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Birmingham City avoided a third defeat in eight days after Lukas Jutkiewicz bundled home Che Adams’ cross in the 89th minute at the Cardiff City stadium this afternoon.
In truth, Blues dodged a bullet as they were second best for the majority of this encounter. The late equalsier will undoubtedly paper over the cracks and buy Gianfranco Zola more time.
Despite coming under intense scrutiny after Blues’ defeat against Wigan at St. Andrews on Tuesday night, Zola inexplicably kept his job and led the side into this game under mounting pressure.
As soon as Joe Ralls put Cardiff ahead from the penalty spot on 53 minutes after Jonathan Grounds had brought down Sean Morrison, there seemed to be no way back for Blues. Jutkiewicz has more than likely saved his managers job for the time being at least.
Zola still believes he has something to offer the club but this latest inept display is another step towards danger despite coming away with a share of the spoils. Only six points now separate Blues from the bottom three.
Blues toiled, huffed and puffed, but they look like a side who are massively uncomfortable in what they’re being asked to do. From the hapless defending in which Blues look vulnerable to concending a goal every time the opposition mount an attack, to the toothless attacking which has produced just 12 goals in 16 Championship games and the second worst goal difference in the league under Zola’s watch.
At the Cardiff City Stadium this afternoon, Blues were laboured, clueless and lost. Zola gave off a similar aura as he stood with his arms folded in his technical area. To put it simply, he’s got away with it today.
Kerim Frei, who must be wondering why he bothered signing for the club, gave Blues a bit of life when he came on for David Davis in the 75th minute. The Turkish international gave Cardiff defenders something to think about with his directness. The same can be said about Che Adams who ran his socks off when he was eventually hauled on. His assist was a just reward for his efforts.
While the players need to take some of the responsibility for the horrendous form, they also need guidance. Zola appeared to have no answers and no dynamic solution to get his team back into the game. He got lucky with this one.
What the players need now more than ever is a new leader. Zola has tried – he’s used five different formations, countless different personnel and has tried various approaches – and we will all send him away with our best wishes. However, he is not the right man to occupy the Wast Hills office.
A season that promised so much is now solely about survival – and a new manager should be handed the reigns before Newcastle rock up next weekend.
Don’t hold your breath though.
Late Jutkiewicz equaliser papers over gaping cracks
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