Often Partisan

West Ham

My thoughts on the Carling Cup Semi-final first leg against West Ham. I’m writing this after watching it on BBC2.

1) The scoreline isn’t the end of the world.

Okay, we lost. It’s true, we lost – and for at least ten or twenty minutes, we could quite possibly have won. It’s not the end of the world though – we have ninety more (maybe one hundred and twenty) minutes to turn the tie around back at St Andrews. Furthermore, we can’t go into the second leg trying to cling on to a lead, or to shut them out. We have to be positive, we have to try and win. West Ham didn’t look that great, and if we can get into them and about them with a crowd behind us, we’ll rip them apart.

2) 4-5-1 isn’t as negative as some people think

West Ham started 4-5-1 as well, and when Obinna went off it went to 4-4-1, and they won. Clearly, it’s not the system that is the problem – it’s the way the players played. First half we were second to every ball, we were trying to play the long ball game with Jerome completely surrounded by Claret and Blue shirts. Second half, they stepped up five yards, passed it short and kept moving – and presto, we look like dynamite. For twenty minutes in the second half Aliaksandr Hleb and Barry Ferguson were just imperious. People have said we should have brought a second striker on, and maybe we should have – but the team was playing so well I’m guessing the thought was “why change this?”

3) Our players aren’t quite as bad as people are making them out to be

“Cameron Jerome is shit.” “Why the hell is he bringing on David Murphy?” “Keith Fahey is a championship player at best.”

I must admit, I was completely unimpressed by Fahey first half – but then again who did play well? When our team plays well, all three of those players look good. Jerome ran his socks off, chasing stuff down – and whilst his control let him down once or twice he did his best to try and bring us forward. He was unlucky not to score with the header cleared off the line (which suspiciously looked like hands to me). Murphy did really well when he came on; he gave us so much width down the left, and his crossing was superb. Even Fahey looked better in the second half, willing to give and go with the ball and helping to move it around as we pushed forwards.

It’s been hard to be a Birmingham City fan on the messageboards this evening, because as every time we lose, all the tactical genii come out who can point out Alex McLeish’s failings. I’ll admit, I felt angry after the Arsenal game, but this wasn’t in the same ballpark. Whilst we were poor in the first half, the change in the way we played in the second showed me that we do have it within us to do well. It’s not all bad; it never is – and there are things we can take from tonight’s game to give us hope for the weekend derby against the burgundy and baby blue lot from the wrong side of the expressway.

Furthermore, we should have at least wrapped up David Bentley’s loan then, which will give us another option. Dann being injured may be a pain, but we’ve got options in replacing him – either sticking with shifting Ridgewell back inside and playing Murphy left back, or playing Jiranek at centre half. I really do believe we’ll get a result against the Villa – I’d take a 2-1 defeat tonight every time if it meant guaranteeing a win over our neighbours. What is important is that we get behind the team this weekend, and we continue to trust and believe in the manager – he knows what he is doing.

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One Response to “West Ham”

  • Scoobers says:

    “Whilst we were poor in the first half, the change in the way we played in the second showed me that we do have it within us to do well”.

    We could say that Sir in many games this season, last night was not a one off.

    After an hour we had an unexpected opportunity to kill a tie off and another opportunity was missed. We never created too many clear cut opportunities throughout the match.

    We are still in this tie yet have made it harder for ourselves.

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