Often Partisan

Ennui – Oxford Reflections

Birmingham City slipped to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat after extra time to League One side Oxford United in the EFL Cup last night. A 120th minute goal from Liam Sercombe was all that separated the two sides and came just as the match looked to be headed for penalties.

I have two confessions to make. The first one is that I left on 85 minutes – as I confessed on Twitter at the time I had absolutely no intention of staying for extra time and penalties based on what I had witnessed. The second confession is worse – that for the second match in a row I sat there in a state of ennui wondering why I’d bothered at all.

With the above in mind, I’m only going to comment on what I saw – but in my eyes that was damning enough. I’ve believed throughout pre-season that Blues were going to have issues this year, and despite people telling me that pre-season means nothing, I’ve seen the same issues continually in the first two games of the season.

Once again, just like the Hibs game Blues were mediocrity personified. While the team could hold possession for short spells there was no cutting edge, no creativity and guile and despite having two men up front Blues were desperately short of chances, let alone goals. For my money this can be attributed to two things – a lack of quality in the wide areas and a lack of pace in the team in general.

Viv Solomon-Otabor was given a chance to show his worth and the kid tried gamely. The problem is Viv is still very raw and while he has pace to burn he struggled to deliver a final ball, allowing attacks to break down and Oxford to regain possession. On the right Paul Caddis was given a chance to show why he should play further forward than right back and while he probably was a bit better on the ball the fact is Caddis is not a winger – he doesn’t have the pace or the creativity required.

Up front Jack Storer was a handful for defenders but starved of service he struggled to make an impact on the game. I think he may have been lucky to stay on the pitch following a couple of studs-up challenges and I’m not surprised that Rowett brought him off; it was probably to prevent a red card more than anything else.

The addition of Che Adams should help; the ex-Sheffield United forward has pace and skill but it’s a lot to ask of a 20 year old to carry the team a bit. A poster on smallheathalliance.com made the comment that the issue isn’t so much the players but the way we’re set up and I can’t help but agree; Blues are set up to be tight at the back defensively and not to lose.

This is all well and good, but it doesn’t make for exciting football and for all the chanting done by the Tilton Alliance mob the atmosphere in the ground is going to die a death without goals and wins. On that note – I’d like to also point out to TA that filming themselves chanting for 90 minutes on their phone isn’t supporting the team either – put the phone away and enjoy yourselves lads… You might as well even if I can’t.

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