Can Harry Redknapp Save Birmingham City?
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Back in December, eyebrows were raised throughout the world of football when Birmingham City dispensed with the services of then manager Gary Rowett, and replaced him with Gianfranco Zola, whose previous two managerial roles in English football at West Ham and Watford provided rather mixed results.
The gamble backfired spectacularly, with a mere two wins from 22 league games - taking a side who were well in the running for a play-off spot in December to within just three points of the relegation zone.
While the club’s board gave Zola a vote of confidence, such a disastrous run of form proved too much for the affable Italian, who, after a damaging defeat at home to relegation rivals Burton Albion on Easter Monday, fell on his sword, resigning from his position with three games to go in the Championship season.
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Enter the venerable Harry Redknapp, who has signed a short term deal until the end of the season at St Andrews. The Londoner’s remit is simple: keep Birmingham in the Championship.
With a trip to bitter rivals Aston Villa up next, as well as a home game against promotion hopefuls Huddersfield Town and an away fixture at fellow strugglers Bristol City on the last day of the season, Redknapp has targeted a haul of four points from those three games to secure Birmingham’s Championship survival for another season.
But will Redknapp achieve this goal? During Zola’s ill-fated spell at the club, Birmingham attempted to play an expansive style of football, as opposed to the more cautious set-up of Rowett which had brought the club relative success. If Redknapp’s previous spells in the manager’s hotseat are to offer us any clues as to how he will approach this challenge, he may attempt to retain a broadly attacking style. However, if there is one area that Redknapp excels at, it is spurring players on to get the best out of their abilities.
The arrival of a new manager often proves to be a huge motivational factor for players - something which Hull City and Leicester City have found to their advantage in the Premier League this year. With this in mind, and the fact that Birmingham still have a small cushion between themselves and Blackburn Rovers in 22nd, It's not unlikey that Harry Redknapp will do enough to maintain Championship status for another year for the Second City club.Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, it remains to be seen whether Redknapp is a suitable candidate for a permanent position at Birmingham City. Despite his well-known enthusiasm for the transfer window, at 70 years of age, he is surely cannot have too many years left in him, especially given that his time in charge of Queens Park Rangers was cut short when he resigned in 2015 prior to undergoing a knee replacement surgery. However, in the short-term, a change in direction with Redknapp at the helm may be just what is required to arrest the alarming slump in form that Birmingham City are presently going through.