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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Birmingham (a)

By Ken Buckley :  02/10/2010 :  Comments (18) :

Pretty in pink as the Blues wreck Brum?s home record in a win that brought joy, relief and a large dose of joined-up footy ? aided by a performance of confidence, grit and spirit.

The game started in open fashion and evidence soon emerged that the likes of Osman, Arteta and Fellaini would relish this sort of occasion.  The sight of Jags playing the ball out short instead of 50-yd aimless punts boded well as our teamwork started to take hold and we had the home team on the back foot.

Osman on in place of the injured Pienaar was instrumental in most of the good moves which had the Brum rearguard flapping.  Yet is was the home side that had the first clear cut chance of the half when Distin stretched for a clearing header only to loop it into the path of Jerome who controlled well but shot horribly wide when well placed to have done much better. We responded almost immediately when the Yak pounced on a slip by a defender and had a strike on goal cleared from the line.

By now we were well on top with Baines and Osman combining well down the left and, with one interchange, Baines had a great run into the box and a loud roar for a penalty from the travelling fans and players alike arose as he appeared to be tripped in the area.  Referee Dowd merely waved play on.

The Yak was looking a little better today and, in one neat passing movement with Osman, saw the latter fire over.  Brum were getting forward less now and any threat at all was soon mopped up by the back four or the impressive Fellaini.  As the half was drawing to a close, we were dominant but that goal we all crave would just not come as, in keeping with the season so far, all the good approach work failed to deliver that killer ball that parts a resolute defence.

H/T and a lot of chat about our good play and dominance and how we had looked more like a home team in that half but many worried at our inability to create more in the box.

The second half started in the same vein as the first as the ?Pinks? tore into Brum with clever controlled football which belied our early league table position. Just ten minutes in, that man Osman was again involved as he twisted and turned his way into the box and put in a dangerous low cross that saw a defender put the ball into his own net.  1-0 and pandemonium broke out, all the players hugged Ossie and the travelling faithful hugged, kissed, and cheered ? after all, it was our first away goal of the season.

Brum now had to show some attacking skills where not much had been shown previously when they were content to thwart us and hope for something from a break or set-piece. They did pour forward but we stood firm and in one attack the speedy fullback Carr looked to be out-pacing Baines who seemed to bring him down in the box but again Referee Dowd remained consistent and waved away the appeals for a penalty.

The Brum manager then sent on two strikers, one of which was Zigic who seemed to stand 6 feet 28 ins but Fellaini dealt with any threat that height might bring.  Brum powered balls into the box but, with Jags marshalling well and all around him responding, nothing much came of their effort.  It was us now using ?on the break? tactics and our quality was of a superior class to anything they had shown.

The travelling faithful were in such voice that the players seemed to sense they dare not surrender the lead and the manager responded as well to ensure we got 3 much needed points when on the 80th min he replaced the Yak with Heitinga, making it a true 4-5-1 with Cahill who had worked tirelessly all match putting in another extra 10% in the lone role up-front. Midfield got up to support him as fast as they could.

With 5mins to go Bilyaletdinov replaced the shattered Coleman and we remained confident and in control no matter what the opposition threw at us.  Into injury time and we tried our best at keep ball and worked our way into the corners.  From one of these moves in injury time we got a corner and predictably played it short to Baines who exchanged passes with Arteta and on looking up spotted Cahill in the middle of the goal and delivered a peach of a cross that the Aussie did what he does best and buried it with some force into the net.  2-0 away, the final whistle and party time began amongst the travelling faithful. Would you believe the home team, having gone a year without defeat, were booed off by their fans.

Overall I thought we put in a good determined shift that contained some footy of high quality and we had a bit of the rub of the green for the first goal but you have to work the opening for that to happen.  If we can get that bit more savvy and clinical in the business area, I think we can do well.

Looking for a MotM, my nomination would be Osman who, until tiring toward the end, had been outstanding and he had to be to edge out players such as Fellaini, Baines, Jagielka, Arteta and Cahill.  I have to say I don?t think Coleman is the answer to the right midfield problem nor Yak the striker we really need but until we can address these positions then at least both look like our best bets.

