Home isn’t Where the Heart is…

Home is where the heart is. But for Birmingham City it’s more like ‘home is where the games are lost’. St Andrew’s is like ‘a home that the fans dread’. Why did Blues struggle so badly in front of their own fans?

Home Isn't Where te Heart Is for Birmingham City

Two league games were won at Stan’s last season (meaning adult season ticket holder’s paid £200 per win) and typically, I missed one of them. In those two games, eight goals were scored by the boys in Blue with just one reply. So, scoring obviously wasn’t the problem. Now I notice that both the wins came before January, the month in which the spine of the team was ripped apart. Blues lost the services of Dan Burn, Kyle Bartley and Jesse Lingard, and seemingly, also lost their ability to win at home.

Some quarters have suggested it is the intimidating home atmosphere, which cannot be true as attendances have dwindled and an atmosphere has been hard to come by at times. Could it be the way Blues play? Are we set up to play away from home? Setting the tempo of a game isn’t Blues’ style, despite what our Lee tells us. We are a counter attacking side that are dangerous on the break. The problem is, our defence isn’t sturdy enough to take pressure, so by the time we get a meaningful attack / goal, we are usually two-nil down!

Most teams will come to St. Andrew’s, sit back and invite pressure. That is where Blues come unstuck because we lack ideas and invention and often get caught out on the break. Away from home, Blues can sit back, invite pressure and pounce when we get the opportunity. See where I am going with this? Of course, this is my opinion and there is nothing to say I am right. But this is the only clear difference I can find between home and away games.

But then I flip the coin and think about Blues’ style of football under Chris Hughton. We were very much a counter attacking team back then too, so why did Hughton have such a formidable home record? Firstly, the back four and midfield were pretty solid. Blues soaked up pressure and hit on the counter. A fair few wins under Hughton were narrow margins, and I don’t buy the myth that we were a fluent attacking side under his leadership. We were solid, hard to beat and organised and tactically he was very astute. That season, only Nottingham Forest and Braga were successful at St. Andrew’s.

Lee Clark will start a rebuilding job, once again, this summer. He will have no control over the ownership situation, nor whether he will be in charge should a takeover happen. What he has to do is look at Blues’ many weaknesses and address them as an urgent priority. The back four needs sorting out. We need some creative spark in midfield. We need a few strikers as we are losing Nikola Zigic, Federico Macheda and Peter Lovenkrands. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, this is a massively difficult job and it warrants a lot more financial backing than is currently available. Let’s hope Stan’s can be a place we once again love to spend our Saturday’s.

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9 Responses to Home isn’t Where the Heart is…

  1. Phil Talbot says:

    Is it not just possible that Clark was the problem? Wierd systems and tactics, players played out of position, players being bombed out for months then being thrown back in, our better players inexplicably being left on the bench or out of the squad completely and his obstinance in continuing to play players who weren’t doing it or who weren’t good enough… I don’t buy the notion that given the (admitted) difficulty of the situation was sufficient to explain why that squad of players stayed up with more or less the last kick (head) of the last game of a dreadful season in a poor league. If we’d have gone down would there be this poor Lee Clark sentiment? He has been the soul master of our downfall!

    • B26 Blue says:

      Of course it could be Clark that is the problem. But the point of this article is to find out why Blues are so poor at HOME. Clark fiddles with his tactics and plays players out of position away from home too, but on the road we tend to pick up results.

    • Wingman Blue says:

      When did Clark have his very public spat with Zigic? Before we lost our first batch of loanees, wasn’t it. Maybe by attacking players in the name of the club made the Home territory alien and intimidating to the players. Maybe also by then the players had figured out Clark didn’t have a scoobies about team selection or tactics, and, in front of a potentially hostile crowd, they lost their self-belief.
      The only thing that amazes me about last season is that Clark has any supporters left!

  2. Phil Talbot says:

    Away from home support is unconditional (in the main) enthusiastic and partisan. At home there is an expectation. Players try things away from home where the pressure is off but play it safe at Stans afraid of the groans from the half full stands from long suffering fans. It’s a vicious cycle, once a poor run starts it is perpetuated by poor management…

  3. Phil Talbot says:

    Oh and that season under Hughton was the most entertaining one I can remember for years. After the dull unambitious football played under Bruce and McLeish it was a breath of fresh air to see a team play with wingers and two up front. Oh for a 4-4-2 formation that players understand and is entertaining to watch.

    • B26 Blue says:

      I wasn’t denying that it was entertaining. But we were a counter attacking side. We were good with it to be fair.

  4. andy says:

    Chris Hughton wasn’t so good at Norwich though was he? Birmingham’s problems have been at the top and it has filtered down. I think most supporters agreed at the start of the season that it would be an achievement if Lee Clark keeps Birmingham in the Championship, he achieved that by the skin of his teeth and he now deserves some decent owners to provide him with the tools to do his job properly.

    • B26 Blue says:

      I agree about Clark. But it’s no coincidence that Norwich sacked Hughton then got relegated. I’m glad they did because Hughton deserves better.

      But yes in August I agree that it would have been an achievement to keep Blues up and he’s done it.

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