It’s been a rough season for Birmingham City, but since the beginning of 2018 something seems to have clicked and the survival battle is well and truly on. What have you made of Blues’ resurgence?
Since the beginning of the year they’ve found a system that works well for them. Their condition has improved, too, so they are able to play that system and, step-by-step, they’ve become more confident. Two or three key players have found top form and become very influential. It is something of a virtuous circle at the moment; the better they play, the more they win and the more confident they get, the better they play. Hopefully the corner has been turned, but we know that in the Sky Bet Championship nothing lasts forever and there are 14 big games to go.
There’s the potential for some animosity when the trio who left Griffin Park in the summer return for the first time on Tuesday; how have they fared at St Andrew’s?
When Michael Morrison doesn’t play, Harlee Dean is captain. He’s the one the fans sing about – a leader and the voice in the dressing room. He’s playing well, he’s leading well and some of his interviews before things turned around were searingly honest, which the fans appreciated.
Maxime Colin started off looking like a Premier League player but saw his season interrupted by a hamstring strain and a spell at left-back. He’s now established himself as first-choice right-back and looks a really tidy player that you can see Blues going forward with for many seasons to come.
It’s been difficult for Jota, as his transfer fee automatically increased fans’ expectations. He initially struggled to express himself in a struggling team and when you are the one with that price tag on your head, you are naturally the first person that people begin to question. He had been taken out of the firing line for several weeks, but came in against Sheffield Wednesday when Jacques Maghoma was injured, scored twice and started to look like the player Blues hoped he would be when they signed him.
How are Birmingham likely to set up?
It’ll probably be a 4-3-3 formation with a high press. There’ll be an effort to turn the ball over from the attacking third and wreak some havoc from there. I also imagine Maxime Colin may end up playing left-back due to Jonathan Grounds’ injury. They tend to play out from the back and David Stockdale has been excellent with his feet, providing the team with the confidence and belief to play out from the back. It will be a very different team to the one Brentford faced at St Andrew’s, not only in terms of personnel, but also in terms of confidence and attitude.
What’s your score prediction for Tuesday evening’s game?
I’ll have to sit on the fence and go for a 1-1 draw. I think it’ll be difficult given Brentford’s form, especially at home.
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