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Birmingham flirting with disaster again - Interview
Friday, 26th Feb 2021 10:51 by Clive Whittingham

A huge turnover of players and a new manager has not been able to prevent another season of struggle at Birmingham City – we surveyed the damage with our regular Blue Matthew Elliott.

How's the season been so far?

Largely frustrating. Every time we look like we're making progress, we shoot ourselves in the foot.

Anything in particular gone wrong from December onwards?

Honestly, it's really hard to pinpoint just one thing. Strange team selections, multiple formations, strange substitutions, not creating enough chances, individual errors, low confidence.. I could go on.

Brum league results so far…
Birmingham 1-0 Brentford Bela 37
Swansea 0-0 Birmingham
Birmingham 1-1 Rotherham Bela pen 90 – Sadler pen 87
Stoke 1-1 Birmingham Powell 86 – Dean 65
Birmingham 0-1 Sheff Wed Bannan pen 49
Norwich 1-0 Birmingham Vrancic 87
QPR 0-0 Birmingham
Birmingham 2-1 Huddersfield Gardner 27, Jutkiewicz 90 – Mbenza 85
Preston 1-2 Birmingham Stockley 24 – McGree 2, Gardner 85
Birmingham 1-2 Wycombe Roberts 40 – Kashket 75, Pedersen og 90
Birmingham 1-3 Bournemouth Hogan 55 – Groeneveld 9, Brooks 42, 50
Coventry 0-0 Birmingham
Luton 1-1 Birmingham Pearson 37 – Jutkiewicz pen 23
Birmingham 0-0 Millwall
Birmingham 1-2 Barnsley Hogan 56 – Woodrow pen 71, Styles 84
Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham Dean 80
Reading 1-2 Birmingham Meite 61 - Toral 29, 37
Birmingham 0-1 Watford Deeney pen 85
Cardiff 3-2 Birmingham Glatzel 10, Wilson 77, Morrison 88 – Roberts 31, Sanchez 57
Birmingham 1-4 Middlesbrough Colin 15 – Assombalonga 27, Saville 31, Wing 56, 82
Forest 0-0 Birmingham
Birmingham 0-4 Derby Bielik 15, Shinnie pen 17, Kazim Richards 25, Knight 77
Birmingham 0-2 Blackburn Armstrong 10, Dack 90
Middlesbrough 0-1 Birmingham Hogan 26
Birmingham 0-1 Preston Sinclair 61
Birmingham 1-1 Coventry Bela pen 18 - Hamer 29
Wycombe 0-0 Birmingham
Bournemouth 3-2 Birmingham Groeneveld 36, Wilshere 61, Billing 77 – Hogan 27, 68
Birmingham 0-1 Luton Potts 31
Millwall 2-0 Birmingham Wallace 2, Thompson 75
Sheff Wed 0-1 Birmingham Hogan 63
Birmingham 1-3 Norwich Sanchez 38 – Pukki 26, 76, Skipp 90

Karanka hanging by a thread, where are you on him? The football isn't great even when it's not losing every week...

I'm not sure he is hanging by a thread, I think the CEO is behind him at the very least at the moment. I have stuck it out more than most with him. As I touched on earlier, there are glimpses and signs of things working and then boom, we're on our backside again. That said, after the losses to Luton and Millwall I was pretty much done with him. Better performances in the last couple of games have brought me closer to sitting on the fence again.

Alternatives being mentioned? Any you like...

There hasn't really been any mentioned other than a rumour about Pulis, but I don't think there's many of us having that. My personal choice would've been Nigel Pearson, but he's gone to the BTec BCFC. Other than that, potentially Paul Cook or Nigel Adkins. It's going to have to be someone with experience at the bottom of the Championship and someone that knows how to get out of League One just in case..

What did you make of your January transfer business?

