Date: 12th February 2018 at 8:44am
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We can talk about systems, tactics and substitutions until the cows come home but the bottom line is that Blues were well beaten by a better team.

The system was a familiar one and one that has worked so well in recent weeks. And if we’re putting it into context – Blues have lost only twice in the last eight league games against the teams in second and third.

Yes, perhaps Steve Cotterill could have acted quicker with his substitutions but Blues’ best spell of the game was the quarter of an hour leading to half time so why would he change it at the interval?

Villa had their chances but for the most part, Blues contained them during the first 45 minutes. And had Sam Gallagher’s chance rolled in rather than bouncing back off the post, we could have been discussing a completely different outcome.

If we’re being totally honest, Villa deserved it. The eventual 2-0 scoreline was a true reflection of the game.

Losing to Villa will never be easy to stomach but they are where they are for a reason. They are superior to Blues in quality and experience – Blues couldn’t live with them.

Jack Grealish ran the show with the aid of Blues’ defenders showing him far too much respect.

The early stages set the tone. Chiekh Ndoye gave the ball away cheaply to set up Villa’s first two attacks of the game. The big Senegal international was truly woeful. His sending off in the dying embers of the game has probably done us all a favour. He’s painful to watch. He’s honest and hard working but so are 98% of the population – and I reckon half of them would offer more on a football pitch.

As soon as Albert Adomah cut inside and fired Villa into the lead, it was an uphill battle for Blues.

Blues had too may players having a bad day at the office and when that happens, a team requires a touch of magic – someone to create a chance or score a goal from nothing. Bles simply do not have that luxury.

Sam Gallagher’s usual nifty touch abandoned him. David Davis, clearly hampered by an earlier knock, tried to press but was five yards off the pace. Maikel Kieftenbeld was slow into the tackle. Jeremie Boga was full of running but let himself down with his indecisiveness in key areas. Jacques Maghoma battled but had little joy. Jota offered nothing when he came on. The same can be said about Che Adams.

And why didn’t Craig Gardner get the nod to replace Ndoye?

On the whole, I actually thought Blues defended fairly well. Maxime Colin was the standout performer on his weaker side. Marc Roberts and Harlee Dean kept Scott Hogan quiet. Carl Jenkinson was ok in parts but was given the runaround by Grealish.

But playing behind a midfield who surrender posession so easily will always put a defence under pressure and in the end it was telling. Villa didn’t set the world alight but they didn’t have to – they managed the game well and controlled proceedings.

Conor Hourihane’s classy strike merely put the game beyond any doubt.

It’s important not to panic. Blues face Millwall at St. Andrews on Saturday – a win could move them five points clear of the bottom three, a defeat could suck them back into it.

Vital Birmingham Man of the Match – Maxime Colin

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