Date:Thursday April 12 2007
Birmingham`s woes have been compounded by the confirmation that the FA are to formally investigate the final-whistle fracas that took place at Barnsley on Easter Monday.
Although it seems that Nicklas Bendtner was one of the first involved in the melee, Neil Danns was red-carded and receives a three-match ban. It remains to be seen what other penalties will be applied when the FA have sifted through the referee`s report and video evidence. A fine is very likely and pretty much standard fare.
Unfortunately, Birmingham have been in the news a number of times for misdemeanours this season. Steve Bruce was fined recently for abusing a drugs-testing official after the Birmingham-Plymouth game.
It will be later in April when the club finally learns its fate over the postponed game against Leeds United. Again, a heavy fine is the most likely outcome, but a points deduction still cannot be completely ruled out, although it would be incredibly harsh at this stage of the season.
Blues have also had a very poor showing on the pitch, picking up the second highest number of red cards, a number of which were completely unnecessary. They have amassed 64 yellow cards and their total card count gives them a rather unenviable 5th place in the race for the worst disciplinary record.
This lack of control amongst the players adds more fuel to the arguments that there are generalised problems with the way the team is managed and will probably be added to the melting pot when the end-of-season port mortem takes place.
Meanwhile, the pressure mounts as Birmingham`s best chance of getting back into the automatic promotion places relies on Derby County slipping up, or the very unlikely scenario of Sunderland losing a grip on their tremendous form.
While Roy Keane has largely kept his counsel on their rise to the top of the league, Billy Davies has been quick to point out that promotion is there for them to lose and Blues to chase.
Saturday`s game against Southampton is going to be tough indeed; the Saints are free-scoring and the Blues strikeforce is going to have to sort itself out in front of goal. They sorely missed the input of Stephen Clemence over the weekend and are still awaiting confirmation of when Andy Cole will be fit for selection.
Simply providing a resolute defence will not be enough this weekend and they have to win this game well to stand any chance of stealing a march on Derby. If Birmingham can maintain or expand their superior goal difference then there is a chance if the Rams stumble over one or two of their final games.
At the very least, the team will have to find enough within themselves to tackle the playoffs, as being the form team is one of the most important elements to winning promotion by this very precarious route.
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