Date: 26th February 2018 at 3:35pm
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‘I’ve been hit on the head enough recently’ was Steve Cotterill’s response to the scathing criticism thrown his way.

Understandably, the majority of Blues fans have lost patience with the 53 year-old. His negative tactics, baffling interviews and morale sapping finger pointing have worn very thin as, evidently, has his role.

His position has become untenable.

And while the search may be on for the club’s fifth manager in 15 months, you’d be a fool to believe that the man occupying the dugout is the only problem.

The tenure of this current hierarchy has been littered with errors and shoddy decision making. With a new boss at the helm, the club will not suddenly be run to perfection.

The playing squad was in desperate need of strengthening in January so Cotterill has every right to feel aggrieved about that. He could be in and out of his job without having the luxury of signing a single player.

Financial Fair Play regulations scuppered any plans the club had to improve their hand. I’m not one to believe any old tittle tattle but my suspicion is that the owners weren’t aware that FFP existed – or at the very least didn’t realise how close they were to the edge of the plank.

During Cotterill’s unveiling in October, club director Xuandong Ren spoke of the intention to back the new gaffer with funds. That didn’t pan out.

Staunch Cotterill critics will point to his treatment of Jota, a player decorated in quality at this level. He has been an peripheral figure, seemingly having the belief and confidence drained out of him.

Negative tactics have been a stick to beat Cotterill with and on that front, it is increasingly difficult to fight his corner.

The earlier part of his reign saw players being shoehorned into unfamiliar positions – adopting Sam Gallagher in a wide berth still remains a subject of ridicule.

Recently, it appeared that the corner had been turned after four wins in six presented Blues with a five point gap between themselves and the bottom three.

In hindsight, at least three of the wins were circumstantial. Sheffield Wednesday gifted three goals and were reduced to nine men while Sunderland and Reading were powder puff opposition.

After a derby day defeat at Aston Villa earlier this month, the players should have been seething, determined to bounce back. Cotterill should have been flying the flag for his troops – ‘we will be back’. Instead, defeats to Millwall and Brentford (a 5-0 drubbing) were followed by excuses of a post Villa hangover as the boss pointed to the inexperience of young players ‘finding the game too big’ – despite only fielding two players under the age of 25.

The final straw for many came with his team selection – and excuses for another abject display – for Saturday’s six pointer against Barnsley at St. Andrews. On paper, the team appeared to be one with attacking intent but in reality was anything but.

A striker out wide, a winger in the middle and, once again , a lone striker feeding off scraps. An inevitable 2-0 defeat. What was his reasoning? ‘The players are scared to death to play at home’. Ah, it’s the fans fault, then.

Cotterill is very much a man without a plan B. At Villa Park, the game was there for the taking with but for a tad more adventure. The changes he eventually made were too late in the day and with the game already out of reach. However, that is just one game. You could list several others where the lack of ambition from the dugout has been detrimental to Blues’ chances.

And there lies Cotterill’s limitations as a Championship level manager. Not proactive. And only reactive once the ladder has been pulled up.

Whoever the new man is, assuming the club get a deal over the line, will be entering a difficult situation. Inheriting a squad devoid of confidence and lacking quality with no means to improve it until at least May, by which point the club could have dropped into the third tier.

Follow me on Twitter @robw986.

 
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