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Opposition View: Birmingham City

With Brian Dick of the Birmingham Mail

31 October 2017

I think it would be fair to say that this season hasn’t quite gone according to plan so far – what have you made of what you’ve seen so far?

It’s been a real disappointment and I think The Blues tried to walk before they could run, tactically, at the start of the season. They’ve signed some good players but it’s taken them longer than they would have expected to gel. Things have stabilised a little bit over the last three or four games with the change in manager and, though it’s not promotion form, it’s a lot better than how they were doing at the start of the season.


What has Steve Cotterill got to do to turn this season around?

What’s needed is stability. It’s just a case of settling the selection down, finding a way to defend and basically, once all the teams within the team get grooved, then you can start to change the odd variable here and there. But, for the time being, it’s about keeping the key variables that go into picking a football team as constant as possible. The signs show that is happening; there’s only been two selection changes in the last two games and you would think that proves there’s some stability to come.


We’ve got to discuss the club’s dealings with Brentford during the summer – what went on and how have the three players fared in their first two months?

Well, it was probably as much as a surprise to Birmingham fans as it was to Brentford fans! Maxime Colin has been the pick of the bunch – he’s been really, really good. To me, he looks like a Premier League quality right-back. Jota only made his home debut on Sunday against Aston Villa due to an on-going hamstring injury but he’s clearly a very good player so hopefully there’s a lot more to come from him. Harlee Dean, however, has been a victim of circumstance in that, before Cotterill arrived, The Blues were struggling for the right combination at central defence and he was the chief loser in those circumstances. I have no doubt he’ll come into the side at some point this season, though, and probably do quite well.


Who should Brentford be most wary of?

I suppose Jota, bizarrely. His set-piece delivery was good against Villa, he asked a lot of questions of his full-back and most of what Birmingham created came from him. The other one I’d say would be Che Adams who will probably play up front now that Isaac Vassell looks to have a bad injury. For me, he’s still the crown jewel, the one with massive, massive ability.


What should Brentford expect in terms of the way Birmingham set up?

It will probably be a 4-2-3-1 and The Blues will probably be quite direct, with good energy in terms of the press at the centre of the park. I certainly don’t think it’ll be rocket science, but hopefully it will be a committed and industrious performance.


What are you expecting from Brentford?

Any team that can win at Preston, for me, presents a real danger. Birmingham will have to be completely focused defensively otherwise they could find themselves opened up. I think the fact Brentford lost so many players so late in the window and they have recovered deserves massive credit. They are a very well-coached team with some good players in their squad. It will be a difficult game, it just depends on the energy committed by The Blues.


If you could bring one player to St. Andrews, who would it be?

I think Sergi Canos is a good player but I really like Ryan Woods. He’s the ginger lad, right? I think he’s a fantastic little player with a big future ahead of him.


What’s your score prediction for Wednesday night?

I will say Birmingham will take a bit of confidence from the Villa game and win 2-1.

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