Let’s face it, for Blues fans, this season has been like a never-ending horror film, with nasty shock following unpleasant surprise one after the other in a carnival of football misery that has left the team languishing in the relegation zone and onto their fourth manager.
They were at it again on 17th March, pulling off a 3-0 win over Hull to give fans another sliver of hope, but no one’s getting carried away. This has happened before. Back in early February, when Steve Cotterill was still in charge, they recorded successive victories over Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday to move up to 19th. A week later, they slumped to a 2-0 defeat against you-know-who, which precipitated a sequence of seven defeats, the departure of Cotterill and the arrival of Garry Monk.
Nobody can accuse the club of not being proactive. Monk has a good record, after all, and by bringing him in with two months to go, he would in theory have time to make an impact. And as we know, every season, the Championship produces one club that manages to find its form in the final weeks to spring a few surprises at big odds and avoid relegation. City fans betting online will be hoping that Monk’s men can be that team this year.
Goals have been Birmingham’s problem. Until recently, they had the worst goal-scoring record in all three divisions of the Football League. They have since managed to overtake Burton Albion in terms of goals scored, but 28 goals in 38 games is a feeble return and the departure of fan favourite Clayton Donaldson in the summer has had a lot to do with that.
The other main problem is a lack of continuity. A high turnover of managers doesn’t just cause disruption to players and tactics but also produces a patchwork squad made up of players brought in by different bosses to play different styles of football. Harry Redknapp brought in 13 players during the summer, which had itself been hugely disruptive, and left Cotterill with a confused and unbalanced squad, which is now Monk’s problem.
But could that priceless victory over Hull be the start of something? Calculating how many points they will need is a risky business. The survival bar during the last five seasons has been set between 44 and 55 points, and at the moment, the Blues are on 33, which means that they need to secure between 11 and 22 from a possible 24 remaining. That’s a tall order.
Consecutive games against Burton and Bolton are must-win fixtures, and if they can continue the attacking, fighting style they showed against Hull, they may be able to get maximum points from the matches against Ipswich and QPR, who have little to play for. Getting anything from the encounters with Wolves, Sheffield United and Bristol City might be harder, but if they can get some momentum going, anything is possible.
It may also help that the two teams immediately above them – Barnsley and Reading – are in no sort of form. They are running out of time, but the Hull result has given the Blues a big boost, and with a quality manager at the helm, there is still a good chance that they can get themselves out of trouble, avoid the drop, and regroup for a stronger challenge next season.