Gary Rowett Updates
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Us football fans are prone to hyperbole. Every young Argentinian is the 'new Messi', every 30 yarder is goal of the season and every retiring player is a legend. That's why when Birmingham fans refer to Gary Rowett as 'Bromsgrove Mourinho' it's taken as a joke.

Gary Rowett
But is there a bit more to it that that?

Whilst I'm not claiming that he's anywhere as good, stylistically there is more than a few similarities. When Rowett took the job, he said pretty early on that he wanted to cut the size of the squad - fair enough, I thought. Clark kept recruiting more and more players then not using them, so a smaller squad seemed a good choice. This allows Rowett to keep a settled side which he chooses to do with his starting eleven. Blues have kept the same starting team in the league as much as possible - something which Mourinho is famous for doing at Chelsea.

I know all that is a stretch but it's just part of the philosophy. Rowett seems to be implementing a style reminiscent of Dortmund and Chelsea's Premier League conquering side. It's the antithesis to Pep Guardiola's possession game. If you've ever read about Mourinho's ideas on football, you'll know that he states:

"The team who commits the fewest mistakes wins the game.

"Whoever has the ball has fear.

"Whoever has the ball is more likely to make a mistake"

Mourinho is one of the most successful coaches in English football in recent times, so it makes sense to emulate him. The mistakes part of his philosophy was abundantly clear in last year's game against Liverpool - the most obvious example, but in general it doesn't mean big mistakes. Small mistakes are such as a defender putting the ball out for a throw-in instead of a simple pass, a midfielder over hitting a pass out to a full back. The team who makes more mistakes generally loses.

That is why counter-attacking can be so devastating. You pounce on a mistake. Blues pounced on 6 different mistakes at home to Reading. Rowett obviously uses the same or similar points for his own philosophy, as Blues don't ever attempt to control possession. We sit deep, keep our shape then if we win the ball, we attack with pace. Demarai Gray is key to this, as his pace helps to stretch teams and push them deeper so we can start to play our football. We pick on their mistakes whilst trying to reduce the amount we make.

Early on, we retreat deep and play long ball up to Clayton Donaldson, our Didier Drogba. Though Donaldson doesn't have the raw strength of a Drogba, he wins a surprising amount in the air - 44% of his aerial duels. It's more about pushing the opponent back, though. It forces them to drop deeper to deal with the long ball and the physicality of Donaldson, which gives Gleeson the space to find the passes to start our attacks later on. Donaldson's pace and work rate creates space for those around him too, as it makes the defence drop deeper to remove the space behind them.

Donaldson is a game-planning nightmare. If you drop deep to counter his pace, it allows the ball to be played into feet so he can hold it up and leaves more space for Andrew Shinnie. If you mark him tightly and compress the space, he can spin in behind using his pace. Speaking of Shinnie, his revival has been down to the space created for him. He's always been an intelligent footballer, but the speed of the game and lack of space made him useless. Now, under Rowett, he's being afforded space as the opposition drop deeper. When we're not playing quite so direct, Shinnie is instrumental in creating chances and finding space. Not only that, but he is involved defensively, closing down and shutting off passing lanes, which is quite rare for an attacking midfielder.

Unless you're Mourinho or Rowett.

The system Blues are implementing is similar to that of Chelsea's all conquering side. The Rowett Revolution is more than just new manager bounce - it's the implementation of a successful system where there was none before.

Rowett is more than just lucky. He's creating an identity for a team who before were struggling with form, with style and with quality.

He is the Bromsgrove Mourinho.

Article contributed by:  Elliott Griffiths

Blog: Just Like Watching Brazil

Twitter: @ElliottBCFC

Gary Rowett [Photo Credit: Birmingham Mail]
When Paul Caddis nodded in against Bolton in the 92nd minute to keep Birmingham up, there was a sense of relief, like all the problems had gone away. Talks of takeovers and new players were everywhere and there was a sense of optimism.

It was futile. The owners remained; there was no cause for optimism.

When Lee Clark brought in a lot of young, hungry players with pace and talent, there was a sense of optimism. There is a feeling that maybe this season would be different, despite the fact that there has been no change in management or owners. Maybe Clark had learnt from his mistakes.

He hadn't. These players looked as lost and devoid of confidence as last season's.

Gary Rowett has taken over management duties at Birmingham City. Speaking with a gravity and poise that Clark could only dream of, Rowett spoke about his confidence in taking the Blues forward. What was most refreshing was his talk of tactics, how we would try and get the players playing. This was new to Blues fans - no more incoherent ramblings about bad luck and passion.

There's a sense of optimism around the club again.

Birmingham fans are among the most pessimistic in the country; who can blame them? A rich owner comes in promising money and success, before getting himself into jail. Even after winning the Carling Cup they got relegated. False hope is as common as a home loss at St. Andrews, but Rowett is bringing hope to the disheveled fans.

Rowett has one thing in common with Lee Clark - he is passionate about the job. Hopefully that's all and all signs so far point to that being the case. Rowett talks in a composed manner, he has the players working harder than ever on their fitness (which has been a key issue this season) and his previous club's fans have bemoaned his departure.

This is what has Blues fans so excited. However, there is a case that even the best managers would have problems keeping Birmingham in the Championship. A squad containing almost exclusively players who either are young and promising or experienced in the league below is not often a recipe for success, but those who have watched Birmingham this season will know that they do have the quality to trouble teams - in fact, they have dropped 11 points from winning positions this season. Fitness issues appear to have contributed to this second half drop off - rather than a lack of quality.

Birmingham fans need to be careful with getting too excited but it's hard not to be impressed by Gary Rowett's optimism, passion and presentation of himself. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and with probably the toughest fixture of the season yet on Saturday, Rowett has his work cut out. Hopefully Birmingham can put in a decent performance and maybe even get something out of the game, but organisation and fight will be enough for the Blues fans after a shambolic performance on Saturday.

Can Rowett keep Blues up? If he does, he will get a lot of plaudits. It's a very difficult task, with Blues lying 23rd and teams above them finding form. Even if he doesn't, I think Blues fans would accept it as long as they saw some fight and evidence that things were changing away from the mess that was Clark's tenure at the club. A spell in League 1 would not be the end of the world, especially if we had a forward thinking manager at the helm and decent young players coming through. Good luck, Gary, never have I seen so many people desperate for you to do so well. Never have I seen a manager so well liked before even playing a game. Keep right on.

Article contributed by:  Elliott Griffiths

Blog: Just Like Watching Brazil

Twitter: @ElliottBCFC

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