Often Partisan

Preston Reflections – Continuing Revolution

Birmingham City twice equalised in a barnstorming game that finished in a 2-2 draw with Preston at St Andrew’s. Goals from Ryan Shotton and Che Adams cancelled out Alex Baptiste and Daniel Johnson’s strikes for the visitors.

I left the game last night a touch disappointed that we didn’t complete the win but pleased all the same with the manner of the performance. The initial lineup was one that I think many people were happy with and while I don’t think it quite worked Gary Rowett once again showed he now has options on the bench to properly change the game.

It seemed at the time that a fair few fans disagreed with Reece Brown and Greg Stewart getting taken off – especially judging by the boos when Stewart’s number was held up but the truth was both had struggled badly after a bright ten minute start. I think David Cotterill had come in for some stick but he had a decent game – his dead ball delivery was good and he really caused issues when he switched to his natural right side.

Another player who regularly comes in for stick is Jonathan Grounds – and sometimes it is unfairly so. I thought the former Oldham man had a great game last night; the lack of width for Preston on their right gave Grounds a bit freedom to push up and he made that tell with the cross for the second goal. While Rhoys Wiggins hasn’t made his debut yet (and again didn’t make the bench last night) I wonder if having the Bournemouth man on loan has pushed Grounds into working harder for his place and removed a bit of complacency from his game.

Our other deadline day loan signing Lukas Jutkiewicz was again impressive. It’s true he was dead on his feet late on but that was unsurprising; the Burnley man seemed to be on the end of every long clearance and his control to flick on and bring down long balls was really good. I was unsure about him as a signing when we brought him in but he’s clearly good enough for the level we play at and if he can maintain this sort consistency then I think Blues have to think seriously about making his capture a permanent one in January.

After ten games Blues sit in the playoff spots with 17 points – a decent achievement after a poor-ish first four. The squad still is a little thin – I think we miss Robert Tesche a fair bit – but I no longer look at the bench and scratch my head as to how Blues can change things; there are enough good players in the squad to be able to change shape and tack going forwards.

While much of the defensive solidity is there, when Blues attack it seems to be with much more pace and guile and that in itself is pleasing. It might be that Rowett will pass the hardest test of his managerial career so far in being able to evolve his team further from the well-drilled, organised outfit that he brought together at the start of his reign as Blues boss. There is hope.

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84 Responses to “Preston Reflections – Continuing Revolution”

  • Shane says:

    I don’t think the booing was for Greg Stewart going off rather the substitution of Reece Brown ahead of Jaques Maghoma who wasn’t really effective as a central midfielder or in the 10 role and it appeared that Rowett moved Brown around to try and accommodate Maghoma although he did come in tithe game much more once he moved wide left

  • Dave Mann says:

    Enjoyed the game and the performance but not the result though that is six unbeaten so atleast were still on that roll after the dingles display . KRO

  • John Ramsay says:

    Rowett got it totally wrong with his selection and formation. Midfield was outfought and overrun 1st half. Proved Magoma is not a central midfielder and Brown isn’t ready to start yet. Rowett’s subs made the difference with Adam and Davies playing well and Magoma and Cotterill playing in their correct positions. Rowett got away with it last night and I doubt we will see that starting line-up again.

    • suenoble says:

      spot on mate, Reece Brown is going to need an extra one and half stone if he’s going to be effective, Stewart needs time and Maghoma is not a central midfielder. If Tesche is injured Gleeson should play and Davis has done more than enough from the right to get in over Cotterill.

    • Shirley Blue says:

      I didn’t actually get to the game but I saw the starting line up and I feared the worst. Only one proper midfield player in Kieftenbeld was asking for trouble. While we all want to see attacking, entertaining football that isn’t always achieved by filling the team with attacking players. Its about getting control of games and that requires picking a balanced team from the start. 2 points lost for me.

  • Big Al says:

    Bit worried about the situation at Derby.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I don’t think we can be too critical. Starting with players out of position didn’t help and that was down to the manager. Once he moved the square pegs back into their square holes, things clicked a lot more effectively. It’s just a pity we couldn’t nick that third goal. Both Preston’s goals had a touch of fortune, whilst ours were clinical strikes. Overall, it was a good night’s work. A win over Blackburn will move us on to the 20 point mark… still on course for a top six place.

