Date:Sunday July 29 2007
The thousands of Blues fans who turned up at the Banks' Stadium yesterday must have come away with some feelings of hope for the new season.
Although it's clear that there are still deficiencies in the latest incarnation of Birmingham City, particularly in the back row, there are still quite a few things to be pleased about.
With clearance still awaiting for Rafael Schmitz and Mat Sadler sidelined with a minor injury, the back four were rather makeshift with Larsson and Parnaby fulfilling the LB and RB roles and Stephen Kelly at centre half alongside Rahdi Jaidi.
Midfield conformed to a more likely matchday combination of Kapo and McSheffrey on the wings with Johnson and Muamba making the central pairing. The starting strikeforce of Jerome and Forssell, having been tested in Germany was keenly awaited.
In the event, the game was only a few minutes old before the newly invigorated Forssell struck. Taking a superb knock-down on to Jerome he surged forward with a finish reminiscent of his best days at Birmingham, rounding Clayton Ince to fire the ball into an empty net.
Minutes later he demonstrated some of the class which had been his trademark with a skilful evasion of Walsall`s defence to go close again.
Cameron Jerome made the score 2-0 just after the half hour and was nearly put through again by Forssell a few minutes later. It`s clear that these two have been putting a lot of effort into working together and it is reaping rewards at the moment.
Throughout the first half Blues played as a pretty tight unit; there was plenty of pace and the players adapted well to being moved into different positions while Steve Bruce experimented with team formations. Jerome particularly showed touches of a blistering pace that should serve him well over the next few months.
The second half did degenerate more into the typical "friendly" mode with a welter of substitutions and a much slower pace. However, the first half showing of several players was impressive.
Kapo showed some good touches but doesn`t seem to be up to speed with the English game yet, which is hardly surprising. McSheffrey flattered to deceive a little, covering a lot of ground but not making much impact. Parnaby worked hard and got forward as much as possible. On first sight O`Connor also looks as though he will be a very useful addition to the team.
The two who made the biggest impact by far were Jerome and Forssell and barring other big name signings ought to be the first choice strikers against Chelsea, where a good performance would be particularly sweet for ex-Chelsea man Forssell.
So, is he back? After long years far from his best form, the fans were treated to a display from the Forssell who scored 17 goals during Birmingham`s best season in the Premiership. It would be nothing less than a dream come true if he can continue in this vein.
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