Birmingham’s winless run at St Andrew’s stretched to 17 matches after a 3-1 defeat to Leeds. It was a result that saw the Midlands club dragged into the Championship’s bottom three on the penultimate weekend of the season as the relegation scrap reaches boiling point.
Yeovil’s brave resistance ended on Friday at Brighton, while Barnsley’s defeat at Middlesbrough also condemned the Tykes to League One football next season, but Birmingham are one of five clubs – separated by three points – that could yet fill the third relegation slot.
The Blues are far from the only club with significant problems off the field, but with owner Carson Yeung jailed last month for money laundering, stability has plunged. Harmony in the dressing room has clearly deteriorated as well, following captain Paul Robinson’s comments slating some of the side’s current loanees days earlier.
“You don’t want anyone out there now not giving 100%. The players that go out there have got to wear that shirt with pride,” he said. “For me, they’ve let the gaffer down, they’ve let us players down, some of them, and they’ll just go back to their clubs and get on with it. That hurts the most because we’re football players and we’re brought up to love the game. Do these young kids love the game as much? I don’t think so.”
It was odd timing by Robinson, not least because he is serving a three-match ban after accumulating 15 yellow cards.
Leeds manager Brian McDermott will have had some sympathy for City boss Lee Clark after the game, having had to endure his own farcical dealings with owners that saw him initially sacked before the decision was overturned, not to mention the Yorkshire club’s precarious financial situation, which saw players having to defer wages in March.
On the plus side for Birmingham, despite being bottom of the relegation-threatened quintet their destiny remains in their own hands, having the luxury of an extra game at home to Wigan in midweek.
Admittedly it’s a tough ask bearing in mind their shocking form at St Andrew’s, but there’s a possibility that even one point from the remaining two fixtures may be enough as the Blues’ goal difference is vastly superior to that of Doncaster in 21st spot, and Donny face a daunting trip to Leicester on the final day of the season.
Although the Foxes sealed promotion weeks ago and confirmed the title in midweek, Nigel Pearson’s side sit on 99 points and will be desperate to clinch the century.
This time last week Blackpool were the team facing the drop but four points from a possible six since then has meant the Tangerines are now at the top of the quintet in 18th, emphasising just how close the relegation battle has become. Barry Ferguson’s side will guarantee safety with a draw against Charlton.
The Addicks are a point behind but have the opportunity to cross the finishing line on Tuesday evening when they take on possibly the most erratic side in the division in Watford. The Hornets are destined for just a mid-table finish despite having a goal difference of +15, only bettered by the top three.
Wigan will seal a spot in the play-offs should they beat Birmingham on Tuesday evening, leaving Reading and Brighton to contest the final slot. The Royals have a one-point advantage but arguably a tougher fixture at home to Burnley, while the Seagulls travel to Nottingham Forest, who slipped out of the reckoning on Saturday.
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