Birmingham got a point from Manchester United, Hull didn’t. What was the difference?

January 9, 2010

This site, as much as any other, puts forward the view that successful football results can be attributed to thoughtful, well-crafted, intelligent tactics. Sometimes, though, it comes down to just putting your head in where it hurts. Manchester United went to both Hull and Birmingham recently, conceding a goal in each. But whereas they put three past Hull, Birmingham limited them to one goal.

A notable feature of Birmingham’s performance against United (and indeed, throughout the season) has been the incredible bravery of their defenders, and this Chalkboard demonstrates that nicely.

by Guardian Chalkboards

United had 67% of possession against Birmingham, compared to only 39% against Hull. So how did Birmingham come away with a point? Were blocks the key?

And it’s not Roger Johnson and Scott Dann who deserve the credit – the blocks came from nine separate outfield players – left-back Liam Ridgewell was the odd man out.

It might seem a minute detail, but a difference of nine blocks is big. If half of them were on target, that’s four or five times more that Boaz Myhill was forced to make a save, compared to Joe Hart.

This site has previously remarked here and here how narrow Birmingham’s defence and midfield play, and that is surely a factor. After all, you’re only going to be blocking shots in front of goal, rather than in full-back positions.

Birmingham got a point from Manchester United, Hull didn’t. What was the difference?

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