FIVE things we learnt about Birmingham this weekend

1. 4-5-1 diminishes any attacking potency

When Birmingham fans looked down the fixture list, Wigan at home would have stood out as one that they could easily have picked up three points from given their record at home. Wigan have started the season by leaking goals nigh on every week, so when the team sheet detailed five midfielders, many would have been scratching their heads with good reason. The formation was described as a 4-4-1-1 on paper with Craig Gardner playing just off Cameron Jerome but in reality the Birmingham number 10 being isolated throughout allowing a less than resolute Wigan defence to nullify Birmingham’s threat short after it was instigated.

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2. Being 6ft 7inches tall does not give you the ability to win a header

Big Serbian Nikola Zigic joined Blues from La Liga side Valencia this summer and said he was “ready for the demands of the Premier League” but unfortunately he has been less than impressive so far. Alex McLeish has used him as a bit part player up until now and when he was introduced to the field following chants of “4-4-2!” from the St Andrews faithful , he did little to dispel the doubt currently surrounding him. He seemed, dare I say it, scared to attack the ball and any headers he did win were greeted with ironic cheers. Fellow signing Jean Beausejour typified the concern when Zigic appeared to duck and miss the chance to head home his inviting cross and his seemingly lackadaisical style will certainly not endear himself to Blues fans if he continues in the same vein.

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3. It was drab, but Blues are a changed side under McLeish and this is reflected in equalling a 103 year record

So it was a tedious game of football, there was a lack of goal mouth action for long periods and many would have rather watched “paint dry” or the grass grow but Birmingham took their unbeaten home record in the Premier League to 18 games, matching a record dating back to 1907 and this is symbolic of a change under Alex McLeish. It is quite remarkable for a team in only their second year of Premier League football since their last promotion to have achieved such a feat and solidarity in their own backyard was the base for their achievements last season.

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4. New signings need time to gel

It is somewhat of a cliché that players need to gel together after signing for a new club but it was quite prevalent in Saturday’s fixture against Wigan. Perhaps the formation was wrong but Alexander Hleb and Jean Beausejour need match fitness and time to adjust to both the Premier League and Birmingham’s style of play according to Alex McLeish. He said: “I am still trying to find the right blend. We’ve got to be patient and persevere with the guys.

“Alex (Hleb) is still searching for sharpness and fitness as is the case with Beausejour. Alex has not played a lot of games, not a lot of football.

“That game (Saturday) will help him and we’ve got to get the ball to him better than we did at times.

“Alex knows the quality of some of the guys but we are not quite Arsenal where everyone seems to be available and their one and two touch passing is sublime.”

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5. Their defensive duo may be one of the Premier League’s best

Roger Johnson and Scott Dann are perhaps not the most fashionable of centre halve pairings but it seems since their moves from the Championship they have grown into a solid partnership, the latter even drawing rumours about a possible England call-up and big money move to Manchester United. On Saturday, they controlled Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega throughout, ensuring that he did not have a sniff and perhaps with a bit more consistency, Fabio Capello may come knocking for at least one of the defenders who have been pivotal in Blues solidarity at St Andrews.

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Birmingham Fans: Are you in this photo?

 


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