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A new manager and a fresh start. After a dismal beginning to the 2017-18 season, Birmingham City has brought on Steve Cotterill as their new manager. With only a few weeks under his belt, Birmingham City is entrenched in the Championship relegation zone. Blue’s fans are hoping the addition of Cotterill will have a similar impact to when Gary Rowett first arrived at St Andrews. However, in order to see similar improvements, Cotterill must instill some confidence into a first team squad who were beaten 6-1 at Hull in their league match before the international break.
Cotterill watched from the stands at the KCOM Stadium before officially taking the reigns as Birmingham’s manager in early October. The fragile Blues defense is among several visible problems Cotterill has inherited. Birmingham’s on-field struggles are evident, with the team failing to score more than a single goal more than once this season in their win against Bristol City (2-1) at St Andrews in August.
A hamstring injury to Jota, the club’s record signing from Brentford in mid-September has not helped Birmingham’s case. Especially with a similar injury to central midfielder Jason Lowe during a 3-1 home defeat by Preston last month.
New Hope as Cotterill Arrives
While the dismissal of Rowett was a debatable decision, and Redknapp foreseeable, the Blues hope they have finally found their man. Cotterill has an impressive record, previously employed as first-team manager with Bristol City, where he clinched the League One title for the club in 2015.
Chief Executive Xuandong Ren sat alongside Cotterill as he was unveiled as the new manager and mentioned ‘stability’ during the press conference. With so many changes over the last few seasons, the Blues will be hoping Cotterill can provide the structure and solidarity each player needs to be their best.
Stabilising the current defence will be a priority for Cotterill as he seeks to instill a similar mentality into his players. His strategy looks to be paying off already with the Blues defeating then ladder-leader Cardiff, 1-0. A win they badly needed to boost their confidence and get their season back on track.
While a glance at live betting on football shows that Birmingham are among the favourites to be relegated, owners Trillion Trophy Asia are aiming much higher, with their sights set on a promotion into the Premier League. While it may be ambitious, Cotterill is looking to lay the foundations to put Birmingham in challenging position. With one win already under his belt, Cotterill is looking to the local derby against Aston Villa at St Andrews in late October to boost his team’s confidence and improve the Blues odds.
Upcoming Priorities for the Blues
In the upcoming match against Aston Villa, Cotterill will need his team to be defensively tight. Jonathan Kodjia will be the biggest task, with 19 goals for Villa last season. The forward will be fit and ready to go after an ankle injury, and with a new formation tested by Steven Bruce, Kodijia is showing early signs of a promising partnership with Keinan Davis. The Blues back-line will need to run a tight ship to keep the forwards at bay.
If Che Adams, Jota and Jason Lowe return to full fitness, and striker Lukas Jutkiewicz can regain form in front of the goals, the Blues can start building momentum. Jutkiewicz brought home eleven league goals last season, however, the former Burnley striker has netted only once this term. After a team-boosting win against Cardiff, the Blues can start turning around relegation form and building much needed self-assurance if their big guns are firing.
With Jota in full flight, there is hope that he can reproduce his scoring exploits of last season (12 goals in 23 league appearances for Brentford). Cotterill may also look at switching the right-footed Maxim Colin from left to right-back, and improving the balance of Birmingham’s defence.
Staying on Task
Scoring more goals and staying defensively tight is the simple objective of every football manager, but for Steve Cotterill at Birmingham, that is now an essential requirement in the weeks ahead. While there is no short-term fix for success, the Blues need to take each game as it comes and focus on improving their fitness, applying Cotterill’s strategy and building a winning mentality. If the result at home to Cardiff is anything to go by, he has made a good start to try and achieve this!