1995 was the last time Birmingham City played in League One but that could be changing in their near future unless they turn around their season and fast.
The Blues sit in the Chapionship relegation zone with just 28 points from their 29 league games this season. Birmingham have won just once in their last 12 league games and are currently five without a win. Aitor Karanka has big problems he must address in what is proving his toughest season in management to date.
Goal scoring, a settled team and style as well as a dreadful home record are major problems and unless these are addressed quickly, a return to the third tier will become reality rather than a possibility.
Birmingham City Are Staring Down the Barrel of League One
Goal Scoring Proving to Be Big Problem for Blues
A number of factors have culminated in Birmingham City’s miserable season to date. One of their problems is putting the ball in the back of the net. Aitor Karanka teams are not known for an influx of goals but his Blues side are seriously short in the attacking third of the pitch.
Only Derby County have scored fewer than the Blues’ 21 this campaign. They just can’t create enough chances and score goals. It’s proving a major issue because even when they do find the back of the net, they struggle to keep the opposition out. Birmingham managed to score twice in a recent game against manager-less Bournemouth but still shipped three goals to lose the contest.
Karanka has to inject goals into the side in some capacity. Scott Hogan is the Blues top scorer with just fove Championship goals – that equates to almost 25% of their league goals. Others have failed to chip in consistently and, unless Birmingham find a way to score, wins are going to elude them further.
Birmingham spent big in January to sign Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove. He has just two appearances since arriving – both coming from the substitutes bench. He’s played just 23 minutes since arriving and Karanka has yet to start his big-money signing at Birmingham City.
Lukas Jutkiewicz is low on goals too. The big striker has been a consistent figure in the Blues attack for several seasons but has been a benchwarmer under Karanka. Despite featuring 27 times this season for the Blues, he has managed just two league goals and only started 14 league games.
The lack of goals in the Birmingham side is a major problem and, unless Karanka finds a way to inject goals into the side, the Blues will be playing in League One next season.
Poor Form at St Andrew’s Becoming Serious Concern
Perhaps the biggest problem Aitor Karanka and Birmingham have is their dreadful record at home. The Blues have collected just nine points from their 15 home games this season.
An alarming statistic which has to improve and quickly. The 28th of October was the last time Birmingham collected three points on their own patch. Huddersfield Town were the victims that night but since then 11 Championship sides have been to St Andrew’s and collected points.
The Blues have lost nine of their last 11 home league games with only Millwall and ground sharers Coventry unable to collect maximum points. Birmingham’s home statistics, unsurprisingly, get worse with the Blues managing just nine home goals.
They have drawn a blank in seven of their 15 home matches including five blanks in their last seven. It remains to be seen whether the fans not being in attendance is playing its part, but Aitor Karanka cannot deny their home form is a major cause for concern.
On top of all this, the Blues have already faced several of their relegation rivals at St Andrews. Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday, Wycombe Wanderers, Derby County and Coventry City have all taken points from St Andrew’s this season. The Blues have taken just two points from home matches against their relegation rivals.
These are damaging statistics and it’s a real problem Birmingham must address. Teams are coming to St Andrew’s and easily coming away with points and, simply, the Blues have to buck their ideas up.
Their home form has been dire, to say the least. It’s a massive problem and has been a significant factor in their demise this season. Karanka has to arrest their slump at home and fast.
New Signings Failing to Make Impact
Birmingham City are no strangers to changing their manager and, unsurprisingly, when Karanka was appointed in July last year, he promised change. Karanka has made sweeping changes to the playing staff with several departures and a total of 18 new signings across his two transfer windows.
Its been a mix of Championship experience, foreign exports and young players but the team has failed to gel and the manager’s constant chopping and changing isn’t helping either. Karanka has brought in players who know his style and how he works but George Friend and Adam Clayton have struggled since arriving from Middlesbrough.
