Signs of progress as Blues climb off the bottom
Back-to-back wins, successive clean sheets, two goals and a first away win of the season. All this lifted Birmingham City off the foot of the table after last night's deserved 2-0 win at Reading.
Firstly, I'll start with the notion that we should not get carried away. The Championship can be a cruel animal but there's definite progress in motion at the club right now.
Many - including myself at times - have been quick to criticise Steve Cotterill. Now we must praise him. It's taken time and a fair few questionable decisions, but the Blues boss looks as if he's starting to strum a tune out of the players.
Cotterill said from day one that it would take time. Fitness was called into question as was dressing room unity. Slowly, they've been improving.
Even during the Norwich game on Boxing Day, which Blues lost, the team looked on a par with their opponents until conceding a goal which appeared to make them edgy. That result was on the back of a good performance at Sunderland when Blues had to settle for a point despite enjoying the lions share of chances.
Fast forward to the visit of Leeds United. A dominant performance in which Blues merited their late winner courtesy of Jacques Maghoma. Failure to bag that goal would have been frustrating and would have summed up the season so far.
Kicking off at the Madjeski Stadium while propping up the league table always added a bit of pressure. If Blues ever needed a second successive win, this was the perfect time.
After holding firm early on after pressure from the hosts, Blues settled in and started to take the game to Reading. A good defensive shape, which has become a trademark of Steve Cotterill's, was coupled with counter attacking threat. Jeremie Boga and the aforementioned Maghoma have struck up a good understanding and once the latter smashed Blues in front, there was very little to make the nerves jangle.
Sam Gallagher put the icing on the cake with a rare second goal secure the points.
It's evident that the players are buying into Cotterill and the back room team. And god knows it's taken long enough.
Evidently, coaching persistence alongside fielding players in their natural position is working. Add to that the fact Blues look much fitter than under the previous regime.
Two wins has bought a feel good factor to B9. Let's hope it can lead us towards better days and a better year than 2017.