Championship Analysis – Blackpool in double figures after win over Birmingham

Blackpool remained well adrift at the bottom of the Championship table on Saturday evening but their win over Birmingham – still only their second of the season – at least gave them the merest psychological boost of reaching double figures. In fairness, the side are also now three games unbeaten.

It was the Tangerines’ first victory since the arrival of Lee Clark, who of course was sacked by the Midlands side in mid-October. Both Clark and opposite number Gary Rowett, who found himself on the losing side for the first time since arriving at Birmingham, admitted the events were no coincidence.

“I thought my team stuck to the game plan terrifically well,” said Clark. “But we’re not getting over-excited, we’ve still got a big job on our hands and we’ll keep progressing.”

Rowett responded: “There’s a lot of them playing against their old manager and I think some of them expended a lot of nervous energy in getting up for the game and I don’t think that helped them.”

Ahead of Blackpool it was a poor day for their immediate rivals, with none of the eight teams above them at the start of play winning. Wigan and Brighton remain in the bottom three, still a world away from their battles at the opposite end of the table last season. Wigan’s new addition Malky MacKay has room for manoeuvre but Brighton’s Sami Hyypia is under severe pressure after his team were swept aside within the space of 20 minutes by Derby.

“I think I can turn it around. If I don’t think I can turn it around then I will walk away,” were the less then convincing words of Hyypia after the match. “I will still be here and taking training on Monday. Only if I am told from elsewhere will I not be taking training, but that is a matter that is out of my control.”

Leeds were hammered 4-1 by second-placed Ipswich but it is off-the-field events that are dominating the headlines at Elland Road once again after owner Massimo Cellino was requested to resign by the FA during the week after it received documents from an Italian court that had found Cellino guilty of tax evasion.

Manager Neil Redfearn unsurprisingly played a straight bat, telling BBC Radio Leeds: “Everything he’s done is in the best interests of the club. Hand on heart, I honestly believe it. We’re fortunate to have an owner who’s football daft and who loves the club. He’s spoken about it briefly but he doesn’t seem too concerned, which is good. I’ve mainly just been talking to him about the side and how we can make that better.”

Brentford’s five consecutive winning run ended on Saturday at Huddersfield but otherwise it was a fine weekend for the other teams challenging for promotion, with Bournemouth coming from behind to beat Wolves, Middlesbrough hammering Millwall at the New Den, and Watford ending a run of four straight defeats to thrash Fulham and climb back into the play-off zone.

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