For years we’ve tried to be a tough-to-beat team. Players like Kieftenbeld, Davis and the Gardners have been recruited to fit that mould. So when new managers have come in and tried to get such players to play in a style anathema to them, it’s proved an immense source of frustration – and completely unsurprising – that results haven’t gone our way.
As the desire of the Board to get Blues to play a more attractive style of football has persisted, smart summer signings coupled with a smart transition strategy appear to have been implemented.
The first game of the season away at Brentford was very much the Blues of last season, which was probably what was needed against a side who we’re looking to emulate.
First home game of the season
Our first home game would be a true test of how the new signings would fit in. I liked our starting line-up, and I have to say I’m much more comfortable with a back four. Seddon was rested after making his first two appearances for Blues in four days, so Pederson played left back, with Dean, Roberts and Colin completing the defence.
They had a decent game, and looked more comfortable than when part of a five-man defence. Camp had a great game in goal, and made two or three cracking saves to keep us in the match.
Starts for Sunjic, Crowley and Villalba excited me, and their performances didn’t disappoint. Sunjic’s calmness on the ball seemed to permeate around the midfield, with Davis having his best game for a while. The desire of Crowley and Villalba to move the ball forward, not be afraid to run at people and shoot, and to know when to make the incisive pass were skills that we’ve not seen at St Andrews (at least not from our players) for a while.
After Juke’s goal gave us the lead, it was disappointing to see Crowley replaced by Harding and the defence revert to a back five. They looked a little out of place, and whilst I’m definitely in favour of us having the ability to change formations in a game, sitting back to protect a 1-0 lead with half an hour to go never makes me feel comfortable.
Bristol’s goal was probably deserved, and I’d say 1-1 was a fair result. Last season, we drew away and Brentford and lost at home to Bristol City, so four points this season compared to last season’s one point in the same games is a positive sign.
We looked unlikely to break the deadlock in the last few minutes, with a dearth of pace hindering us. So whilst I’m pleased Vassell is doing well for Cardiff, it was frustrating to see him come on for them to score in injury time to earn a 2-1 win against his former side Luton! Hopefully players like Montero and Gimenez will be used by us in situations like this in the future when they’ve bedded into the squad.
Onward to Forest
Pep and the management team now have a solid week with the squad to continue imparting their footballing philosophy. Our next opponents Nottingham Forest have a midweek League Cup game against Fleetwood Town, so hopefully we should have a bit of extra sharpness on Saturday.
I think it’ll take a few weeks for Pep to find our best starting 11 and the best system. The signs so far are looking good and it’s nice to feel positive about a Blues side two games into the season – 44 more to go.
Photo Courtesy: Roy Smiljanic / BCFC