Often Partisan

Four is the Magic Number – Sheffield Wednesday Reflections

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

I joked on twitter at half time that I was contemplating writing a match report consisting of the words “Jesse Lingard” over and over. To score on your debut is decent; to score a hat-trick on debut is pretty incredible – but to get four goals on not only your debut for a team but your first ever professional start is Roy of the Rovers stuff.

Yet to give all the credit to Lingard would be churlish, despite his massive goal haul. David Murphy played his first game since last November in the first team and looked like he had never been away; Tom Adeyemi played the sort of game in the middle that would not have disgraced Clark in his own pomp and Dan Burn enhanced his reputation further at centre back with another commanding display.

Murphy in particular was incredible. He looks a little trimmer than he used to; and although he was tiring towards the end of the game he looked like he’d never been away. Wednesday were quite narrow and Murphy exploited that in particular with some fantastic cross field passes to Chris Burke, ensuring the Scot was in space with the ball further up the pitch.

However, one person who deserves a lot of credit is Clark himself. He gets a lot of brickbats when he gets it wrong so let’s give him some credit for getting it right today. The formation allowed enough flexibility to let Burke and Murphy to get right into attacking positions; Lingard could drift inside and the engine room in the middle of the park had enough space to be able to not only win the ball but to do something with it.

Of course, there were the predictable comments on twitter etc pre-match but I think Clark has hit on something with this 3-4-3 formation. Against QPR they were unlucky to lose; this time against a much poorer Wednesday side after a 10 minute period settling in they fair ripped the Owls a new one. Part of the secret of success is the players are now adapting to the formation and now they seem more sure in their roles Blues can become quite fluid in the way they set up.

One example was Spector; he started right side of midfield but he was happy to drop back to cover Burke, allowing the back three to shuffle over and push Murphy further up the pitch – and as a consequence allowing Lingard the freedom to drift inside. Thus a 3-4-3 became a 4-4-2 or even a 4-2-4 and Wednesday couldn’t cope with the way the shape changed; they made an early sub to try to counter it but it didn’t work.

I’m not one to moan about refs but I want to insert one quick point so I remember him the next time he comes back. Whilst he didn’t get much wrong he was picky – booking Lingard for over celebrating his hat trick was a bit jobsworth and some of his fussing over free kicks and the like was much too finicky for my liking.

Blues went into the game on just four points, having scored just four league goals; one Lingard masterclass later they completed their fourth home league win of 2013. The big question is if that is just a flash in the pan or if Blues can push on and take the confidence from that game into their next few fixtures and continue to pick up points.

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77 Responses to “Four is the Magic Number – Sheffield Wednesday Reflections”

  • Gianni says:

    Great result today, need to take this momentum into the next few games.

  • Sam says:

    Great win today, I agree on the formation, it really worked caused Wednesday loads of problems. This will have given the team a big confidence boost, but we saw last season that we’d play really well and get a big win and then play the complete opposite a few days later. 4-0 away win of e eventually promoted Palace followed by conceding 3 in the first half at home to Wolves who got relegated being an example.

  • Chris W says:

    I thought there were more positives from this game than any other so far this season, not just from the goals aspect, though I do not think anyone could have predicted that.
    It took LC some time last season to get the style and formation he wanted, and though not publicised, I feel some of the playing staff seemed bent on getting the wheels to fall off.
    I was quite vociferous towards LC last season but after Christmas, I could see what he was attempting.
    This season, for me, he started with a clean sheet and following on from last season; he has had to start from scratch again. This time he has brought in players he wants and they are buying into his philosophy. They seem keen to want it to work and give 110% every game, though I am not sure what happened at Burnley.
    You have to feel for LC and wonder what he could do if he was given some funds to play with, he is young, ambitious and adventurous, something we Blues supporters are wary off.
    I watched the TV programme about the fall and rise of Swansea, our next opponents, how they changed their style of play, like blues, on a shoestring budget, and now do not want to play any other way. Something LC is trying to do at Blues, he deserves more credit than some are giving him. On saying that he does do or say some strange things, but maybe he has a sense of humour and just winds us up…

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I’ve watched all of his interviews and have to say, he’s not great in front of the cameras. But listen to him on radio, like his interviews with Tom Ross, and he’s much better. I think he’s more of a thinker than a talker, that’s why he doesn’t come across as well.

      But, he may just have pulled off a masterstroke with this new formation.