  • mark says:

    well i think some fans underestimated Preston like i said previously blues on paper should rolled them, but that’s football. One said blues defenders are rock solid they let two in?
    Black burn lost to s.wednesday so will they be a easy roll over?
    imo he should left what was already fixed a winning mentality. but hindsight a love thing lol

  • Bluesfan says:

    Rowett made a big mistake first half playing one up front and playing brown in midfield he’s far to week he needs to be loaned out to toughen him up. Second half he changed it we were much better though I’ve got to say some of our players can’t control the ball very well shocking at times glad with a point in the end.

  • mark says:

    will blues over confidences overcome blues or individual errors…….

  • nicko says:

    I agree with you Daniel apart from grounds going forward he was ok but twice in the 2nd half he got turned and Preston should have scored. still last season we would have lost that game kro

  • Retired&Weary says:

    I think GR blew it with his team selection – far too flimsy in the middle of the park against a team he said himself are very tough physically. The sooner we get back to the line up against Norwich the better.
    I suspect the booing when Stewart went off was because it wasn’t Cotterill. To be fair he was much better on the right, although I would not like to see him back as a regular
    So all in all it was yet again frustrating. With due respect to PNE we should be winning those games to establish us in the top 6, rather than being on the fringes. GR let himself & the fans down on this occasion.

  • Bluejohn says:

    The majority of bluenoses wanted to see more flair in the side and I was initially really pleased with last night’s starting line up. It did not work, but I am pleased to see that GR is now prepared to try something a bit different to the usual boring but more effective line up. As it stands I do not think that the current squad will make the ‘playoffs’ because we do not have any natural consistent goal scorers. The size of our home crowds speak volumes about the faith supporters have in this side having a realistic chance of challenging for promotion this season. Gary Rowett has done a fantastic job, in making an average team ‘over achieve’ but I fear that unless we sign a consistent goal scorer or two in January we will once again run out of steam in the ‘run in’.

  • WaycoolBlue says:

    Performance good result not so good. I fort Stewart had a good game and so did most the supporters the booing was because they felt Cotterill should have came off. But I have to emit Cotterill’s game improved when moved back to the right.

  • Walker says:

    Cotteril was awful as always!!

  • david jevons says:

    Fair play to Rowett for changing things.I bet he didn’t appreciate the booing.Let’s all pray that Derby or the FA don’t come calling!!

  • Richard Granfield says:

    It is obvious Gary doesn’t know his best eleven and is still experimenting.
    Playing Maghoma and Brown together in the centre of midfield didn’t work as they are not strong enough. I was surprised that both Davis and Gleeson were on the bench, which left only Kieftenbeld as a defensive midfielder.
    There doesn’t seem a happy medium either 3 defensive midfielders or 1 defensive is played!
    When Davis came on the balance (of 2 defensive midfielders) was restored, which is imo ideal both home and away.

    • Andrew says:

      Why do people think Davis is defensive? He runs forward and tries to get on the end of things all the while. Agree with the starting 11 though. Think he should make smaller changes to the starting squad maybe just 1 player if everyone is fit when he wants to change it or bring players on as the game evolves to find his best side rather than an entire different midfield.

  • Dino Tiltoni says:

    I think we have a good squad now and Rowell did a bit of tunkering last night, trying to keep players involved and happy whilst thinking he could win it. It seems we do need two strong players (out of Keftenbald, Tesche and Gleeson) in the middle of midfield against most other teams. We we can look a bit weak otherwise.

    Not sure I share other fans concerns about GR leaving for Derby. It seeems like a bit of a mess there and we’re hopefully moving on with new owners. And hey, if Gary goes Brucie and Big Sam are probably open to offers!

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    This looks like Gary’s Plan B team. I think Stewart and Cotterill would have got into the game more had Tesche and Fabbrini been available. Brown needs to pace himself and build his stamina; Maghoma just doesn’t have eyes for the decisive pass.

    My MotM was Kieftenbeld. He was everywhere. His best game.

    • harken says:

      Wow! Opinions really do differ. I thought kieftenbeld was poor, gave the ball away, cheap free kick for their second goal. He improved however once Davis joined him, as did the team as a whole. The initial line up and formation didn’t work but at least Rowett is trying out different tactics.

