural striker and unfortunately it’s hard to coach it into someone of BM’S age.. he’s not 14..

  • Mezz says:

    God do we miss Donaldson! For me Brock is very very very raw. Will he ever be good enough I don’t know. I thought he didn’t do what we rely on which is bring others into play. Donaldson is great at holding up the ball and winning 50/50’s then bringing the likes of Gray and Cotts into play. Brock didn’t do that all game and pretty much got bullied all game. It was always going to be tough to ask the lad to lead the line in Donaldson’s absence and Vaughan will come in for sure now and I wouldn’t be surprised to look a different team. Gray might need a rest and I might be tempted to start Viv, as Maghoma always seems to work better as an impact sub, however I’ve said many times Gray gets no support from Grounds and quite often is left 2v1 unlike on the right where Caddis usually makes the overlap runs which gives Cotts the extra room to deliver.

  • You are right Dan when your two main goalscorers are out injured you don’t weaken the side of goalscorers especially against a team near the bottom , we as always are short of natural strikers , with three points for a win and one for a draw enough natural strikers is a necessity even if they are about 35 , we must get our priorities right in January , with one striker up front midfield strikers are a must ,

  • zxcv says:

    Never ever has the saying been so true, you pay peanuts you get monkey`s, I blame Gary Clark? for Saturdays load of nonsense.

  • Art says:

    Sorry to say I watched him play in the game against Charlton and thought his all round perfomsnce was very poor.

    – Falling down far to often
    – Could’nt put a pass together
    – Got knocked off the ball far to easily
    – Couldn’t score when ideally placed.

    I can’t see him reaching Championship standard but hopefully GR will improve his game..

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Good strikers require balance, intelligence, pace, aggression and an eye for a goal.
    As yet N B-M has displayed none of these qualities. In time he may, but don’t hold your breath.

  • Gary says:

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say ‘there’s something there’, because in all honesty I haven’t seen anything yet that gives me an idea of what Gary Rowett thinks he sees in B-M. I’m not saying he is not going to come good, but if he does, I am not sure in what way he will have an impact. What are his key strengths? He doesn’t seem to have a stand-out area in his game.
    A few people commenting here have alluded to the fact that Rowett played a few people out of position against Huddersfield and i agree that this is a worrying trend. If there was one thing he got right when he came in it was to dispense with Lee Clark’s habit of putting square pegs in round holes and get back to basics, ie playing players in their best positions. On Saturday, he had Toral on the right wing, where he looked ineffective. He had Davis playing there too for a while and we finished the game with Toral spearheading the attack.
    I think the manager must take some responsibility for the poor show on Saturday. He said he wanted to be pro-active and be less predictable at home, but playing players out of position is a road to nowhere. We’ve seen it before.

  • weaponsguru says:

    Unfortunately, I thought he was very “weak”.
    Yes, the referee was very poor and could have given some more protection, but the lad just appeared too lightweight to me.
    Either that or he forgot to put studs in his boots.
    Whilst I agree there were many occasions that he would have been given a free kick if he was playing in the Premier league, unfortunately, he is not- nor is it likely he will on Saturday’s showing.

    Hes 6ft plus and probably 14st, but was falling over every time anyone touched him.
    It only took me 10 minutes to realise that the ref was a useless, biased cheat who obviously had Huddersfield on his “coupon”. He was never going to get a foul without having a leg or two broken.
    He should have realised the same thing and stood up more.

    He might (probably would) have been penalised by the ref but at least would have gained a bit of cudos with the crowd and maybe helped his reputation with other Championship defenders.

    2/10 for me.
    Lets hope he improves!

  • The Flying Pig says:

    He doesn’t look ready for the Championship; I’m going to add a qualified ‘yet’. In his defence, it is difficult enough to try and adapt to a different style of football to what you’ve been used to when you come into a winning team. It cannot help him that the whole team is devoid of confidence just now and it certainly doesn’t help when he was too isolated. If there is an area of concern, his first touch isn’t great and so I’m not convinced by the ball to feet argument.
    As others have said, I think Rowett made a horlicks of the team selection on Saturday. However, unlike Clark, I think he was merely trying to find a fix for our recent problems and I doubt he’ll repeat that mistake.
    Just changing tack slightly, either we need an LB so he can move grounds inside to CB, or we need both an LB and a CH. If Mbende and Bowry aren’t good enough to replace Spector, then we have wasted money on them (although I accept Mbende may be a gamble for the future).

  • andy says:

    The big fella Zigic was getting stick until that goal against villa in the League Cup and the rest is history. Brock needs that break but he is playing in a much poorer team.

