BCFC: Return to Form

Two denied penalties ensured Blues only came away with a 1-1 draw against Brentford on Saturday at St Andrews. The blustery conditions caused by Storm Dennis along with a pitch that is suffering somewhat ensured this match wasn’t one for the ages yet Blues held firm to extend their unbeaten run to ten games.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

The recent run has ensured Blues now sit comfortably in mid-table and while the playoffs are in all probability out of reach, relegation should no longer be considered a threat either.

Blues go into their next game with Sheffield Wednesday in a much different situation to the reverse fixture at the end of November.

The recent run without defeat has ensured Pep Clotet’s position is now a lot more convincing than it was last year while Owls manager Garry Monk is under threat with Wednesday winless in six league games.

There should be a lot of credit given for the improvement in Blues fortunes of late.

While injuries and transfers have ensured the squad has been a bit threadbare recently, the players who have been available have massively stepped up to the plate.

None more so than Gary Gardner, whose return from injury has seen him become a driving force in the Blues midfield and for me at least has ensured he is now one of the first names on the team sheet.

Lee Camp’s return to goalkeeping duties has also coincided with a return to form. While much has been made of his penalty heroics, against Brentford Camp showed that he can be a very competent goalkeeper even in tough conditions.

Likewise, while much has been made of Scott Hogan’s goalscoring exploits, to me it’s noticeable how Hogan’s movement and runs have helped Lukas Jutkiewicz’s game and the partnership between the two is already blossoming.

In honesty, I could probably devote a paragraph each to most of the first team right now because the improvement is easy to see.

While I know that the board are invested in trying to make Blues an attractive, expansive and attacking football team, I think that the past few weeks have shown that the team can do that without having to be all tiki-taka “Dongball”.

I think credit has to be given to Pep Clotet and his coaching staff too.

There has been a marked improvement in the way Clotet has managed games, with the performances against Nottingham Forest and Bristol City being cases in point.

Clotet has been criticised for his substitutes but I think he’s been getting it spot on recently; I’ve not felt that nervous about Blues defending leads and there’s a sense that organisation has become much better within the team.

I think it’s also noticeable that this run has coincided with the arrival of Alberto Escobar as assistant; an appointment Clotet requested after Paco Herrera returned to Spain and credit must be given to the board for sorting that out.

As I’ve said previously in this post I cannot see us making the playoffs – I think Blues would need a minimum of 26 points from their last 13 games to do it – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Right now I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m enjoying watching Blues play, and I think it’s important that Blues continue to play this positive brand of football.

It might just be that Clotet gets to make the ultimate rebuttal to Monk’s comments before the last game with Sheffield Wednesday by leading his team to a victory that sees his former boss getting the Spanish archer.

Wouldn’t that be something?