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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

Birmingham City

Garry Monk should reunite with Rob Green at Birmingham City

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

Mathew Coull

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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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Birmingham City

Leeds must take advantage of Garry Monk’s misstep and snap up David Stockdale

The experienced shot-stopper would be a useful addition at Elland Road.

Max Cohen

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David Stockdale
Photo: Getty Images

Rarely is a goalkeeper who was previously named in the Championship Team of the Year told he is surplus to requirements, but this fate appears to have befallen Birmingham City’s David Stockdale.

Leeds United must act quickly and sign Stockdale from Birmingham, reuniting the former Premier League goalie with his favourite club.

Stockdale starred for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 2016/17 Championship campaign, steering the Seagulls to automatic promotion while being named in the PFA Team of the Year.

When the Englishman signed for Birmingham the following summer, many lauded the move as one of the coups of the transfer window.

Yet, Stockdale endured a turbulent year at St Andrew’s as the club went through three managers and narrowly avoided relegation.

Nonetheless, it came as a surprise when the Birmingham Mail reported that manager Garry Monk would allow the 32-year-old keeper to leave this summer.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Stockdale enjoyed a strong end to the season as the Blues won five out of their last nine to stay up, keeping three clean sheets in the process.

Given his strong Championship pedigree and impressive recent form, it seems odd that Monk would allow Stockdale to depart this summer.

However, Birmingham’s loss could turn into Leeds’ gain, as the Yorkshire club would do well to acquire the Leeds-born shot-stopper.

The goalkeeper grew up in the city and is a Leeds supporter, and even had a trial with the club when he was 12.

Stockdale failed the trial back then but has a superb chance to move to Elland Road and deputise for his beloved childhood club.

The goalkeeper has been a problem position all year for Leeds.

According to Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post, summer signing Felix Wiedwald has “struggled to adapt” to the Championship, while Bailey Peacock-Farrell is relatively inexperienced at only 21 years of age.

The signing of David Stockdale would benefit all parties involved, reuniting the goalkeeper with his boyhood club and solving the positional dilemma at Elland Road.

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Leeds United can’t afford to lose Pablo Hernandez to Championship rivals

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Rumours are circulating that Leeds United could face a battle to retain midfielder Pablo Hernandez as interest hots up in his services, with his contract at Elland Road set to expire in the summer.

Birmingham City are believed to be one of the club’s monitoring the situation, with former club Gary Monk keen to reunite with the Spaniard, say Birmingham Live.

The news comes following Paul Heckingbottom’s quotes on his future as he told Leeds Live, “I’ve had chats with Pablo in terms of football, him himself, us as a club and everything was positive.”

“Pablo’s driven by football rather than money and things like that, he’s driven by his heart. He likes it here, his family’s settled here. So things like that are positive, always.

(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

“But there could be other people turning his head, speaking in those terms with him, trying to capture his heart at other clubs and that’s the position we find ourselves in because of his contract situation.

“So we’ll try as hard as we can. He knows where I stand on it and that’s it, that’s all we can do.”

Granted, at 33 years of age he may not be the most profitable player for the club to return with any resale value likely to be very low, but for Leeds he has been a pivotal player this season.

Only Kemar Roofe and Pierre-Michel Lasogga have scored more goals this term, with Hernandez’s tally on nine, and no player has been involved in more goals when you take assists into account.

His creativity has been crucial, even as the team have struggled under Heckingbottom, and he is clearly a key piece of the puzzle as the club consider how to improve next season.

Hernandez may not be the man to build a team around long-term, but he does possess the kind of quality that cannot be lost, nor easily or cheaply replaced, with a rebuilding project looking inevitable this summer.

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