Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer admitted that he got it wrong with his decision to name the same team that secured the 2-1 win against Reading on Saturday away at Watford.
The Blues headed into the game against their promotion-chasing opponents aiming to pick up another vital three points that would have seen them maintain their six-point cushion above the bottom three. However, Birmingham were unable to find an answer to Watford’s superior quality and in the end, the Hornets ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
It was not through lack of effort that the Blues suffered their 18th league defeat of the campaign, but they did look tired at times and failed to play with the same sort of intensity that they did during their win against Reading.
Bowyer will now have the chance to take stock of what he has seen so far in his first two games and then try and get some points on the board when the season resumes.
Speaking to Birmingham Live, Bowyer confessed that it was maybe a mistake to have played the same line-up and not looked to freshen the side for the trip to an in-form and quality opponent such as Watford.
He said: “The thing I will take from today learning about the group is that the Wednesday-Saturday is tough. This group put so much effort into the Wednesday, I should maybe have changed it and freshened it up a little bit because we looked sluggish in the first part.
“But fair play to the players who kept going. I said to them after the game ‘Be disappointed but don’t beat yourself up because we have just gone toe-to-toe with a top side and we didn’t embarrass ourselves’.
“If you are watching the game from the stands – I didn’t think there was very much in it personally, maybe I am a little bit biased.”
Bowyer seems to be suggesting here that he does not feel the squad is fit enough to play two games in quick succession without making changes to the team to freshen things up. That is perhaps now one of the things he will know he needs to work on with the players so that eventually he could name an unchanged side and keep the momentum going from a win.
The former Charlton manager will have plenty of time to reflect on what has worked and what has not worked so far in his first two matches in charge. It is vital that he learns from that reflection and Birmingham can return from the international break well rested and ready to go again because they are now in a real battle for survival.
The fact that they now have a new manager at the helm having to learn about the players with such little time left in the campaign does show the mismanagement of their campaign. Bowyer is the sort of manager though that has the ability to learn quickly from mistakes and put them right which is what he will do over the next few weeks after suffering his first defeat.