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‘They’re on the floor’ – What has been said before Birmingham City’s do-or-die finale

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Birmingham City will know, come 2:30 pm on Saturday, which division they’ll be playing in next season. Failure to beat play-off competitors Norwich City at St Andrew’s will all but consign Blues to League One and end the longest current spell of any club in the Championship.

Final-day drama isn’t new to Blues; in 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2020, they’ve headed into the final day of the season not mathematically safe. Their current situation, though, is as precarious as it has been at any stage in the past ten years. Barring Plymouth Argyle losing by more than five goals to Hull City on the final day, nothing other than three points from Blues will do.

It won’t be only the Pilgrims who get twitchy if Blues take an early lead on Saturday, though; Sheffield Wednesday might’ve won their last two matches, but they still need a result at Sunderland on the final day to confirm their Championship status. Blackburn Rovers, under John Eustace, head to champions Leicester knowing they too may require a point to be sure. This is what the managers have said before the final day:

**19th – Blackburn Rovers Pts 50: GD: -16**

Rovers have won just three times since December. They sold Adam Wharton to Crystal Palace for big money in January but didn’t reinvest, and Jon Dahl Tomasson subsequently left in February. Eustace, out of work since leaving Blues in October, was appointed immediately. He knew it’d be hard, but he’s been surprised by the high points tally needed to stay up.

“I knew coming in that it would be a big challenge,” he admitted to the Lancashire Telegraph. “We were on a very bad run of results, and I knew it would go to the end; it’s the Championship. It’s relentless, a lot of top teams and some good teams that have been in the bottom three or four. It’s a tough challenge, but it’s one I’ve looked forward to.

“We have one game to ensure we have to stay in the league. It’s been very difficult to say who’d get promoted or relegated each year. It’s been a lot tighter this year, certainly, maybe not harder, at both ends of the table. The Championship is a tough, tough league, and we have a group of players who are determined we get enough points to say in the league.

“I am surprised at how high the points total is, and it isn’t all over because of the amount of points we have. This is the Championship; it’s not harder but it is tighter at both ends. Anyone can beat anyone, and that has been proven again this year. The challenge is to pick up points and stay in the league.”

**20th – Sheffield Wednesday Pts: 50 GD: -26**

Wednesday beat Blackburn a couple of games ago and then followed it up by hammering West Brom last Saturday. Those six points – compare that return with the two Blues managed against the two sides below them in the league table in the same period of time – have left them in a favorable position, and now a point at Sunderland will be enough.

“We won’t go to Sunderland looking for a point; we will go for three,” Danny Rohl declared. “This is the mindset I want in my players. For me, it’s not the time to be lazy or afraid; if we are lazy, then we will have a problem.

“After the Blackburn game, I said we were not in a position to defend something; we want to attack the next position. We have jumped to the next position, and it means next week the same mindset; attacking, attacking, attacking. Then we will bring the game home, and it will be job done. We are so close now; we must not look to the other teams; we must make sure of it on our own.”

**21st – Plymouth Argyle Pts: 48 GD: -12**

Midway through the season, it seemed unlikely that Plymouth would be in trouble. They were ravaged in January and had manager Steven Schumacher plucked by Stoke City. Since then, it’s been a slide down the table. Coach Kevin Nancekivell admitted that the players were visibly gutted by their loss at Millwall on Saturday, which leaves them likely needing a positive result on the final day.

“It was a hammer blow to us,” said Nancekivell told the Plymouth Herald. “I didn’t think we deserved that. We have to dust ourselves down now and get ready for Saturday. The players are flat; they are on the floor a little bit, as you would expect. They realize the severity of everything that is going on, and they are desperate for the club to survive in the Championship.

“We will suffer today; we will take our medicine, and when we get back in on Monday, we will get everyone back at it. It’s a massive game for us on Saturday now. We are going to need everybody onside with us; our supporters have been fantastic every week of the season, and we are going to need them more than ever on Saturday.

“Hopefully, we can make Home Park as hostile as possible, the lads can work as they did today, and get a little bit more of an end product and we should be okay. We are not relying on anybody else. We know what we have got to do, and let’s make sure we get it done on Saturday.”

**22nd – Birmingham City Pts: 47 GD: -16**

Gary Rowett and Blues know what they must do. A victory gives Blues a chance; anything else against Norwich and they’re all but down in the third tier next term.

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