Birmingham City find themselves deep within the Championship relegation scrap, but fans will certainly take inspiration from Lee Bowyer’s first two games in charge.
The Blues have spent much of the calendar year flirting with the relegation places, and a run of three wins in 14 games in 2021 led to Aitor Karanka’s sacking and the rather swift appointment of former Charlton boss Lee Bowyer.
The situation looked increasingly bleak under Karanka.
Birmingham had lost their identity and performances had dropped below the club’s expected standard. A change was imminent and the club reacted decisively after another drab showing against Bristol City
It was a managerial appointment that raised a few eyebrows in the football world, given the Addicks’ play-off charge and the fact that Birmingham are on the brink of dropping down to the second tier themselves. However, if the Blues do survive, Bowyer will have all summer to craft as best of a squad as he possibly can.
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Birmingham remain three points from safety, but Rotherham United in 22nd place still possess four games in hand. The Blues still have to travel to South Yorkshire to play their relegation-threatened counterparts, in a fixture that could prove to be a pivotal six-pointer in April.
In Bowyer’s first two games as Blues boss, he has come against two of the top six, beating Reading at home 2-1, before a 3-0 loss at Watford. But despite the scoreline in Hertfordshire, for large parts of the game, there were encouraging signs for the 44-year-old.
Birmingham travelled with more of a game-plan than fans had come to expect under Karanka and created several chances against the division’s most in-form side.
The first tweak that Bowyer has implemented is a return to playing with two centralised strikers.
Lukas Jutkiewicz and Scott Hogan have started together in both games under Bowyer thus far and will be key figures in what remains of this season.
Jutkiewicz has a mere three goals to his name this season in what has been a comparatively poor season for the 31-year-old, but the arrival of the new manager has seemingly given him the kick he needs.
In the eight games that remain, Birmingham face three clubs chasing promotion, three clubs threatened by relegation, and as it currently stands, two teams with not much to play for, in what seems to be a fairly neutral run-in. The Millers on the other hand, still have 12 games to play and after the international break, they do not have a free midweek until the end of the season.
Bowyer has certainly been thrown in at the deep end with the Blues, but it is a challenge that his Birmingham are already stepping up for, as far as performances are concerned.