  • bluenoseneil says:

    I am a happy bunny tonight. That is all… KRO :)

  • Godsavetheblues says:

    Well done to everybody involved with the club today. Nice to get a great result with a good performance. I hope LC sticks with this 11 and formation. I have slagged off the side, management owners etc of late. So credit to everybody, fans as well! Might be early doors to say this…. Think we’ve turned the corner!?!? Fingers crossed. KRO

  • bluenose says:

    On wards and upwards noses!!! , I wouldn’t have it any other way!.. so proud to be a bluenose , imagine if we defy all odds and shoot up the table haha

    KRO and always SOTV

  • jazzzy786 says:

    We were superb today and shame on me for not bothering to go after the pathetic showing versus Burnley.

    A man Utd friend of mine absolutely raves about Lingard saying he should be in their first team ahead of Nani and Valencia.

    Lets hope we can push on from this. Its not every day two blues strikers score a hattrick. congratulations also to Karen for her hattrick versus Belarus.

  • Thaiblue says:

    I hope everyones a bit happier today.I told a Man U mate id treat him to a nite out if the lad scored for us yesterday.What a great way to spend money!Well done lads,lets hope this is the REAL start to our season.KRO

  • sutton apex says:

    what an unbelievable first half – blues were fantastic, credit to mr clark ! This match reminded me of a certain night in the past when a young boy called trevor francis appeared – the rest is history as they say !!

  • Zenzero says:

    Let’s just hope we can get this lad on loan for the rest of the season!

  • Johnners says:

    Great write up. Lingard took the headlines but I agree with the comments about Murphy – what a performance! His cross field pass to Burke that set up the first goal was a peach and there were other touches of class from him throughout the first half. I didn’t really dwell on the formation during the game but I can see now that it worked very well. With Zigic coming back and folk like Ferguson, Caddis, Reilly etc on the bench we actually have a strong squad in my opinion. No reason why on paper we shouldn’t do as well as last season which will be enough to satisfy the majority of us. Well done LC on a brave selection and formation!

  • George says:

    Before Alf Ramsey started the 442 revolution in 1966, football was played in a 3-4-3 formation as the shirt numbers indicated.

    The 3-4-3 system often led to an all out attack, 3-2-5 formation. Blues have maybe gone back to basics and that is often the best way to cure most problems.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Wasn’t it still the old “W” formation? I always thought it was,


      as in;


      CH LH

      RB RH LB

      IR IL

      OR CF OL

      Either way, we saw some great football back then.

      • Northern Exile says:

        Inverting the Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson is an exellent read on the history of football tactics, and from what I remember of reading it, I think at that time European sides were trying to react to the development of the 4-2-4 and come up with something similar. The W-M was still the standard formation way into the 60s and even beyond, mind, having been developed in the 1930s.

      • mike b says:

        hi a ll…..no it was

        right back———left back
        right half —-centre……left half

        right wing inside left centre forward inside left left wing……….

        • chas says:

          Correct, Mike.. You must be as old as me.. And the Ramsey system was designed to suffocate the opposition, and it did as well, including the fans. Boring doesn’t do it justice.

  • DoctorD says:

    Great to see Murphy back at last in the side. Al: do you think that is perhaps even more of a fillip for us long-term?

    • RichardW says:

      Agreed – impressive stuff from Murphy after so long out. This position seems to bring out the best in him. Credit to Robinson too who brings so much fight to the team and plays a real captain’s part.

  • Frankie says:

    Some excellent performances today and Jesse was superb of course.
    Tactically magnificent from the manager also, as at QPR, nice to see the fans recognise that.

  • Paulo says:

    God have we missed the attacking flair of Murphy down the left, please stay fit!! So long as we have a class finisher on the pitch like Lingard, we have being creating chances. The likes of Green, Novak and Lovengrands are just not in the same ballpark.
    Credit to Clark, for getting Lingard in, and Ziggy probably a sub on Tuesday, maybe, just maybe……………………..KRO!

  • TracyKRO says:

    It was fantastic display the first half I was in shock, Mr Clark well done sir and the players did well there were two or three great passes from Murphy which was outstanding, Even us fans should tap ourselves on the back we were singing loud and proud KRO Bluenoses
    I think we playing Wednesday night against swansea

  • Forum man says:

    All credit to Clark, what a load of nonsense. 7 points from 8 games is still relegation form.

  • Blueboy88 says:

    Great result & performance.
    Formation got the best out of our best two players Burke & Murphy.

    Please If Man Utd let us , keep the same team & formation against Swansea

  • Darren Astley says:

    I was gutted and elated at the same time I had jessie and 3-0 at 100/1 prayed for a boring 2nd half typical blues always let u down

  • Aussieblue says:

    Brilliant. We’re stonkered over here us Bluenoses. Even bought the missus curry lunch out today. She’s from Burnley so you can imagine…..

