Harry Redknapp encouraged by Birmingham City performance despite derby defeat to Aston Villa

Harry Redknapp encouraged by Birmingham City performance despite derby defeat to Aston Villa

Harry Redknapp felt Birmingham City mustered a good enough performance in his first game to warrant more than a defeat as they lost 1-0 away at bitter rivals Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.

Charlie Malam

Harry Redknapp insists he will take encouragement from the performance in his first game in charge of Birmingham City although the Blues fell to a devastating Second City derby defeat to Aston Villa.

Gabby Agbonlahor came off the bench to supply the game's only goal also his fifth career strike against Birmingham, on Sunday to leave Redknapp's charges just two points above the Championship relegation zone with two games of the season left to play.

But despite the defeat, which means Birmingham have won just two of their last 25 league games largely due to Gianfranco Zola's dreadful spell in charge, Redknapp believes the display carried some positives.

Redknapp bemoans undeserved Villa victory

"We didn't deserve to lose the game, they've not had a shot second-half [besides the goal]," the 70-year-old said. 

"I don't think the 'keeper got his gloves dirty, I couldn't see how we were going to lose it really. It took a scramble, the ball was in the box, set-play, a scramble and that was it.

"Other than that they've not created anything. They've had another shot other than that have they? That was the only shot. Our 'keeper had nothing to do all day.

"I'm very encouraged. You look at it, we've won two out of 24, you come in and it scares you to death to look at the record.

"We've worked hard this week on the training ground. Every day we've been having good sessions, working on how we were going to set up today.

"I thought they carried it out to-a-t, we just didn't get the break when we needed it. I couldn't have asked for more effort than what they gave. We looked solid.

"We've got two tough games to come now, we've got Huddersfield at home - tough game - but we've got to make sure we try to win it."

Englishman confident Birmingham can avoid relegation to League One

Former Tottenham Hotspur boss Redknapp believes his team have enough to steer themselves clear of relegation. 

"We've got a good chance," he said when asked about their hopes of safety. "It's not going to be easy, that's for sure.

"We're at home next week, we've got to make sure we try to get a win. If we work as hard as that, we've got every chance.

"We have to pick ourselves up and go again next week but they'll take some encouragement I think, at least, from today."

Redknapp was left to bemoan Che Adams' wasted first-half opportunity as he fired over the crossbar from Lukas Jutkiewicz's pull-back at the by-line on 38 minutes.

He continued: "Yeah [it was] a good chance, just his technique, the volley, should have done better.

"We walked into a couple of good positions, it was just the final ball. It's a little bit of quality around the box [we were missing].

"That's something we've got to work on this week, getting balls into feet and playing and running off the frontman where we can be a bit clever around the box and try to create a little bit more."

We're not in the situation to play pretty football, admits Redknapp

On their game-plan at Villa Park, Redknapp said: "We decided to get it forward. To be honest with you, we can't play like Barcelona or somebody. We're not capable.

"We decided we were going to hit the frontman, feed off of him and play in their final third. You have to do what you can with what you've got.

"I'd rather pass all over the pitch and get the 'keeper rolling it out from the back, playing through midfield, we'd all love to play that way but we're not in that position and if we do that, we tend to make mistakes and give goals away.

"We worked all week on dropping balls into the frontman and trying to get him to hold it and get around him and play from there."

Yet he was still pleased with the commitment shown from his players and declared that Villa's performance was not worthy of victory.

"They all worked hard. We'd like a little bit more quality in certain areas but you couldn't fault their effort," Redknapp added.

"We can't sit here and say Villa were good, can we? Be honest. We've seen good teams here, Steve [Bruce] has a lot of work to do as well if that's the best they can do. He's got a lot of work on his hands."