Aitor Karanka’s first season in charge at Birmingham City has been underwhelming so far.
It was never going to be an easy start for the Spaniard at the Blues but as we head towards the business end of the 2020/21 campaign, they’re just two points above the relegation zone.
Karanka’s men have won just once since early December but with five points in their last four games, they’ll be hoping they may be about to turn a corner.
The next few weeks look likely to be pivotal for the Blues boss and with that in mind, we’ve outlined the dilemmas facing the Spanish coach at this very moment.
Toothlessness in attack
Birmingham’s toothlessness has been a major problem for them this term. Only three teams, all in the bottom five, have scored fewer goals than Karanka’s side this season but the arrival of January signing Sam Cosgrove could be the solution.
The striker had an excellent record at Aberdeen, scoring 47 goals in 103 appearances, but it’s unlikely to be as easy as just plugging him in and watching the side burst into life.
The Blues have come out on the wrong side of close results so many times this year, so if Karanka can find a way to help his side rediscover their ruthlessness in front of goal, it may turn their fortunes around.
If it is time to move on from Lukas Jutkiewicz completely
The towering striker has been a fan favourite and an integral figure at St Andrew’s over the past seasons, with the 2018/19 and 2019/20 campaigns arguably the finest of his career.
But this season the 31-year-old has struggled to have the same sort of impact and though he still puts a real shift in, he has not been clinical enough – scoring just twice in 26 appearances.
With the arrival of Cosgrove and Scott Hogan in the squad, Karanka needs to decide how much of a role he wants the target man to play moving forward.
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Whether to persevere with Alen Halilovic
Snapping up Halilovic as a free agent looked an exciting bit of business by the Blues but the former Barcelona and AC Milan has struggled to find his feet at St Andrew’s.
There have been glimpses of what made the 24-year-old such a talked-about prospect but five appearances without a goal or an assist since October is not wholly convincing.
Injuries have not helped the Croatian midfielder cement a place in Karanka’s side but with a relegation battle on his hands, the Birmingham boss may be questioning whether continuing to persevere and patiently trying to bed Halilovic into the side is an approach he can afford to take.