Birmingham City - Pep's (or Dong's) Revolution

bcfc1

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Birmingham City – Pep’s (or Dong’s) Revolution


I am writing this while we are being soundly beaten by Nottingham Forest so the success of the revolution so far is not exactly high.

I wanted to do one more story before the new game and I thought where best but my beloved Birmingham City. As a way of getting ready for the next game, I have downloaded a database that will put in place all of the summer transfers so the squad is the most up to date as possible.

I will be taking over and trying to carry on what Pep Clotet has tried to do already this season, play more attractive football at a club that hasn’t played anything that would be called attractive in my time of supporting them (that’s roughly 30 years of route one football).

Rather than just managing the club how I see fit, I will be trying to make the game more like how things are in real life. Therefore, I will be using the tactics that Pep has already used this season (3421 and 41221) and one key thing is that I will not be in charge of transfers and this will be left to the Managing Director Dong Ren (more on who he is in a moment).
 
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bcfc1

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May 27, 2013
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Pre-Season




The first thing to do was to make sure that our great leader Dong Ren was in charge of everything so I have set all transfer and staff responsibilities that I can to be left to him. I have made it so there can be no transfers in the first window so that the squad stays the same for at least the start of the season.

As I have set it so that there are no transfers this window, I can give a review of the squad straight away.

Goalkeepers



Two solid options for this league in Camp and Stockdale. I think Stockdale may have the edge but I will have a look at both of them over the pre-season friendlies.

Defenders



Pretty decent choice here, especially at left back. I am a big fan of Maxime Colin and personally think he is the best player at the club so he will definitely be the starting right back. The hope will be that Dean and Roberts can strike up a good partnership at the back as they will be starting regardless of whether we start with a back 3 or a back 4. Left back is where things could change. In a back 4, Pedersen will be the starting choice but if I switch to back 3 then I the choice of moving him CB and playing somebody else at LB.

Midfielders



This is where Dong has made his mark on the squad. A year ago, this would have been the clubs weakest area and full of ball winners and wingers. Now it has a few playmakers and even a trequartista which is something I would never see happen at St Andrews. The weakness here is the lack of width so all tactics will be heavy on central midfielders and the width will have to come from the full backs.

Attackers



Not many options here. Jutkiewicz is a target man and while he does this excellently, he can not do anything else. Gimenez looks to be more mobile and will be challenging to start games because of this.
 

bcfc1

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Tactics


As I said in the first post, I will be trying to implement how Pep has started with the club and the big thing to do that is to get the tactics right. So far Pep has used 2 different tactics. He started with a 3421 tactic and has now recently switched to a 41221 tactic. They are very similar in terms of their layout but the style of play is quite different.

41221


The main tactic that I will use I think. I always prefer a 4 at the back with one man in front of them so this suits me pretty well, although I do usually prefer to play with wingers but Pep likes to keep things narrow so that is what we will do too. The 5 in midfield will be key for the tactic. It will be Sunjic’s job to control the game from deep. Gardner and Kieftenbeld will be vital in terms of their energy and getting the ball off of the opposition, and then Crowley and Villalba will be responsible for creating and scoring goals.

3421



This is the formation that Pep played for most of pre-season and it isn’t really my cup of tea. You can see clearly that the squad are not knowledgeable in some of the positions the first thing that I will be doing is training players to be more versatile in multiple positions. The big red strip across midfield is a big worry for me and I might still push the two DM’s in CM to see if this gives the team more balance.

Regardless of which tactic is picked, the front 3 is the same so hopefully they will be able to gel quickly and score goals for us. Jutkiewicz is not the most prolific goalscorer so it will be important that players like Crowley and Villalba contribute with goals as well as assists.
 

bcfc1

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August

Birmingham 1 (Jutkiewicz 47)
Huddersfield 2 (Kachunga 16, Hadergjonaj 50)

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld (Davis), G Gardner, Crowley (Gimenez), Villalba (Mrabti), Jutkiewicz

Not the start I had wanted but it wasn’t a disappointing performance considering they were in the Premier League last season.

Cardiff 1 (Mendez-Laing 20)
Birmingham 1 (Villalba 2)


Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld (Davis), G Gardner, Crowley (Mrabti), Villalba, Jutkiewicz (Gimenez)

The tough start continues as we face another team just relegated from the Premier League. I would have taken a point at the start of the game but we should have won this. We missed a penalty after just 7 minutes which could have given us a quick 2-0 lead.

