Birmingham City’s 6-1 demolition of Reading kast Saturday marks a complete change of fortune in recent months for the midlands outfit. They were defeated 8-0 at home to Bournemouth in late October in what was one of the worst results in recent memory for The Blues.
But since Gary Rowett was appointed just days after that humiliation Birmingham have improved drastically, only losing once in Rowett’s seven matches in charge. This includes four victories and he has lifted the side seemingly clear of danger to 15th position, seven points above the relegation zone. While talk of a potential play-off push would be premature, hopes of achieving a respectable league standing are now realistic in what has been a horror couple of years or so for Birmingham.
The fact is that the club are extremely lucky to still be in the Championship, surviving by the skin of their teeth last season. They survived on goal difference after drawing 2-2 to Bolton on the last day. Two goals in the final 10 minutes to come back from 2-0 down, and a 93rd minute equaliser by Paul Caddi, is all that stood between the Championship and League One. After a dismal start to this season, it looked like they would be going down this time round.
Their romping victory at the weekend saw the emergence of a future star. Eighteen-year-old Demarai Gray scored his first senior hat-trick and looked extremely composed in front of goal. His pace down the left flank were pivotal to his successes and he proved to be a talented finisher as well. Gray has impressed many with his performances this season with this display the defining moment of his young career.
He is a winger that can also play behind the striker, with attacking instincts and has featured in the majority of the Blues’ league matches so far. Of course with Gray being so young, performances like the one against Reading will always fuel speculation of a move to the Premier League but Birmingham need to keep him at least for another season after this one.
It would help to develop the youngster’s game if he stays for a period of time because playing week in week out is the only way for a player to improve. He might not be playing regularly if he moved on anytime soon so the club shouldn’t worry about trying to keep hold of him just yet.
With fellow youngsters such as Koby Arthur and Andrew Shinnie along with Gray in good form, there are some exciting talent around the club although the squad is looking very young. It will take time for the club to rebuild to a point where they can start to challenge for promotion again but for now at least, Rowett has done an excellent job in instilling confidence to the team.
It now looks as if the club should steer clear of any danger with the talent available, and a mid-table finish wouldn’t be so bad considering the complete mess Lee Clarke left the club in.