Date: 21st January 2018 at 8:08pm
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When Steve Cotterill took the reigns at Birmingham City back in October, many fans were split over his appointment. 18 games down the line, that stance remains the same.

Undoubtedly, Cotterill inherited a mess. The squad was imbalanced, confidence was low and the club was on a rapid downward spiral. But the biggest hurdle for the manager to overcome was the division in the dressing room.

After Harry Redknapp’s deadline day spending spree, the chasm in wages between the new players and the existing players was huge.

From the off, Cotterill set about healing the rifts. Fast forward to the present day, the cracks seem smaller. Blues may still be in the bottom three but the gap is closing and performances have improved.

Since Cotterill took the hot seat, Blues’ performances have ranged from outstanding to appalling. Wins against Cardiff, Leeds and Reading showed the better side of the team whereas losses to Norwich, Fulham, QPR and Barnsley showed the ugly side.

Yet it’s evident that the team is improving.

Cotterill has made questionable decisions. His reliance on Sam Gallagher as a wide player was used as a stick to beat him with and the lack of game time for record signing Jota remains a talking point. But it’s clear the players are playing for him.

At the time of writing, Blues have lost only once in their last five matches which has increased the belief that the team can survive once again.

Cotterill has heavily backed the grafters to conjure up points in a rigid and disciplined shape similar to Gary Rowett’s successful system. The likes of Jacques Maghoma, Maikel Kieftenbeld, David Davis and Jonathan Grounds have all fought off competition from arguably more technically gifted colleagues to play pivotal roles in Cotterill’s set-up.

Of course, this could all begin to go south again and there’s no disputing the importance of the next league game – a home clash with fellow strugglers Sunderland.

Cotterill is managing under difficult circumstances. The support from above is virtually non existent and he hasn’t had the luxury of signing a single player yet as the club battle against FFP regulations.

Yet he seems to be getting a tune out of the players at his disposal. Isaac Vassell’s long term injury is a massive loss and Che Adams’ persistent trips to the medical room have been a burden – another headache for the boss. But Sam Gallagher has stepped up with five goals in his last seven appearances (Cotterill seems to accept that he is very much a centre forward at last) and minimised the impact of the injuries.

Cotterill is very animated on the touchline and shows his passion. He is a very hands on manager and, with the help of his Assistant Lee Carsley, the players don’t get a moments peace.

I have no great affection for Cotterill but I am confident of his ability to keep Blues in the Championship. Many of his critics will claim that the good performances are sheer coincidence but I’ll write that off as nonsense.

The players look fitter, sharper, more organised and carry more of an attacking threat. The biggest improvement, though, has been in effort levels. Keep all those attributes in the bag and Blues will be halfway there.

The biggest test of his reign will be the Sunderland game. Blues have performed well against teams in the higher echelons of the league but let’s see if they can replicate it in a match they will be favourites to win in front of an expectant crowd.

 

10 Replies to “The Steve Cotterill report”

  • Steve Cotterill needn’t take it personal Rob , bluenoses tank any manager that they think is doing things wrong , even Gary Rowett took a bit of stick when he first came , for even he wasn’t that good then , He is a better manager know though , so will Cotterill be … but what I am seeing is an improvement in areas that we have not seen for a long time, which is good , except for goals that is , which must be sorted quick , then I feel we will be a capable side , get it in there blues …

  • I agree David. I read so many nonsensical comments saying he’s ‘tactically inept’ (a lazy criticism overused by fans) yet he is the one overseeing an improvement in performances.

  • I was and remain a critic of SC, for reasons none of which I deem nonsensical. However, and I do say this in humility Rob, in the spirit of a healthy debate, your main argument in support of SC is totally illogical. ‘Imbalanced squad, low confidence, rapid downward spiral, a division in dressing room over wages, and improved performances’. Firstly, I accept SC inherited problems, but not as dramatic as you present. We had showed enough in games to be optimistic about fortunes changing through HR, something you also believed and have commented on previously; this in spite of being hit with injuries to our main players, and new players to integrate. So I don?t see the improved performances under SC you raise. Unless you are referring to points achieved? If so, in my defense, I maintain a belief in Blues would have attained more points after 28 games with HR still in place and possibly a mid-table position. ( merely guesswork I accept) The imbalanced squad charge, suggests we had players playing out of position which is not the case; so no argument to be made there. The ?rapid downward spiral? you verse under HR after 8 games is exactly the same table position as the so called current ?improvement? under SC, who has had another 20 games to get it right and failed. The wage discrepancy is common of life in a supply and demand culture, and hasn?t changed for the vast majority of our squad anyway, so another moot point. Unless you expect Man U players to sulk now because of Sanchez?s deal? You maintain the gap at the bottom of the table is getting better, but you could also argue it has actually got worse. When SC took over we were 2 points behind 21st position, we are now 1 point adrift. However, we were also 2 points above 24th spot; we are now on equal points. And this after another 20 games for SC to get it right, so I for one don?t see the improvement you speak off. I certainly don?t view the ?good performances as coincidental? either; I see them as mirroring the other teams at the bottom, therefore ?irrelevant? unless they actually get us out of the relegation zone. For all these reasons I still remain a critic of SC. Will he save us from the drop? How long is a piece of string? Should a squad of this ability be in a relegation battle after 28 games? A definite ?no?.

  • Constructive criticism hopefully-SC tactics. Last 20 minutes at Preston when Hugill off,their winger Gallagher a passenger and Blues dominating.Jota and Adams would have severely dented Preston?s hope of a point.That I think is what a fair number of fans were getting at regarding Cotterill.

  • I have just realised it is worse than my lengthy post highlights because I forgot the 3 games LC picked the team. When SC first sat in the dugout we were 1 point behind 21st spot in 22nd place but 6 points above 24th. So we have actually gone backwards under his tenure in terms of league position and point?s advantage from those teams below us.

  • I think we have looked a much better team since Morrison was dropped and Harlee Dean was made captain. Still not convinced with Roberts and would like to see Jenkinson there. The team is creating chances and mixing it up well even against teams of the calibre of Derby. The front 4 are playing extremely well but Gallagher can’t do it alone. We need more goals from midfield. Cotterill needs to be braver with his substitutions. It was 2 points dropped versus Preston. If Adams and Jota had been brought on with 20 minutes to go we could’ve won the game.

  • Miami thanks. I agree with you regarding negative tactics. Many believe he doesn’t have the ability to play an attacking style of football with the players at his disposal. Jota and boga playing in deep positions cited as chief examples. Only time will tell whether the criticism is justified or not?

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