Steve Cotterill: Birmingham City sack manager after five league defeats in a row

Steve Cotterill
Steve Cotterill was appointed Birmingham City manager in September

Birmingham City have sacked manager Steve Cotterill following five straight Championship defeats.

Blues lost 2-1 at Nottingham Forest on Saturday to remain two points adrift of safety in 22nd with 11 games remaining.

Former Bristol City boss Cotterill, who was appointed manager in September after Harry Redknapp's dismissal, won just six league games out of 24.

Blues are looking for a fifth manager in 16 months since the shock sacking of Gary Rowett in December 2016.

In a statement, Birmingham said the decision had been "taken with great regret and sadness".

"The board would like to place on record their sincere thanks to Steve, not only for his significant contribution at the conclusion of last season for which we will remain grateful, but also for his genuine efforts, contribution and hard work during his tenure in this 2017-18 campaign," the statement added.

"Steve has conducted himself professionally on behalf of the club at all times, his work ethic and honesty are a credit to him and there is a genuine sadness at this decision.

"However, the board feel that a change in management at this stage is in the best interests of the football club."

Six of Cotterill's backroom team have also had their contracts terminated - first-team coaches Paul Groves and Paul Williams, goalkeeper coach Kevin Hitchcock, director of football Jeff Vetere, David Alvarez (head of sports science and medical) and Albert Altarriba-Bartes (first-team strength and conditioning.

Speculation had surrounded Cotterill's future at St Andrew's, after former Swansea City, Leeds United and Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk having been linked with the job.

Cotterill, who this week met with Hong Kong-based chairman Zhao Wenqing, admitted his frustration about the rumours after the defeat at the City Ground.

"If that's been going on behind my back, it's best for them to get on with it," he told BBC WM 95.6.

"What I've learned is you can't judge other people by your own standards," he added. "I've stayed professional throughout and worked extremely hard in the time I've been at this football club."

Birmingham, the lowest scorers in the Championship this season with 23 goals from 35 games, are next in action on Tuesday when they are at home to seventh-placed Middlesbrough.

Matty Cash scores Nottingham Forest's second goal against Birmingham City
Birmingham City's fifth straight Championship defeat came at Nottingham Forest

Analysis

BBC WM's Richard Wilford

"While few Birmingham City fans would dispute that it was time for change, Steve Cotterill's spell at St Andrew's should not be portrayed in an entirely negative light. While his style of play was never easy on the eye, he would argue that the squad he inherited was ill-suited to a more open system.

"He repeatedly insisted that he could not field two strikers due to the balance of the midfielders available to him. This intransigence, necessary or not, did little to endear him to the fans.

"It is only fair to note that Cotterill inherited a group that were undercooked after a less than testing pre-season - it's surely no coincidence that so many games were lost after hamstring injuries to key players prior to Christmas.

"He also ended the January transfer window empty-handed and frustrated after being confident of landing the help that was desperately needed to balance the squad.

"By the end of January, Blues had pulled four points clear of the relegation places following a haul of 13 points from six games. But a lifeless performance and defeat at rivals Aston Villa triggered a five-match losing streak that further soured his relationship with the club's supporters, and the hostile atmosphere at his final home game at the end of February probably proved to be the breaking point for the boardroom.

"After the defeat at Forest in his final game Cotterill clearly expected to be gone within hours. He was aware of the rumours circulating about the likely arrival of Garry Monk but spoke with clarity about maintaining his professionalism. The change by then was inevitable."

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