November 29, 2012 by Made In Brum
Blues take on Middlesbrough tomorrow (Friday) evening at St. Andrews live on Sky Sports (7.45pm). After a well-earned draw at Blackpool on Tuesday, Blues need to take this game by the scruff of the neck.
It has been a frustrating season so far, a season in which Blues haven’t really sprung fully into life. Improvement signs have been there, positive signs have also been there but they have been out-weighed by warning signs. The home form has been baffling, disheartening and at times, abhorrent. But there is still time to turn it round.
People who know me personally will tell you that I am a Lee Clark advocate. What I mean by that is that I understand and sympathise with the situation he is managing in. I do invite others to voice their opinions, hence articles by other writers on this very site, disagreeing with me. I do think that Clark is an easy target and the board have done little to come out and defend him. With all that is going on at the club, it is Clark (and because of some absolute moron’s on Twitter, his children) who has to put his head on the block. No, the football hasn’t been great. But once the players step over the white line, a manager can only do so much. His team talk’s undeniably work, how else do you explain the enhancement in performances in the second half?
St. Andrews was a fortress last season, but in the nine league games played there this term, Blues have won three, drew two and lost four. Not a great record, admittedly.
Clark has confirmed that Rob Hall will be assessed overnight and tomorrow afternoon after missing the trip to Blackpool after throwing up in the team meeting. Hayden Mullins, who limped off, will also be assessed. David Murphy will be missing for the rest of the season after a knee operation.
The manager said- “We’re not sure on Rob Hall and what is situation is. The feedback we’re getting at the moment is that he is at home but he’s starting to feel better and starting to have a little intake of food to replace the lost energy from the illness, but he certainly hasn’t been ruled out for Friday. The next 24 hours will be crucial on that.”
Paul Caddis returned to the fray on Tuesday night after just a couple of training sessions, and Curtis Davies was quick to praise the right-back “it is great for me to have such a good right-back alongside me, I just give him the ball and hope I don’t get it back”. Remember Blues fans, he is on loan. That is another demanding and problematic situation about Clark’s job, he know’s the team need improving, but with the current financial predicament, not only can’t he seal a quick-fix, he can’t even plan for the future. With players out of contact in the summer (Murphy and Carr to name two) it’s pretty clear they will find pastures new. That is why the youth players, Mitch Hancox, Jack Deaman, Akwasi Asante, Callum Reilly etc need to buckle down and take note now, they may have a bigger part to play after January or next season.
Speaking of Asante, I know from sources I have spoken to that he is highly rated by all the staff at the club. His latest injury setback is a pain, but he will have his chance, that’s for sure.
Middlesbrough currently find themselves in third, but looking closer at their away form (four wins, one draw, four defeats) gives an idea of where their strengths lie. Tony Mowbray has worked wonders with this team and they play good, expansive football, at home. On the road it seems to be more of a ‘clog up the play and use our quick counter’ sort of game plan. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. What is certain is that Blues can’t afford to have a flat first half, there will be no ‘coming back from three-down’ against the Teesiders.
The visitors will be without George Friend, Faris Haroun, Jonathan Woodgate, Julio Arca, Muzzy Carayol and Rhys Williams. Grant Leadbitter will have a late fitness test.
These two clubs have met competitively on 103 occasions, with Blues winning 42 and scoring 99 goals. At St. Andrews, Blues have beaten ‘Boro 31 times. As always, I invite anyone to have their say either on here, or via our Twitter page- @madeinbrum_bcfc.
Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Made In Brum before the game. Still priced at £1.50, they can be purchased from the sales team outside St. Andrews or from me in The Roost pub (Cattell Road- 5.30pm onwards).
COME ON YOU BLUES!