Saturday’s 2-1 win over Swansea City might have eased the pressure on Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer, but Blues fans can be excused for being concerned by their club’s recent run of poor form.
After starting the season in a promising fashion, climbing up to fourth following a 2-0 win against Derby County last month, Bowyer’s side now find themselves 18th in the Championship.
Troy Deeney scored one and created another as Blues registered a much-needed 2-1 victory at the weekend that ended a seven-game winless streak.
It was a memorable day for Deeney, who celebrated his first open-play goal since joining his boyhood club from Watford in August, in a win that will give Blues’ boss Bowyer some breathing room – but for how long?
Charlie Gregory spent some time with Adam from Blues Focus to find out what had happened to all that early-season optimism and if it’s too early for the St Andrew’s faithful to start panicking.
The last time we caught up, the mood amongst the Blues fanbase was at a high… but now it seems to have soured a little. What’s changed?
“Since we last caught up, we look like a completely different side.
“The energy levels had dropped, we couldn’t string two passes together and our midfield seemed to be non-existent.
“I think the main reason for this was our system and Bowyer’s reluctance to change. Five at the back means we have one less player in the middle of the park.
“We’ve got no one to dictate play and form an attack. Instead, we reverted to ‘hoof ball’, which the fans have grown tired of seeing season after season.”
Where do the supporters stand on your current situation? Have doubts over Bowyer been beginning to creep in?
“I think the fact he saved us from relegation last season, we have a bit more faith in him than previous managers and hopefully he can turn this bad form around.
“There is still a very long way to go, however, I think if we’re hovering over the trap door come Christmas, more of the fans will begin to panic so we will see.”
Is this stage a crucial point in Bowyer’s tenure? Now the honeymoon period is over, is it make or break?
“I think all it needs is a couple of wins.
“As I said, the Christmas period is so crucial and if we’re above where we are now then I think Blues fans can relax a bit more.
“If we’re at the bottom still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the owners chop and change – as they have been notoriously known for.”
What’s your reaction to Saturday’s result? What was different in terms of system/style/personnel?
“Saturday’s victory was a huge turning point and a must win after such a torrid run beforehand.
“The system was very much the same as the West Brom game with Bowyer keeping with a 5-3-2 system. However, the difference was Troy Deeney. With him being provided with the captain’s armband, he looked up for it right from the get-go.
“He never stopped working for the team and I think the rest of the squad emulated his performance as they were all putting their bodies on the line – something we haven’t seen in a while from everyone.
“Jordan Graham slotting in at wingback for his second start did a superb job and Chong was back to his best, winning fouls and charging at the opposition defence.”
Is there optimism now that you could build on Saturday’s performance? How important was this victory for your season and for Lee Bowyer and his players?
“There’s definitely optimism, yes, but we know Middlesbrough are on a fantastic run under Warnock.
“However, we’re back at home on Tuesday night and I think the immediate aim is to make St Andrews a fortress again and build from there – something Deeney alluded to in his post-match interview.
“I think this was very important for Bowyer as if we lost I think many fans would be pointing fingers.
“For the players the win was certainly a morale booster and hopefully its a turning point in our season and we can start looking up to the table as we approach a very busy Christmas period.”
What would you like to see from Bowyer now that he’s ended his poor run of form?
“I would like to see a settled team. I think injuries have played their part in recent weeks, but the constant chopping and changing up-front has also been a factor.
“Hopefully, Deeney can kick on now with Hogan also leading the frontline. In recent games we have lacked an identity, however, Saturday proved that we have one.”
Are you confident that you’ll be able to steer clear of any relegation battle? Or are you fearing the worst?
“It’s the hope that kills us as Blues fans.
“However, I do think this squad is the best we’ve had in a while since Che Adams was here so I’m hoping it was just a blip and we can get back on track.
“I don’t think we can take another relegation battle to be honest.”
And are you not getting too carried away just yet – are there still reasons for concern?
“No, definitely not. It was one brilliant game, but can they get a run going is the main question – then maybe we can start getting carried away.
“Reasons for concern have been the defence playing Sunday league stuff in recent weeks.
“However, Bowyer’s bold move in dropping captain Harlee Dean seems to have helped tighten the defence and with George Friend and Dion Sanderson coming into the fray and being solid, it’s like we have two new signings.”
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