  • swissjonny says:

    Why would we risk the kid against Swansea? A cup run could, and only could, bring us a few quid.Surely our priority is the league It will be a whole lot easier to find purchasers whilst we are in the championship .If we go down a division it will be nigh on impossible.Use Jesse sparingly,pick his battles and lets stay up.Equally ,hard though it is,try to keep the pressure off the lad.A great win , a great day but feet on the ground and lets not get carried away.

    • Aussieblue says:

      Swissjohnny; that’s the kind of timidity that loses wars and campaigns mate. The lad loves playing; let him do it and have a heavyweight to shadow him against ruthless attacks. We’re NOT going down a division; cut the negative talk but kudos to your enjoyment of the day. Be bold and KRO chum.

    • Sh!t on the villa says:

      I doubt Jesse will play in the cup for united for a while…. Why wouldn’t moyes want him to try do the same again against a better side ?

  • Steve says:

    It was so good to walk out of St Andrews and see so many happy smiling faces. KRO

  • Knowle Blues says:

    Well done lee Clark. We should of beaten top of the league QPR, if we had more composure up front. He hasn’t panicked into filling the players on loan quoter – only when the right player came along. With big Zig almost ready to start we now have credible options up front. My prediction. Clark will be named champ manager of October.

  • bluenose08 says:

    now dont tinker with the team or formation !!!!!

  • Frankie says:

    Differnt opposition = different challenges = different personel and tactics.
    Unless you are ‘out of sight’ superior to other teams in league can you play same 11 week in, week out.

    6 or 7 will play every game, if fit,m otherwise there has to be rotation and tactical amendements.

  • Bob Your Uncle says:

    The lad was something special, he grew in confidence and ended up playing virtually a free role. Jesse and Murphy are scary down the left, with Spector and Burke on the right also very threatening. Adeyemi was superb and he complements Elliot who is good technically on the ball. I believe Green played quite well, I think Blues need to work on his finishing, get his confidence up and we could have a top team, with great academy products coming through too. Keep Right On!

  • Marky mark says:

    Ok first things first, massive well done to the manager for yesterday’s result and performance.
    It’s LC fault when we perform crap and equally down to him when it’s good.

    But let’s not get carried away, I can barely remember a worst team then Wednesday showed us. Lets hope we can build on this with a settled team and formation, I do think Green could benefit massively from playing with Lingard ,

  • StaffsBlue says:

    We think we’ve had it bad. Look at Bolton, bottom with 3 pts from 8 games.. and, apparently, their worst start in over a century.

  • Chris W says:

    We won and we won playing attractive football, but one game does not make a season. Wednesday were shocking, probably the worst we are likely to see again this season.
    LC should take a bow for yesterday as he has been vilified and abused on this and other sites this and last season. Against QPR, we played the same formation and probably our best game so far without any reward, yesterday we went back to that same formation and the main difference was Jesse Lingard with 4 goals.
    Let’s not take anything away from the other players, each contributed to this victory. Now we have to build on it.
    Matt Green can learn a lot from Jesse and will start to gain confidence.
    Those who dropped from Tuesday’s team should also learn that less than 100% is NOT good enough, LC is not afraid to drop players and turn to youth, who are showing experienced players up.
    I hope that this is the turning point for LC and the team.

  • mark says:

    Mr clark take a bow we love you ……kro

    • Art Watson says:

      Lets see what happens when we play a proper team on Saturday.

      • chas says:

        Art, we may all be dead by next saturday, why not just celebrate and enjoy yesterdays result .

        • Art Watson says:

          I am celebrating but I’m also realistic.

          Yes it was a great result and congratulations to LC and the team but one player will not transform what in effect is a very poor team and a manager who is unfortunatley out of his depth in this league.

          For the sake of the clubs future I hope I’m wrong!

        • StaffsBlue says:

          Some people just ain’t gonna do that chas…. not even if we finish top 10.

          • Blue in Spain says:

            Staffs, people like Art, say they want to be wrong, but you know that isn’t the case as they just love to come on here to whinge about Clark, make personal attacks against Clark yet whinge when the personal attacks come their way. Some moaners will never change, Hypocrites to the end! Yet they then say everyone is entitled to their opinion, oh unless it isn’t the same as theirs then they say you have blue tinted specs on or you are childish! Well done Clark, you have one of the hardest managers job in the division as you have no money to spend yet some fans expectations are unreasonably high.

    • steve says:

      Don’t include me in that comment Mark. The man will never grow on me.The sooner he’s gone the better. United are 4 0 down and RVP is injured. I hope they don’t call Lingard back.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    It’s strange to see Utd in 9th place. But, it’s early doors, they’ll get better as the season goes on.

