As Blues approach the final game of the season away to Bristol City I will look to throw my 2-pence worth into the Huddersfield Review and a look ahead to this Sunday’s crunch game.
What an atmosphere, what a result and what a game. In terms of Blues performance, I have not seen us looking that solid in a long while. Even Gary Rowett would have been bowled over at how solid Blues looked last Saturday. I don’t think it’s a push to say that even under the Bromsgrove Mourinho that we hadn’t looked that solid under him for a while.
But it wasn’t just that how solid we were at the back, we looked decent going forward as well. Even after Adams’ red card in the 23rd minute we still looked as though we were causing more problems than Huddersfield.
In what was potentially Harry’s only game at St Andrews the crowd did all they could to show him what he could be looking after next season. Like peacocks showing their plumage, the faithful were full of voice and full of cheer. That, above all else was my overriding feeling post match. Nothing fills me with as much joy as hearing Keep Right On being chanted by a packed St Andrews – I think I could be persuaded to do almost anything upon hearing that!
The Juke is massively short on confidence. He’s industrious, he runs his bloody socks off, but his shooting lacks belief. Every shot, including his penalty were poorly hit and he just needs to find that sweet-spot.
Blues work hard. For 77 minutes the Blues were down to 10 men. Yet, Huddersfield rarely troubled and if they did they were mostly constricted to shots from distance.
Blues lack a Maghoma on the right. Despite how solid we look and how hard we work, there is still a slight lack of balance in the side. I fear it would take a team to man mark Jacques and Che and we would become impotent.
I’m not referring to the red card. The controversy post match is that the Terriers fielded a “weakened” team by making 10 changes to their line-up against the Blues. Either due to complaints, or because the EFL have nothing better to do they have asked Huddersfield to explain their team selection from last Saturday. According to an EFL statement put out today they do not want to compromise the integrity of the competition with teams fielding weaker sides.
Personally, I think the EFL should be concerning themselves more with ensuring that the “fit and proper” tests are actually worth the paper they’re written on and focus on protecting clubs from shady owners. Yes, they need to ensure all teams fulfil their fixtures, but beyond that, who are they to dictate what eleven players take to the field.
Each team have to declare a squad of a maximum size of 25 players over the age of 21 and as it is Huddersfield have a current squad size of 27. It must be down to the management of that team to look after that squad of 27 players in the best way that gives Huddersfield the best chance of promotion.
To assume that because 10 changes were made that it was a weak team out on the field that day is incredibly disrespectful to the players that played.
It is also worth noting that the majority of the team that played Saturday were the team that took Man City to a replay in the Cup and more than held their own against the Billionaires club from the Blue side of Manchester for 135 minutes of football.
The team wasn’t full of kids, giving them a run out as a pointless exercise, these were players being given the opportunity to stake a claim for the promotion push and keeping themselves competitive in case they’re needed for the Play-offs.
If managers are going to be penalised for using their squad, then what is the point in dictating squad sizes? If it’s purely down to ensure a fairer system of spending for clubs introduce salary caps on players and clubs (so no single player can earn more than X per week and the club cannot spend more than Y per week). That way the EFL can still enforce a fair system for all. But that still means clubs could have squads of 25, 26, even 30 odd players that they can use as and when they want.
The notion of ‘weakened’ teams refers more to the times when Premier League teams play their kids and reserves against supposedly weaker opposition. I agree, that in those circumstances it smacks of disrespect for both the competition and opposition you’re playing. But I strongly believe that there is a clear distinction between a Premier League club turning out kids and reserves in the League Cup to play a League One side than there is a team using players in their first team squad as they want against another team in the same level competition.
Huddersfield do not give a fuck about the plight of Blackburn and Forest or Blues for that matter. All they care about is getting to the big show, the Premier League and they have a real opportunity to make that happen. Question for the EFL: if by resting players as part of their rotation from last Saturday and those fresh players were able to play out of their skin and gain promotion how much value is that story to you? Quick follow up question: Isn’t that then just great management of resources?
I completely get where Rovers and Forest are coming from. If the boot was on the other foot it would probably irk me a little, but then I come round to my rationales above. Hell, Rovers even had Villains turning up wearing Blackburn shirts!
I will end this section on a comment a heard on TalkSport made by a Terriers fan calling in about this subject – this is massively disrespectful to Birmingham City. The guy was saying that the stadium was packed, the fans were out of this world and regardless of what XI Huddersfield had put out last Saturday Birmingham would have won because we wanted it more, worked harder and were so much better on the day that the notion or weakened teams was hugely disrespectful to our performance and the result.
Not to cause more controversy, but Lee Johnson, the Bristol Manager has already said he is going to play 3 or 4 kids on Sunday. He’s mitigated the notion by claiming he will always play the best team to win the game and he will only ever make the right decision for the club and the league. But the idea of weakened teams is on the horizon for Blues fans.
Now that Che Adams has had his ridiculous red card rescinded by the FA from last weekend I cannot see Harry Redknapp making any changes to the team. From his press conference, Redknapp suggested that Clayton Donaldson could make the squad tomorrow. Will we need him?
I’m feeling more confident than I have done since the turn of the year that we will survive. All we need to do is equal or better the results from either Blackburn away at Brentford or Nottingham Forest at home to Ipswich. In fairness to all 3 teams fighting for survival they are all playing teams with nothing left to fight for. So it will simply come down to who wants it more come midday Sunday and I think Harry will have them right up for it!
To the lucky bastards that are going – have a great time and do not stop singing, I would love to be there. I will just nervously spend Sunday afternoon watching results tick over on TV.