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Birmingham City

Birmingham fans have plenty of reason for optimism under Garry Monk

The Blues have won their last three matches under Garry Monk and look set for safety.

Greg Whitaker

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Birmingham
Photo: Getty Images

A few months is a very long time in football.

At the beginning of February, Birmingham City were rooted in the Championship’s bottom three and, along with fellow strugglers Sunderland, appeared certainties for relegation.

However, as has become almost tradition at St Andrew’s in recent years, a late change of manager looks to have set in motion yet another miraculous great escape.

But the question is, can Garry Monk buck the trend set by Messrs Redknapp and Clark and prove a successful long-term appointment, rather than the usual firefighting magician?

As Bluenoses will tell you, the early signs are looking very good.

If wins against Ipswich and Hull City last month kick-started Monk’s tenure at St Andrew’s and bolstered the fans’ belief that Championship survival was possible, Tuesday evening’s 1-0 victory away at relegation rivals Bolton must have had the 5,000 strong travelling support brimming with optimism for future.

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

While the win was scrappy, with Monk’s side holding on for a large portion of the second half following Che Adams’ 67th-minute red card, the nature of Birmingham’s last three performances are night and day from the brief and ill-fated Cotterill and Redknapp eras.

Ironically perhaps, comparisons have already been made between Monk’s immediate impact and that of former Blues manager Gary Rowett.

The current Derby boss had been far and away Birmingham City’s most promising young manager of recent years when he was controversially sacked and replaced by Gianfranco Zola, with the team just outside the playoffs, in 2016.

Owners who swear to have learnt from this mistake can go some way to repairing their reputation by backing their new man in the transfer window this summer, should Birmingham stay up.

While the Blues’ current squad, on paper at least, looks a decent one at this level – one that certainly shouldn’t be struggling at the wrong end of the division – Monk will need to bolster his squad should a promotion charge be launched next season.

However, perhaps that’s looking just a bit too far in the future for now.

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Garry Monk, once again aided by his trusted backroom support of James Beattie and Pep Clotet, will be squarely focused on finishing the job and securing another year of second-tier football before thoughts can be turned to next season.

With the likes of David Stockdale, Che Adams and Jota, arguably Birmingham’s most important trio, seemingly given a new lease of life under Monk, Championship survival could be all but confirmed over the next fortnight, should Birmingham’s unbeaten run continue.

Fans will tell you, then and only then can they turn their attention to next season. But with new found confidence and hope visible oozing from the club at the minute, this seems hard to believe.

The former Swansea and Leeds boss is the shot in the arm a club like Birmingham so desperately needed. Monk represents a breath of fresh air, cleansing a club that has recently stagnated under the rule of the mediocre usual suspects, fresh off the cliche managerial roundabout.

Birmingham supporters were robbed of their optimism when fans’ favourite Gary Rowett was sacked 18 months ago. Now, with Monk at the helm, they have every reason to be optimistic once again.

Greg is a freelance writer and broadcast journalist who has previously worked as a sports journalist at the likes of the BBC, Yahoo Sports UK, and the Hull Daily Mail. A long-standing Hull City supporter, Greg has also spent time as a Director on the Board of the Hull City Supporters' Trust. Follow him on Twitter - @Greg_Whitaker

Arsenal

Who is Josh Dasilva? Birmingham plot move for Arsenal midfield starlet

With seven assists at youth level last season, Monk could be set to land a real talent.

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Photo: Getty Images

It has been a turbulent few months at Birmingham City but a move for Arsenal youngster Josh Dasilva is on the cards to provide a boost to the squad.

According to BirminghamLivea loophole in EFL regulations means thats Garry Monk can sign one more player in the summer window and a move is being lined-up for Dasilva despite the club’s ongoing transfer embargo.

The 19-year-old is a candidate to move to St. Andrews on-loan for the 2018-19 campaign – but who exactly is he?

What experience does he have at Arsenal?

Josh Dasilva joined Arsenal at the age of eight and is yet to make his Premier League debut with the Gunners. However, he featured three times under the guidance of Arsene Wenger last term in the Carabao Cup – appearing in victories over Norwich, Doncaster and West Ham.

The teenager was also an unused substitute in a Europa League tie with Red Star Belgrade and was a regular in the Gunners’ U23 ranks last term, featuring 17 times in Premier League 2. and boasting an impressive seven assists.

(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Where does he play?

Dasilva’s versatility is one of his best assets, as he rose through the ranks playing as a striker before being converted into a midfielder last season, while he also played in a number ten role and out wide for the Gunners.

