Date: 6th March 2017 at 2:41pm
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Craig Gardner is certainly hopeful that next season will be a positive one for Blues under the stewardship of Gianfranco Zola. The midfielder claims that the team are on the right track. Friday`s 3-1 defeat to Leeds at St. Andrews left a strange feeling in the air. The final whistle was greeted with applause for a team who had entertained their fans but ended up pointless once again.

The three goals conceded were too simplistic – the sort of goals that a Championship team shouldn`t be giving away on a regular basis. And the top it all off, the chances Blues missed were ten-a-penny. I stand by the fact that if Blues had a natural poacher in the box, someone to bury the half chances (Kevin Phillips style) we would tear some teams apart. But we also need to invest heavily in the defence if we are to stand any chance whatsoever next season.

I have given Zola plenty of stick recently and now it is time for me to cut him some slack. After finally stumbling upon a formation that suits the players, he is being let down by defensive errors. Zola does not tell Ryan Shotton to let the ball bounce and give Chris Wood a chance of lobbing the ‘keeper. Zola does not instruct Josh Dacres-Cogley to fall over as danger looms. And Zola does not order Chieck Keita to lose the ball then run 30 yards chasing it back, leaving his position vacated.

Blues are losing games due to individual mistakes, not because they are fundamentally not good enough. The football played in between both boxes is slick, quick and exciting. But instead of white lines marking the penalty area, it`s as if an almighty wall has been built in the opposition area and a shed load of banana skins have been placed in our own.

After the Wolves game, I stated on this very website that Blues have to win one of their two forthcoming home games. Leeds was lost so Wigan, for me, is a must win. Blues have slipped down to 17th but the narrowest of margins separate them from keeping mid-table company. Another defeat could see us taking more than just a quick nervous glance over our shoulder, though.

For what it`s worth, I would stick with a similar system against Wigan tonight. Leeds did a job on Blues – they sat back and waited for their chances and when they had to defend, they did it very well. Wigan aren`t as good as Leeds so maybe, just maybe, Blues will have a bit more fortune.

As always, Keep Right On!

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