Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Birmingham City V Boro; at ST ANDREW'S STADIUM TONIGHT (7.45Pm Kick-Off) Opposition View

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Birmingham City V Boro; at ST ANDREW'S STADIUM TONIGHT (7.45Pm Kick-Off) Opposition View

Article excerpt

Byline: ANTHONY VICKERS anthony.vickers@reachplc.com @Untypicalboro with Gazette writer Philip Tallentire

Ex-Boro man Lukas Jutkiewicz is a totemic presence for the Blues HOW are Birmingham City shaping up after a summer of turmoil? The Blues flogged their star striker Che Adams, axed boss Garry Monk and had to deal with the aftermath of two years of financial chaos and a points deduction.

Now they are rebuilding under Pep Clotet and are trying to change their tactical template. So what can Boro expect tonight? We asked Birmingham Live's Blues reporter Brian Dick for the lowdown.

How has the season gone so far? It's been a very mixed bag. Obviously events in the summer created many questions going into the season and a lot of those questions still exist.

There has been some very good stuff - the display at Charlton was first rate - with patches in other games, notably Bristol City, Derby, Stoke and Barnsley.

But there have been some pretty modest displays too, Forest and Swansea away and the second half against Wigan.

The 13 points Blues have is probably a fair return.

What has changed since Monk left? Probably not as much as the owners want.

When Monk went much was made about a new possession-based style and the recruitment was done to play a 3-4-3/3-5-2 system to facilitate that.

Unfortunately Blues haven't made that work and they're back to 4-4-2 whilst trying to play through the thirds more.

Players better suited to central roles have been pressed into operating in wide positions.

There are some genuinely exciting prospects at the club though, Dan Crowley and Ivan Sunjic have really caught the imagination and Jude Bellingham's claims have been irresistible. The lad has many gifts, not least perfect timing.

How do Birmingham shape up tactically? It's been 4-4-2 in recent games, with the wide players coming in-field and linking up play.

There's a lack of genuine width and pace.

What is the mood music/expectations among the fans? It's difficult to say what the expectations were before the start of the season because so much was different. …

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