Birmingham City’s 2-0 defeat at home to Millwall on Wednesday night made it three on the bounce for the Blues, and one thing has been painfully obvious during those losses – a lack of a plan B.
While the Midlands outfit may try and play football when possible, there is no doubt that having Lukas Jutkiewicz as an outlet up top is a useful tool given his strength and the number of aerial duels he is able to win, and they are often happy to revert to using him as a focal point for attacks.
However, and rather confusingly, Garry Monk’s men continued to play as though the Southampton-born man was on the pitch against the Lions even though he was sat on the bench, often pumping long balls forward to Che Adams and Isaac Vassell.
Unsurprisingly, the visitors dealt with those with relative ease and while it wasn’t a great showing from the players at St Andrew’s, the manager hardly came out of it smelling of roses either.
Whether Jutkiewicz returns to the starting XI or not – you would think that he would after yet another loss – Monk must set out a clear plan B for his team.
He clearly didn’t in midweek unless his players chose to ignore it, as there was no way that Adams or Vassell had as much as their centre-forward teammate of winning with the balls thrown forward from the back.
Even if Jutkiewicz is named on the team-sheet at Deepdale, the visitors will still need to mix things up more than they have been doing as the Lilywhites have a strong and dominant backline themselves, who would probably prefer a physical battle in the air.
With fixtures running out Birmingham ideally need to take all three points against a North End outfit bang in form and making a play-off push of their own, but it will only happen if Monk plays it well tactically – one area he still needs to prove himself.