I am sure the players will have appreciated the support from the travelling fans today as they cheered and sung throughout. All the songs were there: Royal Blue Mersey, ?Istory, and the Moyes song amongst others.

Let?s not get carried away ? one win on the road is just that... but somehow you can just sense that, if we keep playing the way we are, then other favourable results will follow and none would be sweeter than in the next home game. See you there.

UP THE BLUES
 

Reader Comments

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Lynn Thorne
1   Posted 03/10/2010 at 09:02:43

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I really love these reports. I was there, but could never do what you all do.
One thing though - it was Baines who crossed to Cahill.
Loved Cahill's new celebration. Where he gestured to all us travelling fans, as if to say 'That's for you'.
Iain Love
2   Posted 03/10/2010 at 09:30:36

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lynn , exchanged passes means Baines passed then got it back.
Dennis Stevens
3   Posted 03/10/2010 at 10:12:50

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Thanks for the report, as always, Ken. Let's hope this first win proves to be a turning point & not a false dawn. Nice to hear Little Leon getting a mention for the right reasons too.
Andy Amey
4   Posted 03/10/2010 at 10:22:32

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Great report....I thought Baines was fabulous going forward and he linked up with Osman as well as he has in the past with Pienaar.
Michael Coville
5   Posted 03/10/2010 at 12:57:09

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Agree with Andy #4, the reason that either Pienaar or Osman look good on the left is the service they get from Baines and the way he links with either player. Compare that with the right side were whoever plays in right midfield gets no service. Yesterday Coleman was repeatedly in a good position yet Neville either passed sideways or booted it up-field bypassing Coleman. We need another Baines on the right.
Tony J Williams
6   Posted 03/10/2010 at 13:43:01

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Coleman didn't get much of a look in, the team seems to instinctively move the ball to the left wing because they know it is our best side.

Need to give the lad a go, as he was the only one yesterday who really did take on players (until falling over...doh!)
David Hallwood
7   Posted 03/10/2010 at 14:21:57

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As Ken great report as ever. Just two points, there was an interesting post in the middle of the 'Coleman is God' post (He?s not the Messiah he's a very talented full back), that just because a full back has attacking instincts doesn't necessarily mean that they can play right mid. Right mid is about running at the defence and clever ones like Pienaar pull them out of position for the back to bomb on, and Coleman like a lot of great attacking full backs struggle when they?re asked to play further forward, because they haven?t got the trickery needed to beat sometimes 2-3 players, and it isn?t their game. Therefore the RM problem is still to be solved.

Sorry to bang on about it but Donovan would be the perfect player for us at RM, pacy and can cut inside leaving oceans of space for Coleman to bomb into and he?s also got the work ethic to fill in the gap that Coleman leaves should it break down, not getting Donovan close season was a huge mistake and we should have moved heaven & earth to make it happen.

The last point, which is slightly off the subject, what?s happened to Saha? He?s not listed as injured on the OS, maybe he needs a holiday to get over his holiday.
David Price
8   Posted 03/10/2010 at 14:44:25

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Good one Ken, yes we needed some luck but a well deserved win against a tough side who never gave up.
Danny O'Neill
9   Posted 03/10/2010 at 15:47:35

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After Fulham last week I had no concerns that the results would come eventually given the performances. Definitely need to get sharper in front of goal but Newcastle aside, we've been playing well.

On Coleman, think we need to give the lad space. Don't think he's a midfielder; it restricts his game because he's already high up the pitch on the defender. He's more effective coming from deep and running at people - an overlapping full back.
Ian Kearney
10   Posted 03/10/2010 at 17:20:01

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Plenty of positives to take, agree entirely with David Hallwood when it comes to playing attacking full backs on the wing, but at the minute alternatives are lacking.

