Often Partisan

Knocked out but still proud – Europa League review v Maribor

Here are my reflections on the Blues v NK Maribor game tonight at St Andrews. Please be aware that due to me feeling like death with man-flu and vertigo, I watched this on ITV 4.

1) The dream is over

I will admit that I’m gutted that the European dream is over; however, like pretty much every Bluenose out there I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly and I’m glad that Blues went out on a high note. The game was a bit flat in parts – I believe mainly cos of the news filtering through from the Jan Breydal Stadion to the terraces – but it was great to see another spellbinding performance from young Nathan Redmond. I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed to see Adam Rooney being given the nod over both Chris Wood and Marlon King at first but I’ll be honest enough to eat humble pie and say he had a good game. What the Europa League has given Blues is a chance to give other players game time and I think it’s benefitted the squad as a whole.

2) Nathan Redmond

Deservedly given the MOTM award, and I don’t think many people would disagree with me if I said that this was the young winger’s best performance since the Nacional game. Indeed, he was unlucky not to score with the volley that smashed back off the inside of the post. My only criticism is more one of Chris Hughton – I thought that when Nathan was asked to cut inside more it detracted from his game a little; I thought it was obvious that Redmond had the beating of the left back Arghus and I’d like to have seen more of Redmond doing him on the outside and getting crosses in from the bye-line. In saying that, there is a lot of talk on twitter from fans of other teams about the 17-year-old now – Redmond has set himself a high bar and it’s up to him to keep it up.

3) Morgaro Gomis and Keith Fahey

I wanted to mention the two central midfielders after some of the flak that Blues’ central pairings have received this season. Whilst neither were spectacular both were fairly neat and tidy, kept it simple and barring a couple of stray passes generally bossed the central midfield. In truth Maribor were poor, but I think that was partly down to these two mopping up stuff and keeping the Maribor midfield from getting going. It was also good to hear Fahey’s name being cheered at the start – let’s hope people remain positive about the Irishman.

4) Nikola Zigic

The one down point for me was once again our lanky Serbian – at times he looked like he was running through treacle, he seemed a bit half-hearted when he went for some balls and I don’t believe he’s match fit. The problem Blues have is that Nikola still has a lengthy contract with Blues, and I can’t see anyone at the moment taking him on – even without a transfer fee. It’s unfortunate but Zigic could well be our John Utaka – a player that is a millstone around our neck wages-wise that we can’t get rid of.

It’s harsh to go out the Europa League with ten points, but on the balance of the games I’ve seen I think Blues have done us proud. Like many I was worried we wouldn’t be able to give it a proper go – as it is we had some good away trips, some very fond memories that will live long in the mind and all in all, it’s been a great experience. I just hope it’s not fifty years until we get there again.

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24 Responses to “Knocked out but still proud – Europa League review v Maribor”

  • Violent Pacifist says:

    That penalty miss was on my mind as I left the ground.

    Braga at home and how the game changed when we bought the first team on.

    Oh well, season over.

  • JohnR says:

    Season over – what absolute rubbish. We’ve had a fantastic first half of the season with our European adventure and we are in a decent position in the league. We can now push on in the league and secure a play off position at the least. The second half of the season should be pretty exciting.

  • leigh says:

    No, the season has just begun, it all depends on the Bankers and January.
    Do not criticise anyone at St Andrews about our departure from Europe, if you must apportion blame, look only at the firth round of matches, and blame the fates for a deflected ball in Braga and a collapse in Maribor, and if you must go further a frightened referee also in Braga.
    It is now promotion, and if you must just one FA Cup win in the 3rd round would be the icing on the cake.

  • Jaffa says:

    Now we can have a real go at promotion.Great to see Jordan Much back and yes Zigic is awfull.

  • alexjhurley says:

    Zigic out !

  • Ian B says:

    Re Zigic – not only poor in this game but let’s not forget his weak penalty in Braga that left us the point short of qualification to the knockout rounds.

  • Violent Pacifist says:

    I take it you haven’t seen many of our recent games then JohnR?

    Mid table obscurity if we’re lucky and yes I do blame Zigic for his poxy missed penalty, never seen him take one before and he should have been no-where near it.

    ‘push on in the league and secure a play off position at the least. The second half of the season should be pretty exciting.’