  • bluenoserob says:

    What worries me is that Jesse will get an injury in training and have to go back.he would most likely end the season as our leading league scorer having only played one game.lol

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I’d still be interested to see how Zigic and Green work together. Zigic and Novak have played together once, in a 3-5-2 against Shamrock Rovers (4-0, Novak 2, Zigic 1.) So there are still options.

      • steve says:

        Why change the formation? Leave Green,Burke and lingard up there.Ziggy might have to wait.Let’s get some stability in the team and stop all the tinkering.

        • StaffsBlue says:

          I’ve not suggested changing the formation or tinkering. bluenoserob mentioned about if Lingard got injured. What are you going to do… play him whilst injured? If it did happen, we’d have to put someone in in place of him… unless you suggest we play with 10 men. Jeez.

          • steve says:

            Well it certainly wouldn’t be Novak. I don’t know how often you watch Blues Staffs,but Novak should only play as a very last resort. Ziggy and Green,ok but not Novak.

          • StaffsBlue says:

            I only referred to the fact that Zigic and Novak played together just once.. and scored 3 between them. Fact. Nothing to argue about.

        • mike b says:

          hi all… will man u… let him be cup tied ?

  • Tony says:

    Mark really is the eternal optimist this is one result, lets see what happens next week, this kid won it on his own against a really poor team.
    Clark will probably change it again for Reading when he stumbles on a formation that works he wont leave it alone.

  • Pete says:

    It is amazing to see how many people who are normally on here regular as clockwork moaning, have not made a comment. It is almost as if they cant give good feedback or deal with positive things. As soon as there is the next defeat they will be back.

    For me, I thought this was the best team performance all season, but not wildly different from other games. The difference was just it was against poor opposition and we finished. I think we have shown we will be about midtable/bottom half. We have lost aginst the better sides, but have 7/9 points against Yeovil, Ipswich and Sheff W. Surely that is where we are realistic? No issues with this, even if some are sharpening the knives for the next defeat- or when Murphy has addrenelin run out and find fitness is an issue. Just hope realism lets us move forwards, without stupid expectations.

    • steve says:

      I don’t think many of us have stupid expectations Pete.Well,maybe Mark.I think most of us are expecting a relegation fight unless we can get new owners.This was our best home performance by far and a lot different to our other home games.We passed the ball a lot quicker to the attacking players.The wide men got at the defenders and put some quality balls in. The fact that we were creating a few chances and scoring them took a bit of pressure off the defence because they weren’t watching us squander chances and losing 1 0. A very good performance,but i’m not getting carried away.

      • zxcv says:

        Jesse Lingard hopes Manchester United will allow him to spend the remainder of the season on loan at Birmingham City……………………From sky Sports News.

        You can get carried away if he gets his wish.

      • Pete says:

        Steve- I appreciate you say that, but how many fans have not come on here since having that result? They are waiting until there is something to moan about. Where as there are others whom have heard of one victory and are not expecting a climb up the table. I just hope for cautious optimism.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I’m not getting carried away with a win, no more than I would with a defeat. But, with the luck we’ve had so far this season, a win tastes even sweeter… but I still won’t get carried away, no more than I will if we don’t beat Reading. Enjoy the wins, get over the defeats and move on.

  • StevieW says:

    It is amazing how so many are treating a win in the league like it was a cup final win. It was an excellent game and credit to Jesse for setting the world alight but it is only 3 points and is only one win. Feet on the ground we need more of this to keep us safe. Great win but lets put it in context of the season so far and what is to come.

  • EveshamBlue says:

    Amazing result but he is not a Blues player at the end of the day. Even if Man U say yes – could we even afford to keep him on longer?

    As for LC. Not bad – it only took him 8 games to find a winning formula this year instead of half a season.

    With all the squad changes this is no mean feat. It will be the same again next year with no money.

    Now if Blues supporters have something to shout about at home then surely any improvement in atmosphere will translate into points. That is what Lingard has given us already.

  • dave mann says:

    good morning campers, everyone happy now, werent many boos round saturday, god knows
    why, i thought that young lingard guy or whatever is name is had an ok game but should have
    taken is chances with a bit more calm and quality but not to worry that will come with time when
    he gets a bit more confidence, only joking, propably well definetley the greatest debut by any
    blues player in history and if you werent there to see it cause you couldnt be bothered then
    what a shame , never mind it wont happen again in our lifetime so dont get to down on

    • Chris W says:

      Totally agree, and LC should have played a flat back four with 5 in midfield and bought Cameron Jerome to lead the attack…..
      What a day to savour, those who refuse to attend while CY and Co. are in control missed out on another WembleyEsque day, no one expected what happened and will probably never witness it again.
      The joys and sorrows of being a Bluenose….
      Well Done to every one for such a memorable day and a special thank you to Jesse…

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