The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

IF THIS match was billed as a wel­come to the Zola-coaster, it was clearly the steep, slow climb be­fore the thrilling de­scent.

The Ital­ian may have been tasked with turn­ing the Blues into the Madrid of the Mid­lands but he must know that while Birm­ing­ham can graft, gen­uine class is lack­ing.

This was an ar­che­typal Blues per­for­mance – at­tri­tional and dogged – and though those qual­i­ties may not be glam­orous, they are might­ily ef­fec­tive. Very few sides have made Brighton look this or­di­nary, or this tooth­less. In im­ple­ment­ing the kind of style his pay­mas­ters de­mand, Zola must en­sure he does not un­der­mine the rock solid foun­da­tion laid by Gary Rowett.

Judg­ing by the re­ac­tion of sup­port­ers, Zola will get time. Pro-Rowett chants were tepid at best, flags and ban­ners near non-ex­is­tent. They too, it seems, are ready to em­brace change.

De­feat was harsh on Blues, but tes­ta­ment to the Seag­ulls’ for­mi­da­ble re­silience.

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