It’s a minor tweak, but it’s something that could really pay huge dividends as the season progresses.
Whilst the first goal will probably go down as own goal against Michael Morrison, it was great to see Jude Bellingham having such a continued impact on Birmingham’s season so far, and Blues boss Pep Clotet said that his impact on Saturday was down to one thing.
Speaking after the game against Reading, Clotet mentioned the change in personnel bringing in Josh McEachran and how it was done to give young Bellingham a little bit more freedom to roam forward:
“It helped for two reasons. We wanted to have an offensive midfielder to Ivan. And that allowed Jude to go up the pitch, where we think he can be more effective. We have been preparing Jude (for that) and now I think he knows enough about the league, about the team, to step in there.”
Whilst Bellingham has played the majority of the season as a central midfielder, the change against Reading allowed him the opportunity to push further up the field.
I have noted previously about Bellingham, in the aftermath of his goal against Charlton back in September, that he does offer up something when it comes to attacking play, if he can time his run into the box the way he did at The Valley on a more consistent basis, then he could be someone that can play off the shoulder of Lukas Jutkiewicz going forward if Blues want to adopt a 4-2-3-1 formation on a consistent basis.
And whilst the first goal at the weekend didn’t come from a late run into the box, it was still a great surging run into the box that caused the Reading defence a lot of problems.
That’s why I think he needs to be pushed further up the field more regularly, because his three goals so far this season have all come with him making runs at the defence, so it’s obvious that they can’t quite handle his pace.
Would you like to see Bellingham pushed up the pitch more often when we return?
So now that McEachran is finally ready to start games, perhaps it’s time we considered making the switch permanent and unleashing Bellingham on the rest of the Championship.