Often Partisan

Zigic Saves The Day – Blues v Charlton Match Reflections

Here are my reflections on the match between Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic at St Andrews.

1) A Point Stolen?

I’m not entirely sure that Blues deserved a draw; whilst the match was very even I don’t remember Blues having that many shots that troubled Ben Hamer in the Charlton goal. Blues seemed to continue with the theme of rustiness at the back from Barnet and after Charlton scored I thought that would be it. Still, I thought this game would be tough and it proved to be so so maybe a point isn’t the worst result.

2) Angry Zigic

He was only on the pitch ten minutes but what a difference Zigic made. Yes, he can be a frustrating player at times but today he was the reason we got back into it. Within a minute of coming on he’d clattered a Charlton centreback, within three Charlton made a substitute purely to counteract the effect of the big Serb. Ziggy always seems to play better when he’s slightly wound up and today he proved it, dancing through the defence onto Burke’s pass to bury it past the keeper – something no other Blues player had looked like doing all game. More of that please Nikola.

3) Raving about Ravel

Today, Ravel had it all. Not just the passing, but the workrate and the defensive qualities that a good midfielder has to have. I was impressed by his vision – he doesn’t just play balls into the right areas, but most of the time he plays them at the right pace and angle so that a player can just run onto it and use the ball straight away without having to control it. There was an attack in the second half where I expected Ravel to recycle the ball back out to Murphy for another cross but Ravel was smart enough to take a touch and then play it in such a way Murph could just run on to it and cross the ball. If he can keep playing like that we have a real talent on our hands.

4) The defence

Once again, the defence looked a little ropey at times; Curtis Davies had a real off day, shanking some clearances and not timing his tackles as well as he could whilst Will Packwood outside of him struggled manfully with a position that isn’t natural to him. I don’t think he was terrible; he did make a couple of good blocks and a couple of good clearances but he also got absolutely done twice and his positioning let him down once or twice too. He’s clearly not a full back and the hope is with Jonathan Spector coming on as a sub that Spector will be back sooner rather than later if Carr isn’t.

5) Crossing

Blues had an off day getting the ball to the front two which was caused by two factors. Firstly, the Charlton keeper Hamer caught absolutely everything in the air. It’s fair to say I thought he had a great game because he didn’t allow anything to trouble him from the wings which negated a lot of Blues attacking threat. This wasn’t helped either by Chris Burke having a bit of an off day, running into blind alleys and not crossing the ball well. Blues need a plan B for if the “get it to the byline and whip it in” doesn’t work – it’s my opinion that had Ziggy come on sooner we could have switched to pinging it to Ziggy from diagonals and then used players to make runs off the flicks Zigic provides. C’est la vie.

In essence, not the worst game for Blues but by no means the best either. There is still room for improvement but there are signs that the improvement will come.

The match in numbers

90 – the number of goals scored by Eddie Brown (who was remembered with a minutes applause before the game) for the Blues
6 – the number of touches I counted Nikola Zigic having whilst on the pitch
3 – the number of players clattered by Nikola Zigic whilst on the pitch

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25 Responses to “Zigic Saves The Day – Blues v Charlton Match Reflections”

  • tony says:

    It was good to remember Eddie Brown but easy to forget the rest of the day.The back four were awful at times and Morrison apart i thought the rest were poor .On reflection it was a good point after playing so bad.

  • Bluehobba says:

    It was hard work trying to enjoy the match yesterday, but a point in the end was gratefully received. I thought Morrison worked hard yesterday and was running the midfield for us so was very surprised to see him come off for Redmond. I would have taken off Ambrose as he wasn’t at the races. Never the less its early days and it could prove to be a valuable point.

  • Dave Sherlock says:

    There’s a lot of expectation this season all of a sudden.. There were genuinely people on twitter saying Clark out when we were one nil down. Let’s not turn into our neighbours from down the road we got a point which is better then the loss we suffered on the opening day of last year and poor Chris Hughton’s first day back in the prem didn’t look a fun one… When the new boys settle we’ll be up there keep right on !!!

  • nick wicky says:

    Blues didn’t play well and it may take a bit of time for the new players to bed in,but at least they got a point. At least the other results went blues way. some of the so called big guns who were going to walk it lost like wolves and bolton and blackburn got a draw!

  • Masaccio says:

    first league game of the season, hottest day of the year, slotting new players in. we will get better.

  • sheldonman says:

    How on earth was Marlon King allowed to stay on the pitch.? I know he works hard but he hardly won a header, his lay offs were rubbish and he was caught offside loads of times, so frustrating ! He was the same last season but usually managed to score a goal, so was generally forgiven for his faults. Nathan Redmond came on and showed good all round play, so should be a regular
    in the team and Ziggy came on again and made the difference. It;s easy to sit here and be a manager, but surely he can see the same as the rest of us !

  • theurbaneguerilla says:

    One point better off than this time last season. Forza Blues! KRO

  • Sophie Bane says:

    The thing about Ziggy that is both infuriating and brilliant at the same time is that he doesn’t score that many goals (infuriating), but the ones he does score usually count (brilliant). How many times has he rescued points for us over the years? Not a great game by all accounts, but scraping points while having an off-day is how you get out of this division, so I don’t think we should be too worried.

  • Paulo says:

    To put it mildly ..we were sh*te. I didn’t see anything wrong with who was on the pitch, or anything wrong with who was where! All i noticed was that it was frustrating to watch, as blues just took too much time in trying to keep possesion, and again …just couldn’t finish. I didn’t notice any tactics played by Charlton, but their gaffer was very busy with his notepad, and the game did at times afll into their favour ..noteably 3 very poor referee decisions against us, that were all so blatanty obvious …penalty not given, free kicks not given and a super dive by one of them that the bloke should be holding classes in how to dive ..with dignity, and get away with it.
    It was frustrating, and at times I found myself checking out the new stewards and what they were up to ..as well as choking at the price of a burger, a fanta and a coffee (almost forgotten the catering racket), and the introduction of the new choir in the Gil Merrick.
    I did have a good read of the new programme though …which was nice.

    At least Zigic gave us some redemption and let us finish the game with style …!

  • AR says:

    First of all let me make clear that I think that Butland MAY make a very good goalkeeper. But is it at present rather like The Emperor’s New Clothes; are we all being deluded by the hype and selection for GB & England. I have seen Butland twice now live & quite a few times on TV and he always makes me fearful. Yesterday the contrast between Charlton’s ‘keeper & ours was enormous & ultimately significant. Butland never attempted to come out for a corner or free-kick into his 6 yard area, and in the end it allowed Charlton to score. I don’t think I have ever seen a Blues’ ‘keeper as poor in this situation & consequently the defence is unnerved; why do you think the back four are not playing as well. Certainly I for one would drive him to Southampton for £6 million. As for Morrison, I saw him have an excellent first half against Barnet and since then he hasn’t been the same. His passes are mostly sideways and though he has a decent shot in both feet, he only once tried a shot.

    • Bluehobba says:

      I agree that the Charlton keeper did have a game dominating his area yesterday but he had to do nothing out of the normal for a keeper. I don’t recall him having to make any serious save. As for Butland he did nothing wrong yesterday and wasn’t at fault for the goal. Charlton wanted it more when it came to winning that last header when scoring. As for seeing a keeper so poor in that situation it was his first game in a Blues shirt without the hype of the Euro’s and the olympics so I suggest you look through the didvisions and see how many 19yr olds keepers are playing 1st team football and certainly at this level. Experience will come eventually.

      • John says:

        Butland was at fault for Charltons goal. The goal was started by a right wing corner, that fell inside the 6 yard box and any good ‘keeper should make that ball his own. A keeper MUST command his 6 yard box. He is only young and he will learn !

  • RichardW says:

    Agreed King’s offsides were frustrating but he needs the service he and Lovenkrands never got. Burke was too self-indulgent and needs a quiet word. Ambrose is wasted on the left, Butland must be encouraged to come out for crosses, too. Morrison looked to play a little further forward in the second half and was more effective.Still, a point !

