Date: 20th January 2017 at 9:41am
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Seven games without a win is the worst start of any Birmingham City manager since 1889. Gianfranco Zola takes his team to Blackburn Rovers tomorrow looking for his first taste of victory at the eighth attempt.

For all the appreciative glances at what he is trying to do with his squad, he must produce results quickly. Listening to his interviews and post-match press conferences, he carries the aura of a man who is very confident in what he is doing. He inherited a team of limited ability signed by Gary Rowett who drilled an organised, counter attacking ethos into them over the two years he was in charge. Coming away from that mentality is difficult, as recent results have indicated. But Zola has had a productive transfer window bringing in players who like to play with a swagger and a creative edge, once their settling in period has passed, they should have a huge impact during the remainder of the season.

Inevitably, the expectation is to beat Blackburn. You take a look at the league table and cross your fingers that Zola`s first win is around the corner. There is no such thing as an easy game in the Championship, though, and Blues will arrive at Ewood Park to find a Rovers side well drilled under Owen Coyle.

For once, it will be difficult to predict the starting line-up. Craig Gardner is, surely, a shoo-in to start the game and perhaps another one of the new faces will also get the nod. Yet while I hate the term ‘must win`, this encounter is just that. Another defeat would rankle many in the terraces and the pressure would start to mount on Zola, rightly or wrongly.

The Italian was a hairs breadth away from promotion with Watford – a narrow play-off final defeat ending their hopes. At West Ham, Zola took over Alan Curbishley`s team and led them to a ninth place finish and was renowned for promoting youth products into the team. The struggles began when the board, namely Mr. Gold and Mr. Sullivan, negotiated the sales of several players behind Zola`s back. That caused friction which rubbed off on the team. So I don`t buy the ‘Zola has never achieved anything as a manager` nonsense – as Rowett and Lee Clark were awash with managerial honours. He may have struggled in Qatar, but many others would.

Yes, journalists may be right about Zola. He may not be the man to take this club to the next level but, for goodness sake, let`s give him a fair crack of the whip.

As always, Keep Right On!

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