Pundit David Prutton believes Championship side Birmingham City should be aiming for at least a finish in the top 10 this season, speaking on the Sky Sports EFL Podcast.
The Blues have spent the vast majority of the last five years fighting in the bottom half of the second tier, escaping relegation narrowly multiple times and nearly being demoted even before that, only being saved by a last-minute equaliser during the 2013/14 campaign to escape League One football.
Considering they were in the Premier League just over a decade ago, this has been a disappointing decline for the West Midlands side who have changed their manager multiple times in recent years with little success, but seemed to have found a potential long-term boss in Lee Bowyer.
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Despite losing heavily in their final two league games of the 2020/21 season as he took a chance on some of the club’s younger players, he started well at the start of his spell at St Andrew’s and dragged the Blues away from relegation danger, before beginning 2021/22 in a promising fashion as they lost just one of their opening six league games.
After this sixth game, they sat fourth in the Championship, but have struggled since having just won one point from a possible 15 and are now in 16th place, an all too familiar position for Bowyer’s men.
Despite this poor run of form, Sky Sports pundit David Prutton believes a top-ten finish should be the minimum expectation this season.
He said (quotes via Birmingham Live): “If you look at the team, especially the team that played against Forest, it’s been a factor in Birmingham as we’ve look at them over the last season or so, and talking about how well Lee did to come and steady the ship and get them away from danger… that is a very, very workable Championship team that should looking at least at the top 10.
“Roberts, Dean and Pedersen at the back, Maxime Colin, Ryan Woods, Sunjic, Bela, going forward with Tahith Chong, Jutkiewicz and Scott Hogan – that team should absolutely looking at least the top half.
“And Deeney. That kind of talismanic presence that he’s going to be. You get the feeling with Troy and the stage that he’s at in his career, it’s as much about the character in and around match days and around the place that’s going to help drag the standards up to what he wants them to be.
It’s a tricky one – because the additions of Tahith Chong and Troy Deeney should be helping Birmingham City to push themselves up the Championship table.
The former is looking like a shrewd loan acquisition as a talented young player – and the latter continues to be a reliable source of goals – even scoring seven times in 19 appearances when he wasn’t playing regularly for Watford last season.
But at the same time, the Blues have been stuck in the lower end of the table for the last couple of years and looked like they may have been on their way down before Lee Bowyer come in, so if they can ensure they aren’t flirting with the prospect of relegation throughout this season and finish somewhere near the top half, this is something many fans would take.
This could depend on whether they are able to get themselves out of the rut they are currently in though, because this winless run must have been a real blow to their confidence and it could take something special to turn their fortunes around.
Luckily, they have the calibre of players to drag themselves up the table, but a finish of around 12th would be acceptable for a team that have been mediocre at best over the past five years.