Birmingham City have been down in the relegation scrap for most of the season, but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel and it’s all thanks to Lee Bowyer.
The Blues were heading down a slippery slope under Aitor Karanka, who was only appointed last summer but he was unable to turn the club’s fortunes around using his experience of promotion to the Premier League.
The Birmingham hierarchy called time on the Spaniard’s reign last month and in came Bowyer, a League Cup winner in 2011 with the club as a player and a man who everyone knew would be up for the fight.
Bowyer hasn’t disappointed since his arrival – Birmingham have won four games in six since he swapped Charlton Athletic for St Andrew’s and for the first time in a long while, fans are probably confident that Championship football is within reach next season with just a few more points needed.
The new man in charge will have learnt a few things though since taking over – let’s look at two things he will now know after his first month in charge.
Blues had the players all along to not be in a relegation scrap
Looking at some of the quality Birmingham have in their team, it’s a real surprise that they were in the relegation zone at any point in the season.
The likes of Kristian Pedersen and Maxime Colin would fit in at clubs chasing promotion and the fact their defence has been so leaky this season is a great source of mystery.
Since Bowyer has arrived though that’s all changed – four clean sheets in a row have been achieved and the only real blip they had was away at Watford, who have the attacking power to blow away most teams in the Championship.
It looks like the squad that has been assembled this season had the quality to get results all along – so were they just not playing for Karanka by the end of his tenure?
We may never find out, but there’s definitely a good nucleus of a team to build around for next season with the likes of Ivan Sunjic, Pedersen, Colin and perhaps Alen Halilovic if he sticks around.
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Further strengthening is required next season
Despite the good form since he arrived, Bowyer will still know that he needs to make improvements to the squad to make sure they’re at least in the top half of the Championship next season.
The Blues have finished no higher than 17th in the Championship in the last four seasons and that’s not good enough for a club who should probably be up their challenging for promotion on size alone, so investment from the owners will be needed and Bowyer will need help.
Birmingham have some good players that now have lots of Championship experience, but they do still lack that cutting edge at times and on the basis of the last six games, it’s going forward where improvements are needed rather than at the back.
A new creative midfielder and perhaps another winger will be top of Bowyer’s shopping list this summer, but there’s likely to be other positions as well that he will want to have a look at in what could be an exciting summer for Blues fans.