If Manchester United fans think they have had it bad this season, they should spare a thought for Birmingham City’s long-suffering supporters. Their team have not managed a home victory since 1 October, and their total of two wins at St Andrew’s in this Championship campaign explains why they now find themselves in danger of dropping into the third tier for the first time since 1995.
This latest home failure – and ninth loss in 12 matches – dropped them into the bottom three for the first time this season thanks to Blackpool’s victory at Wigan, raising the stakes ahead of their own match against Wigan on Tuesday, their game in hand on the teams above them.
“At home it hasn’t been good enough,” said their manager, Lee Clark. “We have to rectify that and fight for our lives in the next two games.” Birmingham visit Bolton on the final day.
They were full of running in the first half but, with chances scarce, were left to rue Tom Adeyemi’s miss in the ninth minute when he broke through the middle but shot over. Instead the game slipped away from them around the hour mark when Leeds struck twice in three minutes.
The visitors’ big striker Matt Smith headed in from a Michael Tonge cross and Ross McCormack then teed up Danny Pugh to add the second. McCormack had a hand in the third goal too, as his cross for Smith was turned into his own goal by Paul Caddis.
Birmingham substitute Federico Macheda pulled a goal back with a neat, low finish for his 10th goal of the campaign, but by then the damage had been done. Macheda is one of 21 loan signings Clark has made during two seasons at a club effectively paralysed by owner Carson Yeung’s court case. With Yeung now imprisoned for money laundering, the Blues are up for sale, but whether they are sold as a Championship or League One club remains to be seen.
Leeds know all about the damaging impact of behind-the-scenes turmoil, of course. “Since ownership has been sorted we’ve won three games out of four,” noted their manager, Brian McDermott, though his future under Massimo Cellino – the new owner and convicted fraudster, who has already sacked him once – is uncertain.
Benito Carbone, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa striker, was at Leeds’s Thorp Arch training ground on Friday, and was a face in the St Andrew’s crowd yesterday. McDermott said he had “no idea” about Cellino’s plans for his compatriot, but stressed he was not “unsettled”. Like Clark, though, he looked like a man in need of a long holiday.
Birmingham (4-3-3): Randolph; Caddis, Spector, Thorpe (Gray, 90), Hancox; Huws, Adeyemi, Reilly (Macheda, 61); Burke, Zigic, Novak (Allan, 69).
Leeds (3-5-2): Butland; Lees, Wootton, Pearce; Austin, Murphy (Mowatt, 57), Brown, Tonge, Pugh (White, 88); Smith (hunt, 79), McCormack.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham.