Often Partisan

A Vast Improvement; Blues v Bristol City Reflections

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

1) Finally

It’s taken eight league games at Stans but Blues finally delivered tonight the kind of performance that the fans want to see. From the off the team played with a high tempo, attacking the ball and pressing to recover it and with creativity to craft chances. After so many games where the team has looked lacklustre and lifeless it was a welcome change and for the fourteen thousand or souls to braved a chilly night it was a decent repayment for keeping the faith.

I will admit that my faith was severely tested when I first heard the team news; I couldn’t believe that Clark was persisting with Paul Robinson (the most left-footed player I’ve ever seen) at right-back and Wade Elliott at left midfield. Indeed, I think it took the injury to Curtis Davies and the subsequent reshuffle which saw Jonathan Spector slotted in at right back to balance the team throughout but the truth is Robbo didn’t do too badly on the right or the middle and Wade looked a much better player than the weekend.

2) Zigic and King

When on form I would go as far to say that I don’t believe that there are many better strikers in this division than these two former internationals. Both played with panache, with creativity an a high workrate which gave Blues a continual outlet up the right end of the pitch. Zigic was imperious; winning everything in the air, producing deft little flicks to play in others and setting up the second goal with a perfect knocked down ball for King to bury. Marlon looked much happier too; he worked the channels to great effect and was always looking to receive the ball. I’m not sure if it was because the Robins played deeper but King rarely seemed to be offside and his movement was much more effective in the final third.

3) Mullins

Whisper it quietly, but Hayden Mullins had a very good game. When you have a player of the quality of Ravel Morrison next to you who is going to play an expansive midfield game it’s imperative that you stick to the basics and break up play – something Mullins did well tonight. He won the ball often, played nice little passes to try to start the play and was always available to help switch the play from flank to flank. Tonight was the proof he can still do it – it’s important now that he keeps doing it.

4) Goals

If you will pardon the vernacular, the goals tonight released what had become quite a monkey on the collective backs of the Blues players. Prior to tonight they had scored five goals at home in the league – something that I think has not helped the atmosphere whatsoever aside from the results – and you could almost feel the relief in the tension when Burke smashed the ball home. Blues improved their attacking outlet on Saturday as they overloaded Ipswich in desperation; today the improvement was purely down to confidence. In the last twenty minutes Blues were purring, stroking the ball around and creating gaps in the Bristol City defence at will. Confidence is such a big thing in football and I hope that they can take that forward to the next game knowing that they can do it and reproduce that form.

Before I get carried away with positivity it is only one game, it was only 2-0 and it was the worst team I’ve seen visiting St Andrews for some time. Recently we’ve seen more false dawns than the average nuclear test site; it is a good standard but the bar has now been set and Blues have to keep achieving that or better. The continual test of Lee Clark’s management is to do that – but if he does, Blues will climb the league and he will slowly regain favour.

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53 Responses to “A Vast Improvement; Blues v Bristol City Reflections”

  • RUPERT says:

    Good report. Bristol were dire but not much worse than other teams that have beaten us. Well done Lee Clark tonight

  • alexjhurley says:

    They were crap weren’t they (the other Bcfc)? Nonetheless that was as good a performance as any under hughton and I have to say I thought zigic had the best game I’ve seen him have for us.

  • Baller says:

    We want Clark, and therefore the Blues, doing brilliantly. This was a better performance, greater tempo and more incisiveness. But It is clear Bristol City were very poor.
    Of course, it is something to build on. However, there were many areas for significant improvement.
    Burke’s best game of the season, Zigic doing well and the no.9 stayed on-side most times. Spector brought balance.
    Davies injury a worry. Where were Redmond and Lita?

    • RUPERT says:

      I believe Redmond tweeted he was injured ? Lita might also be injured but not sure. Ziggy wonderful, at last we didnt just lump it up to him aimlesley, the guy can play on the deck

  • skareggae72 says:

    Better,but i wish certain players,Mullins etc would stop releasing media soundbytes and let their football do the talking between now and May,its going to be a tough 6-7 months.

    • almajir says:

      Unfortunately, BCFC are mandated to have a press conference with the manager and a player before every match.

  • Letsby Avenue says:

    :-)

    Well, there you go

    :-)

    5 points off a play-off position, Cardiff, Leicester collapsing and who’d have put Palace at the Top afterr the 3rd week ?

    Clark can’t stop players making cr@p passes, he can’t go on the pitch with a gun and threaten them to play the way they trained…but I’ve thought a couple of times that that thought should be a Rule.

    The players have let us done in 3 matches, at least – And Clark has received the abuse of the ‘loyal and faithfull’ – who transfer player incompetance and indifference onto the manager’s ability to motivate, or tactics, or inexperience.

    Well done Blues – and all the fans who went tonight

    • Kaje says:

      So, when we lose it’s the teams fault but when we win it’s all down to Clark?

      That’s like an athlete praising ‘God’ when they win but refusing to blame him when they lose.

      Both were to blame (the players and the manager, God doesn’t exist) for our awful form and both are to be praised for the win.

      That said, as Almajir has said above, it’s one very good performance and one positive result out of many, many, many awful to mediocre games this season. It’s nothing to crow about yet and there’s just as much hard graft ahead, if not more, to ensure we go on a run of wins (home and away).

      Only then will Clark deserve any true praise from the fans. He’s still got an awful lot to prove.

      • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

        Did you go last night Kaje?

        • Kaje says:

          Whether I did or not has absolutely nothing to do with my reply to your post. If you’re attempting to find a hole you can pick through, you won’t, so why not respond to it based on the points raised as opposed to attempting to see if you’re a ‘better’ fan than me.

          • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

            Ah right

            So you didn’t :)

            Thought so

          • Kaje says:

            That has nothing to do with it, Paul.

            You can’t claim to be ‘the voice of reason’ and then dictate someone’s suitability as a fan by them missing a single game due to more important commitments.

  • The Hurc says:

    I though Ziggy was majestic last night. Deft little touches, worked hard upfront and happy to link up play in midfield. He was also P155ed off when he was told he could not take the PK.

    Keep it up Ziggy and the lads.

    Enjoyed the game and there was even a decent atmosphere albeit only from 14,000 loyal supporters.

  • Barry says:

    So, we have the ability to defeat a crap opposition on our day. Can we have the same again on the next game please and all future ones please? It’s what the fans pay to see and the players are paid to do.

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    Some of you are looking really silly this morning aren’t you.

    Lost a few games and it’s suicide time. That’s football and even more so that’s Bues,

    I’ve said already that this season we’ll win some and lose some probably in equal measure and finish around halfway. We’ll have good days and bad days. So to all the people blaming Clark when we lose then it must be down to him that we won last night and he got the best out of all the players. Yeah.

    Last night we were great and Burke was back to his best, The boo boys were gutted cos Mullins had a great game (didn’t stop em booing pre match when his name got mentioned in the line up though nor Ziggy – these scumbags really should feck off). All in all a really great night, well done to the 14K who turned up. Anyone else going to Blackburn?

    KRO lads.

    • Kaje says:

      One game does not hide a ‘season so far’ of poor to mediocre performances and decisions of both the players and the manager.

      Yes, people rightly blame both the manager and the players for losses and so they should both be praised for last night’s win.

      But let’s not forget that it was against a team who many are predicting to be relegated, and it was one game out of many.

      Go on a winning run now and keep a level of consistency through to the season’s end and Lee Clark will win the respect of the fans, as will the players. But anyone who thinks last night made up for the season so far is an absolute fool.

      • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

        Agreed but I would add the caveat that anyone who thinks we can go on long unbeaten runs is a fool also.

        Win some lose some is what we’ll get.

        Glad to see you’re now including the players in the blame game. Put a shift in like last night more often and we’ll be fine

      • Graham Woodward says:

        Aye let’s not get carried away just yet. Other times we’ve won this season half a dozen players have come out saying “this is our spring board etc etc” only to play terrible the next game. We only beat Bristol City, it’s Blackburn away next. Let’s see where we are Saturday evening.

  • andy says:

    I would imagine Lee Clark is thinking exactly what we are at this moment, and that is can those players keep it up? Its something Clark has touched on following some away games and one thing for sure is that he will stay loyal to the players who have put in a shift and played well. Under the circumstances i think Paul Robinson has been a great signing for Blues, for the dressing room as well as out on the pitch. All the players deserve praise for last night but it was more pleasing to see Zigic, King and Burke all in fine form. KEEP IT GOING!!!

  • Ali Duncan says:

    Good performance. It was indeed the worst team I’ve seen this season (apart from us) but so what! At least it was a solid showing with some nice passing football, another clean sheet and without doubt a return to form of a few players which can only boost confidence.

    I thought the atmosphere for 14k was excellent. It was the first time I’ve sat with (near) the Gil Merrick Lower Ultras and they were in fine voice. I really hope their numbers grow and I will be sitting in the GML for all home games from now on. What was also pleasing was a good bit of noise coming from the Kop corner by the away fans. I hope this is the start of a better atmosphere at Stans.

    KRO!

  • Bluenosesol says:

    I was gutted that I had to miss the game last night, but I listened to the second half on the radio and despite the low attendance the atmosphere sounded terrific. I can not believe the number of “fans” who are bemoaning and begrudging this victory. We are all entitled to have grave doubts about Clark and the parlous state of ownership of the club, but for goodnes sake, when we get a victory lets be positive! Our first target this season is to gain a 10 point cushion from the relegation zone to offset the possibility of effects from administration, looks like we are getting there. Anything else is a bonus. This situation will only alter if we get new owners and a cash injection in January. Blackburn up next and with our efforts against Cardiff, Brighton, Leeds and Leicester, we have proven that we have the potential to win any game. So lets keep right on and acknowledge progress when it happens!

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    On leaving the game one bloke was telling his mate it was a shocking performance cos the finishing was poor. You just can’t win with these people, booing Mullins and Zigic when their names were mentioned in the line up even before the teams had come out is inexcusable.

    • bluenoseneil says:

      I agree, that’s utterly disgusting and I woul rather have a lower gate at the game than these clowns keeping our seats warm.

    • SirHarry1875 says:

      I heard the booing for Mullins but it sounded like Zigic got the biggest cheer when his name was read out. Thats from where i was sitting (paddock).
      You made the point (last week i think) regarding win some lose some and thats how i see it going.
      However its not what we’re used to in this division, we have’nt been like that since before Francis was manager and i think thats why some punters are quick to criticise. We are used to being amongst the favourites for promotion.

      • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

        Well said H

        But we’re only signing freebies and bosmans in the main. Not hard to see why we aint acheiving.

  • bluenoseneil says:

    I was there last night and will echo why everyone says about King and Zigic as a partnership, Burkes best game, Morrison looking lively and Mullins having his best game in a Blues shirt.

    HOWEVER…I realised after Curtis went off how OLD our Central defensive pairing looked. Robinson and Caldwell both ran their bollocks off but looked 2nd best on a few occasions and I think a better more penetrative side would’ve punished that.

    Plus, this continued imbalance on the Left worries me. There were times when Wade should’ve gotten paint on his boots, and cut inside instead playing almost like a third Central Midfielder. This meant Murphy was busting a gut up and down the left and wearing himself out for the lack of an overlap.

    Lets hope Curtis isn’t out for long but for me we need to get a younger,strong, capable Central Defender and a REAL Left Winger in January above all else!

    #kro

  • Ryan says:

    Much needed three points. Should be looking at six points from last two games though. We will see where we are at with our next three fixtures against teams playing well. KRO

  • mus,ntgrumble says:

    enjoyed every minute, i thought everyone deserved credit for the performance, however, the best moment of the game for me was the accidental collision between Robinson and a Bristol player resulted in both players laid out, Robbo was first up, my point is Robbo showed the type of balls we have been lacking of late and hes only on a months contract,

  • DoctorD says:

    Thanks to everyone who went to the game for their comments — those us of looking on from afar really appreciate your insights.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    The old saying is that one swallow, does not make a summer, !!!.

    My saying is that we should try and remain optomistic Whilst all around us is seeming chaos, !!.

    At last, The players gave a 90, min, performance, [ yes ] we should have scored more, but at least it was what we wanted [ and needed ] 3, points, — A clean sheet, and non-stop effort, !!!. kro.

  • Art Watson says:

    Good performance and a much needed 3 points.

    I like many others have expressed a negative opinun about Clark and this result does nothing to change my mind and Im certain the new owners will dump him at the first opportunity.

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    If we get new owners

    • Kaje says:

      When we get new owners. Are you not following the news? We’re up for sale, there are interested parties and there’s a firm bid already in.

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    Bids are not sales

    The seller may not want to sell at that price.

    Simple really

  • AR says:

    I agree that Bristol were the worst team I have seen this season; having said that King was magnificent (by far the best footballer we have had for a long time as a striker); Burke played like he did last season; Zigic though undoubtedly a problem for any defence to handle, is not very good on the ground (the old joke of “the Douglas Bader of football – no legs but great in the air” springs to mind). But where I must disagree strongly is about Mullins. How many tackles does he put in? How many times did he win the ball? He is our defensive midfielder and if anyone thinks he has turned the corner last night, then I think they need to think again. I have to say I was not one who booed his name last night; I never boo our players (managers, linesmen and the opposition, yes). By the way where is Keith Fahey?

    • Ben Whitehead says:

      Your comment about Zigic being awful on the deck, do you watch him when he plays – he’s touch is very deft – ok he has the odd – 20yard 1st touch – but especially 2nd half last night he was at his best – receiving balls into his chest and feet and laying the simple balls off and round the corner.
      In fact – he should of had a few more assists – King didnt gamble on his chest down 1st half; Elliot wailed 1 (of his 5/6) off target shots over.
      And Morrison should have had a better attempt from the edge, to think of but a few.

      Also for almajir to say Morrison is quality is overstating it abit – for every quality pass there was a bad one or a lack luster attempt at goal. His performance last night was very poor.

      On a bright side – Murphy, Burke, Zigic & (just about) King played well enough to earn a win against far inferiour opposition

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    At least you were there AR not like the 1000s of stayaways who can always find a excuse

  • Ed says:

    Not only Fahey but Gomis also.

  • NooBloo says:

    It was good to be able to get to a midweek away game at St Andrews. I dont get to many and was a little bit more encouraged by the sense of urgency in the team but i looked at the opposition and thought that they were so so poor, i want to wait and see if we can string to results together in a row against better opposition before I say that the corner may have been turned

    Heres hoping it has :-)

  • mike says:

    it was a joy to see us win at home at last and put in some effort , we know we wont win all our games but expect the players to commit , Zig and burke were great last night and we were unlucky (goal line clearances) not to have put more past a very poor team , only question in my mind is we bring in a player for a month (complaining we cant get his registration though)and leave him on the bench i would have thought looking how bad they were when Davis went off and mullins dropped back this would have been ideal for DIOP to get some needed match fitness and this would have also lifted the crowd who were desperate to see him play, but happy with result

  • Paulo says:

    All I can say is thanks to the lads last night. They played like a team and showed more ability to think together and ‘make’ chances, as well as take them. It was a well deserved win on a cold night, but so what, it was worth it.
    As for LC..? Well, he spent a lot of time sat in in the dug out for the first half, and the team ‘played’. It was odd to see, but something worked, and he did initially come out more confident and relaxed last night. Second half ..? Well, he was doing his ‘chicken laying an ostrich egg’ impression, as is LC all over!!!
    BUT ..it was a bad night for Bristol City, and it was like a scene from casualty at times. I genuinely feel sorry for the team having lost McManus now for the season (his cruciate) and Skuse who sufered a fractured cheekbone and ‘possible’ fractured eye socket. Put together now with 6 straight losses, things are bad down there, and they knew that was our best performance ALL season (so far). However, I do feel we played off them, and they played into it ..just as we have done in many matches recently ..and likewise have suffered too.
    Yes I want to thanks the lads for coming out the traps at the first whistle, and that was down to them. As for LC, he did something different and whatever it was, everyone just had an extra dose of confidence last night, and it worked. I still am ‘on the fence’ about LC, but that’s because I want ot see that formula (of last night) repeated and some consistency settle in.
    All in all, it was the match I was waiting for.

    • John says:

      It was very noticeable,that Lee Clark stayed in the dugout for virtually the whole of the first half and most of the second half. Was this to say to the players “it’s entirely up to ypu now, i’ve been getting all the blame so far” . Whatever his motive was,it worked. KRO

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    Hear hear Paulo

  • Mike says:

    I for one want to see Kaje and Paul Carter call each other names some more.

    • almajir says:

      Sorry about that. I’ve been busy and missed most of it – I’ve just binned off a load of comments.

      Kaje, Paul – leave it yeah?

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    Sorry Dan

    Just fed up of the constant moaning by people who don’t go even when we win.

  • I did go after all having thought I wouldn’t make it from Surrey where I live. A couple of things; I’m not sure Bristol City are the worst team I’ve seen at St Andrews besides us of course. I would still reserve that for Ipswich whom I thought were absolutely dire but they beat us because we played into their hands.

    Secondly, I think a word of praise has to go to Liam Fontaine, the Bristol centre half who was magnificent for them all night and I believe hadhe not been Blues would have had the five or six their overall play should have merited. Other than that, Bristol City were poor and sustained two nasty injuries that depleted them to ten men at the end but you can only beat what is put in front of you and Blues did that efficiently enough.

    Finally, if someone else in the team besides King could learn to take a penalty it would have been a more realistic 3-0 on the night.


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