BLOG: Buckle up for four season defining games
Immediately after his appointment, Garry Monk was quick to comment on the difficulty of the first two games of his reign.
Middlesboro and Cardiff, two clubs firmly involved in the promotion mix, signalled a testing start. Zero points was the expectation. Zero points was also the reality.
Despite a seventh successive defeat, Blues remain just two points adrift of safety. The next four games are pivotal. Undoubtedly season defining.
Hull and Ipswich at home, Bolton away and Burton Albion at home represent a massive opportunity to start clawing away from danger. They also pose a real threat to Blues' future in the second tier.
Six points is a minimum target to stand even an outside chance of beating the drop. Even then, Blues will still be treading water.
During the last four Championship seasons, the fourth-bottom team has survived with 51, 49, 46 and 44 points. Judging by the current points tally of teams in the relegation scrap, I would envisage a haul of around 42 or 43 to be the safety net. Blues currently have 30 meaning that at least four wins are needed.
Of course, 42 points would only guarantee safety if other relegation threatened clubs drop points. Also, the fact that Burton, Barnsley, Reading and Hull all have a game in hand on Blues could be a major factor. It really could go down to the wire.
Yet one glance at Blues' remaining fixtures makes for grim reading. The reverse fixtures against their nine forthcoming opponents produced just five points - a win against Bristol City and draws against Bolton and Sheffield United. Blues have already lost against Hull, Ipswich, Burton, Wolves, QPR and Fulham this season.
Unless Blues fare better at the second time of asking, League One almost certainly awaits.
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