Despite major problems at board level, Lee Clark’s Birmingham City are unbeaten in six after a difficult start to the season. Ahead of Saturday’s meeting at St Andrew’s, Daniel Ivery from the Often Partisan blog tells us what to expect from the home side…

What are your expectations for 2013-14?

My personal expectation is it’s going to be a tough year. If we can avoid administration, relegation, or both I’ll be happy.

What’s the fans’ general opinion of Lee Clark?

It’s split. Some of the supporters think he’s done as well as can be expected in the circumstances while others think he’s been awful. I’ve wavered between the two; we’ve had some shocking results in the past 15 months but we’ve also had a lot of stress around the club financially. I’d be interested to see what he could do with a more settled owner and a budget, but there does seem to be a crazy selection policy at times.

Have there been many changes since last season?

Yes, there have. Due to financial constraints we’ve had to lose players on a decent whack (barring Nikola Zigic who is stuck with us and us with him until July) and we’ve got a team of freebies, kids, loans and whatnot. We’ve actually picked up a couple of rough diamonds (Tom Adeyemi and Darren Randolph) but it’s been hard going.

What can we expect tactically?

Good question – because half the time I don’t think we’re sure. We tend to play 4-2-3-1 with Ziggy up front and three supporting him, with two defensive midfielders but Clark isn’t averse to changing things around when he wants. I hope we’ll play 4-2-3-1, we looked awful in a 4-4-2 last time I saw us play that formation.

Who are the key players to watch out for?

At this moment, Zigic seems to be playing well up front and Jesse Lingard behind him is a talent. Chris Burke can be one of the better wingers in the division and on his day (as per last year) he will rip you a new one; however, when he’s not on his day he’s a passenger. Adeyemi in the middle has a great engine and looks to be steadily improving.

What’s going to happen on Saturday?

It totally depends on whether we continue our home form jitters or the team remembers how they play away from home. If you get the normal home side you should be good for at least a point; if you get the team that has won three on the bounce away, in front of what could be a much fuller St Andrew’s, then you could go home empty-handed.

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Image: Yusky at zh.wikipedia (CC-BY-SA-2.0), from Wikimedia Commons

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