Blues have had a tough time of it of late. Groups of discontent, team struggling for form and negativity spread across the club as a whole. Friday night was good though, it felt right.
Yes, City only beat a poor Middlesbrough team – and they were very poor indeed – by the odd goal, but Blues played on the front foot from the off. They dominated the entirety of the match, every area of the pitch. They played with the energy and verve that sees them at their best, especially under the lights when that crackling St Andrews atmosphere can make all the difference.
Friday certainly wasn’t the loudest St Andrews has ever been, far from it, but you could sense that atmosphere coming back, that twelfth man which so often helps the Blues players on the pitch and disrupts the opposition.
Going back to ‘on the pitch’ matters, City should have won convincingly, perhaps still lacking that clinical edge in both their supply lines and finishing. But they dominated, they wanted it more. First to virtually every second ball, Blues were proactive in possession, and though not everything was seamless, the City faithful had plenty to ‘get behind’.
Crowley, Sunjic and Bellingham ran the show in midfield, while full-back’s Colin and Pedersen (though not always precise in possession) offered fantastic and willing outlets in wide positions as Clotet’s side overran their visitors, swarming them in every area of the pitch.
The desire of the City players to win the ball back was every bit as enjoyable as their willingness to try and make things happen when in possession in what was a performance Clotet will surely be very pleased with.
When Boro’s Daniel Ayala scored late on to cancel out Francisco Villalba’s first-half opener for City, it looked like it would be more frustration for Blues fans and missed opportunities would once again cost them dearly.
However, after youngster Odin Bailey, on as a late substitute, buried a header just two minutes later, Clotet and City’s players we’re able to celebrate not only a deserved victory but a great performance. One full of vigour and desire, and one to excite Blues fans once more.