72 hours waiting for 21 words. Just over three days after Birmingham City rolled over and had their tummies tickled by Bristol City, Aitor Karanka’s reign as Birmingham City came to an end. No “thank you”, no “good luck” – just a terse two sentences confirming the Spaniard had exited the building.
Based on results alone, it seems inevitable that the reign of Aitor Karanka had to come to an end. While it’s not been confirmed at the time of writing, practically every outlet has reported that the 47-year-old Basque has departed Blues. So what next?
Defeat to Norwich on Tuesday was not an unexpected outcome. The best team in the division away from home against a team that can’t buy a win at home right now were always going to be the favourites to pick up the points. However, manager Aitor Karanka’s comments in the aftermath show one of the chief problems the club faces.
Another day, another defeat. Millwall were the victors this time, beating Blues 2-0 at the Den on Wednesday night to condemn Aitor Karanka’s side to their ninth defeat in 13 league games. Blues lie one point behind Rotherham in 21st place, although the Millers have two games in hand. For any other club the assumption would be Karanka’s place is untenable – but there is no sign of change. What needs to happen?
Saturday’s game against Luton Town isn’t a quite literal must win for Blues but from a figurative point of view failing to beat the Hatters will easily crank up the pressure on Aitor Karanka. The Spaniard continues to be bullish in press conferences before games but from a fan’s perspective it’s getting harder to believe that things are fine.
Birmingham City were unable to break the deadlock at Adams Park on Tuesday night, with the 0-0 final result leaving Blues once again precariously close to the relegation trap door. As befitting Groundhog Day it was the same old story of referees not giving penalties and players not taking the few chances on offer; the question is what does Aitor Karanka need to do to escape this cursed loop of relegation struggle Blues find themselves in.
A 2-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers at St Andrew’s rounded off what has been a pretty miserable holiday period for Blues. Since beating Reading at the Madejski Stadium on December 9, Blues have lost five of six matches and have scored just three goals.
Friday night saw Birmingham City play out a dull 0-0 draw with fellow St Andrew’s tenants, Coventry City. In a game of few chances, Lukas Jutkiewicz came closest to scoring for Blues, hitting the bar with the ball and the post with his head. While things are nowhere near as bad as the “Project Restart” shitshow in June and July, there is a suggestion that the honeymoon period is now well and truly over for Aitor Karanka.
Defeat to Norwich City at Carrow Road on Tuesday evening extended Birmingham City’s winless run to five games. Chances were at a premium for Blues and the sending off of Adam Clayton for a second bookable offence turned out to be the prelude to the only goal of the game. Yet there are reasons that Blues fans should be patient.
Birmingham City kicked off their pre-season friendlies with a 1-1 draw against Charlton Athletic at Wast Hills. The Blues team was a mix of first team and youthful inexperience with only young keeper Zach Jeacock featured for the full 90 minutes as Blues rotated through their squad at half-time. With less than two weeks until the EFL Cup curtain-raiser against Cambridge United, can people be forgiven for worrying about the thin squad?