As Birmingham analyse their performance in the aftermath of another defeat, the third in a row for the Blues and the fifth in their previous eight matches, Pep Clotet may need to look at ways of addressing the situation.
The Spaniard, by and large, has looked to set his team up in a rigid 4-4-2 formation – focussing on solidity and organisation as he aims to grind out results and find a way to negate his side’s current lack of cutting edge.
Seemingly City are looking for forward Alvaro Gimenez to play off target man Lukas Jutkiewicz with the support of energetic central midfielders Gary Gardner and Croatian Ivan Sunjic.
Having used natural wingers Jacques Maghoma and Jefferson Montero previously – with the aim of supplying Jutkiewicz from wide – Clotet opted to change that in their latest reverse at Wigan, instead playing Dan Crowley and Francisco Villalba in more narrow, wide midfield roles.
Though Crowley showed promise – and perhaps why he deserves a more prominent, central role – this system again didn’t pay off for City as they failed to get on the scoresheet once more.
City’s defensive record is far from one of the division’s worst and it’s their inability to carve out, and take, chances which is proving their Achilles’ heel at present.
Last season, Jutkiewicz formed a potent strike force with the now departed Che Adams, but with this no longer the case, Clotet must be thinking of tactical changes he could make to add some attacking impetus to his side.
Though the Blues midfield is full of competitive and hard-working players, they aren’t a side that will dominate possession too often and this is possibly leading to the wingers and frontmen being starved of possession and chances.
Perhaps, in search of a finding a solution – and goals, Clotet could look to go more direct in his approach. With the personnel available, Blues could line up in a more tactically aggressive 4-3-3 formation – allowing a more simplistic supply line to Jutkiewicz and enabling more bodies to get around the target man and into goalscoring positions.
It may not be an approach that is pretty to watch, and Clotet is regarded as a footballing manager, but needs must, and City need to get the best out of the squad at their disposal to arrest what is a concerning slide.