Chris Hughton Facing Uphill Struggle At Birmingham Following Premier League Relegationby Richard Smith / 22 July 2011, 08:28Tweet
It was only a matter of months ago that Birmingham were enjoying one of their best moments in their history when Alex McLeish led the club to Carling Cup success at Wembley Stadium. Since then it has all gone wrong for the Blues with relegation from the top flight followed by the departure of the Manager, the owner being arrested for money laundering and a host of the clubs best players running for the exit. Chris Hughton has been appointed as the man to steady the ship at St Andrews with promotion back to the Premier League expected for a club of their size, it will not be easy though as he looks to rebuild a squad severely depleted and capable of challenging.
We have already seen Seb Larsson and Craig Gardner head to Sunderland, Roger Johnson move down the road to wolves and a number of other players like Scott Dann, Ben Foster, Cameron Jerome and Liam Ridgewell all expected to follow quickly before the transfer window slams shut. This highlights the task facing Hughton with the new season on the horizon and with next to no money to bring new players in, he will have to use his knowledge to bring in some nice free transfers and loan signings if he is to repeat the trick he pulled off at Newcastle by leading them to promotion. Hughton was in a very similar position at St James Park when he was in charge of Newcastle and that will be of comfort to Birmingham fans who are looking to bounce straight back to the Premier League.
On the face of it Birmingham are arguably the biggest club in the Championship but with big spending teams like Leicester fighting it out with the likes of West Ham and Notts Forest among others it looks a hot Championship this season with only three teams able to go up. Birmingham do have European football to look forward to following their Carling Cup success but it could prove to be a hindrance for Hughton with the squad already starting to look thin and he will be worried it will have an adverse affect on their promotion push. At the moment Birmingham are being rated as a 3/1 chance with Paddy Power to gain promotion while they are available at a short looking 11/1 with the same firm to win the Championship this season. Hughton is a good appointment for Birmingham, he has proven his teams perform well under pressure and that shoudl be taken into account but it maybe that he finds the task at St Andrews his toughest yet over the next few weeks and months.