Andrew Parrington says...
I think Birmingham are going to be a tougher test than Cardiff.
They have exceeded their pre-season expectations and their confidence seems to be high. Judging by our victory at Huddersfield and the weekend defeat to Cardiff, it does feel like we’re trying to limp towards the World Cup break.
Having said that, I haven’t given up all hope.
We did manage to create chances in both games, and Birmingham were arguably fortunate that two of their three shots on target went in against Stoke.
During the game before that, a goalless draw against Millwall, they did not register a single shot on target. If we can show some resilience in defence, and set up the midfield to further limit their opportunities, we could well head into the break with our heads held high.
Kingsley Reavley says...
As with many games in this topsy-turvy league, it’s hard to call.
Birmingham are in a similar position to us, with both sides struggling for any real consistency. The couple of times I’ve seen them this season I’ve been relatively impressed, and against QPR recently, they were compact and ruthless with Bielik dominating the midfield.
After a loan spell during the 2020/2021 season, Dion Sanderson will forever be known as the one that got away, and we’re all well aware of his attributes, so there’s no doubt it will be a tough game.
Tony Mowbray is an excellent man manager and hopefully he can get the message across to the players about the importance of heading into the break after a positive result.
With the right blend of youth and experience, we remain a force to be reckoned with. The return of Alex Pritchard and Corry Evans will set us in good stead, and Ellis Simms should be a bit sharper now.
As long as lessons have been learned from the Cardiff debacle and we get the starting eleven right on Friday night, we can certainly get a result.
Malc Dugdale says...
Am I confident for Friday? Sort of, but not really.
Is it a reasonable expectation to be confident ahead of many games this season, especially away from home? Admittedly, we are playing better away from Wearside, but should we expect to?
The reaction to the loss on Saturday was understandable to a point. The Lads didn’t really play well, and Tony Mowbray made a couple of mistakes that contributed to the loss.
We have to remember where we are and where we came from. In my opinion, some of our fans have to calm down, especially if the socials are anything to go by.
We have played nineteen games of Championsip football since 2018, and maybe because of our decent start, we suddenly think we should be beating teams just because they played the first third of the league season less convincingly than we did.
However, I’m not sure if that logic stacks up.
We have just welcomed Ellis Simms back; we are waiting for Ross Stewart to return, as well as dealing with across the rest of the park in crucial positions too. Mowbray hasn’t overseen many games with a striker to call on, and has only been in charge for thirteen matches.
I’m confident that the gaffer and the Lads will learn a lot of lessons from Saturday, and I’m also confident that we will be OK this season as we consolidate at this level and maybe even do a little better than that.
I just wish the element of our fan base who are already booing the team and suggesting we sack the gaffer would back Mowbray and the players when we have these blips. They are going to happen, as they do for all newly-promoted teams.
If the players work their socks off on Friday night and get a point, that would be sixteen points from fourteen games under Mowbray. Is that not acceptable, given that we are new to this level and considering the issues we have to deal with?
I am very confident that when we come back from the World Cup break, we will kick on, and that’s what I am looking forward to seeing as we go through our first winter at this level for some time.
I just wish I was confident all the 37,000+ plus that turn up at home would back the Lads through good days and bad, because some pockets of fans seem to be wavering already.
I’m choosing to keep the faith anyway.
2-0 to us on Friday, and I hope the Dubai trip really helps the team to prepare for the remaining games of the season!