Birmingham vs Bolton: Starting XI

Tomorrow evening we journey to the midlands, to watch the mighty Whites face off against Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City.

Since the start of the season I have been advocating for a 4-4-2. However, we have never played this situation, partly due to an injury to Filipe Morais and partly due to Phil Parkinson’s affinity for playing three at the back.

Providing Morais is not fit to start, I’d still go with a four at the back. We need natural width. “We don’t have enough wingers fit” you might say.

Well, have a look at this:


Little Burke Beevers Taylor

Pratley Karacan

Buckley Cullen Robinson


I’ve gone for something a bit different here. Howard continues in goal for me: I still prefer him to Alnwick. Little gets the nod at right back – he seemed to fare better against Millwall and Crewe than Darby had in his two games. He’s also more likely to offer support going forward on the right wing. Burke starts because he’s amazing. Beevers starting alongside him is the obvious choice for me: his experience and height will be crucial for dealing with Clayton Donaldson. Andrew Taylor keeps his place too.

I’ve decided to put five through midfield here, as Birmingham are strong in the middle and could look to flood this area of the pitch. Pratley starts for me. I know people have their reservations about him, but I really think we’re too lightweight with Cullen and Karacan holding; meanwhile I don’t think Derik is the amazing holding midfielder we had hoped he’d be given. I worry that Craig Gardner and Dame N’doye would bulldoze Karacan and Cullen in the middle. Instead I’d play Cullen in a free role. I know in the formation above, it looks like he’s playing as a number ’10’. However, I see him as a Mark Davies-esque midfielder who will s drop into pockets to pick the ball up from the defence and build play from there. I also reckon he can make things happen in the final third which is why I think it’s important that we give him the freedom to do so.

Out wide, Will Buckley would start on the right. He’s looked very bright since joining on a free transfer, and we need to see more of him. Ideally I would start him out on the left, with Morais on the right, but I’m doing this on the assumption that Morais is still not ready to start games. Antonee Robinson out on the left may come as a surprise. Firstly, we don’t have any fit wingers. However, secondly, and more importantly, he looked really good going forward against Crewe last week. I thought this was the better part of his game. He’s quick, technically gifted, and I think he should start as a winger. The experienced Andrew Taylor can yell at him and guide him through the game. I’m probably not the first person who’s suggested him playing there, but I’d rate it highly.

Meanwhile, in for Gary Madine starts up front on his own. I’d have liked to start Le Fondre, too, but I feel that the 4-2-3-1 suits our team better. I also really like the look of Adam Armstrong and debated starting him in place of Robinson as a wide attacker. However, I think that’s the best team we’ve got.

Will this happen? Probably not. I reckon Parky will go with the exact same team that started against Millwall.



Dervite Burke Beevers

Little Karacan Pratley Cullen Taylor

Madine Le Fondre

Maybe Armstrong might start ahead of Le Fondre? Parky doesn’t like to change things too much, and I respect that. However, I would encourage him to start reading Wanderers Station, because I think Robinson playing further forward may well be slightly ingenious if I may say so myself.

What formation would you play? Let me know in the comments below.


3 thoughts on “Birmingham vs Bolton: Starting XI

Add yours

  1. Your second eleven is very likely. Although I do wonder whether Derik could play in place of Dervite. He’s better technically and a good passer of the ball. Dervite is too keen on the hoof up to Madine. It won’t happen of course, just like your first choice team won’t happen. Parky doesn’t work like that. But I suspect when Morais is fit again, he will start in place of Little. I don’t know what we are going to do when Vela, Morais and Ameobi are fit for selection. What a headache that will give us!


  2. I like the fact that Parky sticks to his guns and doesn’t make erratic changes. When things went badly with Lennon he started making crazy wholesale changes which didn’t work.


  3. Remember a few years ago when Burnley got promoted to the Premier League with a small squad. Dyche was lucky enough to play a settled side all season. It can be done with the right players and management. Let’s hope we’ve got them.


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