One thing is for sure – the word ‘dull’ is not going to be rolling off the tongue too regularly this season.
The attacking style that Neil Adams has taken no time to embed looks sure to provide thrills and spills aplenty but, along the way, City *will* concede goals. It’s a by-product of throwing numbers forward and looking to build-up from the back.
Thankfully, the River End hardcore aside, most City fans appear happy to run that risk if it means watching the game from the edge of the seat rather than being slumped in it. The N&P miserablists will simply have to learn to live with it.
Of course, if promotion is to be achieved – and it’s telling that Adams is so keen to make that aim abundantly clear – his team can’t afford to be relying on two-goal comebacks every week, but that they have done so twice in a week speak volumes for the desire.
There now appears a steely determination about the place – typified by the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between Martin Olsson and Bradley Johnson – and in the less-rarified atmosphere of the second tier there is clearly a belief that wins can be eked out from losing positions.
In Cameron Jerome, City appeared to have acquired themselves a gem and, while his goal ratio in the Premier League has been of an ordinary ilk, the early signs are that we have ourselves someone who is finding Championship defences to his liking.
To see him and Lewis Grabben currently figuring in the leading goalscorers’ table is highly promising.
Yet it’s still early days. Still plenty of time for blips that are much more painful than yesterday’s and there may even be times when the dark mood of N&P block RL pervades over the whole ground.
But regardless of the peaks and troughs that lie ahead, there is the inescapable fact that City have, on paper at least, the strongest squad in the division.
That an off-form Wes was spared further agony by a very lively Josh Murphy was a great example of the hand available to Adams’ but, in truth, there is a quality replacement available for every position. With Gary Hooper and Jonny Howson now on then cusp of full-fitness the City boss will shortly be handed two more aces.
In forty-something years of supporting City I don’t think it’s over-egging it to say that, in terms of depth, this squad is probably the strongest.
(As an aside, did anyone see Louis Thompson’s goal for Swindon yesterday? You must).
In terms of yesterday’s performance, City will have better days although I was gobsmacked to hear a ‘Canarycaller’ bemoan the start they made to the game. Yesterday’s opening was, compared to recent offerings, of a tempo that threatened to overrun the visitors.
It was everything Adams would have asked: high tempo, high intensity and on the front foot. If it had spawned an early goal I have no doubt they would have gone on and won the game. Alas, when the best chance arrived Grabben, for once, was off target.
John Ruddy was clearly angry with himself for allowing that deflected shot to squirm through his grasp but – given his heroics of late and in the second-half – he should be forgiven.
Alas, to find themselves ahead played perfectly into the hands of Birmingham and their game-plan of soaking up pressure and looking to make hay on the break. They had something to cling on to and had even less reason to commit numbers forward. In fairness they executed Lee Clarke’s wishes perfectly.
The second goal – courtesy of some pinball around the legs of Jos Hooiveld – was a bonus for the Blues and entrenched their position yet further.
But Adams again came up trumps in his fifteen minute window of opportunity. Josh for Wes worked better than even he could have imagined and, with two flying wingers, City carried a different, more potent, threat.
Credit too should be afforded to Nathan Redmond. Despite the reservations over his ‘final ball’ he was excellent yesterday and if his late effort – following that thrilling run – had drifted inside Darren Randolph’s right-hand post it would have been a fitting reward.
His ability to beat the first defender with such consummate ease remains a joy to behold and if it can be allied to a more consistent final product (as it was yesterday) he has a massive part to play in the Adams project. Hopefully his critics will now cut him a little slack.
So… while it was not a win it, was a continuation of the unbeaten run that now stretches back to that unmentionable afternoon in the Black Country. The momentum continues and on Tuesday night Adams crucially has a chance to offer game-time to those currently on the fringes.
Keep everyone happy – including feuding full-backs and central midfielders – and it feels like our destiny is in our own hands.