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.
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.
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.