Date:Tuesday December 30 2008
Once again Blues have produced a below par performance at a time when a victory could have brought with it a major boost. With Reading only managing to draw away to Southampton, Blues had a massive chance to reclaim second place and continue the good feeling following the Boxing Day victory away at Ipswich.
However, it wasn`t that easy. Swansea came to play football, and my word they did.
So far this season, 13 teams have visited St Andrews, with mixed success, but Swansea have been the most impressive visitors to date. If their star striker, Scotland, had his scoring boots on, things could have turned out a lot worse for Blues. Swansea overpowered Blues in every aspect of play, with even their fans out-singing the second highest home crowd of the season.
The game started in similar fashion to the first encounter between the sides this season. Swansea played like the home team and passed the ball around exquisitely, while Blues players were left chasing shadows. While Swansea did not create many clear cut chances, their passing, particularly in midfield, was superior to anything that Blues could muster.
As the odd half chance came and went, you were just waiting for Blues to wake up. It was after one wasted chance for the Swans that the calls came out from the faithful in an attempt to wake up our seemingly drowsy team. It was then, that you expected Blues to come out and start playing. You were just waiting for them to get a foot on the ball and start playing some football, but it didn`t happen.
Every time Blues moved upfield, the ball refused to stick. Not once did we see Blues string a number of passes together with Bent and Phillips rivalling each other well...for worst performance of the day. While they were appalling, they were by no means the only players who did not perform.
While McFadden tried his best, he still seems to be unfit, and with Murphy on the other side, Blues were never going to be a major attacking force down the left hand side. In the centre of the park, Carsley looked lost for me, while DJ seemed to be tired after being asked to play twice in a short space of time.
The Swans` manager, Roberto Martinez, set his team up perfectly to stifle Blues, and their 3 central midfielders bossed the play completely.
Half time came and went, but Blues still refused to come out of their shell. Blues made a slight tactical change to match Swansea, with Carsley, DJ and Murphy sitting in central midfield, with Faddy and Bent supporting Phillips. Swansea continued to dominate and as fans on the terraces you could only pray that the likes of Quincy and Jerome off the bench could make an impact.
Then, after 67 minutes, our prayers were answered. The management team called back a certain Quincy from his warm up and as he prepared to enter the field of play, the crowd were filled with renewed optimism. Maybe he would be the man, maybe Blues would turn it around, maybe we could even win it...These ideas were quickly banished from your memory as David Murphy slid in and received a second yellow card. Fate would have it that McLeish was just about to bring off Murphy, but the second yellow meant that Blues had to go back to the drawing board, and quickly.
As time passed on, Quincy did eventually come on for Phillips and then Jerome replaced Bent in a substitution which was greeted with numerous ironic cheers.
With Jerome on his own upfront, literally, Blues tried to hang on and hit Swansea on the break. Suddenly the game became extremely open and Blues could have snatched a winner if anyone had the sense to follow Jerome as he broke down the right wing.
Swansea made a substitution with their top scorer, Jason Scotland coming on to try and make an impact, and what an impact he nearly made. Barely a few minutes after he came on, he came close to scoring a winner, but Blues refused to learn their lesson. He then went on to have another two brilliant chances to secure the points, and only fate meant that Blues escaped Scott-free.
Yes, it was another point gained. And yes, Reading drew so we didn`t lose any ground on our rivals. But Blues have problems. All of a sudden, the team that couldn`t stop scoring cannot create a clear cut chance, and that is a major worry. We lack imagination and creativity throughout the team and we need the return of O`Connor, Larsson, and a fully fit McFadden desperately.
Blues need to wake up and stop giving such poor performances because this is most definitely not the form of Champions.
Date:Tuesday December 30 2008
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