Bolton's busy schedule continues, as tomorrow they travel to the West Midlands to face Birmingham City. This will be a big match for both teams: Bolton will be looking to build on momentum gained this weekend, while the Blues need to start picking their form up quickly if they want to see the Premiership next season. To get a better idea of what awaits the Trotters at St. Andrews, we spoke with Almajir of the great Blues blog Often Partisan. Read on, and arm yourself with knowledge.Last season was fairly successful for Birmingham, you reached the playoff semi finals, and did quite well. With that in mind, what are this season's goals?
Almajir: At the start of the season, I'd have said promotion - automatic maybe, playoffs definitely. It's not quite panning out that way at present but the hope is that the team is slowly gelling and we're getting stronger. I think we still have to aim for the playoffs at least but we've got a takeover rumbling, an owner in court in november and it could quite easily go Pete Tong if we're not careful.
Over the summer Lee Clark was hired as Birmingham manager. How do you think he'll change the club? What kind of football have Birmingham been playing under him?
A: One thing Clark has been consistent in saying since he became Blues manager is that he didn't want to change much - he thought Hughton did a good job and he wanted to continue the ethos of CH's team. Thus far, it's been a bit patchy but at times you can see what's he trying to do - attacking down the flanks, get the supply into the front men and score goals. We're not as solid defensively as we were last year and I think that's shown; it's not helped by us blooding the new England sensation in goal.
Birmingham got their first league win of the season against Peterborough the weekend before the international break. What went right for the Blues that match that hadn't been coming together previously?
A: We got the rub of the green - the goal was a bit flukey, we could have given away a pen and Peterborough were just dire. We did show a bit more solidity in midfield and with Keith Fahey returning I think we'll look a stronger unit in the middle of the park. Lovenkrands and King finally fired as a pair too, and looked to be linking up much better than they had been.
How do you think Bolton will do in their first season back in the Championship in 10 years? What aspect of the league is most challenging to newly relegated clubs?
A: I'll be honest and I'll say I think that Bolton will find it hard. A large turnover in players, a lot of debt to clear down - it's reminiscent of us last season and it's difficult for a team to gel when you've got a whole bunch of new players in the side. Expectation levels are normally through the roof to bounce back and that can also weigh down relegated clubs; Blues were lucky in that with all the off-field shenanigans (and the distraction of Europe) the expectation in the league was a little lower and thus it was a bit easier on the team.
Finally, can I have a prediction?
A: Prediction? 2-1 to Blues, with Zigic getting the winner off the bench for us.
Thanks again to Almajir for taking the time to answer our questions! Be sure to visit Often Partisan for all of your Birmingham City needs.