OPINION: Krystian Bielik was right about Birmingham City as John Eustace finds two solutions in crisis

Birmingham City overcame West Bromwich Albion at St Andrew’s Friday night to make it back-to-back wins before the international break.

After defeating Huddersfield Town 4-1 on Tuesday, the Blues defeated the Baggies 3-1, with to goals from Juninho Bacuna (pen), Dion Sanderson, and Gary Gardner. Blues are back in the play-off places after five victories, three draws, and three loses in their first 11 games.

It was the ideal way to cap off a grueling string of games between international breaks. Seven points from six games isn’t a bad return for the Blues, who have survived their first test of the season.

Birmingham City receive response to Krystian Bielik swap deal - Birmingham  Live

Blues reveal ANOTHER side
We’ve seen all of the Blues’ faces in the first two months of the season. Blues’ finest attacking performance of the season was followed by one of grit and desire to earn three points against Albion.

Blues came from behind to win for the first game in over two years, and for the first time under John Eustace. Everything fell into place for Blues the minute Bacuna slotted the penalty.

They were tough and devoted at the back, with Krystian Bielik and Ivan Sunjic dominating in midfield and the forwards working hard in attack. On this occasion, technicians Siriki Dembele and Koji Miyoshi were not at their best, but Bacuna, Sanderson, and Gardner stepped up.

After five games in which no one other than Jay Stansfield appeared to be a legitimate goal threat, the Blues had scored seven goals in a week with six different scorers. And Stansfield has failed to score on any of them.

Birmingham 1 West Brom 0 - Report | Express & Star
Gardner Gardner unleashed his injury demons after scoring a fantastic free-kick in front of the Tilton. Gardner only appeared in 10 games for the Blues last season due to a string of injuries.

Gardner was given time to recover by Eustace over the summer, thus he did not appear in any of the Blues’ pre-season games. In August, he made his first appearance in six months as a late substitute in Blues’ Carabao Cup win over Cheltenham Town. He lighted it two months later.

Two months later, he has lighted up a Championship game with a magical moment.
“He had a lot of emotions and difficult moments, but we got through it together.” “We agreed to go through it together,” Eustace reflected.

“He’s had to take his time getting back on the field.” We face stiff competition for available positions. He has put forth a lot of effort to reach to this stage. Tonight, I couldn’t be more proud of him.

“He’s been through some tough times, but it was a fantastic free-kick.” Congratulations to him for re-entering the group and demonstrating what he’s all about.”

Drameh and Longelo have come up with solutions.
You’d never guess that the Blues’ two starting fullbacks didn’t play on Friday night. In the absence of Ethan Laird and Lee Buchanan, Cody Drameh and Manny Longelo are demonstrating their worth.

Drameh deserves more praise after providing his second assist in two games with a peach of a cross for Sanderson’s header. The right-back recognized Sanderson, as he did Miyoshi in the win over Huddersfield.

Longelo was unable to add another assist to his tally after setting up Jordan James against the Terriers, but his outstanding passing range from left-back caused Albion unending issues. He also held his own against a revitalized Grady Diangana.

The loss of both Laird and Buchanan was considered as a crisis, but Drameh and Longelo’s performances have lessened the blow.

Birmingham City player ratings vs West Brom after Bacuna, Sanderson and  Gardner seal comeback win - Alex Dicken - Birmingham Live

Blues are heading in the right direction.
A return of 18 points from 11 games is commendable and puts the Blues in contention for the playoffs. No one inside the Blues’ bubble is focused on that; instead, the phrase ‘taking each game as it comes’ is being repeated inside club corridors.

Bielik’s statements are always calm and analytical, and he confessed in July that Blues would like to be challenging at the top of the Championship table after years at the bottom.

“There are no excuses this season,” the Pole stated. We’ve made some good transfers. We have that speed and power up front, which I believe was lacking last season. We have a lot of space.

“I’m not saying we’ll get promoted or finish in the top two or top six, but that’s our goal.” We must be optimistic and think in this manner. It is preferable to consider the top six rather than the bottom six.

“I think everyone recognizes that it will be difficult. We can see the Championship teams this season, but we’re going to give it a shot. This is without a doubt the best Birmingham City team in the last ten years.”

Bielik is most likely correct on the last point. He is also correct in stating that the Blues have a roster capable of competing. We’ve seen it in the first 11 games.

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