Steve Cotterill: Birmingham City are weighed down by anxiety
Birmingham City boss Steve Cotterill says Blues are weighed down by anxiety and lacking in confidence after sliding to the bottom of the Championship.
City's 14th defeat in 22 games, at home to QPR on Saturday, took them to their lowest position in the Football League since coming up from the third tier as champions under Barry Fry in 1995.
"You can build them up throughout the week," Cotterill told BBC WM.
"But, if something goes wrong on a Saturday, the anxiety creeps in."
Blues were sent to the foot of the table by Saturday's 2-1 defeat, coupled with victories for Burton Albion at fellow strugglers Bolton and Chris Coleman's Sunderland - the Wearsiders' first win at home in almost a year.
"That's where we are right now," said Cotterill. "We're not doing anything majorly wrong on the training ground. There is no problem. We just have got to work even harder.
"There is no other way out of the situation that was here before I came and is still here."
- 23 December - Sunderland (a)
- 26 December - Norwich (h)
- 30 December - Leeds United (h)
- 2 January - Reading (a)
City at risk of going down
Other than their seven seasons in the Premier League, Blues have largely been at the second-tier level over the past 22 years.
They had a huge relegation scare in the 2013-14 season under Lee Clark when only an injury-time header by Paul Caddis at Bolton kept them up on the final day.
But prior to Saturday's game, the lowest Blues had been in the Championship was 23rd, which was where they were when Gary Rowett arrived in late October 2014.
He then rallied them to finish 10th that season. But, so far, Cotterill has been unable to have the galvanising effect - and his side have only won twice and scored four goals in 12 games since he took charge.
"We've put enough attacking players out on the pitch since I've been here to have won more games than we have," he added. "But, when confidence is low and they get nervous on the ball, that's what you get.
"In the first half, we looked nervous again. In the second half once we'd equalised, having made an attacking substitution, I thought then there'd only be one winner.
"The tempo was up, the crowd were up again and that lifts the players, puts them on the front foot and stops them thinking about making mistakes.
"But set plays are a real cheap goal and we've given away two. They've cost us."