Ross Bowden : Russell Slade deserves credit

A lot of doom and gloom merchants on this forum following our performance yesterday, which I can’t understand to be honest.
Gary Rowett has taken over Birmingham, got them organised and their form has picked up. They beat Watford last Tuesday, yet people are still not satisfied we only drew 0-0 with them. Personally, I thought we could have perhaps nicked the win yesterday, but a point and clean sheet after our 3-0 Bolton defeat shows Slade was right to make changes and the changes worked. I don’t care how boring an away game is, people are moaning why Slade didn’t use more creative players, but we went down that road with Ole and look where it got us! Fans were moaning about Malky’s negative tactics after we ONLY drew away to Stoke 0-0 and wanted him sacked. Look where that has got us!

Every away game in the Championship requires the team to stand up, battle and be counted. We didn’t do this at Millwall and Slade identified a “soft under belly” at Bolton. So Slade made changes yesterday, brought in some players with character like Turner and Connolly and we kept a clean sheet. People can talk about Birmingham being the lowest scorers this season all they like, Gary Rowett has made a difference there already and they’re a different proposition now, as Watford found out. Overall, a point and clean sheet at an improving Birmingham team lifted by Gary Rowett and brimming with confidence after beating Watford who were top last Tuesday is a decent enough result. If we can keep winning at home and keep more clean sheets away, we will be definite promotion contenders.

I think Slade is getting a lot of unnecessary criticism already. He’s inherited Ole’s squad and has a lot of dead wood to clear so he can bring his own players in, and he says he’s already started that process. Slade hasn’t had a pre season, he’s only had an international break to really get to know the players, and that’s only the players who weren’t on international duty. Slade has a 100% winning record at home and although we’ve only taken one point away so far, Slade hasn’t had the opportunity to REALLY get to know the players. He’s starting too though following the Bolton defeat, you can’t really get to know your players until you go to places like Bolton. That’s when you really see if certain players are up for the fight. Slade made changes following Bolton and the response from Gary Rowett after yesterdays game was “Out of my 3 games, Cardiff were the most physical team we’ve come up against”. I LOVE this comment, as this is how we need to be away from home. We must put it about, we must be more streetwise, we must stop the home team playing. Then when we win the battle, we can play our game.

I’m not saying Slade is the perfect manager, I would have selected different line ups to him, I wouldn’t have put 3 centre backs on the bench at Bolton, I wouldn’t keep selecting the lazy Macheda who I feel contributes very little to our team, particularly away from home when you need a willing runner up front to take the pressure off. But what I am saying is thus far, Slade hasn’t done too badly at all. He must be doing a lot of things right, as 10 points out of 18 is a more than good enough start considering the mess he’s inherited. We are climbing the table and if we can improve our away form with more boring, clean sheet performances, the future will look promising under Slade. We have to stick with him and give him a few transfer windows to bring in his own players before we can fairly judge him. Let’s see what Slade can do in the January transfer window. He can take Leyton Orient to a League 1 playoff final with 30 free transfers, so he may well be able to use the January transfer window to take us from mid table to the play offs, or even the automatic positions!