Big job on at Birmingham as Rowett takes step up from Burton
Gary Rowett is being very brave in taking the Birmingham City job. The Blues have won just one league game at home all calendar year, scored once in the last four Championship outings and only fellow crisis club Blackpool are below them in the table.
It’s no wonder, then, Coral make Birmingham 6/5 second-favourites for relegation. All of Burton Albion’s backroom staff who, like Rowett, are former St Andrew’s stalwarts take a collective plunge into the unknown.
There is a world of difference between taking on a League Two team challenging for promotion and a Championship side with shattered confidence. Following Lee Clark’s dismissal, the managerless Blues were battered 8-0 by Bournemouth at home in front of their lowest league attendance of the campaign so far.
Conceding a further three goals in the last 10 minutes with the game already long lost may reduce subsequent gates by even more, although it should be noted Birmingham’s next battle is a derby against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Rowett, for all the good and steady coaching he did with Burton where he spent nine years cumulatively on and off the field, is not a name that is going to put bums back on seats at St Andrew’s, though. Perhaps this understated aura that seems to surround him is a secret of the relative success he enjoyed at Albion.
Bringing about a revival in Blues’ fortunes is a different matter entirely, though. Rowett’s first priority is to ensure the players put up more of a fight on derby day than their dismal display against Bournemouth. Wolves are joint-top of the Championship and resurgent following their own spectacular, more rapid and dramatic fall from Premier League grace.
How is Rowett to save Birmingham from further decline when their financial difficulties are so well-documented? There can be little investment in improving the squad, although Premier League clubs are reportedly sniffing around teenage winger Demarai Gray.
Used to working on a budget at Burton, purse strings will be far tighter and, as the players lacked any stomach for a fight last time out in that Cherries capitulation, it is tough to make a credible case for anything other than a relegation battle for Rowett.
Odds of 9/2 say the Blues can upset Wanderers at Molineux. If they are to do that, then former Wolves players like David Davis, who has missed the last couple of games through injury, and Stephen Gleeson must get a grip on midfield.