Following Sunday’s 2-0 loss to inevitable champions, as well as Midland rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blues now sit on the edge of the drop zone, two points below Barnsley, who have a game in hand against Nottingham Forest. If Barnsley were to win that game, Blues would be in serious danger of facing the drop, as we now have a worse goal difference than relegation rivals Bolton, who sit on -30, in comparison to our -31. With Che Adams returning to the line up for Saturday’s huge clash against Sheffield United, a player who we won’t be seeing again in Royal Blue until the last day of the season is Harlee Dean. Dean was sent off in an attempt to stop Helder Costa from scoring, following a huge mistake from partner Michael Morrison.
Assessing our final three games of this dreary season, we have Sheffield United, QPR and Fulham. Two promotion contenders and a current mid-table team away from home. I believe that if we don’t pick up points against Sheffield United as well as QPR, we are down. In this feature I will be assessing who I believe Blues should target next season, if we were to face the drop.
It’s a regularity that the clubs who do face the drop to League One, will challenge for the return at the first time of asking in the following season. The three teams who went down last season were Wigan, Blackburn, and Rotherham. Three teams that currently occupy 1st, 2nd and 4th in the league table. In the past we have seen teams such as Wolves face the drop to League One in the 12/13 season; in the following season they stormed the league on 103 points, under the leadership of Kenny Jackett, I believe that we could take a page out of Wolves’ book. Teams such as Millwall and Sheffield United have both spent time in League One, two teams that currently sit on the outskirts of the play-off places – despite not spending anywhere near we have.
If we were to go down, next season would provide a fresh start for Blues, as players will leave, and players will join. Spending big would not be the answer to assure our immediate return, as if done without caution, it could provide a backlash like this season. League One would be a perfect opportunity to allow Gary Monk to continue his integration of youth players in the first-team, with players such as Wes Harding, Odin Bailey, and Bez Lubala all being included in the team sheet in the following weeks. Our academy, famed for promoting players such as Demarai Gray, Nathan Redmond, and Jack Butland. Butland has been the subject of ever-present transfers rumours, which should create excitement for Blues fans. Linked with a £40 Million-pound move to Liverpool in January, Blues would receive 25% of the sale, which would provide us the money we need for League One, and more! League One has provided an array of talent in the past years, such as Dele Alli, the England international who was nurtured at MK Dons. Relying on youth prospects, such as the previously-mentioned Wes Harding, would prove useful for Blues, as it saves them forking out big-money for unproven talent in a highly inflated transfer market.
The return of Isaac Vassell at the beginning of next season will prove vitally important to us, in the Championship, or League One. Without a doubt, the young, rapid striker would be one of the best strikers in League One. A player who offers strength and pace to Blues’ attack, he would be a desperately-needed striker who has the ability to provide goals next season. Whilst League One has a handful of advantages for Blues, there is the obvious disappointment of relegation – the potential relegation of a team who were deemed as play-off contenders under Harry Redknapp at the start of the season, as the 14 signings he made were some of the best in the division, such as Jota, Marc Roberts, and David Stockdale. The current league position Blues are in, it feels like we are staring down the barrel of a gun, ‘thanks’ to the work of clueless Steve Cotterill and Harry Redknapp. A statistic was mentioned on Sky Sports, who seemed obviously biased towards Wolves during our game, that if we retained Redknapp and continued the form displayed under his leadership, Blues would’ve finished on 19 points – a far-fetched stat, yet a stat that shocked me.
Concluding this feature, I ask you – do you think Blues would return to the championship at the first time of asking if we were to face the dreaded drop? Is League One a blessing in disguise?
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