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    I was bang level with Brock when Davis’ cross came over and he seemed late to react when he should have been ready to slide in.I get Dans argument about him being isolated but that can’t be an excuse for such a poor first touch.With transfer funds at a premium it’s a mistake and I don’t accept he was bought as one for the future when your going to go with 2 strikers in your squad.
    We all love GR for what he has done and of coarse not every player you sign in this kind of market is going to be a gem like Morrison but there’s pressure on him now to sign some proper quality in the Tesche/Fabrini mouldy come January.Anyone who was at Stans on Saturday could see that.

  • AdamTrueBlue says:

    Bournemouth in the 3rd round of the cup. Kro

  • Dave Mann says:

    Time to revenge 0-8 , Bournemouth at home in FA cup . Kro

  • Tony says:

    We have had a complete catalogue of Brocks shortcoming’s and there are many, the question is what did Rowett see in him to justify a 500k price tag? this was a lot of money for a club in our position.

  • Texas Pete says:

    This is all about one young player in 11 performing badly and he was on his second appearance to replace the main glorified striker and pivot man in the team. Don has not been scoring goals this season and has missed lots of sitters. Don cannot win the ball in the air either. Don is good because he is strong and scares the defenders into giving him the ball. Brock must be given time and be given the midfield support for him to strike even if it is off target. Don is like Jerome, he scores by being there, not as good when approaching the box. Brock hasnt had time to have the understanding with his support to know where to be or what the hell they are doing. We need lots of crosses and passes into the box for a striker to work and I think that has been extremely poor. Give Brock time and opportunities. It is the midfield that is lacking along with a leader, a general of the team….. for defence and midfield.

  • ChrisG says:

    Reading through a lot of comments since saturday it seems everyone has a differenet view on what’s going wrong & a lot of fingers have been pointed in various directions, I stupidly started to wonder if there was a conspiracy going on from the powers that be who maybe didn’t want us to do too well as it might cause complications over the club sale, but then I realised it was much simpler than that & the fact is the players are letting GR, the club & the fans down big time, these bunch of players are much better than they’re showing & it’s time they manned up & stood up to be counted. If they gave us something to cheer about we’d be behind them 110% but for me the way they’re playing at the moment they can flog the whole lot of them in january & start afresh for all I care

  • Mitchell says:

    It’s not really about Brock.is it? Winless home games look for scapegoats and he is an easy target as Don is incapacitated at present. Truth is Kusczak,Spector,Caddis,Davis,Maghoma,Grounds even Morrison all came to us as non starters from their previous clubs. It is where we are and on reflection our home defeats haven’t had any bad luck element to them. No good signalling anybody out. We are an ok team with very,very limited resources.

  • Before we can score more goals you have to set them up and then you have to shoot or head at goal to get goals , you have to play the odds to be winners , I have not been counting crosses to goals but I think it must be 1goal for the last 60 crosses .so we keep going down the pitch waisting energy , not a good return , with so many crosses we need about 4 players in the middle to profit , otherwise three players running down the middle would see a better return passing as they go ..

  • Mitchell says:

    It will be very interesting to see how Bolton survive their horrendous financial troubles. They need new owners asap with apparently only two weeks to prevent oblivion. It would be ironic if a number of bidders come through whereas as far as ourselves BCFC has been avoided like the plague. Just an observation worth keeping an eye on.

    • almajir says:

      It’s a disingenuous observation though Mitchell, that betrays a complete lack of understanding of what’s happened at BCFC despite repeated explanations on here.

      • Mitchell says:

        Sorry if I have beem disingenuous Daniel but in this global world of sophisticated finance with complex deals being closed by the minute- surely our current status and possible future existence should have more than one suitor(TTA). Again sorry if this irritates.

        • almajir says:

          Mitchell, we had seven bidders – as reported extensively on here and to the HKSE. TTA now have exclusivity (which means it’s now just them). This is what irritates…

  • Marky mark says:

    Who cares what happens to Bolton ? there situation is nothing like ours.

    The sale of BCFC is complicated in the extreme, hence why we are still waiting,

    The only issue at Bolton is the debt, easily overcome if you want the club bad enough.

    • Mitchell says:

      I agree and I am not bothered about Bolton-but as they are a similar club support wise and potential wise, then the amount of interest they generate would give us an idea as to what if etc. However, you are correct about the circumstances about ourselves- complicated to the extreme with CY in it for the long haul there is no end in sight.

      • Rich says:

        No end in sight… There’s me thinking money available in January and TTA nearing the end of a painfully slow process! Hopefully shares relisted February and light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Glass half full now, KRO..

  • Stu says:

    I’ve been to 4 Blues matches this season. They won, unconvincingly in the League Cup in one and lost the other three. I agree the midfield is the problem – too slow, inaccurate in passing and not able to turn the game in anyway whatsoever. The tem plays as if Lee Clark was still the manager!

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