Often Partisan

Blues 3 v Nacional 0

Here are my reflections on the second leg of the Europa League Playoff Round tie against CD Nacional.

1) The Performance

I have to admit, beforehand I thought that Blues would go out in glorious failure. When I heard that we were going to put Mitchell Hancox on the bench (and no disrespect, because I rate the 17 year old left back) I thought we were going to be in trouble. Literally our last eighteen fit players. And yet this team which was almost thrown together, which contained a right back and a left midfielder in central midfield, two teenagers, and with only two players who’d made more than 30 appearances for the club, ripped the Portuguese side a new one. 3-0 didn’t flatter us; it could have been five or six. Credit to Chris Hughton for inspiring the team to play so well, and for setting us up to try to win instead of not to lose.

2) Nathan Redmond

People point to the Bolton FA Cup game as where Nathan’s talent shone but this was where he truly came of age. Starting and finishing his third game in a week, he terrorised the right hand side of Nacional. His goal was a peach. As he grew in confidence, his tricks grew more outrageous, beating the players who had taken to double-teaming him with a guile and grace that belied his years. As the Portuguese took to cynically fouling him to try and stop the young Brummie from bursting into the box, he was actually laughing. Laughing at how poor this defence was, and how easy European football must seem to be. I’ve spoken about how Nathan needs to show consistency, and he’s done that this week. If he can continue his form throughout the season we’ll be fighting to hold onto him come May.

3) Stephen Carr

I criticised him for his performance in the away leg, so it’s only right now I praise him for what was a match that showed him at his imperious best. Defensively he saved Myhill’s ass twice in the first twenty minutes; attacking he combined with Burke to give us a really strong outlet down the right. The thing with Carr is that he’s set his personal bar so high I’m not that surprised when he turns in performances like this because that’s what he is capable of. To me it’s imperative we hold on to him – he’s the captain, a leader and an inspiration. Stephen, I’m sorry I ever doubted you.

4) Chris Wood

Over the course of the two legs, our Kiwi international striker could have had a real hatful of goals; the fact he hasn’t is a combination of some profligacy in front of the goal, the goalposts and an incredible moment of selfishness from Adam Rooney, who really should have squared it. There is no denying that Wood is raw, but he definitely has talent; he won his fair share of headers, he held off defenders and he got to the right place at the right time to tap home Stephen Carr’s inviting ball (in saying that there were three blue shirts behind him ready for it). From speaking to the Albion correspondent at the Mail, Wood isn’t really needed there so I hope Hughton can convince the board to extend his loan to January – with six European games on top of the league now to come, we’re going to need a bigger squad.

5) We’re all going on a European Tour

I know that there are some naysayers pointing out the fact that we don’t need extra games with a threadbare squad. I know that some aren’t happy because the Europa League isn’t the most money-spinning of competitions either. However, this is what it’s all about. For years, I dreamed of heady European nights at St Andrews, and now we’ve got them. Last night was just brilliant; brilliant atmosphere, a great vibe around the place and the feeling we’re witnessing something special. I’m a cynical guy these days; I think you can shove trying to wing a draw against 8th in the Premier League – I’d take relegation and nights like last night any day of the week.

So we’ve got massive football scheduling disruption. So we’ve got lots of extra miles to travel, and we’ll probably get thumped. Bring. It. On.

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13 Responses to “Blues 3 v Nacional 0”

  • Mark says:

    well said…….. what a excellent night for the bluenoses.. who cares as long as blues play good football and players are playing for their shirt. If CH can get more players in who wish to play for birmingham city combined with younger players, who knows what can happen…….. We all agree that we want to see attacking football bring on Nathan. KRO

  • Dirty Bertie says:

    Blues fans enjoying a football match? Not allowed is it?

  • Mortonsblue says:

    Spot on once again! A great night and more attacking football in 90 mins than the last 2 years. Can we hope that some of the the £1m prize money and estimated £6-7m extra income from TV and gate receipts will be spent in advance over the next week or so?

  • Daniel says:

    Well, yesterdays glum picture of a “glorious failure” replaced with ethusiasm about probably being thumped for 6 games. I like this change of spirit. :-)

  • ndf says:

    Good comments about a great result. The crowd were tremendous and hopefully the message may have hit home with a couple of those contemplating leaving the club for more lucrative deals that st andrews is due more nights like this over the next few months and their stock will rise as a result. You never know with their participation progression may be a possibility and the dream of returning to the premiership may even become a reality rather than a dream. Last nights display was fantastic but we cant escape the thinness of the squad so numbers as well as quality are important.

  • Blue through & through says:

    Glorious Victory!!
    See what happens when you play positive football, awesome
    The only glum picture now, is on the faces of the villa fans!!! YES!!!

  • Leebluenose says:

    Last night was as good as I have seen us play for a while and Redmond run the show. Huge credit to CH for the attacking style of play, it feels like the dark cloud is lifting from above St Andrews, bring on the draw and sunny away trips to Italy.
    Anyone got any idea were I can see the highlights?

  • Daniel says:

    Having seen the draw I actually feel a bit optimistic. We might not be able to scoop past Braga, but we might get second.

  • JohnR says:

    Good blog and a bit of a turn around from yesterday. I went for 2-1 and the team surpassed my expectations by a mile. A fantastic game and what a response from the fans.

    I’m sorry to disagree with you about Wood, a hard worker yes, a goal scorer no. We had enough clear chances to have scored at least eight. If we had had King and Jerome up front last night it could have been a cricket score.

    I would love us to repeat this performance against Watford but my worry is they’ll be running on empty. As you say we were down to our last 18 last night with five teenagers on the bench and Fahey who’s not 100% fit.

  • Blue Steve says:

    Well said Almajir. A great win last night. Great display by every player. One thing you have not so far mentioned is the financial rewards for winning last night. We immediately get 1,000,000 Euro followed but 140,000 for each win in the group stage and 70,000 for each draw. Much needed cash of which some will hopefully be invested before the deadline. KRO.

    • bluesbot says:

      and if we continue to get full houses for our home games in the group then that will also be a much welcome addition to the coffers !!
      Done right it and with some more decent performances like that one then it could also help push sales via merchandising, more sponsorship and better gates in our league fixtures
      it might not get us totally out of the brown stuff but it all helps – you never know we might even attract some new investors – or better still a new owner :D

  • slap1967 says:

    Given the circumstances Ifelt as good coming away from this game as I did coming out of Wembley last Feb.
    Last season to have 3 shots in a game would have been an acheivement!!!!!!!
    Only been to the Derby game and this one but have to say I am instantly impressed with what CH has already done. I’m writing this after the Watford game and I have to say that despite sitting 1 place above relegation and the club apparently crumbling around us I’m still really looking forward to this season and going into it with a smile on my face.
    Just discovered often partisan and spent afew hours reading through the various blogs, it’s really helped me get an understanding on what going on at the club. thank you

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