Another management casualty predicted?
The estimation for this season was that Birmingham would be the predictable team in the Premier League: Nothing special, but no relegation danger, and finishing between 8th and 12th in the league.
But after a summer spending in the region of £20million on Valles, Zigic, Foster, Jiranek and Beausejour, Birmingham have seemingly taken steps backwards.
The club have won just one game in the Premier League, and have dropped points against four teams who finished below them last term. Big Eck is not at critical level, but this weekend his side face Blackpool at home. Lose and Brum will be in the bottom three, and that would be panic stations.
There is a sense that Chris Hughton has been short-changed in terms of reputation. After all, he led a side to the title last season that was seemingly in disarray before the campaign began.
Even before the start of this season he was the favourite for the first manager to be sacked, a market blown away after his side’s 6-0 win over Aston Villa. But since then the tide has turned, and in three consecutive home games Newcastle have lost to Stoke and Blackpool and got a last minute draw against Wigan.
One suspects that Chris Hughton is seen as a short-term replacement, and this can only mean that positive results will be necessary. A trip to bottom of the table West Ham is an important fixture if Hughton is not be chastised within the tabloid media.
So the dust is finally beginning to settle. Wayne Rooney seems adamant to leave United. One thing is clear is that if he does go, someone is going to have to step up to the plate, and the casual Bulgarian is the likely candidate.
With Rooney injured, Berbatov has a chance to seal the deal on this front. But Berba has not scored in his last four games, and these are the sort of spells that do not need extending. Sunday’s game at the Britannia is the first Premier League test after Rooney, and United have dropped points at easier places this season. Berbatov will be out to impress.
In the Champions League, Arsenal have been nothing short of ruthless, but closer to home there have been signs that old problems remain.
This weekend Arsenal face Manchester City, providing a second stern test of the season. So far they have played just one team this season that finished above them, and Chelsea taught them a lesson.
If the same City side turn up that did against Liverpool, Arsene Wenger’s men (and boys) will have to be at full tilt. Another defeat and the same old things can be said about the same old Wenger and the same old Arsenal.
It wasn’t meant to be this way. Before this season Bristol City had persuaded Steve Coppell to take over at the helm, and England goalkeeper David James had been signed. The club had a vision to get to the Premier League, and to football fans nationwide, this goal seemed achievable.
Bristol City currently sit bottom of the Championship with nine points from twelve games. Coppell left after just two competitive games, and the squad has dramatically underperformed.
Coppell’s replacement Keith Millen is already under significant pressure. He has won only two of his games in charge, and last Saturday surrendered a two goal lead at rivals Cardiff City to lose 3-2.
Tonight Bristol City take on leaders QPR at Ashton Gate live on the telly. Last weekend OTP predicted the end of Gordon Strachan. Will it be Millen’s turn this weekend?