McLeish's German lesson helps Hleb adjust
Birmingham City 2 Blackpool 0
Monday 25 October 2010
Alexander Hleb observed recently that Birmingham City are "not exactly Barcelona or Arsenal". Until Alex McLeish hit upon a formation to accommodate his craft, what St Andrew's had seen was not exactly Alexander Hleb either.
The Belarusian arrived on a season-long loan from the Nou Camp in August, although McLeish admitted on Saturday he had not been in peak condition. Hleb has completed only two games, flitting between central midfield and the flanks. Against Blackpool he was deployed behind Nikola Zigic and Garry O'Connor in a diamond formation – and the result was closer to his north London form. Barry Ferguson, the counter-balance to Hleb's thrusts, called it a 4-4-2. McLeish preferred to brand it 4-3-1-2.
"We knew they played with two in front of the back four, and if Hleb played behind our front two, one of the two Blackpool players would have to go with him," said the Birmingham manager said, who drew his inspiration from the Bundesliga. "That would give us an extra man in midfield. Werder Bremen played that formation successfully with Diego in that position. Now Steve McClaren is trying it at Wolfsburg because Diego is there."
Blackpool were undone by poor defending at set pieces, which allowed Liam Ridgewell to convert a stooping header and Zigic to stab home.
Birmingham City (4-3-1-2): Foster; Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell; Larsson, Ferguson, Fahey ( Bowyer, 66); Hleb ( Murphy, 73); Zigic, O'Connor ( Derbyshire, 83). Substitutes not used Taylor (gk), K Phillips, Michel, Jiranek.
Blackpool (4-3-3) Gilks; Eardley, Evatt, Cathcart, Crainey; Vaughan, Adam (Southern, 66), Taylor-Fletcher; Harewood M Phillips (66), Campbell, Varney ( Ormerod, 73). Substitutes not used Kingson (gk), Grandin, Carney, Keinan.
Possession Birmingham 55%, Blackpool 45%.
Shots on target Birmingham 8, Blackpool 6.
Referee A Taylor (Manchester). Attendance: 26,850.
Man of the match Hleb. Match rating: 7/10.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United vs Newcastle match report: Brilliant Wayne Rooney scores twice to fire up United's unlikely title challenge
Championship round-up: Emile Heskey back with a bang in Bolton victory
Arsenal vs QPR player ratings: Could anyone outshine new Gunners hero Alexis Sanchez and who was worse than villain Olivier Giroud?
Manchester United 3 Newcastle 1: 'I'm playing like Paul Scholes,' says Wayne Rooney
Sports Quiz of the Year 2014: The Questions
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'