Birmingham City captain Troy Deeney is relishing going into the new Championship season with Blues as underdogs and is eager to ‘prove everybody wrong.’
The forward was also quick to highlight the difference in the mentality and atmosphere around Wast Hills training ground at the minute, noting it as ‘night and day’ compared to how it was in the last campaign.
You only have to take a brief look on social media to get an idea of what people are expecting for Birmingham City in 2022/23.
The general consensus among football fans is that the club are destined for relegation and that’s also something that is reflected in the bookmakers odds with Blues pretty much favourites across the board to be relegated to League One.
It’s understandable, in a way, when looking from the outside in. The off the field drama remains ongoing, the stadium remains unfixed and the signings remain at the bare minimum.
The squad as a whole is made up of 19, maybe 20 first team players if we’re being generous - three of which are loan players from other clubs.
It’s frustrating, maybe even worrying as a fan but the players aren’t worried - if anything - they look as fired up as ever and ready to prove that even if they are to go down, they aren’t going to do so without a fight.
Deeney in particular has a completely new aura about him - and in his words, is ready to start ‘having a tear up,’ beginning with Luton Town on Saturday.
“I like where we are in terms of the underdog mentality,” he said. “That’s what I grew up on.”
“I’m comfortable, fit, and happy. It’s just about getting started now and having a tear up.
“It’s one of those things where we just say ‘f*ck it’. Everybody has already written us off. They’re saying that we deserve to go down, that we’re going to finish bottom. All those things. Well it’s a free hit then. Let’s go and prove everybody wrong. And when we do prove everybody wrong, how great will that be?”
It’s a mentality that appears to be shared across the board and the captain claims it’s all down to what new manager John Eustace and his staff have instilled into the players. A ‘siege mentality,’ is how Deeney described it.
Eustace himself may be completely untested as a first-team manager at this level but the players have taken to him. They’ve taken to his methods and he’s created a harmony across the board - the importance of which cannot be understated in football.
When watching the players train on Tuesday morning it was clear to see that everyone was singing from the same hymn sheet - something that simply was not the case last season, says the skipper.
Speaking on the difference the new coaching staff have made, Deeney said: “It’s night and day.”
“I don’t want to be disrespectful but it’s clear and obvious to anyone who was here last year who seen the mood around the place. It’s very easy to say in pre-season with no games played. If we lose a couple it could change. But I think being inclusive with everybody, making sure they’re all involved.
“We’re all together, we go through the shape together.
“Today we got the work in. Everyone is involved and we all know our jobs. If I have to fill in at left-back for some reason, I know exactly what I’m doing. It’s great and he’s really created that siege mentality.
“There are a lot of things going on the outside, but we can forget about all that. Here is our happy place essentially.”
Togetherness is something that was mentioned a lot from the 34-year-old who did not hide the fact that there was a great divide among the team last year.
And he again commended Eustace for playing a big part in patching that up and helping bring positivity back to the club.
“We got sloppy in our approach to things [last year],” he said.
“People got away with murder and were rewarded for it. It ended up creating a divide. It was one of those things.
“We’re glad it’s over, glad we stayed up and hopefully everyone moves onto bigger and better things. Lessons have to be learned from that.
“Football can eat you up and you begin to wonder, ‘am I sh*t?’
“You genuinely start wondering, am I not that good anymore? Then you look back and realise, well eight months ago I was playing in the Prem and now I can’t get a game, maybe it isn’t just me.
“Because you’re not getting games, you start questioning, well have I just suddenly got old overnight? Little things like that.
“I had 10 days off and by the ninth day I was back in the gym thinking let’s get back to work, prove everyone wrong. That’s what we’re trying to do.”