Chris Hughton has told Birmingham City they have to bring a ‘‘bit of everything’’ to their play in order to be successful in the Championship.
Blues have received plaudits this campaign for the type of football they have tried to implement. But it’s more than just composed passing and tricky wing work.
Blues have to maintain a physical edge to their game, which was apparent in the Boxing Day scrap against West Ham United.
The Hammers are a powerful unit, with strong players. Away from home, this has helped them garner seven victories, the best tally in the division.
Blues had to match Sam Allardyce’s team muscle for muscle, and this pleased Hughton.
“To do well in this league you have to have a bit of everything,” said the manager.
“You can see West Ham have. They have power, pace, they defend well as a unit and in Papa Bouba Diop a great shield in front of the back four.
“Our performance second half was excellent. We matched them in all departments.
“When we needed to be physical, we could, and when we needed to be direct. When we needed to have our moments of composure, getting the ball out to Nathan Redmond, who came on for us, and in particular Chris Burke, we were able to do that.
“All we didn’t have was that additional goal that would have won us the game.
“But they are a strong, physical side and you certainly have to stand up to them, which I felt we did.”
Blues have their very own Diop in Guirane N’Daw, whom Hughton praised for his work alongside Keith Fahey in the Blues engine room.
N’Daw has now started Blues’ last three league matches, which presumably has boosted his chances of Hughton taking up the option to extend his loan from Saint-Etienne when it expires on January 5.
Hughton said he was delighted Blues finished the match energetically. And none more so than Burke, who grew in influence as the game went on.
“He does worry defenders,” said Hughton. “And one thing about him is that he keeps going and that’s why generally, unless he is having a real bad day, he is left on the pitch.
“He’s a fit lad and certainly in that last 15 minutes of a game when it opens up a little bit, you don’t really want to be a tired full-back who is having to face Chris Burke.
“I thought we showed good energy as a team towards the end, and we had to.”
David Murphy got the equaliser in the 1-1 draw and he said he hoped Blues had come out of their mini-slump in form.
They had lost three times and beaten Doncaster Rovers in their previous four Championship outings.
The tale of woe had centred around not having a cutting edge and going down by a single-goal margin, more through their own lapses than opposition brilliance.
“I think you go through that in the season,” said Murphy. “Hopefully our bad spell is out the way with and we can move on to Blackpool on Saturday and look for a victory.”
Murphy has been one of Blues’ major success stories this season. But he faces an uncertain future as his contract expires in the summer. No moves have been made in regard to a new deal.
“Nothing has been discussed,” he confirmed. “I’m just trying to play well and what will be will be. It’s down to the club . All I can do is play football.”