Midfielder says Blues aiming to become tough nut to crack

Manager Gianfranco Zola changed Blues formation and outlook at Wolves, deploying three centre-halves, wing-backs and a diamond four in midfield.

It is designed to give Blues a more solid foundation to begin with but also with the flexibility and scope to alter the formation and personnel if necessary during a match.

That was shown at Cardiff City when Zola brought on Che Adams and Kerim Frei and reverted to a flat back four after Blues went behind.

Next up for Blues are title-chasing Newcastle United at St. Andrew's on Saturday.

“We went a little bit back to being difficult to beat, with a strong shape, working hard," reflected Kieftenbeld.

“We were good in the game. We certainly were difficult to beat. The penalty was unbelievable. I think that sort of thing happens when you are lower in the league.

“But we made a couple of changes and got back in the game, scoring the equaliser. That’s what we needed, a result and for our confidence.

“Newcastle are a really strong side and will be difficult to beat. But we will go into it feeling good. We needed what we showed at Cardiff because in the game against Leeds United we played really well – but not against Wigan – only to concede goals.

“Now it might not be a case of playing nice football to see but at Cardiff we got a result, like at Wolves. In the final stages of the season that’s the most important thing.”

The ultimate aim is to turn Blues from a predominantly defensively-minded side effective on the counter, as has largely been the hallmark during the past two years, to one that evolves into a less predictable and more expressive, attack-minded unit.

Positive signs in that respect have been seen but, more immediately, it's a case of needs must.

“We have showed in large parts of games that we can play really well," said Kieftenbeld. “I think people understand, the fans understand, what we are doing and they like it as well.

“But if it is not in combination with some results, especially when you are now lower in the league, then it isn’t good. That’s the only thing that counts now. 

“The manager still wants to play good football – and we do as well – but at the moment points are more important. If we can get the results – and I am sure we can – then everybody will be happy.

“Looking to next season, then the manager will get back to playing attacking football and trying to create a lot of chances. At the moment it is hard to do that because of our situation.”

Kieftenbeld says that the whole squad are in tune with Zola and the methods required.

“Everybody understands what the manager wants. Everybody understands the way he looks at football. Everybody likes it.

“At the same time everybody knows it is easier to defend in football than attack. You need to be almost perfect otherwise, especially in here in the Championship where the energy levels are really high, you will concede goals if you are open.

“Of course it’s more beautiful to play nice football and that’s what we all want ultimately but maybe we need some more time, more work. The thing is, we don’t have the time at the moment, we need to get results and that’s why the manager has gone back to us being difficult to beat.”

Kieftenbeld insists that Blues are a better side than their league standing and recent results suggest.

“That is the frustrating thing. We are not a bad team. If we get beaten easily, without any good play, like against Wigan . . . if we had had a lot of games like Wigan then we’d have a serious problem.

“We don’t have that problem but we do need to face it like we are in a difficult position.

“Everybody knows – the players, staff – it’s not that we think we don’t need to work for it, to make things happen. We know we do. The team is good enough to get results in the next few weeks and hopefully we will show it."