Other experienced Championship arrivals included Neil Etheridge, Jon Toral and Jonathan Leko. Etheridge has flattered to deceive at times in the Birmingham goal with a string of errors. Toral has been inconsistent and Leko hasn’t quite lived up to his £1 million price tag since switching from Midland neighbours West Bromwich Albion.
Karanka has also used the European market to shape his squad. Andres Prieto, Mikel San Jose and Alen Halilovic arrived with plenty of experience and there was excitement about the three. Prieto is now Birmingham’s back up keeper and Halilovic has struggled since his arrival in November. However, perhaps the bright spark in their team has been the experienced San Jose.
The former Athletic Bilbao man has been a fixture in the side, playing in several positions and is clearly a player Karanka trusts. He possess real quality and brings plenty of experience and that will be needed in the remaining months of the season.
The squad overhaul has been a failure thus far and that lies at the manager’s door. Karanka can have no excuses but his constant changes to the starting line up and formation is also a contributing factor to the Blues’ miserable season.
Birmingham Hierarchy No Strangers to Change
Things have to improve at Birmingham City otherwise Karanka will become the latest Blues manager to feel the axe come down.
Karanka has only been the role for seven-and-half months but his tenure is under severe threat. A run of one win in 12 is a problem as is their current winless streak of five matches. The factors of a miserable time are culminating in a manager feeling the heat and his days are numbered unless he turns their season around.
As demonstrated in the past, the owners of Birmingham City are no strangers to wielding the managerial axe. When Karanka was appointed last July, he was their sixth permanent manager in four years. Many including Garry Monk and Harry Redknapp have tried and failed to turn Birmingham City into promotion contenders.
The club want to be challenging at the top of the Championship hence Karanka’s appointment but it just hasn’t worked out. The under-fire Spaniard has received the dreaded vote of confidence but time is running out for him unless he transforms their season.
Crucial Run of Games to Come for Birmingham in Fight to Avoid Drop to League One
Birmingham have to buck up their ideas and starting collecting points otherwise the possibility of League One football next season becomes more of a reality.
Aitor Karanka perhaps faces the biggest run of matches in his career. Their one saving grace this season has been their away form. 19 of their 28 points have come on their travels which includes four victories. Fortunately for Karanka, four of the Blues next six games are away from home although they are very tricky fixtures starting with Millwall this coming Wednesday.
A crucial game sees the Blues face a Millwall side fresh off consecutive league wins. Their trip to the Den is followed by a trip to relegation rivals Sheffield Wednesday who have been excellent at Hillsborough this season despite their precarious situation. The Owls have won their last six home games and haven’t lost at Hillsborough since mid-October.
Those two tough away matches are followed by consecutive home ties against Championship leaders Norwich City and fellow strugglers Queens Park Rangers. Something has to give at St Andrew’s in those games with Karanka needing to halt their winless run at home to avoid a drop to League One for Birmingham.
Birmingham’s next six games concludes with consecutive trips to Yorkshire to face Huddersfield Town and Barnsley. Like Birmingham, Huddersfield are also on a poor run of form. The Terriers are the only side in the Championship not to win a league game in 2021 while Barnsley have been inconsistent in recent weeks but are buoyed by their win at red hot Brentford.
Six tough assignments for Birmingham which could go along way to seeing which division they will be playing in next season.
Relegation to League One Becoming Distinct Reality for Birmingham
Birmingham City cannot escape the distinct reality of potentially playing in League One next season. The 2011 League Cup winners were only a Premier League side nine seasons ago.
Unless Karanka finds a settled team who can pick up wins and arrest their slide, relegation will be inevitable. It’s been a huge season for disappointment and the pressure is on those players to turn their fortunes around. The side based in the Second City cannot afford to drop into the third tier of English football for the first time in 26 years.
Excuses are not points and the players have to improve with just 17 games left to keep Birmingham City in the Championship. Karanka is feeling the heat but is desperate for that one win which may ignite their survival bid. The Blues are staring down the barrel but as we have seen in the past, the form can change in an instant in the Championship.
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