Osman deserves credit, if he is to be played out wide maybe the left will suit him better with his instinct to cut inside, and the superior support offered by Baines compared to Neville. Thought Felli showed signs again that he will become a truly world class holding midfielder, it was simpl a crime to play this lad out of position. Also thought Arteta had a better game, moving things along nicely, hopefully he will be on a upward curve now. The Yak needs a goal, but at least unlike Beckford he still manages to influence the game in a positive manner, his link up play at times was very good. I thought Baines was outstanding, his skill to beat his man and whip a cross in was Ronaldoesqe

After being embarrased by Blackpool at home, all I ask is we go into the derby without the inferiority complex that has dogged Moyes team in derby matches, we beat them lot and this season really could still be salvaged.
Ray Robinson
11   Posted 03/10/2010 at 19:31:52

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On the Coleman debate, he does bring us something that the other backs do not, but he should have conceded a penalty against Newcastle, did concede one against Brentford and was again very lucky yesterday. Hopefully, he does not negate the benefits of his his forays forward by becoming a defensive liability. Time will tell.
Dick Fearon
12   Posted 04/10/2010 at 01:14:39

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Can one of our USA webbers clarify the transfer situation regarding Landon Donovan. Is he contracted to Galaxy or MLS? I thought the FA would not accept third party ownership of players contracts.
Craig Harrison
13   Posted 04/10/2010 at 02:34:03

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All MLS player registrations are owned by MLS not the individual teams. When a player is sold for a fee the league gets the money and then distributes it as it sees fit.
Jim Hourigan
14   Posted 04/10/2010 at 13:10:33

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Ken, I dont often disagree with your analysis but I think this ones far too 'sugary'. Baines was outstanding and forced Osman to improve. In the last 15 mins Osman gave the ball away several times because he was knackered keeping up with Baines. They overlapped 2 or 3 times during that period and Osman couldn't get back. To have as good a game as you describe requires more than one poor cross that would have been swallowed up by their goalie but for a comical bit of defending. Osman was no better than average - Baines, Fellaini, Cahill and Arteta were streets ahead - not Osman bashing per se but perhaps a less sugary view of his performance.

Also how can you defend the tactic of withdrawing your only forward ? Talk about inviting the opposition to launch long balls into your box or what. They had one tactic and Moyes's decision played into their hands. We've all heard the addage attack is the best form of defence and the second goal demonstrated that. When a team is pushing for a goal they are vulnerable at the back, to play with only Cahill negates that vulnerability because of his natural tendency to drop into midfield.. If it wasn't for the excellent Baines wanting to attack and get forward we would have continued to sit back inviting pressure.

A great result and some decent play, which is reflected in your report, but perhaps a little more objectivity. Maybe the euphoria of the win clouded your view a little bit !!!!
Ian Kearney
15   Posted 04/10/2010 at 13:55:29

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I can see where your coming from Jim, when Ossie allowed that fat full back to jog past him I was furious.
David Hallwood
16   Posted 04/10/2010 at 17:07:57

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Craig harrison13# thanks for that, Can players in the MLS demand a transfer, or is that not the done thing?
Danny Mann
17   Posted 06/10/2010 at 14:58:04

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In this article the LA Galaxy owner says that Donovan has gone onto bigger things... could it be the blues!? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11477024
Bob Parrington
18   Posted 07/10/2010 at 00:52:46

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Who'd have believed it? 4th from bottom and still above the RS. Let's hope we can keep them there by winning the derby.

As far as the discussion about Coleman as RMF vs RB, when he's RB he tends to pass the ball inside and move down the wing to receive - a fairly normal attacking RB function - then he has some speed up and either crosses or moves in to the side of the box or the goal line and crosses. At RMF he already has the FB behind him and is waiting on the wing for the pass, often has to turn having received the ball facing our goal. if he cuts in from this relatively static position he's usually one on 2 or three defenders without picking up much speed and there is only Pip wide of him for an escape route pass.

I like the lad's style and determination but some coaching on this and some support on the right wouldn't go amiss.
COYB

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