And despite some lacklustre performances, overall pre-season for Blues has thrown up more positives than it has negatives.
Consecutive wins in our first two fixtures against Alfreton Town (3-1) and Shamrock Rovers (4-0) respectively, was followed by a behind-closed-doors match against MK Dons in Dublin where we suffered a 4-1 loss.
A 3-0 win back on English soil against Swindon, a 1-1 draw at the Kassam Stadium, home of Oxford United, and an unfortunate 4-2 loss against Shrewsbury concluded the away fixtures, before a 2-1 win against Hull City back at St. Andrew’s to round off the pre-season fixtures quite nicely.
But as anyone will tell you, pre-season isn’t about results, it is about the two Fs: formation and fitness, and in today’s 2-1 win against Premier League Hull we looked a much more polished team than a few days previously in the loss to Shrewsbury.
3-5-2 seems to be Lee Clark’s preferred formation and even though we looked somewhat unstable in games prior to today, the formation worked well against Hull: a side that were promoted using the same system last season.
The only real problem with this however is the defence getting caught out, with both Paul Robinson and Dan Burn not being blessed with pace – Burn getting caught out against Oxford last weekend frequently and subsequently giving away fouls. Thankfully today we looked much more solid, with the wing-backs tracking back as and when to give that much needed cover.
|An overall positive pre-season. Image: BCFC.com|
As for the fitness side, you could tell we were a couple of weeks ahead of Hull; we looked confident and composed both on and off the ball and chased them down into making several mistakes. We also passed the ball about impressively, which should give the team more confidence ahead of a tough opening fixture next Saturday.
In terms of the players themselves, it’s been all change since last season. A revolving door would have been useful (if we could afford it) with a host of players leaving the club as well as, thus far, eleven new faces arriving at St. Andrew’s in the form of either loans or free transfers.
Clark seems to have done some good business, however, on what can’t even be labeled as a shoe string budget. Andrew Shinnie has looked particularly impressive and is my stand out player of pre-season, but the likes of Matt Green, Neal Eardley and Scott Allan have all looked impressive too, and getting Shane Ferguson back on loan is a terrific move by Clark.
As for the state of the ownership of the club, I think anyone would be lying if they said it’s not affected what’s going on on the pitch: the Marlon King situation being a clear example of this, with both him and Peter Lovenkrands being forced to train and play with the reserves. Yet having being given squad numbers, I for one hope this means they will be involved in the team, especially King. No one is going to buy them, even on a free, so involving them in the team can only be a positive for us; we have to pay them the same wages, so we might as well be getting something in return.
Overall, as pre-seasons go it’s not been disastrous. It should be taken with a pinch of salt, as it’s not a great indication of how the real season will pan out; the constant chopping and changing of the players to make sure everyone gets enough minutes clearly brings about instability, however I expect the starting XI today to be more or less who starts against Watford.
Granted it could have been more inspiring on the whole, but today’s game was encouraging, and the real talking will be done next Saturday when the season begins, hopefully with more positives to talk about and most importantly a win.
|Green scores in the 2-1 victory against Hull. Image: BCFC.com|