What a torrid experience The Blues are having. It was just seven years ago they sunk Arsenal in the League Cup final but now they are trying to avoid relegation to the third tier of English football. Birmingham City have not played in League One (Division Two) since the 1994/95 season, and they will want to avoid it for another season. The task is now up to Garry Monk to salvage the season.
Having sacked Steve Cotterill, Monk now becomes the fourth permanent manager of the club since they strangely sacked Gary Rowett in 2016. He is also their third manager this season and will be hoping that the side languishing in 22nd place are up for a fight because if they are not, he could face the sack himself!
Monk has jumped straight back into management after being sacked by Championship rivals Middlesbrough just before Christmas. He has plenty of experience in this league having managed Leeds to a 7th place finish last season and his most recent job at Middlesbrough this season. But his first managerial job was with Premier League side Swansea where he guided them to a safe 12th place having taken over from Michael Laudrup. However, his first full year in charge he managed to get the Welsh club into 8th position; the highest they have ever finished.
The former centre-back is ready for the challenge and having been in training with his new players, he feels they are prepared for it as well. He will be trying to channel the aggression and frustration they have surrounding this season and channel that into strong performances on the pitch.
He is a manager who likes to play attractive, possession football but he may take a more direct approach to get the results they so desperately need. At the time of writing, Birmingham are on a five-game losing streak and come up against Monk’s former club Middlesbrough; things do not look like changing. However, if he uses the exciting players like Che Adams, Jacques Maghoma and Jeremie Boga he might stand a chance.
Monk was the manager who unleashed the beast that is Chris Wood during his time at Leeds United, and Birmingham City have their own “big man” who could follow in his footsteps. Sam Gallagher stands six foot four inches tall and has netted six times this season in 21 appearances. The conversion rate is not quite right yet, but he can be a real handful for defenders. Monk is used to working with the target men. As stated he has worked with Wood but also during his time at Swansea Wiflred Bony, and Bafetimbi Gomis proved excellent strikers for the man from Bedford.
It is a new challenge for Monk and one he has surprisingly not shied away from, but his main goal is to keep Birmingham in the division. If he fails in that, he will have some major work to do in rebuilding the side while he is in League One. The Blues do finally have a brilliant manager in charge, and he has all the capabilities of saving them from the drop.