This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Now the real test begins.
That’s the takeaway from Pep Clotet as he prepares his Birmingham side to take on Leeds on Saturday.
Speaking in his press conference in the week, Clotet spoke about how they were on the attack for a lot of the game against Middlesbrough and whether or not they would be employing a similar game plan against Leeds.
“The key to that game was the position of the back-line, which was a little bit higher than usual. That helped us to establish a higher position to start pressing. The players pressed as soon as we lost the ball, that was very, very good. It didn’t take us one second to realise, it was automatic.
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“Opposition plays a big part because Leeds want to do the same as us, attack and when they lose the ball get it back as quickly as possible to keep attacking. It is a game we want to use as a benchmark and it’s a fantastic test and a fantastic challenge.”
And Clotet is absolutely right when talking about this game being a ‘benchmark’ for how well they have done so far this season.
Whenever a new manager takes over, there’s always going to a ‘bedding in period’ as he tries to get his philosophy and style across.
Clotet will have had twelve league games in charge of the Blues, as well as two international breaks so now is a perfect time to assess where he and the side are.
It is an opportunity for the Spaniard and his players to show what they are really capable of, and going up against a team like Leeds should be a real test to see if there’s a future for him or if the term ‘interim head coach’ will be changed to ‘former head coach’.
They’ve had mixed results against teams that are high in the table so far this season, getting thumped by Nottingham Forest, but at the same time grinding out a 1-0 victory away to Charlton who were second in the league when they played them.
Whilst the Blues went on a bit of a bad run before their victory against Middlesbrough, a lot of those games were thrown away because of errors, particularly from goalkeeper Lee Camp.
So now it’s a chance to see if that game against Boro was the exception or the rule.