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View From The Town End: Birmingham City

Blues fan Gabriel Sutton gives us the lowdown on struggling Birmingham.

Birmingham City v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Many thanks to Birmingham City fan Gabriel Sutton of @FootbalLab_ for answering our questions about the Blues ahead of Tuesday night’s match.

The club seemed to be looking up in the summer with some big money signings - what’s gone wrong?

A lot of fans were optimistic in pre-season because everyone put our bad 2017 form solely down to Gianfranco Zola and presumed that Harry Redknapp would solve all our problems. I think we've seen this season that the issues are a little more complex. We've used too many players in a short space of time without a consistent vision.

The only way we've been able to pick up points has been 'battling' performances that you'd associate with us under Gary Rowett. The problem is that battling, alone, isn't a sustainable way of developing as a club because you're relying on luck, rather than quality use of the ball, to win games.

Realistically, can Steve Cotterill keep Birmingham up?

Realistically yes, we're only two points off safety with 21 games to go. I can understand the criticism of Cotterill due to our lack of attacking threat but on the plus side, we have had the eighth best defensive record in the league since he took over. I think we might just scrape enough 1-0 wins to get above the dotted line but there is little to suggest that if we stayed up, the same problems wouldn't be there again next season.

Who’s the key man in the team?

Jota was an exciting addition from Brentford and we're hoping to see more from him after he made an impact from the bench in the 1-0 win over Leeds. Jacques Maghoma scored the winner in that game and he's a wide man full of energy.

Birmingham City v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images

What are the main strengths of this side?

I believe there is no shortage of endeavour in this side and we saw that in abundance against Leeds. Maikel Kieftenbeld battled ferociously in midfield while Harlee Dean led by example as skipper in the absence of Michael Morrison.

How about weaknesses?

We're lacking a bit of confidence in the final third. On Boxing Day against Norwich, we had spells of pressure but our only test of their goalkeeper came from our defensive left-back, Jonathan Grounds. We need our big-money players to step up.

What do you make of Reading at the moment?

It's clearly not gone to plan for you this year. There is a suggestion that Jaap Stam is too wedded to his approach - although when I saw you against Cardiff, I actually thought you got the ball forward earlier than I expected.

When you have a strict leader at the helm as Stam is, it's helpful when results go well like last season because he clearly kept everyone in check. When results go badly though and confidence is dented, some players might respond better to a more positive voice.

As much as it would be refreshing to see Reading stick to their word on a three or four year plan, I could understand it if they felt change was needed.

How do you see the match going, and what will the score be?

I'll go with a 0-0 draw.