Sports writer Benjamin Oakden comments on the performances of West-Midlands football clubs so far this season in the championship
After six seasons languishing near the bottom of the Championship, Blues fans finally have a reason to be optimistic under new manager John Eustace. Birmingham have had a promising start to the season under the former Kidderminster Harriers boss, with the club currently four points off the play-offs after an impressive run of form, including a landmark 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, who were in the automatic promotion places before the game. Shrewd summer business, including loans for exciting youngsters like Auston Trusty and Hannibal Mejbri and the permanent capture of Tahith Chong, have revived a Birmingham squad that for so many years has felt stagnant and pedestrian. Senior players like Scott Hogan and Harlee Dean have also benefited and a new sense of togetherness has been instilled in the dressing room. Making the playoffs in the infamously competitive Championship is always difficult, but if they can maintain their current form the Blues have every chance.
Since achieving promotion back to the second tier at the end of the 2019/20 season, Coventry manager Mark Robins has done a steady job maintaining the club at Championship level. With two mid-table finishes and a long-awaited return to the Coventry arena after two seasons of ground-sharing at St. Andrews, Coventry started the season with a stable base for progress. Sadly, the Sky Blues didn’t have the start to the season they hoped, with no wins from their first seven matches leaving them bottom of the table by the end of September. Despite almost non-existent summer business and that very poor start, Coventry have finally seen an upturn in form, propelling themselves out of the relegation zone and into 15th, picking up impressive 1-0 wins against Sheffield United, Watford and Blackburn Rovers along the way. By far the most frustrating element of the season for Coventry fans though has surely been their continued struggles with their stadium. Five home games were postponed due to the state of the pitch, and the recent announcement that the stadium owner has gone into administration presents a serious risk that the Sky Blues will have to relocate yet again.
West Bromwich Albion
After a frustratingly mediocre 2021/22 season, the misery has only intensified for West Brom. Despite picking up proven Championship quality in Jed Wallace and John Swift, experienced manager Steve Bruce couldn’t get the Baggies going, with them picking up only one win from their first thirteen games before Bruce was dismissed. West Brom have seriously regressed since their promotion push petered out midway through last season, with the club at risk of falling into the third tier for only the second time in their history. Though, they may have finally found hope under new manager Carlos Corberan, who was able to completely transform Huddersfield Town from relegation contenders into last season’s play-off finalists. After picking up two wins on the bounce, there may be signs of a similar rejuvenation at the Hawthorns. However, they still reside in the relegation zone having amassed just 20 points after 19 games – a big effort will be needed to pull themselves out of a relegation fight.
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