  • Farmerfizz says:

    Damed if he does and damed if he doesn’t. Everyone screams for more attacking lineup at home and Rowett obliges. It doesn’t work so he changes it and we get a result. I love the fact that everyone wanted to see Reece Brown given a start at home and then when he doesn’t live up to expectation everyone knew he wasn’t ready! Football’s about opinions but let’s keep them consistent. Rowett is doing an unbelievable job on a shoestring and I’m staggered at some of the criticism he gets when we are unbeaten since Wolves and 4 points off the top. But then that’s just my opinion.

    • Richard Granfield says:

      FF…..playing a attacking lineup at home is a good thing, but players must be played in their right positions. I am sure I wasn’t the only one who was mystified when Maghoma lined up in central midfield!
      Cotterill was much more effective when he was switched to the right flank and Brown couldn’t show his attacking skills to the maximum because he had to defend a lot.

    • Retired&Weary says:

      I’ve never advocated all out attacking football- we ain’t got strong enough defenders & midfielders for that – but I do like to see balance. GR went from one extreme to the other last night, which I thought was unfair on Brown & Stewart. Surprised no-one’s mentioned the keeper by the way.

    • almajir says:

      Farmer – I said to myself before the game I was happy with the team and even if it didn’t work I was happy he tried. I think he got the subs bang on too and thus he was unlucky we didn’t win it.

      I wouldn’t say Rowett is doing an unbelievable job though; we have had some troughs – the second half of last season was pretty bad. He’s doing well.. but he’s not the Messiah.

  • Dave Mann says:

    To be fair farmerfizz we do get a very consistent different of opinions on here , we all agree to dissagree most of the time and have a varied variety of views weather were right or wrong true or false barmy or brainy , we have so many outlooks on one game that ids quite alarming at times but hey, we’re Bluenoses and that’s what we’re like , can never agree on anything all the time , I hope I’ve cleared that one up mate without complicating things :-) KRO

  • mark says:

    looking at the stats for the blackburn we played a dour draw 0-0 at home last time……both teams played with one striker. Blackburn came with the mindset to be defensive-minded over to you MR GR……..

  • tent says:

    If GR goes …. Big Sam needs a new club ?

  • Preston Bob says:

    The starting line up shows how GR is looking to transition the team from a counter attacking force to one who can control more of the ball and bang in more than 1 goal. Give it time, he will find the right recipe and he can do this from the squad he has available now. Exciting times on and off the pitch!

  • StaffsBlue says:

    We’re not far away, you can see it in long spells during matches. It might take a player or two in the January window to make it all click together. Until then, I don’t mind the manager tinkering here and there to find the best XI in the best formation, but it would be better if players were played in their best positions… only that way can we expect the best from them.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    If TTA gave him a Christmas present of one player and a fee of £5m with commensurate wage. It would be stipulated it was a player the squad could look up to because he could make a big difference what position would you fill?

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Centre back. Not entirely convinced about the pairing at the moment, both ok individually, but both need a big commanding player alongside. Also, we don’t seem to have a left-footer who prefers to actually play on the left. Need one. Either of those would do for me. I think the rest of the team is pretty much sorted.

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        Staffs I agree. Between Morrison and Shotton there’s something missing. I actually think Shotton is the better player and getting a Premier quality player alongside him would benefit the whole back four.

        • Andrew says:

          I’ve said before that we need more centre backs and that morrison is not that great, he just seems it because he was the best we seen there for a while and all that could be mustered with limited funds. I don’t think the defence is too bad though, still good statistically in comparison with the rest of the championship. Rather see attackers brought in.

          • Dave Mann says:

            Like jukey, Adams and Stewart alongside Donaldson Andrew .. We only play one up front and one behind so we don’t need anymore forward / striker players IMO . KRO

          • Dave Mann says:

            Also Maghoma, cotterill and Fabbrini are all attacking players . KRO

          • Andrew says:

            Can never have too many attackers as I see it. Wouldn’t mind a defender or two as I persistently say in the past, but I like to see exciting attacking football so that’s why I say that, plus defence isn’t as fire as it has been in recent times. And I wasn’t sure what you’re implying when you said ‘supporters’ on a previous post, do you take two meanings from fans and supporters?

          • Andrew says:

            *hasn’t been as dire

          • Dave Mann says:

            Supporters go to games and support the team , fans tend to stay at home and say they care but don’t attend matches very often if at all ( read bcfc followers statement from yesterday ) . That’s what I mean , not being awkward but just saying it the way it is . KRO

  • JbfromOz says:

    We need to beat teams like Preston if we want go go up.
    Draws are of no use to anyone.
    If you drew every game of the season and ended up with 46 points you’d have a good chance of getting relegated based on history.
    De Matteo will be sacked on October 31st the day after we beat them at St Andrews.

