CLARK’S BLUES IN BIG TROUBLE
Brum are now in drop zone
TURBULENCE on and off the pitch has landed Birmingham in the thick of a relegation battle but manager Lee Clark has no interest in making excuses.
Defeat to Leeds on Saturday was the Blues’ fourth in as many Championship games, as second-half strikes from Matt Smith and Danny Pugh did the damage.
A Paul Caddis own goal piled on the misery for Clark before Federico Macheda pulled one back in the final ten minutes.
Now in the bottom three and with a host of suitors in talks to take financial control at St Andrews, victory over Wigan on Tuesday is paramount – and the manager insists that is the least Birmingham supporters deserve.
“We need to fight for the future of this football club.The fans don’t deserve to be in this situation,” said Clark.
“The off-the-field issues are not an excuse. All I can say is that we knew it was going to be tough but we didn’t expect to be where we are at this moment in time.
“The supporters are doing their bit by backing the team in numbers and vocally, so me, my staff and the players have got to do something about it on the field.
“The players have got to give me everything over the next two games to make sure we stay in this division. I believe they can do it.
“We need two big performances in our last two games.
“We were very good, energetic and powerful in the first half. But if you give goals away like we have then you get punished.
“I’d like to think the players are disappointed, frustrated, fed up and concerned. If everyone feels that way then we’ll have a chance.”
Blues striker Lee Novak sliced wide when well placed early on, before Tom Adeyemi ran through on goal minutes later only to fire harmlessly over the bar.
Callum Reilly and Novak each tested Jack Butland in quick succession as the half wore on, while at the other end Darren Randolph got down well to keep out an effort from Michael Tonge, after the former Sheffield United mid- fielder ghosted into the box past two defenders.
Two goals in three minutes after the restart turned the game on its head however.
First Smith converted Tonge’s teasing cross from the left flank and then Pugh pounced when inside the box to double the advantage.
Caddis turned Ross McCormack’s cross into this own net as the clock ticked down to pile on the misery before Macheda pulled one back with a bullet finish – but it was too little, too late.
Leeds themselves are no strangers to off-the-field uncertainty, but boss Brian McDermott believes they are starting to find a rhythm since the controversial figure of Massimo Cellino completed his recent takeover at Elland Road.
“We’ve had a tough time of it over the last three months, but we’ve won three out of four since the ownership was sorted out,” insisted the former Reading manager.
“The players haven’t got a lot of credit recently but I hope they do after that victory.
“It’s about finding a way to win football matches. This league is unique. It is a very, very tough league.
“The only agenda I have is to win the next game. A wave of negativity seems to go around our club, for whatever reason, and that’s got to go for us to be successful.
“We have to be positive as a group going forward.
“There was nothing between the teams in the first half out there. They’ve had a couple of chances but we’ve stayed in the game.
“We got a good goal, then we got another good goal, and then we started to pass the ball and earned the right to play from there.”
JUMP FOR JOY: Matt Smith celebrates after scoring the first goal for Leeds
STAR MAN MATT SMITH