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The good, the bad and the bore draws - Interview
Monday, 27th Sep 2021 15:02 by Clive Whittingham

Birmingham's recovery under Lee Bowyer was always going to take time after years of mismanagement, and a predictably inconsistent start to the season includes a 5-0 win at Luton, 3-0 loss at Peterborough, 4-1 home defeat to Fulham, victory at Sheff Utd, and two nil nils. Matthew Elliott is our Blues' regular...

How was last season for Birmingham?

Well the win against Brentford on the opening day of the season definitely set expectations far higher than they needed to be. The team struggled for consistency under Karanka. He constantly chopped and changed the team and the season was littered with individual errors and bad football. His instructions confused players and he drained them of all their confidence as he shrugged and threw them under the bus in his post match interviews. With around ten games left and hovering around the relegation zone it had clearly got to the point where the players couldn't take it anymore and a collective decision was made that a few senior players would go above the CEO's head to another director to tell him that Karanka needed to go. He was gone the next day and a few days later Bowyer was installed. The turnaround was nothing short of exceptional, 17 points from 8 games saw us fly to safety with relative ease with two games to spare.

Bowyer made a big impact. A lot of optimism around him?

It's probably a bit cliché, but Bowyer just gets the club. He'd wanted the job before, but didn't get it. An ex-player, a cup winner with the club, someone the fans will get behind and back. Things have looked much brighter since he came in. He got the team back to basics to keep us up, solid defence and creating plenty of chances. Now he wants to try to move things forward with a more progressive style of football with a team that is more comfortable on the ball and keeps possession. It won't happen overnight, but the right things are being put place for it.

How’s the season started?

Happy enough with the start to the season and can't really argue from a points perspective. We've played really well in some games, lots of energy, setting up to close down and contain the opposition then looking to move the ball forward quickly to create chances. More recently it has felt like the opposition have started to work out how to play against us. Throw in suspensions and injuries and we've hit a bit of sticky patch which Bowyer is going to have contend with.

Birmingham league results so far…
Sheff Utd 0-1 Birmingham Collin 19
Birmingham 0-0 Stoke
Birmingham 0-2 Bournemouth Solanke 77, Anthony 87
Luton 0-5 Birmingham Roberts 7, Hogan 26, 47, Gardner 84, Aneke 88
Barnsley 1-1 Birmingham Styles 6 – Jutkiewicz 33
Birmingham 2-0 Derby Hogan 31, Bela 81
Birmingham 1-4 Fulham Deeney pen 87 – Odoi 10, Mitrovic pen 44, 83, Wilson 54
Peterborough 3-0 Birmingham Dean og 1, Clarke-Harris pen 35, Grant 50
Birmingham 0-0 Preston

Peterborough seemed a bit random what went on there?

Conceding an own goal in the first minute set the standard for the game. Comedy of errors really, lots of defensive mistakes not helped by leaving ourselves wide open with a high line. Midfield had no control over the game and the forwards were pretty ineffective. These sorts of results will happen to us, every now and then but it was disappointing to see the team slip into old habits.

How did your transfer window go?

I was fairly excited by the moves in the summer, but we've only really seen Chong, Woods and Sarkic make any form of positive impact. Deeney has obviously excited the majority of fans, but I think it'll be a while before we see anything worthwhile from him on the pitch. We've seen very little of Sanderson, McGree, Graham and Castillo, but it's still early in the season. Sanderson does look quick and assured though.

Ins >>> Troy Deeney, 33, CF, Watford, Free >>> Jordan Graham, 26, LW, Gillingham, Free >>> Ryan Woods, 27, DM, Stoke, Free >>> Chuks Aneke, 27, CF, Charlton, Free >>> Dion Sanderson, 21, CB, Wolves, Loan >>> Juan Familia-Castillo, 21, LB, Chelsea, Loan >>> Tahith Chong, 21, RW, Man Utd, Loan >>> Matija Sarkic, 24, GK, Wolves, Loan

Outs >>> Steve Seddon, 23, LB, Oxford, Undisclosed >>> Charlie Lakin, 22, CM, Burton, Undisclosed >>> Jon Toral, 26, CM, Crete, Free >>> Josh Dacres-Cogley, 25, RB, Tranmere, Free >>> Agus Medina, 26, CM, Ponferradina (Spain), Free >>> Mikel San Jose, 32, DM, Amorebieta (Spain), Free >>> Ivan Guzman, 30, RB, Ceuta (Spain), Free >>> Dan Crowley, 23, AM, Released >>> Andres Prieto, 27, GK, Released >>> Alen Halilovic, 25, AM, Reading, Free >>> Odin Bailey, 21, AM, Livingston, Loan >>> Fran Villalba, 23, AM, Sporting Gijon, Loan >>> Sam Cosgrove, 24, CF, Shrewsbury, Loan >>> Jonathan Leko, 22, RW, Charlton, Loan >>> Zach Jeacock, 20, GK, Salford, Loan

Strengths and weak links?

It's honestly quite difficult to pick out a strength. It's maybe the work ethic of the team, rather than individuals. We do look a bit one dimensional going forward at the moment though and the high line leaves us susceptible to balls in behind.

How do you think you’ll do this season?

The table currently reads P9 W3 D3 L3. It currently feels that's going to be the pattern of the season. I expect some good spells and some bad spells, but I'm confident we won't find ourselves in any trouble and should finish comfortably mid-table.

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 16:55 - Sep 28
Thanks to Matthew.

It sounds like Bowyer has done a good job of picking up the pieces, although Birmingham seem to be one of those clubs that as soon as the pieces get put together, something comes along to pull everything apart again.

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