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AFC Bournemouth: Spotlight on Birmingham City
MANAGER Lee Clark took the hyperbole to new extremes when he described Birmingham City’s run-in recently.
Speaking ahead of the visit of Reading six days ago, Clark urged his players to prepare themselves for 10 Champions’ League finals.
Although they only managed runners-up medals after losing 2-1 to the Royals, the Blues bounced back with a crucial midweek win against relegation rivals Millwall.
A 3-2 victory at the Den, courtesy of goals from Jordon Ibe, Andrew Shinnie and Nikola Zigic, ended a run of five games without a win and took them eight points clear of the drop zone.
It also saw Clark’s men register their first double of the season in the Championship having drubbed the Lions 4-0 at the start of October.
Home, however, is where the hurt has been for Birmingham with victory over Millwall almost six months ago their last in the league in front of the St Andrew’s faithful.
A paltry 14 points have been garnered from 19 games with two wins and eight draws leaving the Blues with the worst home record in the Football League.
With four home games remaining – starting with the visit of Cherries – they could still stave off setting an unwanted record, although the odds are weighted heavily against them.
The fewest number of home games they won in a league campaign was five, the last time in 1985-86 when they lost their top-flight status under Ron Saunders and then John Bond. The sequence included a club record 17-match winless run with the current tally standing at 14.
Despite their dismal home form, the Blues have been involved in three rousing comebacks at St Andrew’s with injury-time goals earning them draws over Middlesbrough (2-2), Derby (3-3) and Burnley (3-3).
In stark contrast, their away record has been impressive with seven wins on the road including a 2-0 triumph at Dean Court in December.
Relegated from the Premier League in 2011, the same season they won the League Cup, the Blues will be desperate to break their home hoodoo against Cherries, although Clark has been reluctant to set any points targets for safety.
“Eight points clear with eight games to go? No, it is not enough,” he said following the win at Millwall. “Until it is mathematically impossible for us to get dragged into it, we have to keep going.
“We have a huge game on Saturday where, if we were to get a positive result, it could take us even further than the eight points. But I saw the results the teams around us had on Tuesday and it just tells me that it is never over until it is over.
“All we can do is try to take care of ourselves and get as many points as possible from the remaining games. We have to look forward to Saturday, a really tough game against one of the form teams in the division.”
Birmingham’s problems off the pitch have also been well documented with owner Carson Yeung sentenced to six years in a Hong Kong jail earlier this month after being convicted of five counts of money laundering.
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