Opposition Focus: Birmingham City


Image: Fulham FC

We spoke to James from Birmingham Fan TV to get a Blues perspective ahead of Saturday’s game…

Fulham vs Birmingham: What’s the first thing that comes to mind?

I think 2 games instantly spring to mind and both games were fairly recent. The obvious 3-1 Blues win on the final day on the season meaning that we were safe but also you guys had to go through the playoffs. You guys beating Villa in the final was fantastic to see so, in the end, it worked out well for both of us. The second being the 2-5 away win at the Cottage in late 2015. Believe you were in a bit of a rut at the time but we came and really took you apart from that day.

We’re you stunned to hear Pep Clotet’s announcement and who do you want to see take the job?

I think I was and I wasn’t. I was because it seemed to be his decision and his love for the club is evident. I had seen an upturn in form after Christmas and it has seemed he was turning the ship around. The timing also caught me very much off guard. However, I wasn’t overly surprised because he never looked comfortable in the job. Blues had struggled for large parts of the season and I believe both parties felt, in the end, the club needed someone with a little more pedigree. My top two choices would be Chris Hughton and your old boss Slaviša Jokanović who both have been reported as the top two on the board’s wishlist. However, I think both are extremely ambitious and maybe a little unrealistic. The two maybe more so realistic would possibly be Karanka or Carvahal who have both stated their desire to return to English football.

Why do you think the team have been so inconsistent this season?

I think a combination of poor injury look really hasn’t helped and possibly too much change in too short time. The club outlined plans to move away from being a direct team and move of a possession-based attacking team. This coupled with a squad that really wasn’t equipped for it alias made life difficult.

Who are your player of the season contenders this season?

I think you can’t look much further than Jude Bellingham and Kristian Pedersen. Jude has been one of the most incredible stories and has really shown that even for a 16-year-old for the majority of the season he has the world at his feet. With 4 goals and 2 assists as a deep-lying midfielder in his first championship campaign it’s not a bad return. Pedersen who was signed 2 years ago from Union Berlin has been outstanding. In my opinion in the top two left-backs this season with Joe Bryan. The ultimate athlete. Pedersen has been pretty much ever-present for Blues and rarely puts a foot wrong at full-back.

You seem to change your manager quite regularly. Have any of them been a success in recent years or were they all poor appointments?

I think it’s very much been a case of poor recruitment. Rowett was the first sacking and while yes he was a success he wasn’t sacked for reason on the pitch. Zola and Redknapp followed and those are appointments that are still hurting the club to this day. Steve Cotterill was the pick of the bunch. Possibly the most hated manager ever to step foot in St Andrews who towards the end of his reign required a police escort out of the ground. Garry Monk was very much a rare successful appointment by the owners. Someone who galvanized the club and had us heading in a positive direction despite all that was happening with the EFL. Again however Monks departure wasn’t down to on the pitch matters but rather off the field. That brings us to Pep who has been neither here nor there but I believe the next appointment is possibly the biggest in the club’s history.

How much of the club’s future relies on the seemingly inevitable sale of Jude Bellingham?

I think unfortunately it’s very important. Nobody wants to be seen selling their crown jewel however with a potential sale of £25 million+ its hard to turn your head to that kind of money for any team. Jude’s sale is being looked upon as hopefully funding the club’s financial security for the next few seasons while hopefully helping to recruit a good manager this summer in the process.

Do you think you’ve done enough to stay up at this stage? Or are you not out of the woods yet in your eyes?

If I’m using my heart I’d say yes we’ve done enough. It would take a catastrophic collapse to even be dragged into it. However, my head says we’re never safe until it’s mathematically done. The club face Huddersfield town on Wednesday and a win would put most fears fo bed while a defeat would really begin to put the cat amongst the pigeons.

How do you see the game panning out?

It’s very hard to call and I think that’s the case with most games now behind closed doors. I don’t think home or away counts much at the moment so it’s very much down to quality. Fulham have that in abundance but the recent ban handed to Mitrovic is a huge boost to our chances. We have enough quality to hurt anyone on our days as we showed when getting a really good point at West Brom last week. However with Fulham having an extra day to recharge and rest I think that may be a deciding factor in this one.

Score prediction: 1-0 to Fulham

Top 6 / Bottom 3 predictions?

My Top 6 would be as follows:

Leeds (C)
West Brom

* Playoff Winner: Brentford to beat Fulham in the final.

Bottom three is a very tough call but I’ll go for Stoke, Hull and Luton.

Thanks to James from Birmingham Fan TV for answering our questions. Check out their latest podcast previewing our game this weekend: