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The Championship table does not make ideal reading for us Birmingham City fans at the moment. It certainly would not be advisable to read it just before bed for fear of causing restless sleep, unless it is counteracted by a quick glance at the calendar. It is only November, and the Blues are only ten points off the playoffs. It would be foolish to claim that we are likely to get promoted this season but, in the rough and tumble of the Championship, it would be equally foolish to rule anything out.
At the top of the table, it seems evident that Wolves are operating on a different level to the other teams in the league. It is quite frankly ridiculous that the likes of Ruben Neves and Ivan Cavaleiro are plying their trade in a second tier league, and the squad has the hallmarks of one of those Championship sides that runs away with it every few seasons. Sheffield United have been equally irrepressible thus far, although there are inevitable questions over the longevity of form for a newly promoted side.
At the bottom of the table, Burton and Bolton were tipped to struggle and have so far lived up to expectations. Burton play every game with their backs to the wall and it will take staggering resilience to hold off enough onslaughts to cling on to Championship status for the second consecutive season. Bolton have improved of late but still look short of the quality required. Sunderland could be in something of a false position propping up the table but then you never quite know with Sunderland. New manager Chris Coleman will hope to galvanise what is a theoretically decent squad but then Sunderland this season have been the embodiment of ‘games aren’t played on paper’.
So where does that leave us? Across some of the nation’s favourite sport betting sites, we can be found at odds of 30/1 to gatecrash the top six places. The three aforementioned strugglers are the only teams at longer odds so there is not much faith among outsiders in Steve Cotterill reversing our fortunes. Yet, without the burden of expectation, teams can thrive. Of course, the relegation zone is currently a real and present danger but it only takes a couple of wins to completely change the atmosphere at a Championship club.
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Blues have the basis for a stern defense and, in the likes of Jota and Che Adams, there is that x-factor that can unlock defenses. The absence of a top striker might be an issue, but you can never predict when a striker is about to go on a goalscoring streak. Daryl Murphy was not a regular name on the scoresheet for Ipswich, then he suddenly found another level to take a workmanlike Town side into the playoffs. There is not much difference from top to bottom and, in the craziness of the Championship, fortunes can change at the drop of a ball. May be Boga’s wonder strike on Saturday could instigate something similar!
So the 30/1 odds do seem about right, and in truth – top 6 is probably out of reach now. Our biggest issue is consistency and that point brings me back to the title of the post. The team that can put some consistent performances together will always do alright in this league, and therein lies our issue. With the managerial merry go round we have had, consistency is not what we have. We win on, lose two, draw one lose some etc. So we face Wolves next, to be honest I’d take a point from that. Two draws from two teams at the top – may be that would be the start of some consistency and may be we can start moving upwards!