    • John says:

      Playing Ambrose wide on the left is a waste of a player. He is a central midfielder,who,when played in this position,will score goals and set them up. He quite clearly is not left footed and playing him out there,means we virtually play with 10 men.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    I thought that Butland DID command his box and had quite a good game for hs debut. Clarke must give King a rocket about his persistant offsides. Lowenkrands had a poor game, so why did it take Clarke 85 minutes to reaalise this? Morrison was again my man of the match, so hoping that Clarke’s decision to take him off again is down to fitness. We gave the ball away far too often and Mullens couldnt pass water. Blues vocal support was very poor. A lot to improve on, but by no means a disastrous start!

  • AR says:

    For Charlton’s goal the ball was at least twice in the air in the 6 yard box. For me the ‘keeper needs to get it or punch clear; Butland did neither. All afternoon he never dominated the area, and until he starts doing so, we will continue to “give” goals away. As for Bluehobba’s comment about looking for another 19 year old playing 1st team football, I don’t think it is important in the context of whether he is good enough. He has now played 2 games (not one) for the first team and in both matches has been responsible for a goal. I don’t think we can afford to carry on seeing him in the first team and hoping he will not let another soft goal in.

  • AR says:

    I don’t want to argue, but I am of course; it was the first team that was chosen against Antwerp and for what we are discussing it does not matter whether it was a League game, a cup game or a Friendly (which it was), he made a howler for the first goal. For ALL intents and purposes he was in the first team and friendlies are still relevant.

  • Blue blood says:

    I want big zig to stay, I’d rather have him in the squad, he does offer something different at the time when it matters the most, suppose he could take a pay cut, but why if he keeps scoring,
    We lost away to derby 1st game last season, we still finished 4th, we have a point on the board, unbeaten at home, and looking like we have goals in us, it’s a marathon not a sprint, KRO

  • denis thwaites says:

    There are a lot of critical comments raised about yesterday’s performance which may be justified but we shouldn’t get carried away too soon. It is asking a lot for the team to just click straight away. A 19 year old keeper who however talented he might be is still learning his trade A rookie full back who was playing out of position and a midfield full of new recruits and a new guy up front as well.

    Myhill struggled at first last season and so did Doyle but they improved and this lad Butland will too provided he doesn’t have his confidence knocked. He needs encouragement not criticism!

    We have two very tough away games this week and my fear is that if we don’t get much return from those games which is likely that the knives will start getting sharpened over the new management and players and we don’t need that. We took time to get going last year and its unrealistic to expect anything different this year.

    I agree that Morrison looked a gifted player yesterday and his temperament looked sound too.For me he was the biggest plus.

    It takes time to get a cohesive style of play and we must wait and see if that materialises. I understand the disappointment of yesterdays performance and was equally frustrated watching us struggle but I hope as watching supporters we can be realistic about how soon we can expect us to click.

  • andy says:

    We cant be too critical so early but it was a poor performance from Blues and we looked like we struggled to put any pressure at all on their goalkeeper. Zigic saved the day with a decent goal and im confident he will be key for Blues this season.

  • Northern Exile says:

    I think the article hits the nail on the head. The other thing in particular was that the midfield was lacklustre and unbalanced. Ambrose or Redmond on the left is a total waste, though at least Redmond is naturally a winger and has a bit of pace to make up for it. Morrison was solid, Mullins was unspectacular but will probably have better games. Burke had an off day, but I think we will see more of that as we’ve become very, very obvious in the way we set ourselves up: get the ball down the wings and rely on Burke to come up with any creative spark. Hopefully the influence of Morrison in the middle and a better plan for the problem left wing position can remedy that in future. God only knows how She Said No managed to score so many goals last season. Every time I see him his awareness and positioning seems ever more woeful.

  • AR says:

    I am guessing that Northern Exile is snidely referring to Marlon King, but against Barnet he was excellent. He had a great season for us last year and he has done his time.

  • wheresmecell says:

    I agree with you almajir that we nicked a point at the end..why did it take till then to get a striker facing the goal with the ball at his feet ? Butland certainly looks the part but we look really exposed from corners – he must come out to deal with balls into his 6 yard box and so I also agree with those who blame him for Charltons goal.. Ravel looks a real handful in midfield . Burke didnt have a great game . All in all I was disappointed with our play , we got out of jail , so , as usual , it will be an interesting ride this season , but with some of our new signings I am optimistic .

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