Karanka: Home form must improve

Our biggest challenge on Saturday is to win at home.

Aitor Karanka

Head Coach Aitor Karanka has made clear that Blues’ home form is his number one priority as the Club moves into 2021.

The new year begins with Blues hosting Blackburn at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday.

And speaking on the final day of 2020, a year he and the majority wishes to see the back of, Karanka was firm about the new year’s resolution for his team.

Addressing the media via Zoom, the Boss made it abundantly clear that his team’s home form requires improvement - starting with the visit of Rovers on Saturday - and without making excuses alluded to an issue that many sides are experiencing when playing at home during COVID-19.

He said: “I think we have had problems on the pitch, but just on one pitch – at St. Andrew’s. At the training ground we are playing perfectly, away from home we are playing perfectly, so it is just one pitch where we are having problems. It is just about trying to fix those mistakes.

“We are missing the crowd more than we think. It is not just for encouragement, it is to be concentrated on the games and to have the crowd behind you. Maybe you switch off, but when the crowd is in the stadium it is the opposite because you know they are there and you can’t make mistakes.

“Our biggest challenge on Saturday is to win at home. Tony Mowbray is doing a brilliant job, but it is not about Blackburn it is about Birmingham City Football Club and trying to win at home.”

Despite a tricky run of results in and around Christmas Karanka remains fully supportive of his squad, having built an atmosphere of positivity and togetherness within the camp since his arrival in July.

He said: “Before in my career, I would get angry and sad, but here my feeling is frustration. This group of players deserves to be higher in the table and these individual mistakes are punishing us a lot. This team doesn’t deserve these mistakes. It is just to keep going and to not switch off during the games.

“They are good enough to be higher in the table and they just need to be concentrating for the full 90 minutes.”

The Spaniard went on to showcase the unity of his squad, explaining to the media how the Club captain exemplifies the atmosphere at the Trillion Trophy Training Centre.

He said: “The main thing for me is the atmosphere here and one of the best examples of this is Harlee Dean. He admits he is making mistakes which means he is committed to this Club and to start winning at home.”

Welcoming Blackburn also marks the start of a less congested period of fixtures, with Karanka hoping to use this extra time wisely for the benefit of Blues.

He said: “The schedule being clearer in January is good for everybody, you need to have time to train, to analyse, to rest. We will have more time to work on things on the training pitch, but our focus right now is on Blackburn.”

You can watch Blues take on Rovers in their first home game of 2021 live on BluesTV for £10.