Sunday, September 30, 2007

Blues 0, Man Utd 1

Blues were live on Setanta Sports last night, and it says something about the quality of our performance that I was gutted we lost 1-0. In the end, a defensive mistake let in United for their solitary goal, but apart from that they had few clear-cut chances. By contrast we'd had two shots on goal inside the first two minutes! Defensively we were robust, in midfield we were energetic and capable on the ball - both wingers in particular impressed (in the case of Gary McSheffrey, this was his best performance in 2007 - a relief, because it proves he can hack it at this level). Our only weakness was up front, where Jerome suffered from being a lone striker with Kapo playing just off him.

The first 45 minutes in particular were breath-taking as Blues went into the break trying to work out why we weren't one or even two goals ahead. The side tired in the second half, although they still managed to produce a few more chances (including one wonder save from the substitute goalkeeper). And while United profited from our mistake, their chances fell into the half-chance category as Blues' defence continued to excel.

One hopes that if they can keep up the levels of performance we've seen over the past two weeks, then survival should be a near certainty. On the surface, it looks like we're back to the battling Blues of 2002-3 - defensively solid, but lacking a little up front. The reality is that Steve Bruce has assembled the best Blues' squad in his six years as manager - for which he deserves great credit - but that we need to start converting our chances into goals. If Blues can survive this season, and Bruce can hold on to the vast majority of this young side, then I can only see relatively great things in future years. I bet Carson Yeung is rubbing his hands in glee - although another striker in the transfer window wouldn't go amiss...

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