Birmingham City’s season opener away to Sheffield United marked the debut of Tahith Chong on loan from Manchester United.
After two mixed loan spells last season at Werder Bremen and Club Brugge, the 21 year old has got off to a flying start for Birmingham.
Walking away with the three points in a 1-0 win against the Sheffield side recently relegated from the Premier League, Chong was also awarded the man of the match for his performance in the victory.
⭐️ Man of the Match, @BCFC debutant Tahith Chong
Won 8/11 duels
7 tackles (5 more than any player)
5x possession gained
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) August 7, 2021
Playing in an unfamiliar role, Chong was deployed by manager Lee Bowyer on the left side of a midfield three.
Generally a winger, the young Dutch man is known for his attacking attributes but it was his defensive side which stole the show at Bramall Lane.
With Sheffield United controlling the game with 75% of possession, Bowyer’s men were pushed back and forced to defend deep.
Chong adapted to his new role brilliantly though, with an impeccable work rate, the youngster chased up and down the pitch and impressively read the game, tracking runners and cutting off passing lanes.
Eager to impress in his debut, the usual attacking star displayed a grittiness in his performance and made a staggering seven tackles during the match. Five more than anyone else on the pitch, and one more than the entire Sheffield United team combined.
Despite seeing little possession of the ball, Chong did make his mark going up the pitch as well with three shots, the most of any Birmingham player.
The first coming in the first minute of the match, Chong had a low driven shot into a crowded box blocked. A similar blocked shot later for his second, and his third came after a nice touch but ultimately was put over the bar.
The most impressive skill came though when he found himself in a familiar wide position where he performed a quick step over and blew past the full-back and lofted a perfect cross which was headed in at the back post. Unfortunately, an off the ball push in the centre of the box saw the goal disallowed.
Feeling a tightness in his hamstring, Chong was substituted off in the 73rd minute. After the match Chong said he tried to run it off but it got tighter and he came off as a precaution.
Hoping his injury is nothing serious, Chong has done well to solidify a spot in Bowyer’s starting XI and looks to be on his way to a great loan spell.