Tony Cottee Column: McLeish got his tactics spot on against West Ham

McLeish the mastermind behind Birmingham’s win

THE Birmingham defeat is a massive blow and it’s a good job West Ham registered that great win over Blackpool or we would be in deep trouble.

Unfortunately too many big players had an off day on Sunday. Scott Parker and Mark Noble struggled to make an impact on the game and the front three, who played so well last Wednesday did not work.

Frederic Piquionne had a really poor game and Robbie Keane was clearly short of match practice.

Nobody in claret and blue really had a particularly good 90 minutes. Wayne Bridge did well in the first half, dealt with David Bentley and it’s good to see a natural left back in the side and makes it look more balanced.

It was a poor game and neither side played particularly well, but the win for Birmingham keep them away from us and I’d expect them to move further up the table.

Alex McLeish is an excellent manager and he showed that in the second half. He brought on Sebastian Larsson for the ineffectual Cameron Jerome and switched form a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1.

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Larsson prevented Wayne Bridge getting forward from left back and provided the cross for the winning goal, so McLeish must be given a huge amount of credit.

The goal was a comedy of errors from everyone. Mark Noble gave away a stupid needless free kick and why Bridge at 5 ft 9 is the man marking Nikola Zigic I don’t know.

The marking was so bad I’m not sure if we were using man to man or zonal marking, but either way it didn’t work.

Losing James Tomkins before kick off and Matthew Upson at half-time would have made a huge effect. The changes caused a lack of organisation and could be why the Hammers conceded the goal.

In contract Birmingham were extremely well organised are built on solid foundations with a good goalkeeper and back four, with Roger Johnson particularly impressive.

I was disappointed to hear that Julien Faubert despite being named, did not take his place on the bench.

As a former player and now a fan I can see it from both sides. Obviously supporters hate to see a player not wanting to play for their side and they find it hard to get their head around why they wouldn’t.

Of course there is no excuse for it and I hope he does get fined two weeks wages.

I’ve been in the same situation as Faubert though when I was at Everton. I was drifting in and out of the first team, training with the second or even third team and I became frustrated. I was fined and got on with it.

A current Hammer who has been in trouble a fair amount with the club is Benni McCarthy. The South African has not even been named in the 25 man squad.

He’s been fined numerous times over his weight and overall it has been a poor signing by the club.

He should have been brought in on loan until the end of the season and not bought for �2.5million and given �40,000 a week wages on a two-and-a-half year deal.

You can’t blame the player for signing the contract and it’s happy days for him, but you wonder why we offered him such a long deal. Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson give one-year rolling deals to players over 30, so why do we do it differently?

Tony Cottee was talking to Matt Diner

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