Ip Switch – Birmingham City v Ipswich Town Preview

This Preview Will Also Feature in Tonight’s ‘Made in Brum’ Magazine, Available From Numerous Sellers for £1.50 Outside St. Andrew’s Tonight…

I truly hope we switch back to 4-4-2 tonight, against Ipswich.  Mainly because I don’t think any of our remaining three (senior) strikers (Wood, Zigic, Rooney) can ‘cut it’ up front on their own.  Rooney sadly proved this last Saturday against the Wolves, time and again his ‘threat’ was snuffed out by two central defenders, forcing him out wide where he obviously wasn’t shooting, and thus leaving him the option to cross…to nobody.

I actually think we were the better team on Saturday.  Certainly possession and shots on target (and so many corners!) prove it, so I think Hughton should have taken the bull by the horns, and thrown an extra striker on.  Our defence was solid, so it wasn’t like the midfield were doing all the work.  I actually think Redmond had a quiet game and wouldn’t have grumbled too much to be replaced.  As it was, the Birmingham Mail suggested Hughton was about to throw Zigic on, but that he noticed N’Daw was struggling (news to me, but who am I to judge?) and so put Fahey on instead.  This seems to suggest he’d have put Ziggy on for Rooney, as he could surely have taken N’Daw off and replaced him with Zigic?  With Elliott, Gomis, Redmond and Mutch, surely the midfield was already strong enough to contain a seemingly toothless Wolves?

There have been some murmurings about Blues being happy with a draw, even playing for a draw, in order to increase gate revenue.  All I know is Hughton won’t fancy the extra game, and Redmond looked genuinely miffed when he missed his most decent shot.  Add to this the fact that Doyle tried his hardest to keep the ball out, in the closing seconds, it seems that our team want to stay in the Cup, and Wolves seemed determined to knock us out.  No conspiracy theory about both teams agreeing a draw in advance then!

The referee truly didn’t seem interested in giving us anything all match.  We seemed to be penalised for every slip, and Wolves seemed to get away with grabbing fistfuls of whoever’s shirt they liked.  Ho Hum.  This shirt grabbing seems to be getting worse, and not just in Blues matches.  Zigic, when he plays, seems perenially to have both hands held aloft to illustrate the grabbing he’s putting up with, but never to any avail, sadly.  Whatever the theories, the fact is we’ve got to win at Molineux now, to secure a winnable away tie against Sheffield United.  I fancy us to do the business, as Wolves will want to concentrate on tying up their Prem status and we travel well against higher opposition this season (Maribor?  Bruges?)

On to Ipswich, who are surely rubbing their hands with glee, now they’ve gotten rid of Roy Keane?  Ahem.  Paul Jewell has just received the wonderful vote of confidence, I think this is just about a week after QPR issued a similar statement about their manager, securely still at the helm….eh?  He’s gone where?  Oh….

Ipswich, even though they have a game in hand on most other clubs in the table (us excepted) they’re only three points clear of the drop.  Jewell is a man who can do a decent job, but – so far at least – it looks like he’s not done it at Ipswich.  The BBC have the stats thus:
This time last season under Roy Keane, Ipswich were one point better off having played the same number of games
Keane won 35.5% of his 81 games in charge at Portman Road
Jewell edges out his predecessor, overseeing a win ratio of 37.5% in 48 games

Pretty much even stevens, then, only getting Keane out would have cost them compensation, keeping him wouldn’t have!  Apparently just shy of 80% of fans wanted Jewell out following their 3-1 home defeat to Notts Forest.  Perhaps he’ll have a little more leeway at Fortress St Andrews?  Lee Bowyer’s on their books, though it seems he may be injured and have to sit this one out.  They arrive at our ground on the back of three straight defeats, and no wins in four.  This is usually the recipe for them to win, especially when combined with 2oz of our unbeaten home league record 🙂

Ipswich were knocked out of the Carling Cup at home, by Northampton, slaughtered 5-2 at home by Southampton, humbled 7-1 away by the Posh, but earned a creditable 1-0 victory at West Ham.  Business was then resumed with a 4-1 drubbing at Milwall, followed by an empty 3-2 home loss to Donny.  Reading went away 3-2 winners from Portman Road, though they have managed to oust Barnsley, 5-3 away.

This all suggests – even if we’re to come out on top of this contest, we’ll have to outscore them.  Which – again – suggests the need to switch back to a 4-4-2 system.  Elliott or King ‘in the hole’ just won’t work in my opinion.  I think Rooney or King could play alongside Zigic, and I think Hughton will do just that, sticking King next to Zigic up front, and benching the Rooney who ran his socks off on Saturday.

I would imagine we’ll see Chris Burke back again, with Beausejour on the opposite flank.  Davies and Caldwell should line up in the centre, in front of Myhill, and while Carr still recovers, I would have thought Spector and Murphy will have the full back positions, though Ridgwell didn’t look too bad once he’d blown the cobwebs away.  I think his 45 minute ‘cameo’ was an advert in the shop window to be honest.

Fahey and N’Daw could well give N’Daw the best send off to the African Cup of Nations, if he builds on his well-deserved Man of the Match performance, against Wolves.  He certainly has outperformed Morgaro Gomis, though he will fill his boots well if the need arises.  Elliott still hasn’t proven his worth, for me, though he was lively enough on Saturday.  Doyle will feel aggrieved to be sat on the bench again this evening, but at least he was given the nod against Wolves.  I have nothing against Jack Butland, but I still fear the fans calling for him to start matches aren’t sure of just how raw his talent is, at this competitive level.  England U21 just isn’t the same.

I’m going for a 3-1 win to the Blues, with Zigic finally getting a brace, King the other.

Keep Right On

Russell Dempsey

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