Blackpool/Brentford .. Ron's Summary

By Brian Cartlidge
Last updated : 30 October 2010

- Whilst Blackpool's attacking approach is admirable to a degree, it's also bordering on naïve.  Sam Allardyce made some sarcastic remarks about them a few weeks ago, and you can see why.  Sure, they may surprise a few people early on but if they keep turning up against decent sides with four strikers on the field, they're going to start getting beat every single week.  Blues won't play against such open and naïve opponents each week, so that helped.

- Take nothing away from Blues though - as the cliché goes, you can only beat what's put in front of you.  They beat Blackpool and did so comfortably.  A lot of the build up play was much, much better and the freedom afforded to Alex Hleb clearly brought the best out of him and those around him.  The real disappointment was the end product - the final ball, cross or finish betrayed Blues on a number of occasions and they do need to be more clinical when they get into good opportunities.  Against Brentford it was much the same with a number of poor final balls being put across the face of the goal and wrong options being taken.

- Nikola Zigic continues to improve and look the part.  He won't be everyone's cup of tea - that much is obvious.  He has no pace and he won't chase lost causes or balls into the channel.  He's very different to the majority of strikers that we've seen play for Blues and other clubs.  He needs to be viewed as such.  However, he has again showed that if given the right service, he can make things happen for those around him - his one flick for Hleb on Saturday was sublime.  He's improving in the air and, as scruffy as Saturday's goal may have been, you can't knock a man with two goals in his last two Premier League starts.

- Keith Fahey is often mocked, including by me, but he's not a bad footballer really - he's neat and tidy, but does look out of his depth at times.  In saying that, credit where credit's due, his performance against Blackpool was very good.

- Maik Taylor is finished.  I know Colin Doyle is cup tied in the Carling Cup, but surely it's time for him to be on the bench in proper games now?  The thought of Taylor needing to be used in a Premier League game scares me to death.  He's always being tentative and poor at decision making, but against Brentford it seemed to have got worse than ever.  People might say that we've been spoiled by Hart and Foster over the past 18 months, and so it emphasises Taylor's weaknesses a little more.  I tend to think the opposite and think it only serves to show that Taylor really is a poor goalkeeper at the top level when you get to see that better standard.  No doubt he'll be called a "penalty shoot-out hero" after standing in the way of Brentford's last penalty (having already punched one into his own net), but that came only minutes after he inexplicably picked up a backpass and nearly gifted Brentford the game.  Thanks for the memories, Maik, but time to go now.

- The Brentford game was one of those where, to a degree, it was so bad that it was funny.  Also, to scrape an injury time equaliser and then win on penalties despite Lee Bowyer taking the worst penalty in the history of penalties to send 4,000 cockneys home crying just added to the amusement.  However, on a serious note, it's hard to comprehend just how poor Blues were.  Going back to what I've said above, it showed that 4-3-1-2 is something of a specialist formation.  Whilst Blues got it very much right against Blackpool, using the right personnel, it was very much wrong against Brentford.  Kevin Phillips in the Hleb role didn't work.  Michel in the Barry Ferguson role didn't work - how he was voted man of the match is beyond me.  Then players like Scott Dann and Craig Gardner were unbelievably poor by their usual standards.  It was so bad that it had to be a blip, surely?  I'm sure it was just one of those nights.

- Whilst people may applaud Brentford, all they did was turn up, compete and be well organised which is the minimum you'd expect of such a club in those circumstances.  They weren't particularly good themselves really and had no real stand-out players.  Blues were so bad though that Brentford were able to get the upper hand.

- Zigic made a difference when he came on, but the front two who started must be a cause for concern.  Matt Derbyshire looks very much out of touch and, worryingly, seems to have gone backwards since he arrived at Blues.  His first few cameo performances were bright and sparky, but he now looks to have lost a yard of pace, completely lost his touch and to be completely devoid of confidence.  When he was at Blackburn and doing so well for England U21s, his confident and instinctive play was his key attribute - he looks well short of that at present.  He may be trying too hard and may need to relax a little - a few times he looked to pass when, three years ago he'd have been shooting.

- As for Garry O'Connor, well, where do you start?  I know people commended him for his display against Blackpool, but I thought he was poor.  The key difference on Saturday was that there were two up front, and O'Connor was one of those two.  That's all it was though.  He was a body up front who ran around a bit, and that put some pressure on Blackpool.  Anyone could have done that though.  Seriously.  If it was a case of just picking a body to play up front, run around a bit, pressure a few defenders, finish poorly, tire after 55 minutes and generally disappoint, I could have done it.  All he was was a body up front.  Having another body up front did make a difference, but the fact that it was O'Connor didn't.  Against Brentford he was just dire.  I can't really say anymore than that.  People may think that I unnecessarily get on his back, but as with everything I comment on, I genuinely do say it as I see it, and I cannot see anything in him for Blues at this level.  Nothing at all.

- After the Blackpool game I thought that it was a great way to build towards the Villa game next week.  For much of the Brentford game I thought "we've undone that good work".  Actually though, more by luck than judgement, last night may have further added to the feelgood factor.  Forget how you get there - winning on penalties is a good feeling.  At the end, about 10,000 Blues fans made as much noise as 25,000 have done recently.  It was completely inadvertent after a dreadful performance (though Blues' goal needs a mention as being some great play), but the game going to penalties and Blues winning meant all the players were chuffed and sent the fans away happy - probably more so than had they beaten Brentford 2-0 with a goal in each half.  That, in a bizarre way, could be a positive.

- Bring on the Villa.

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