Often Partisan

Blues v Mallorca (a review)

Mallorca beat Blues by a solitary goal, scored by Spanish u21 forward Emilio Nsue just after the hour mark.

The game in itself was pretty scrappy; there was some rough and tumble challenges as the ground was slick after a heavy shower dumped a week’s worth of rain in about ten minutes just after kick off. Blues started with a fairly strong team, although Craig Gardner was playing in the unfamiliar position of right back due to injuries to Stephen Carr and Stuart Parnaby. Cameron Jerome partnered a leaner looking Garry O’Connor up front and both started fairly brightly.

Jerome grew in stature throughout the game; he chased lost causes, had some good touches and showed his close control is continuing to improve. O’Connor however didn’t look as sharp to me; the difference in pace was pretty vast and it seemed that the Spaniards had worked out that they could close O’Connor out of the game by keeping close to him.

Blues best chance in the first half was a Johnson header onto the bar, from a Seb Larsson free kick; although they were also unlucky to score from one goalmouth scramble where the Mallorca keeper had completely flapped at it. Nikola Zigic came on for O’Connor at half time, and I was impressed by his control and his football brain – although he didn’t get very close to scoring, his linkup with Jerome was good and he seemed to work well with the wide men too.

I also got my first chance to see Enric Valles in the flesh, and whilst I’m not going to say he’s the second coming of the messiah, I will say he’s far superior to Keith Fahey on the left flank. Tall, fairly quick with a lovely touch and an eye for a pass, I think we’ve got a bargain in the young Spaniard. Whilst Foster didn’t catch my eye as much as Joe Hart did the first time I saw him, I thought he did okay; he wasn’t at fault for the goal in my eyes as much as the defence were for allowing the right midfielder to get behind them.

Here is where I show off. Prior to the game, I remarked to Andy, bossman of SHA, that the two players from Mallorca to watch were their number 12, Jonathan de Guzman and number 8, Emilio Nsue. I did add that I knew of them from FM; but that both had good reputations. The goal came from an absolute peach of a pass from de Guzman to the right sided Mallorca player (not sure who), who cut it behind the flailing blues defence to a well positioned Emilio Nsue who stroked the ball calmly home.

Blues lost Kevin Phillips to a suspected torn thigh muscle right at the death; that and an injury to Scott Dann in the first half highlights that additions the squad are needed now; news that we’re close to the signings of Mauro Camoranesi and Fabio Grosso on Sky Sports News would help assuage some of my doubts but I still think we needed a pacy forward – Dembele and a covering centre back (I’m gonna stick my neck out and say Nordveit).

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