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Birmingham's tactics to beat Villa

Birmingham City boss Steve Bruce must decide what formation to play against long-ball specialists Villa at St Andrews on Sunday.

With Villa boss Martin O'Neill preferring to play what could more politely be described as a "direct style" of football, Bruce must decide whether to opt for 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 or a mixture of 4-5-1 and 4-3-3.

However, while the decision would be a crucial one in any other match - and arguably far easier to make - Bruce has suggested the rulebook goes out the window when it comes to the second city derby.

Bruce was quoted by the Birmingham Mail as saying: "Does it really make any difference in a derby game? We played Wigan and played really well and scored three goals, we played well at Man City with one off the front, Man United too.

"The team has been playing well. However, we haven't been getting the points we deserve. I am looking at it - deeply I am looking at it, absolutely - and I have always tended to play 4-4-2 in my managerial career.

"If I was going to pick a formation I enjoy playing, then it would be 4-4-2. However, I am also wary of what we are trying to be here. Sometimes to take people on with a 4-4-2, for instance Man United, well I'm sorry but they are better than what we are. Same as Chelsea. We wouldn't do ourselves any favour."

While the Blues are clearly not (yet) on the same level as Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson's side humiliated Villa by keeping the ball on the floor and making quick, short passes to negate the physical tactics Villa sometimes employ.

Close control in the middle of the park, with pace out-wide when on the attack, could prove to be Bruce's best option and, as was seen against Man Utd, could be used to exploit Villa if their heads drop.

Fortunately, Birmingham have the players who can cope with the fiery atmosphere that is guaranteed to engulf St Andrews on Sunday. Whether Villa players have the same mentality - even those who have played in Old Firm derbies - remains to be seen. Perhaps the best way to beat the historians will be by ensuring all 11 players in blue are still on the pitch at the end of the 90 minutes!

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The Journalist

Writer: Jasper's Parrot Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday November 9 2007

Time: 8:50PM

Your Comments

Not so sure it´ll actually work, but as a Yank mate of mine at work would say: Hell , let em run it up the flag pole and see if it flies!! Best of luck to you lot.
Blue is the colour
Sadly, the majority of the visiting fans think tactics are little mints you get in rectangular plastic containers...
Jasper's Parrot
don't worry spending to much time thinking about tactics, no doubt you will just be defending the whole game 4-5-1.
Our defenders will need neck braces as they'll be looking up a lot at the 90-yard "O'Neill balls" being punted down the park, that's for sure.
Jasper's Parrot
Long ball??? But he could have been England manager!!! No idea what at, though!
St Andrews Blue
As usual,you haven't got a clue.Bluenose tactics will be the same as ever. If it moves kick it. Try and kick any quality off the park, hope for a scrappy goal and hold on if possible. Maybe you all feel that Bruce should be the next England manager. He will need to find a job soon because the ladyboy that now runs your lot doesn't want him. Rember there's a circus in the town.
return of godzvilla
Hi, i am an everton fan and i'd like to see villa beat you lot on sunday because whenever i see birmingham play, their fans are the most obscene, foul-mouthed chavs i have seen at a football game. last week at goodison i had my 8 year old son with me, and the language was unbelievable. i am sure you are not all like that, but it seems the majority of birmingham fans are intent on causing trouble.
Hahaha. Thank you so much for brightening up my day with that article. VILLA the long ball specialist!!!!! VILLA!!!! Coming from blues fans!!!! Absolutley priceless!!!!! You are off your head lad as well if you think you are able to play the type of football manu did against us. Theres only one team that can play like that, manu. Dissallusioned. Again thanks you for that article, I loved it!!!
There can only be one winner if the Birmingham derby comes down to who has the better manager - Steve Bruce is the only one who isn't amusingly out-of-touch with the modern game.
Jasper's Parrot
Too right. As you said elsewhere, it's 2007, not 2000!
The Blues Brother
Jasper and blues bros, I take you aren't two of the many who have been calling for potatoe heads head in the past then.
I've called for many things at many times. All I will be calling for tomorrow is that you lot are taught a lesson.
Jasper's Parrot
A brilliant come back jasper. Of course, you're going to teach us this ultimate, sexy, free flowing football you's have been playing all season, compared to our brutal, long ball, kicking game. God, I wish we where as good at footy as you lot. I can't wait to see you's knock the ball about tomorrow. Arsenal who?
Playing decent football tomorrow will be difficult when you've got the likes of Reo-Coker doing nothing but shouting his mouth off and kicking chunks out of players.
One team. There is actually 2 teams in birmingham, your lot and Villa. Actually you could count Baggies as well, its a brum postcode isn't it. You could then get really picky and maybe even count Moor Green!! You should change your name to two teams, or three, or four even if you like. I must admit I just cannot wait to watch a Birmingham side tomorrow who are gonna show us how football is supposed to be played and in the right professional manner, not like us lot. Good luck. May the best side (blues of course) win.
Long ball specialists? Not really. We have our fast forwards going forward, hardly long ball.
Just reading this after the match. Oh dear Small Heath fans you are, as the Everton fan says, from a different planet. You played okay today, but haven't in reality got anyone near the class of Barry, Agbonlahor or Young. Villa have the ability to play both direct and short passing football altjough we are still a long way from being the finished article. Blose actually looked more dangerous when they went long ball in the second half, but not dangerous enough. You lot really do have a massive inferiority complex, and until you get over it will always struggle to progress. You have a decent manager (although he is starting to moan like O'Leary) and some decent players . De Riddier looked promising, and if Forseel ever gets fit he can play a bit. You can't keep blaming referres, cos you have to remember that in the first derby ALL the major decisions went Blues way. Things even themselves out in the end. By the way, Liam Ridgewell showed great character again today. I really like him as a player, but he wouldn't get a game ahead of Laursen, Mellberg, Davies, Knight or Cahill.
If we could choose players from both teams to make a midlands side. Who from the sty would get in??????
Nicholas Bendtner! Oh no he's left the blues.. and he's never coming back.
The Usual Suspect
So in that case, no-one.
The Usual Suspect
I love all this talk about Bruce the moaner being a great tactician. What a joke. You start all your games 4-5-1 and concede and then turn to 4-4-2 and start to play a little bit! A manager that had a single brain cell would just start 4-4-2!
The Usual Suspect
Aformation that is going to win you the game, although it ewill be a tough one for you.
will it ever happen
"Fortunately, Birmingham have the players who can cope with the fiery atmosphere that is guaranteed to engulf St Andrews on Sunday. Whether Villa players have the same mentality - even those who have played in Old Firm derbies - remains to be seen." Ridgewell coped really well, didn't he?

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