Sky Sports EFL pundit Andy Hinchcliffe has suggested that he believes Birmingham City could be the team that ends up dropping down to League One due to their difficult fixture list and that Rotherham could escape.
The Blues have already shown some signs of progress since Bowyer took over as manager and they secured a crucial 2-1 win against Reading in his first game in charge.
That showed they have the ability now to pick up results against the teams fighting it out towards the top end of the division. They will need to do that again with games remaining against Swansea City, Brentford and Cardiff City.
Bowyer’s side are also going to have to ensure that they pick up points against the teams in and around them in the table with them still having to play Rotherham, Derby County and Nottingham Forest.
That game against Rotherham could well prove to be vital with the Millers having games in hand on the Blues, meaning they could not really afford to lose that one in particular.
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Speaking on Sky Sports’ latest EFL Podcast, Hinchcliffe suggested that the Blues’ fixture could prove to be the thing that ultimately relegates them down to League One. While he also revealed he thinks Bowyer deserves credit for taking the job knowing how difficult it was going to be to keep them in the Championship.
He said: “I’m looking at Birmingham, they’ve got Swansea, Brentford and Cardiff to play and they’ve also got Rotherham, Forest and Derby to play Birmingham. So even though Lee Bowyer’s gone in there and there’s a bit more aggression, a bit more hunger and a bit more desire.
“I still think with the games that they’ve got it’s still going to be very tricky. They’re playing teams that are looking maybe to finish in the play-offs or go up and teams that are in or around them as well.
“So that’s not a good combination at this stage at this stage in the season. So, Lee Bowyer credit to him of course former Birmingham player for taking that job on. He didn’t go there thinking I’m taking over a guaranteed Championship team next season.
“They have got a lot of work to do and he’s got to show what a quality coach he is to keep Birmingham up, but I think with Rotherham’s games in hand. Surely Rotherham have got to win at least one of those and if they do it’s up for grabs.
But I do think Birmingham are the team at risk.”
You can understand why Hinchcliffe is not confident over the Blues’ survival prospects, but as he acknowledged there is certainly a lot more fight about them since Bowyer took over from Aitor Karanka. There might well though be a case that a change was made a little too late and given the former Birmingham midfielder a lot to do with their fixture list to come.
Birmingham are able to take points against some of the teams around them in the run-in, especially against Rotherham and it could all come down to how they perform in those matches. Under Bowyer, you would expect them to handle the pressure of such matches, whereas under Karanka you would perhaps not have had that level of faith in them to deal with pressure.
It will likely come down to what Rotherham do with their games in hand and as Hinchcliffe suggests they should win at least one of those matches which would really place the pressure on the Blues. It is going to be a very nervy ending to the campaign at St Andrews for sure but at least they seem to have the right man in charge now.