Birmingham controversially sacked Gary Rowett mid-season and replaced him with Gianfranco Zola.

At the minute, this is looking like hot favourite for stupidest decision of the season.

In his three months in  charge, Birmingham have gone from seventh placed promotion challengers to 17th placed relegation candidates.

Only two wins since mid-December tells you everything.

Nevertheless, despite Birmingham fans calling for his head, Gianfranco Zola is upbeat for tomorrow’s match.

Gianfranco Zola:

“I think Newcastle is a team that has a lot of quality, especially in the front players.

“I’m expecting that they will try to break us, especially when we give them the opportunity to exploit spaces behind.

“It is a team that when they counter they are very quick, very skilful.

“We will have to be very good to not allow them those spaces, that will be very important.

“The game is mainly in there, the trying to find spaces in behind us.

“In terms of us: defending well and maybe trying to find spaces behind them.

“So we will see which one is going to prevail.

“It is a top game against probably the best team in the league.

“They will obviously want to come back from their last game where they didn’t do so well (Newcastle lost 3-1 at home to Fulham).

“They are coming to take the points they missed in the last game but we are also determined to carry on, to do another good performance and get the points we need tomorrow.

“I know we are playing at home but considering the value of the Newcastle team, the first thing we will have to do very well is the defensive duties.

“Obviously, they have a lot of offensive players that can cause problems. That’s the first thing – but it won’t be enough. We will have to cause them problems. We have worked on that and obviously tomorrow I am looking forward to seeing that.

“Fulham were excellent when they had the ball and they frustrated Newcastle because they didn’t allow them to get the ball often. So, it stopped them getting into the rhythm of the game offensively wise.

“The Fulham defenders never wasted the ball so it wasn’t easy for Newcastle to be effective.

“I thought that Fulham probably played their best game of the season and this is something we will have to do as well tomorrow. Maybe not doing what Fulham did but something different. We have to be at our best.”

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