Steve Cotterill: Birmingham City 'in a tough situation', says Blues manager

Steve Cotterill was his customary animated self during the 90 minutes at Craven Cottage, giving advice here to midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld
Steve Cotterill was his customary animated self during Saturday's game with Fulham at Craven Cottage

Birmingham City manager Steve Cotterill says his team are in a real battle as they bid to climb away from relegation trouble in the Championship.

The Blues remain in 22nd place in the table, inside the drop zone on goal difference, following Saturday's 1-0 defeat by Fulham at Craven Cottage.

"It's a tough situation at the moment," Cotterill told BBC WM after his side's fifth defeat in seven games.

"It's tough for everyone connected with the club right now."

Birmingham were without half a dozen players, mostly through injury, and they also missed a penalty.

Jeremie Boga's 75th-minute spot-kick went over the bar to leave Cotterill's side with just eight points in the 11 matches since he took charge.

"It's a tough one to take," said Cotterill. "We were in the ascendancy. Who knows what happens if that one goes in. You just hope that breaks a little hoodoo for you."

Going into their next two key matches, Saturday's home game against 19th-placed QPR, followed by the trip to Chris Coleman's 23rd-placed Sunderland, Blues are in the relegation zone and level on points with the side immediately above them, Bolton Wanderers, but four adrift of Barnsley in 20th.

Blues by numbers

  • Birmingham City have scored just 10 goals in 21 Championship games this season - the lowest tally in the entire EFL.
  • Since Cotterill took charge at St Andrew's, they have scored just three times in 11 games.
  • Blues' away record this season is also the worst in the EFL - just two points from 11 matches.
  • Blues' away form is their worst since the 1978-79 relegation season when they picked up just four points on their travels out of a possible 63, in a 42-game top flight campaign.

Cotterill's Blues injury list

Already without the suspended Harlee Dean, sent off in the 1-0 home defeat by leaders Wolves on 4 December, Cotterill was further hampered by the loss of defender Marc Roberts and striker Che Adams with hamstring injuries.

That comes on top of his more long-term absentees, Isaac Vassell (knee), Maxime Colin (hamstring) and Carl Jenkinson (shoulder).

But, having been forced to bring in young defenders Josh Dacres-Cogley, for his first start of the season, and on-loan Arsenal full-back Cohen Bramall, Cotterill was pleased with how both performed.

"The two lads did well, especially considering that we only had a couple of days to work with them," he said. "We were stretched by injuries, but we still could have got something."

Having performed his post-match media duties at Craven Cottage, Cotterill then had a few more unexpected questions to answer when he was addressed by some disappointed away fans as he and his team prepared to board the team bus in London SW6.

But Cotterill has received praise for the way he calmed the situation. He simply led the seven-strong group of supporters across the road and spoke passionately with them as he explained the difficulties he has had to work under inheriting three previous managers' player purchases.


BBC WM's Richard Wilford:

Steve Cotterill, coach Lee Carsley and several senior Birmingham players have to emerge with credit for engaging with understandably frustrated supporters at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

It would have been easy to put their heads down and jog onto the coach after another unproductive away day. That is now two points from 11 Championship trips this season.

But, away from the cameras, Cotterill took a group of fans to one side, and they clearly appreciated his honesty and willingness to explain the battles he faces to turn the club around after 12 months of upheaval and confusion.

From what those supporters said afterwards the message was no different to the one the Blues manager has been giving to local media for some weeks, but it was given face to face.

Much has already been done off the field to increase togetherness within a squad assembled under several different managers, two different ownership groups and left unbalanced by some puzzling business during this summer's transfer window.

The frustration of Blues supporters is understandable and in large parts justified. They have to hope that rock bottom has now been reached.

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