Carabao Cup 1[SUP]st[/SUP] Round
Birmingham 2 (C Gardner 12pen, Burton 25og)
Cambridge 0

Stockdale, Harding, Roberts, Clarke-Salter, Keita, Sunjic (G Gardner), Davis, C Gardner, Crowley (Montero), Mrabti, Gimenez

We are safely through the first round of the cup here. I rotated the squad quite a bit and I was pleased with how the new guys came in. Our reward is a second round tie against another lower league side, Mansfield.

Birmingham 1 (Villalba 36)
Wigan 0

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld (C Gardner), G Gardner, Crowley (Mrabti), Villalba, Jutkiewicz

Our first league win comes from a very good free kick taken by Villalba. Other than that there wasn’t really much in the game as we controlled possession and there weren’t many chances for either side.

Charlton 1 (Aneke 23)

Birmingham 0

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Davis (Mrabti), G Gardner, Crowley, Villalba (Gimenez), Jutkiewicz

Our first really poor result here. We dominated the game but just couldn’t finish any of our 16 shots on goal while Charlton scored from their only shot on target.

Barnsley 0
Birmingham 1 (Kieftenbeld 63)

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen (Keita), Sunjic, Kieftenbeld, G Gardner (C Gardner), Crowley, Villalba, Jutkiewicz

Nice to get the win here but we are still struggling in front of goal. 16 shots, 7 on target but only one goal.

Carabao Cup 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Round
Mansfield 0
Birmingham 1 (Gimenez 50)

Stockdale, Harding, Clarke-Salter, Dean, Pedersen (Keita), Medina, David, C Gardner, Mrabti, Montero (Maghoma), Gimenez

A solid win sees us through to the third round. We had almost 70% possession but could only break down their defence once. Thankfully that’s all we needed to do as they provided very little threat. Our game in the 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] round is against League One side Gillingham in another tie we would expect to win.

Summary


Overall, it has been a solid start to the season. The loss to Charlton was disappointing but everything else went roughly as I would have expected.

In the cup, we have progressed through the first two rounds and now have a winnable tie in the 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] round against Gillingham. It would be nice to have a decent cup run but it isn’t that important to me.

Player of the Month
Fran Villalba




A very good start to his career here with 2 goals and an assist in 5 appearances.

League Table

 
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bcfc1

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September

Birmingham 0
Hull 2 (Elder 9, Milinkovic 90)

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld, G Gardner, Crowley, Villalba, Gimenez (Mrabti)

A really poor result here. They got an early goal from a set piece and then caught us out late on as we pushed for an equalizer.

Middlesbrough 2 (Gestede 4, Tavernier 79pen)
Birmingham 1 (Jutkiewicz 7)

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen (Keita), Sunjic, Kieftenbeld (C Gardner), G Gardner, Crowley, Villalba (Mrabti), Jutkiewicz

A cheap penalty towards the end cost us a point here. It was a tight game but Gestede was tripped just inside the box to give them the penalty to win it.

Birmingham 2 (G Gardner 38, Jutkiewicz 89)
Nottingham Forest 2 (Lolley 5, Mir 21)

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld (C Gardner), G Gardner (Crowley), Mrabti, Villalba (Gimenez), Jutkiewicz

A really good comeback here but the number of goals we are conceding is worrying. That is two goals conceded in every game so far this month.

Birmingham 0
Fulham 0

Stockdale, Roberts, Dean, Clarke-Salter, Colin (Medina), Kieftenbeld, Sunjic, Pedersen, Crowley, Mrabti (Jutkiewicz), Gimenez

With the defence leaking goals the way it was, I switched to the 3 at the back tactic and we certainly looked tighter here. We struggled to create almost anything but I am pleased to get a clean sheet against one of the best teams in the division.

Carabao Cup 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] Round
Birmingham 2 (Bonham 50og, Jutkiewicz 73pen)
Gillingham 0

Stockdale, Harding, Dean, Clarke-Salter, Medina, Davis, G Gardner, Keita, Maghoma, Montero, Jutkiewicz

A nice win here and a clean sheet in the cup to take us through to the next round. Lets hope a win here can be turned into a win in the league that we need so much. We have been given another lower league team in the next round as we face Fleetwood Town.

Blackburn 0

Birmingham 1 (Mrabti 90)

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld, G Gardner (Davis), Mrabti, Montero, Gimenez (Jutkiewicz)

Finally a league win. I switched back to the back 4 tactic due to Clarke-Salter getting a knock in training and we stole it with a late goal that was a cross that floated into the far post but we deserved it after dominating most of the game.

Summary

A tough month but after 3 games where we conceded two goals every time, we finished the month with 3 clean sheets. We still look to be struggling in front of goal as we seem to have a lot of possession and shots but nothing clear cut.

Player of the Month
Harlee Dean




A very solid centre back for us and really stepped up in those last few games to get us those clean sheets.

