Often Partisan

To Play or Not to Play? That Is The Question

Today sees the final friendly of Blues’ pre-season and the only one at St Andrews, against Royal Antwerp of Belgium. It promises to be an interesting game with it already being confirmed that Jack Butland and new loan signing Ravel Morrison are to play for the first time at St Andrews.

It’s a strange one though. Whilst Blues are still effectively in pre-season, there will be thirteen of the thirty-five Capital One Cup first round ties taking place at the same time. Blues don’t play their tie against Barnet until Tuesday, with the first league game against Charlton Athletic taking place on Saturday August 18. With three games in a week, Lee Clark is left with a conundum – does he play his first choice team against Antwerp and then a fringe side against Barnet or vice versa? With Blues playing again against Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday August 21 it seems inconceivable that Clark will play his first choice team four games in succession over 10 days.

To add to this, there is now the added complication that Jack Butland, who has been all but named as the first choice goalkeeper this season will be missing from the team against Barnet as he has retained his place in the England squad for the friendly against Italy at the rather unfortunately named Wankdorf Stadium in Berne, Switzerland.

I suppose what it comes down to is how importantly Lee Clark rates the League Cup – is it something that Blues should aspire to win once again, or is it an unnecessary distraction to the Championship season? Does he need the full range of the team to dispose of Barnet or can he get away with some fringe and youth players?

I must admit, I’m conflicted. I do believe that the club should aim to win every game that they can; winning is a habit and if the team keeps doing it they can build momentum up into a run at the top of the table – just ask Reading last season. On the other hand, I do believe that Blues have more than enough firepower to take out Barnet and it would be a good game to blood some of the younger lights who have started to shine in pre-season.

When it comes down to it, I think Clark will put out a full strength team out today. If anything, I think he needs to see how Butland will work with his defence before the pre-season – especially as he can’t look at that against Barnet. Furthermore, I think Clark will give Ravel Morrison ninety minutes to see how he fits into the side and how he looks in a match situation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few changes up front during the game but once again I think he’ll start with his first choice front line – Lovenkrands needs game time as he’s finishing coming back from an injury sustained at the end of last season and it’s worthwhile to see how King will link up with him against a stronger defence than maybe the ones that Bury and Plymouth put up against Blues.

I also think it will be very unlikely that we’ll see young Ben Gordon get any action, having only signed yesterday on loan from Chelsea. He’ll need a few training sessions to get used to how we play and I think he may well be looked at to play against Barnet.

I’m looking forwards to this friendly and I will be posting my reflections on the game afterwards. The “real ball” is nearly out, the season is nearly here and I will confess my excitement. As they say over the pond, bring it on.

Pre Season 2012 sponsored by August Windows & Doors

Talking Points sponsored by John Hicken Industrial roofing and cladding materials

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16 Responses to “To Play or Not to Play? That Is The Question”

  • Rathater says:

    Never felt so excited about a start to a season! Got my season ticket, ordered my home shirt. I’ve even had a bet on promotion!

  • daddyblue says:

    Intresting blog Almajir, LC has already stated that this Saturday that he will ring the changes, so that all players have had the same playing time. I have been on one of the Chealski forums and they speak highlly of Blues and Gordon but an interesting point that was brought up, he is out of contract in the summer and is it a view to sign him at the end of the season. It does seem strange that he would come hear as basically a reserve left sided player Kro4ever.

  • andy says:

    Blues may be a little stronger than last season but so is the Championship as a whole. I dont expect to see a weakened team in the League Cup tie against Barnet, i think it will be much like last season and the 11 Lee Clark puts out on the pitch will give their all to win any given game.

    • daddyblue says:

      Carr will only play once a week, we will also mix and match thats why we have a squad, also having 7 subs is a big plus.Kro4ever

    • daddyblue says:

      Carr will only play once a week, we will also mix and match thats why we have a squad, also having 7 subs is a big plus.Kro4ever

    • nick wicky says:

      andy i don’t rate blackburn and bolton ias good as southamton and reading, or west ham even. They struggled to pull away from wolves last year,and blues gave wolves a good walloping in the fa cup. they’ve had to sell some of their better players since relegation. southampton,and reading spent £15million each to get promoted!

    • nick wicky says:

      Andy i don’t rate Blackburn and Bolton ias good as Southamton and Reading, or West Ham even. They struggled to pull away from wolves last year,and blues gave wolves a good walloping in the fa cup. they’ve had to sell some of their better players since relegation. Southampton,and Reading spent £15million each to get promoted!

    • KeeprightCroydON says:

      What’s your basis for saying that the Championship is stronger as a whole than last season? Every year there seems to be a belief that it is stronger than the previous season. By this reckoning it’s catching up with the Prem which off course is ridiculous. IMO the overall standard of the Championship is lower than
      last season. Compare the teams that when with the ones that replaced them.

  • Julian Glass says:

    ” League Cup – is it something that Blues should aspire to win once again …” This sentence looks so good :-)

  • ForevertheOptimist says:

    Agree With Julian,that sentence looks like it grew there.!!
    Some new exciting signings,mix of old pro’s and up and coming talent,could be a great season in the offering.
    Hope LC has learnt a bit from his previous tenure at Huddersfield and wins Manager of the Season.
    Can’t fault anything upto yet and hope we continue to feelgood and go from strength to strength.
    Good Luck Blues…KRO

  • skareggae72 says:

    Personally i would put out the 1st team for the first 45 min & let Butland bark out orders to the back 4,then use the 7 subs & take off the older players (eg Carr,King) and the key players(eg Burke, Davies)and for the Barnet game have a look at some of the`fringe`playes like Rooney & Jervis & play mostly youth who can comfortably play 2 games a week,and should also have enough to get us through.

  • TonyB says:

    We seem to be forgetting that last season CH was very successful at keeping the squad happy by using the squad players in Europe and the Cups. Why would we do any different this year?

    I think we’ll see Zigic and Rooney up front today, Gomis and Elliott in midfield, Ibanez and one or more of the kids in defence. Then Tuesday may be a bit more mixed up with a few fringe players and full strength next Saturday.

    • Blueboy 88 says:

      Why would we do any different this year ? – Because we are not in Europe….!!

      That was the advantage of playing 60+ games last season CH could keep everybody in the squad happy with regular game time.. Everybody was match fit & battle ready…

      LC will not have that luxury this season . That’s why I think its important we give the League Cup & FA Cup our full attention ..

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Good blod, almajir;, Stated some interesting scenario’s on team selection, !!.

    As said in an earlier post, I think we should adopt a winning mentality, So regarding the league Cup, efc, Go all out to win it from the start, Otherwise we may as well opt out of it and just play friendlies, ?.

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