Andy Munro, and Blues, do like to be beside the seaside.
They say that it’s a funny old game and, if so, the Brighton result was Only Fools and Horses meets Monty Python. Nobody really saw it coming and I must admit that I spent most of the preceding week bemoaning Clarke as a defensive young manager, out of his depth dealing with senior players, who had no respect for him or the fans… only Butland, Redmond and Fahy had the bottle to come over to the fans after the drubbing by Barcelona, sorry I mean Barnsley. When you looked at the performance to date of some of his signings like Mullins, Lovengrans and Ambrose, they had shown a level of energy that, if it had been used to power a piece of electronic equipment, couldn’t have lit a pocket torch.
Daily Evening Mail headlines of people at the club hurting and crying cut no ice with me and, to make matters worse, Darren ‘I was once a good player but now I can’t be arsed’ Ambrose was saying how gutted he was and how he ‘respected’ Lee Clarke. Then, on the day of the match, we learnt that the Blues books were now definitely not being released in the non-fiction category if, indeed, they are being released at all.
It didn’t even look promising when the team was announced with Blues playing the diminutive Lita up front on his own with the likes of Wade Elliott in a five-man midfield. However, I was heartened to see the Baggie Monster ‘Robbo’ and young Packwood in defence together with Curtis Davies.
Blues turned out in their change strip of black with pink edging, which must have pleased some of the locals, and proceeded to play solidly if unspectacularly. For Brighton, Dobbie, a player I’ve always rated (shame we didn’t sign him),looked dangerous on occasions but generally that danger was kept at long range. Amazingly we took the lead when Burke scored the sort of wonder goal that will do his confidence no harm. Mind you, when the lights went out, the worry was that Blues would lose their focus at the restart but fortunately they managed to grind out the win. The latter phrase is one that personally, I’d rather not have to use too often as I wouldn’t want to be entering another McLeish era.
Does this mean we’ve turned the corner or merely that we’ve papered over a few cracks? I still fear the latter but only time will tell. Strangely, despite the fact that we have been leaking goals and there is a fit full-back famine of Ethiopian proportions, I am not too worried about our defence but more about the midfield and forwards. It’s not necessarily the personnel more about the selections made and the ‘offensive’ tactics eg playing a big and little man up front with two ‘sitting’ midfielders complemented by two, not one, wingers.
Hopefully that worry is groundless and Lee Clarke comes up trumps with both a winning and entertaining strategy…. but I’m not holding my breath.