League Table

 

bcfc1

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October

Bristol City 1 (Eliasson 45)
Birmingham 1 (Jutkiewicz 12)

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld (Clarke-Salter), G Gardner, Crowley, Villalba (Gimenez), Jutkiewicz

Nothing really special here. There goal was a decent volley but a pretty average game all round.

Birmingham 0
Brentford 0

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld, G Gardner (Davis), Crowley, Villalba (Mrabti), Gimenez

If the last game had nothing special, then this game may as well had not even kicked off. Absolutely nothing happened but I am pleased that we are much tighter at the back compared to earlier in the season.

Preston 1 (Potts 89)
Birmingham 2 (Jutkiewicz 31, 88)

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld, G Gardner (Davis), Crowley (Montero), Villalba, Jutkiewicz

This is the best result of the season so far. Preston were in 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] place before this game so to come out with 3 points is great. Jutkiewicz really delivered up top with two goals.

Birmingham 4 (Dean 10, Mrabti 35, Jutkiewicz 52, 60)

Millwall 1 (Mahoney 73)

Stockdale, Colin (Harding), Roberts, Dean, Keita, Sunjic (G Gardner), Kieftenbeld, Davis, Crowley, Mrabti, Jutkiewicz

What a result and what a performance. I had to rotate the squad a little as this game came just 3 days after the Preston game but the team did even better with a stellar performance. Jutkiewicz is delivering the goals for us at the moment with another brace.

Birmingham 1 (Jutkiewicz 12)
Leeds 1 (Douglas 87)

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld (G Gardner), Davis, Crowley (Montero), Villalba (Mrabti), Jutkiewicz

Another good result here against a very good team for this division. They equalized with a late free kick to take a point but over the game they deserved it as they had plenty of chances to score.

Carabao Cup 4[SUP]th[/SUP] Round
Fleetwood Town 1 (Hunter 32)
Birmingham 2 (Gimenez 11, 31)

Stockdale, Harding, Roberts, Clarke-Salter, Keita, Medina, Kieftenbeld (Davis), G Gardner, Montero, Mrabti, Gimenez

We are through to the quarter-finals but it was not as comfortable as it should have been. We missed a lot of chances here and by the end we were holding onto our 1 goal lead. Our luck of drawing weaker teams is definitely over though as in the next round we face Tottenham.

Summary

A great month as we went the whole month unbeaten. 3 draws and 2 wins means we are making our position in the league comfortable and hopefully the early worries were just from the squad adjusting to the formations. The number of goals we have started to score has been great and a lot of that is down to the team passing the ball better.

Player of the Month
Lukas Jutkiewicz




It couldn’t be anyone else really with him getting 6 goals in the 4 games he played. He has started to score regularly and I hope to see this continue as it will be vital for us to push up the table.

League Table


 

bcfc1

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November

Sheffield Wednesday 1 (Colin 89og)
Birmingham 0

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld, G Gardner, Crowley, Villalba (Mrabti), Jutkiewicz (Gimenez)

I was gutted to lose this game in the way that we did. The own goal came from a corner where the ball hit the post and then hit off Colin before going in. I felt as though we deserved at least a point from this game.

Reading 0
Birmingham 0

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld, G Gardner (Davis), Crowley, Villalba (Mrabti), Jutkiewicz (Gimenez)

A boring game here but another point on the table for us from a game away from home.

Birmingham 2 (Jutkiewicz 10, 71)
Luton 0

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts, Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld (C Gardner), Davis, Crowley, Villalba (Mrabti), Jutkiewicz

A really nice performance here as we got a comfortable 2-0 win. Jutkiewicz was the man again to bring the goals and he is now the top goalscorer in the league.

Birmingham 4 (Crowley 15, Jutkiewicz 26, 90+1, Kieftenbeld 48)
QPR 0

Stockdale, Colin, Roberts (Clarke-Salter), Dean, Pedersen, Sunjic, Kieftenbeld, Crowley (G Gardner), Mrabti, Montero, Jutkiewicz

This is an incredible result QPR are above us in the table so to get such a big result is great. Jutkiewicz delivers with goals yet again but the reason that the scoreline is so big is that other players stepped up with some goals which has been very rare.

Summary

Another strong month overall with 7 points from a possible 12. The only loss was a very tight game as well which I think shows that we are becoming a more competitive team in this league. Next month will bring plenty of games including the game against Tottenham so expect to see a lot of rotation.

Player of the Month
Lukas Jutkiewicz




It had to be Jutkiewicz again as he delivered with 4 goals and 2 MOTM performances this month. His goals are vital as no one else is really delivering for us so I am glad he is in such good form.

League Table

 
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