Back To The Future

20 Mar 2024 | 2 comments

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Blues went into the current international break above the relegation zone, but only on goal difference. Only 5 points separate 8 clubs, two of which will be joining Rotherham in dropping into League One in early May. The next 8 games promise to be a relegation shoot-out between those 8 clubs.

The current form table of those 8 teams makes grim reading for Blues fans. Blues are comfortably at the bottom of it, and if this form continues they will be one of the teams making the drop.

Team P Pts
Sheffield W 6 12
QPR 6 11
Millwall 6 10
Stoke 6 6
Blackburn 6 5
Huddersfield 6 5
Plymouth 6 4
Birmingham 6 1

However, the display against Watford was much improved compared to the previous game against Middlesbrough. And if Blues can replicate that in the remaining 8 games they should, at least, give themselves a fighting chance of surviving.

In the hope of improving the situation even more, the club has now appointed ex-manager Gary Rowett to take over in an interim role whilst Tony Mowbray continues his recovery from illness. We obviously don’t know for sure when Mowbray will return, although the club has indicated that he will be back for pre-season. But it seems clear that the current interim arrangement with Mark Venus in charge wasn’t working, and it feels unfair to put undue pressure on Mowbray to return whilst he is unwell. So yesterday’s announcement about Rowett, whilst unusual, is probably a good arrangement all round.

One question is what this is likely to mean in terms of playing style?

Looking at this season so far, and splitting it between when John Eustace was in charge with a more defensive approach and the more open style we have played since, we can see that we were more effective in the defensive style

  Points Per Game Goals Per Game Goals Against Per Game
Eustace 1.64 1.36 1.00
Post-Eustace 0.78 1.00 1.78

The points return, goals for and goals against per game were all better. So it would be no surprise to see us adopt a ‘tighter’ style for the rest of the season under Rowett.

As far as the run-in is concerned, Blues fixtures are not noticeably more difficult than several of the others in contention for relegation. The table below lists the remaining fixtures for the 8 teams involved. The colour coding shows future opponents as red for those involved in the battle for automatic promotion; amber for everyone involved in the play-off chase; white for those with pretty much nothing left to play for; light green for everyone involved in the relegation struggle; and dark green for Rotherham who, most would probably agree, are virtually relegated already.

Although Blues have to play 4 play-off contenders, all of these games are at home with Cardiff barely in contention anyway and who may not be by the time that fixture comes round. Blues also have an away game at Rotherham who are clearly the worst team in the league. Blackburn’s run-in is the most tricky with them having to play all 4 automatic promotion contenders.

So it’s “Back to the Future” with Gary Rowett and, hopefully, Blues giving it a real go to retain their Championship status.

 

Neil Cottrell

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2 Comments

  1. Bill

    Under the circumstances appointing Gary Rowett and Paul Robinson is a good move.

    The results whilst Mark Venus was at the helm were unexpectedly disappointing and hopefully the new management team can rekindle some momentum that has been lost since Tony Mowbray was forced through illness to step aside.

    Hopefully Tony will come back at the end of the season and return to full health. To that end I’m sure all Blues fans wish him a speedy recovery. In the meantime good luck to Gary and Robbo.

    KRO

  2. Ed Truman

    A very interesting analysis from Neil. I sincerely hope someone at the club has been doing something similar as the season has progressed? I’m also pleased to see Gary’s return. I was sorry to see him leave in the first place all those years ago, and in circumstances that were never fully explained. He at least gives us a chance of surviving now. I wish him well.

    But, honestly, what an unholy mess. You couldn’t make it up. Puts a whole new spin on “Manager of the Month”. The decision to appoint Rowett smacks of desperation by an executive leadership that has lost control of the situation. A season which promised so much, and on many other fronts has actually delivered, has been undermined by a series of highly questionable decisions regarding the management of the mens first team. Decisions which have put us in the perilous position we now face. If Mr Wagner is half the successful businessman he is made out to be, I can’t believe he is happy with what has been allowed to happen? It is embarrassing and he must be seething. Whatever the outcome from here on in, I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this sorry matter.

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