Birmingham City manager Wayne Rooney has sent a heartfelt message to the St Andrew’s faithful after his side failed to hang on to a two-goal advantage against Ipswich Town on Saturday. It was the first point claimed for the new boss and against top opposition, too, but the nature of the draw was hard to take – especially for the supporters.
The boos of the Hull City defeat certainly weren’t present again as Birmingham showed great improvement from a few weeks ago, playing Ipswich out of the park in the first half. Blues scored a second goal as Cameron Burgess turned the ball into his own net early in the second period but the visitors showed great character to get back into the game.
Numerous substitutions in the dying embers gave the Tractor Boys even more momentum than they already had and Rooney feels his own reinforcements didn’t work hard enough when they came onto the field. The result? Well, Ipswich netted twice in the final 15 minutes to earn a hard-fought point and it probably would’ve been all three if they had a little longer to pepper the Blues net.
Birmingham fans were understandably frustrated by the sloppy nature of the first goal conceded and then a superb volley from Marcus Harness silenced the ground further. Rooney, who has great empathy for the supporters, was sure to praise Bluenoses and send a clear message in his post-match press conference.
Asked if he was happy with the improved atmosphere, Rooney said: “Listen, I pick the team and try to get the team playing. I know what football is. I know when I get my team playing the way I want them to play, the fans will be right on board, no doubt about that. I thought today they were excellent – they got right behind the players. I also thought against Southampton they were excellent.
“Rightly so, by the way, and I said this to the players, I felt the last 15 minutes the players didn’t work and I don’t accept that. The fans have a right to get on players when they don’t do that, and get on me because it’s my responsibility. But they were excellent and I think they’ve seen today a glimpse of what we can do – without the ball especially. With the ball, it will take a bit more time,” Rooney said.
Ultimately, it’s yet another game without a victory for Birmingham but the enhancement in performance is clear to see. Having a full week of preparation for the Ipswich clash was key, it seems, and Blues have the same amount of time ahead of their next fixture, away at Sunderland next Saturday. Rooney will be desperate for his first win in that one.