Rekeem Harper on loan from the Baggies looks very good. Comfortable on the ball and doesn't treat it like a ticking time bomb. Since his introduction you can see a big difference to how we operate and move the ball around. I really like him. We paid around £2m to Aberdeen for Sam Cosgrove, caught everybody by surprise that one did. He's big and more mobile than Juke, unfortunately he has managed about 10 minutes as a sub before injuring his ankle in training. We also picked up Yan Valery on loan from Southampton. A right back by trade, but can also play right wing. Oh and Karanka seems to think he can play centre midfield too... yeah.

Summer Ins >>> Jonathan Leko, 21, RW, West Brom, £990k >>> Scott Hogan, 28, CF, Villa, Undisclosed >>> Neil Etheridge, 30, GK, Cardiff, Undisclosed >>> George Friend, 32, LB, Middlesbrough, Free >>> Jon Toral, 25, AM, Hull, Free >>> Ivan Sanchez, 27, RW, Elche, Free >>> Andres Prieto, 26, GK, Espanyol, Free >>> Adam Clayton, 31, CM, Middlesbrough, Free >>> Mikel San Jose, 31, DM, Athletic Bilbao, Free >>> Riley McGree 21, CM, Charlotte (US), Loan >>> Jake Clarke Salter, 23, CB, Chelsea, Loan

Summer Outs >>> Jude Bellingham, 17, CM, Dortmund, £23m >>> Alvaro Gimenez, 29, CF, Cadiz, £2.43m >>> Wes Harding, 23, CB, Rotherham, Undisclosed >>> Kerim Mrabti, 26, CF, Mechelen (Belgium), Free >>> Jake Weaver, 23, GK, Leamington, Free >>> Ivan Guzman, 29, RB, Cornella, Free >>> David Stockdale, 34, GK, Wycombe, Free Connal Trueman, 24, GK, Wimbledon, Loan >>> Fra Villalba, 22, AM, Almeria, Loan >>> Jacques Maghoma, 32, LM, East Bengal, Free >>> Jonathan Grounds, 32, LB, Swindon, Free >>> Cheick Keita, 24, LB, Released >>> Lee Camp, 35, GK, released >>> Craig Gardner, 33, CM, Retired >>> Odin Bailey, 20, CM, Forest Green, Loan >>> Agus Medina, 26, CM, Cornella, Loan >>> Steve Seddon, 22, LB, Wimbledon, Loan

Winter Ins >>> Sam Cosgrove, 24, CF, Aberdeen, £2m >>> Rakeem Harper, 20, CM, West Brom, Loan >>> Yan Valery, 21, RB, Southampton, Loan

Winter Outs >>> Maikel Kieftenbeld, 30, DM, Millwall, Undisclosed >>> David Davis, 29, CM, Shrewsbury, Free >>> Dan Crowley, 23, AM, Hull, Loan >>> Charlie Lakin, 21, CM, Ross County, Loan >>> Josh McEachran, 27, CM, Released

Where is the team strong and weak?

Great question. It's all pretty much of a muchness at the moment.

Do you think you'll survive? Consequences if you don't...

I've been backwards and forwards on this one so much since the end of December. I think the players are more than capable of playing to a higher standard. Karanka seems settled on a 4141/433 formation now which the players look more comfortable in. I think we might just be okay, but ask me again on Saturday and I'll have probably changed my mind. Certainly the financial implications of going down are not great. If it meant we could get rid of the current owners or even just the CEO I think I'd almost be on board with it, but I really don't think it will...

Links >>> Birmingham City official website >>> St Andrew’s – Ground Guide >>> Small Heath Alliance – Message Board >>> We Are Birmingham – Podcast >>> Birmingham Mail – Local Press

The Twitter @loftforwords, @MatthewBlue1875

Pictures – Action Images

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TacticalR added 11:22 - Feb 26
Thanks to Matthew.

It sounds pretty grim, especially when you think that Birmingham have lost a player like Bellingham. It's frustrating that teams can't keep their star players for at least a few years.

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