Beaten by a better side

Adrian at the Carling Cup final at Wembley in 2011

Birmingham City 1 – Bournemouth 3

Wednesday, November 4th 2020

Blues fell to a second successive home defeat to a far superior Bournemouth side but made a better fight of it than looked likely when they trailed three-nil shortly after the break.

Starting in a 3-5-2, with Boyd-Munce curiously making his starting debut at left wing-back, it became apparent early on that the wrong formation had been picked as Bournemouth continually worked the space left behind the wing-backs.

The surprise was that the goal which confirmed that the formation wasn’t working came down Colin’s side, rather than that of the out of position debutant.

Blues had already been warned as Danjuma had already shown up well on the Bournemouth left before he ran on to Stanislas’ defence-splitting ball, which by-passed a badly positioned Colin, to finish neatly inside Etheridge’s far post. Is it my imagination or does Colin’s defensive game always go to pot when he plays wing-back?

It wasn’t long until Karanka rectified his mistake and San Jose stepped into midfield and the wing-backs fell into more orthodox full-back positions.

The result was that Blues started to get a foothold in the game. It wasn’t pretty and they weren’t dominant. Bournemouth was still clearly the slicker pass and move side and still creating chances, but they no longer had the run of central midfield and their supply to out-wide started to dry up. At the same time, Blues started creating a few half chances with their more direct approach.

Just as you thought we’d done well to get to half-time and still be in the game, Blues were undone by a typical bit of bad luck. After driving at the heart of the Blues’ defence, Brooks weak shot took a hefty deflection off Roberts and the ball agonisingly and apparently in slow-motion crawled into the net as Etheridge desperately tried to change the direction of his initial dive.

“Seven points from seven games between international breaks just about sums up where we are at the moment”

It really did appear to be game over shortly after the break, as Brooks doubled his tally for the afternoon after McGree had needlessly given the ball away dropping deep in an effort to get things going.

But, to their credit, Blues weren’t done for. Within five minutes, Bela, freshly on for McGree, produced another quality dead ball into the box from out wide which, to his immense relief, Hogan glanced into the net. In doing so, Hogan’s long goal drought was over.

From there on in, it seemed to be five to ten minutes of sustained pressure from each side in turn. Blues had chances to cut the deficit further, while, equally, Bournemouth could have stretched their lead on more than one occasion.

But, and this was a bit of a surprise, there were no more goals in it.

Seven points from seven games between international breaks just about sums up where we are at the moment – an inconsistent middling, middle of the table team, which is a vast improvement on last season, but which still leaves us with some way to go before we can seriously challenge the likes of Bournemouth, fresh from the Prem and with a squad worth four or five times that of the Blues.

Overall no disgrace to lose at home to a Bournemouth side who, as the cliche goes, will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. Certainly not the humiliation of the last time the Cherries came to town, nor what seemed likely after the third went in.

Joys

  • Karanka isn’t afraid to admit he got his tactics wrong and change it, there’s been more flexibility in this than we were led to believe.
  • Having been written off, like Roberts and Dean before him, Dutch Mike did a good job filling in for Sunjic.
  • Bela’s dead-ball delivery continues to impress.
  • Leko’s cameo from the bench.

Sorrows

  • Not a great fan of when we go to two centre-backs neither of them being able to play out. It limits our options going forward. Need Friend and JCS back, but it could have been done in this game by dropping MSJ into defence and sacrificing one of the big boys.
  • The return of Lee Clark style square pegs in round holes with Boyd-Munce’s selection at left wing/full-back.
  • The return of the Roberts’ long throw – surely the most ineffective tactic in the league.
  • Seddon’s mysterious loan out of the club has robbed us of options, both starting and as the formation changed, that could have been put to use today.

Player ratings

Etheridge -6

Again his main strength, shot stopping, was to the fore. Not really tested on his Achilles heel of late, as Bournemouth don’t tend to lump the ball into the box. Not much he could have done about any of the goals.

Colin – 5

Poor defensively, particularly at the start when playing as a wing-back. Didn’t really affect the game going forward as much as we know he can.

Boyd-Munce – 6

Felt a bit sorry for him being played out of position on his full debut as he’s looked neat and tidy when playing in the midfield. Stuck at it, though.

Roberts – 6

More at ease when up against an old fashioned centre forward. Movement of the type Bournemouth employ tends to perplex.

Dean – 6

What he said about Roberts. Too similar to each other for my liking, but does have more ability to bring the ball out of defence.

Kieftenbeld – 7

Life in the old dog yet. Ratted around as we expect, but better passing than we usually get.

San-Jose – 6

Looked tired and unable to affect the game. We seem to be in a period where the team’s performance matches that of the Basque.

McGree – 6

Flashes of nice stuff and got stuck in during the first half but drifted out of the game until re-appearing to give the ball away in a bad position for Bournemouth’s third. Substituted soon afterwards.

Jutkiewicz – 6

Not much joy for Jukey today, lack of balls into the box from wide for him to attack. Kept plugging away as per usual. In the great tradition of Blues centre-forwards, seems to get nothing from the ref despite being pushed and hacked at constantly, but then penalised as soon as a centre-half goes down. See also Nikola Zigic.

Hogan – 7

A goal so an extra point, but still nowhere near the level from when he first joined us. But it’s monkey off the back time, so, hopefully, this will spur him to a good run like the first time.

Birmingham City 1 – Bournemouth 3

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