It was with hopeful anticipation that I sat down last night to watch the football, managing to gain control of the television just in time to see the Hull City line-up, appropriately from my Leeds United supporting housemate.
It was an important occasion for me, having been 5 weeks since I had had an alcoholic drink, so having spurned the local shop’s cheap lager recommendations, I took my place on the sofa with a glass of red wine in hand, and a bacon salad. Oh bacon, I have missed you.
“Huddlestone?”, I remarked as my eyes came close to popping out of my head. Then I remembered that Bruce is a much more successful football manager than I, so I stuck to deciding what to put in my salad, and what should be on the left and right side of the plate.
Club legend though he is, Bruce does occasionally make mistakes. I did admire last night how we seemed to be playing quite pretty football. The interlinking between the attacking players was pleasant on the eye, and many half-chances were created against a stout defence.
There are fans of certain clubs who seem to value pretty football above winning – I’m thinking of the “West Ham Way” for example. I’d rather win and I’m happy to do it playing defensively. Unfortunately, being one of the best teams in the league, we are expected to control the game and have to find a way to win through our larger possession. I call it the “England Problem”, circa 2004.
Of course, the goal for Birmingham came from a fairly rare foray into our half, after a mistake from Robertson who retains the capability he had last year to either win or lose a game for us, albeit perhaps both effects moderated, plus then an unlucky deflection and a near save from McGregor who got a hand to it but just not quite enough.
City had looked like winning from the start, and continued to play well afterwards, with Livermore hitting the post and Dawson hitting the bar, along with a clear opportunity for Clucas. On another day, it would have been 2 or even 3-1.
It could have been 2-0 to Birmingham not long before half-time thanks to a cracking shot from Donaldson.
At half-time, my Leeds United supporting housemate left me alone, albeit not gloatingly.
I’ve become used to seeing City come out stronger in the second-half but that didn’t really happen. And a bit like Hull City, I’m putting less effort and quality into the second half of this blog.
Birmingham parked the bus, we ended up with about 8 up front yet few clear cut chances.
I’d had enough wine on 65 minutes to place a bet on us winning but alas the goals never came.
The statistics show 63% possession and 24 shots. We clearly dominated the game throughout, we played good football – Snodgrass particularly impressive on the right with some trickery and some excellent crosses, including from set-pieces which we ever so rarely seem to score from.
Huddlestone was ineffective yet not disastrously so. What has happened to Hayden?
Diame I still do not think is a forward, not even a number 10. I have said this before, I would much prefer to see him in the centre of midfield, and another striker up front. Hernandez did look a little lost last night. And Diamande? I have yet to see anything in him that suggests he is as good as Bamber (or Manucho for younger readers).
Otherwise it isn’t time to panic. We may only have 5 points from the last 12, 1 goal from the last 4 league games but we remain one of four teams likely to be pushing for promotion. I would have snapped your hand off for third place before the season started.
Our next two league games are against Nottingham Forest and Milton Keynes, both very winnable games. Followed by a trip to Middlesbrough – we’ve already done them once. And maybe, just maybe, Blackburn can do us a favour in the local derby on Saturday.
But make sure you keep Saturday 28th May free. Just in case.