I decided to go and watch my first and the last pre-season friendly against Hull to check out ‘Lee’s Lads’. Friendlies are not usually considered a good indicator of the season ahead, but I always think that the final one before the season proper is important in terms of the confidence factor engendered by a victory.
The crowd was predictably modest but for a fiver sitting in Club Class (although give me a seat on the Tilton anytime), it was decent value and deserved a better response. Some things hadn’t changed. For example, the ball boys were inept. One lost the ball for about five minutes in the empty seats. The sound system still sounded like a Dalek after ten pints of lager but one thing that had changed was the scoreboard. Now proudly advertising our new sponsors, they’ve conspired to reduce the font size of the names of players so it falls between my own failing ‘long sight’ and my pocket reading glasses.
This disorientated me so much that I turned to my son to express my pleasure at the early play of loanee Kyle Bartley in the centre of defence, only to be told that it was my footballing anti-hero Haydn Mullins… embarrassing or what?
Despite a couple of badly misplaced passes, Blues moved the ball around well albeit a bit slowly and limited the Tigers who brutally looked an ordinary side who will undoubtedly struggle in the Premier League this season. In the Blues defence, the big lad Dan Burn looked half decent, if a little Ibanez (clumsy) at times. Accompanying him, Mullins showed he might still have a future at the club. Paul Robinson was his usual solid self, if limited going forward and I liked the look of new signing Neal Eardley. Whether he will have Caddis’ panache, however, remains to be seen.
The midfield also started promisingly, with Shane Ferguson elusive on the wing and the Albion loanee Scott Allan looking a bit of a class act, although he obviously still needs to sharpen up. Callum Reilly battled manfully but it was Tom Adeyemi who impressed me, looking strong throughout. Up front with other forwards injured, Matt Green showed a willingness to chase and took his goal well from an in-swinging corner (yes, that’s not a misprint!). Andrew Shinnie looked a class act in his slightly deep lying role, although not too deep to not take advantage of goal number two following a mistake in the Tigers’ defence.
Hull got one back through a very debateable penalty, but Blues deservedly held on thanks to a great save by the impressive Darren Randolph – we seem to have finally signed a keeper who can kick the ball! Overall, promising stuff. But of course, the real tests lie ahead as Blues kick off the Sky Bet Championship season against Watford on Saturday.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
3-5-2, 4-4-2 or 4-5-1? Why don’t we set our own stall and let other teams adapt to our style, not vice versa?
Vice Chairman, Blues Trust