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It’s been a sorry season for Birmingham City in the Championship so far, with the Blues deeply entrenched in a relegation battle going into the second international break of the campaign. Steve Cotterill has been appointed as Harry Redknapp’s successor, but can the side from the second city avoid dropping out of the second tier?
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Cotterill is a motivator who has a habit of getting the best out of his squad, although question marks remain over his tactical nous. He boasts a 29% win record at this level and he’ll be hoping to increase that number whilst in the St Andrew’s dugout.
His predecessor Harry Redknapp was permitted to splash the cash this summer and brought in several new players including Isaac Vassell, Jota, Harlee Dean, and Sam Gallagher but it didn’t result in an upturn in fortunes and the former Portsmouth boss was given his marching orders.
Many of the new additions have a history of performing at this level, with Jota netting 12 times in 21 appearances for Brentford and Sam Gallagher netting 11 times in a struggling Blackburn side last year. Consequently, many have been surprised that the Blues have not been able to clamber away from danger.
Under the guidance of caretaker manager Lee Carsley, Birmingham picked up a useful point against Derby before beating Sheffield Wednesday on September 27, but things took a turn for the worse during his final game in charge. A 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Hull saw very few of the current squad emerge with any credit and there is clearly plenty of work to do.
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Cotterill watched helplessly from the stands as the Blues were mauled by the Tigers and if he wasn’t already aware of the scale of this task, he certainly is now. Luckily, Bolton appear to be a rudderless ship marooned at the bottom of the table, which leaves just two positions to avoid. The Trotters, Barnsley, Sunderland, and Burton are all shorter prices to suffer relegation this season with the Blues priced at 5/2 with Betfair to finish in the bottom three. Those who are tipping Cotterill’s men to slip out of the Championship have a risk-free option now too, with the £30 free bet offer available via Oddschecker.
The new boss is likely to be more hands-on than Redknapp and the players will need to respond to his methods immediately. They will be required to put egos to one side and start to fight for one another. The Blues have the quality in their squad to propel themselves into mid-table but Cotterill cannot afford a slow start to life at St Andrew’s if Birmingham are to avoid dropping into League One.