    Dream on

  • Kimberley Blue says:

    Roy Hodgson was at the game last night .. was he interested in Zigic for WBA?

  • TR7 says:

    I have to say I find all of this Zigic criticism quite amusing and even a little confusing. Why bother wasting time and energy ( a bit like I am now , writing this !.. ) when it was patentley obvious to ANYONE who had ever watched 2 or more football games in their life , that the man was woefully lacking in virtually every department from the minute he wombled out on to the pitch at St Andrew back in the day when we were in the Premiership ( Blimey , remember the Premiership? ) ! I ranted and ranted none stop for the first cringingly embarassing month about how he was the single most catastrophic and expensive mistake that Blues have ever made.
    I was shouted down by more than a few , to ” Give him a chance ” ” He’s improving every game ” etc etc … He was rubbish from day one , he can’t even warm up properly ! Apart from the very dubious ‘ talent’ of being ‘ akward to handle ‘ there is nothing at all the marks him out as even a most basic , below average bloke who likes a kick about with his mates in the park on a sunny afternoon.
    So with that said ( Yet again ! ) I can’t quite grasp this new salvo of rage . Why bother ? I don’t even mention him now , although I couldn’t help laughing out loud last night when the ball spun up from one of his ( well meaning ) tackle attempts , and landed on his completely unaware head, comedy gold!

  • Bleunez says:

    The problem with Zigic is that he has always been the tallest player on the pitch. When he was at school he never had to jump for a header, so never learned to. He has brought this deficiency into his game as a pro. He is 6 ft 8 standing, and 5 ft 11 when he jumps.

  • Dirty Bertie says:

    Careful, this blogbooing of Zigic is beginning to sound like the real stuff flung at Fahey.

    I like to see somat different to the usual automaton ploughing, relentlessly up and down the pitch and Zigic can have an effect now and then as well as providing some, often unintended, entertainment.

    I still smile to remember him sliding in to hit his right foot shot onto his left leg in order to loop it in slow motion over the forlornly grasping hand of the diving Friedel. Genius!

    Like it or not he’s a Blues player, try to make the best of him.

    • almajir says:

      I think anyone who says Zigic isn’t a footballer is wrong; he’s got an excellent pedigree for his country and whilst he was playing in Spain.

      I’m not sure if it’s us not playing to his strengths, Zigic not adapting to the English game or if he’s truly not fit but something isn’t right. The one on one in the first half was indicative of a player low on confidence who knew he wasn’t going to score. I’d have liked nothing better than to see Zig score it but we all knew he wasn’t going to.

    • TR7 says:

      Like I said in my earlier comment DB , I’ve long stopped publically moaning about him , I try not to even refer to him at the game these days , in fact I try not to even look at him………..

  • alexjhurley says:

    Like I said, and will keep saying, Zigic out !

    He’s not doing it, he’s not going to do it, he’s a massive drain on resources and we simply must get rid if we possibly can, as soon as we possibly can.

  • parkp says:

    I must admit i am disappointed in Zigic, you expect better from a £6million player on 65 grand a week! The guy was a big factor in blues reaching and then winning the Carling cup final. Other than that he has done nothing. Financially he is a disaster for blues at the minute, costing half the gate receipt money! It wouldnt be so bad if he were shooting blues up the table but he looks far from doing that at the moment.

  • DoctorD says:

    Like I have said several times, I think some Prem club will be in for Zigic during the transfer window to save them from trouble. I for one would be delighted if he bogged off to Bolton, Blackburn or Wolves. Real shame we got knocked out, but in the cold light of day we probably wouldn’t have made it past the last 32 anyway.

  • parkp says:

    I would be amazed if any struggling prem club signs Zigic, Swansea and Norwich are the clubs chasing him but are they gonna pay his wages? I dont think so, he aint gonna take a pay cut and he also says he is happy and settled in Birmingham. Mind you i would be on 65k per week!

  • SJ1 says:

    I think the criticism for him has been over the top. Just look at all the important goals he has actually scored? He has a knack for scoring important goals. Zigic is a good player.. but in the Spanish Leagues, he hasn’t adapted to the English leagues which is a shame. He tries hard, which is what I like. To be honest, I also knew he was going to miss that penalty, he shouldn’t have ever taken it. But, You only need to look at some of the best players in the world, to see bad misses or even bad seasons all together! Keep Positive is all I can say! Oh and Keep Right On!

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