In the Carabao Cup clash with Doncaster, Dasilva played as part of a back-three after his introduction off the bench but it is as a creative midfielder where the youngster’s future looks set to lie, shown by his impressive return of assists last term.

What is Thierry Henry’s impact?

Dasilva played for Arsenal’s U18 side at a time when the Gunners all-time top-scorer Thierry Henry worked with the youngsters as a coach and the player has stated the France World Cup winner played a key-role in his conversion from a striker to a midfielder.

“Andries Jonker spoke to me and explained that they had seen me play in midfield for the under- 16s and also the way I made chances for others when up front, he felt that I had potential as a midfielder.

“It was a position that I needed to get reacquainted with, and I’m thankful that Thierry Henry spent a lot of time working with me. He explained I had to concentrate on getting the basics right, like tackling, passing and positioning and then my natural style will come out.”

– Josh Dasilva explains Henry’s impact on his game back in 2016.

What can he give to Birmingham?

A highly technical player who loves to run with the ball at his feet, Dasilva’s maturity in the final third puts him beyond his peers as he is aware of when to make the killer pass, while his close control helps to provide him with space.

Top-scorer Sam Gallagher scored just six goals for Birmingham last season, which shows a lack of creativity in the final third, and Josh Dasilva can aid that – although this would be his first time away from Arsenal, so he would have to settle into the senior game quickly.

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Birmingham City

Garry Monk should move for Britt Assombalonga again amid recent reports

Birmingham City need a striker and Monk is a big fan of Assombalonga.

Mathew Nash

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It appears Britt Assombalonga may be on his way out of Middlesbrough this summer, according to reports. HITC have claimed that the DR Congo striker was involved in an argument with boss Tony Pulis during a pre-season training camp and his future with the club is now in doubt.

An exit would come just over a year after he made the switch to The Riverside from Nottingham Forest.

Of course, he is a natural goalscorer in the Championship and most of the 24 teams at this level would like to have him on board. Perhaps none more so than Garry Monk at Birmingham City.

Birmingham boss Monk was being linked with a move for Assombalonga when Leeds United manager. Then, after leaving and taking up the post at Boro, he did make a move for the player.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

He is clearly a huge fan of the player and Birmingham are in the hunt for a goalscorer this summer.

Currently, that appears to be Lewis Grabban, but Nottingham Forest are the frontrunners for his signature. So should Monk go for Assombalonga the second summer running?

Of course, a permanent deal would be out of the question right now. The 25-year-old, who scored 15 goals last season, cost a fee in the region of £15 million twelve months ago. They would want a similar amount in return, which Birmingham would not be able to afford.

But not many clubs will be willing to stump up that much this summer and if Pulis is not going to use him then getting his wages off the books would make sense. Birmingham could, therefore, be hopeful of a loan deal for the player.

It would be a bold transfer from Birmingham, who are hoping to move away from the relegation fight next season. It would no doubt be tough to put together, but Monk would love a chance to work with Assombalonga again and bring some attacking impetus to St Andrew’s.

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Birmingham City

Garry Monk should reunite with Rob Green at Birmingham City

Birmingham City are set to let David Stockdale leave the club.

Mathew Nash

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Huddersfield Town have announced their retained list for the summer and veteran goalkeeper Rob Green will now be hunting for a new club. The Terriers have not renewed his one-year deal at the club and the 12-cap England international will now be hunting for a new club this summer.

Green joined Huddersfield on a free transfer after a shock release by West Yorkshire rivals Leeds United last summer, who decided to replace him with German goalie Felix Wiedwald. That proved to be a move which certainly backfired.

But he played second fiddle to Danish international goalie Jonas Lossl and is now on his way. He did not feature in a single game for the club, spending the entire season as a substitute at the John Smith’s Stadium.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

So where does he go next?

One potential option would be a return to working with Garry Monk, currently the manager at Birmingham City.

Green was the number one for Monk at Leeds in 2016-17. Had the manager remained at Elland Road, it is highly likely that Green would have done the same and played out this season as the Whites number one again.

But with Monk gone Green needed to find somewhere else to play his football and now the pair have a chance to reunite again.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It also appears that Birmingham are going to be in need of a new goalkeeper. The Yorkshire Evening Post suggest this weekend that Monk wants to move on David Stockdale, with his hometown club and Monk’s former club Leeds keen.

If Stockdale is exiting, Birmingham need a safe pair of hands between the net. Despite his advancing years, Green proved at Leeds he still has plenty to give at the Championship level and with Monk needing a new ‘keeper he can rely on the 38-year-old would be a no-brainer for Birmingham City.

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