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 City, Manchester United and Chelsea top the list of the Premier League's most expensive squads
Mario Balotelli scored as many goals for AC Milan on second debut as he did for Liverpool in the Premier League last season
Cyprus vs Wales match report: Gareth Bale's bullet header has Welsh on brink of Euro 2016
Jose Mourinho: Chelsea manager has four Guinness World records hanging in his office
Sir Alex Ferguson: 'I place discipline above all else and it might have cost us several titles...' but Manchester United boss wouldn't change it
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Refugees welcome: More than 250,000 sign Independent petition calling for Britain to 'take its fair share'