  • KC says:

    Was going to give an opinion on selection but Richard Granfield. seems to be bang on with his postings.

  • JBAblues says:

    I thought Cotterill was very effective with his crosses . I don’t understand the negativity he generates. As for booing the subs I was really disappointed we are not Arsenal fans. Rowett is doing a great job at building an exciting squad punching above its weight when you consider the money spent. 6 unbeaten much to be positive about.

  • Hillfield Blues says:

    Enjoyed the game and fair play to GR for having the courage to try something new.Being honest I think he’s gone a bit too far starting Maghoma and Cottrill out of their normal positions as well as throwing Brown and Stewart on for their full debuts.We looked a better side when the subs came on and looked more solid in midfield.Brown and Stewart should remain on the bench as impact players for now but at least we didn’t lose.That was the type of match we would have lost last season.

  • Matt B says:

    Thought the booing last night was a disgrace, and really disrespectful, I guess that’s the difference with all football fans now though. Not a massive fan of Cotts as he is typical winger, wimps out of challenges, doesn’t really track back, but if he’s playing well that doesn’t matter, but when he’s not he’s an easy target. But thought 2nd half he played really well, he now needs to find that consistency as he’s probably one of our better players which is why he’s so frustrating, but I guess that’s why he plays for us. Anyway thought we played well 2nd half and if we can win in Saturday it’s game on. KRO

  • mark says:

    well we just dropped the the play off position, 4 teams in the play off have scored more than blues at the moment….i wonder if blues don’t score more goals this might be our failing to a play off?
    Huddersfield have scored the same as blues but appear to be more able to close games out more than blues are…..

  • Dave Mann says:

    Just hearing this morning from sky news, vile mail and the sun about Derby interested in speaking to Gary Rowett about the vacant managers job apparently .. Don’t know what to believe or think to be honest , don’t even know if I would be that upset about it , not sure , this Indecisions bugging me ( was that not the clash? ) :-/ KRO

    • Mitchell says:

      Dave. I really don’t mind that much. Loyalty in our game went out the window a long time ago. GR leaving is no big deal as it is his job and his life. What I would say though is,for me,the biggest gesture from a manager in my lifetime is the total honesty and loyalty shown by Brucie when he stuck with us after turning down the chance to manage Newcastle. Now that’s class and sadly not been seen since.

  • mark says:

    Hi Dave tbh dave if there is ounce of truth in this story…..then our club needs to act with extreme promptness in either confirming or throwing it out. Our club must keep the fans in the loop…not so call press releases, or paper talk……kro

  • Richard Granfield says:

    If Gary was to leave for Derby. and I don’t think he will, my candidate to replace him would be Dean Smith the Brentford manager.
    WHY? He is a West Midland’s man, but more importantly he believes in free flowing football, which would get the fans coming back to St Andrews.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Gary will be disappointed with Alex Jones comments suggesting Birmingham don’t play him in his best position and that not having to track back makes him a better player.

    I suggest he stays at Port Vale to the end of the season and then sign for them on a free. When Gary is managing in the Prem (either with us or someone else) Alex can invite him to watch him in League One to check his progress

  • Dave Mann says:

    Don’t think he will bother hey Julian , silly comment by a player who’s league one level even when he does get to his ‘best’ . KRO

  • Dave mann says:

    Yes, whatever that means . KRO

  • Mitchell says:

    Waking up to another round of nasty goings on within our beloved game. Greed and corruption appear to be on the up from the very top (UEFA,FIFA) to people very local etc.Fear is that this may be just the tip of what is to come out. Yesterday,I bought match tickets for my two grandsons who will be going to their first ever league game against Blackburn-today I am questioning whether I am doing them justice.

  • Dave Mann says:

    There’s good and bad in all sports and at the moment we’re seeing the bad side of football but let’s not tarnish all with the same brush , to me it’s a minority and that will always be the case for all time so keep the faith Mitchell and remember the good that a lot of sports stars bring to kids and that includes many footballers who don’t earn the millions and also don’t go down that road of doing what we’ve seen over the last few days . KRO

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