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Can this Norwich City loanee be the man to fire Birmingham City to the play-offs?



Four goals in their last nine games, no goal in five away from home and now six points off the play offs with nine games remaining. Birmingham City have it all to do if they are to squeeze into a top six position and compete in the end of season play-offs for a place in the Premier League. Their recent form suggests that it will be quite an ask for The Blues to get a run together which will be enough to shift Sheffield Wednesday from that sixth place spot. Putting it quite simply, the goals in Gary Rowett’s team have dried up in the past few weeks and, as a result, they haven’t picked up the points that could’ve put them in the driving seat.

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On the final day of the emergency loan window, Rowett secured the services of Northern Ireland international striker Kyle Lafferty on loan from Norwich. It looks to be an excellent coup for the club due to Lafferty’s recent exploits for his national side. His seven goals in qualifying helped Michael O’Neill’s side reach their first ever European Championships in France this summer. For now though, Lafferty will be looking to change the fortunes of a Birmingham side who have won just two games from their last nine. They have just about done enough to keep themselves within a shout of promotion at the end of the season and it will be Lafferty’s task to help fire them to it.

However, it might not be so straightforward as some may think. Lafferty has struggled at club level in the last few years, failing to nail down a first team spot with Norwich. He has played just 13 minutes of Premier League football with The Canaries this season and scored just the solitary goal for the club since his move from Palermo in 2014. At 28 years of age, Lafferty is hitting the peak of his career and it is important for him to settle somewhere where he can play regular football. There is no doubting that he can score goals, as he has done at Burnley, Rangers and Palermo but the end product at club level has been hard to come by for him recently. The only real positives that have been keeping him going are his performances for Northern Ireland where he remains a crucial player for them.

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As he heads to the Midlands to play under Rowett, he will be fired up, eager to get some much needed game time and Blues fans will be expecting goals. The team are lacking that out and out goalscorer who can guarantee them 15-20 goals a season. If they had that then they would certainly be looking down at those below rather than chasing the likes of Derby and Wednesday above. Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson are currently tied with seven goals each as the top scorers this campaign and, with just 41 goals all season, it is clear that finding the back of the net has been the problem for the squad. Of course, just one goal can win you a game but when you don’t score and miss gilt-edged chances, as Birmingham have, then you are going to drop a lot of points. As they enter the business end of the season, it might just take a goal or two from someone like Lafferty that could make all of the difference.

Clayton Donaldson is a hugely important player at St Andrews, doing an excellent job week in week out as a lone frontman. But, it is his finishing that has been letting him down and the introduction of Lafferty could spark the team back into life again. It may take just that one chance in a tight game that can be finished by the Northern Irishman and his poacher-like instincts could be vital to the team. His confidence may be slightly knocked by his lack of match action this season but he will take huge belief from what he has done for his national side.

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Lafferty will be looking to prove a point to all managers out there that he can be a success again at club level. This move will bring him in from the cold and straight into a nine game battle where it is all to play for in the Championship run in. He will be entering a side with solid foundations, creative ability and he will certainly get opportunities. It is up to him to rise to the task, score goals and, ultimately, help Birmingham get back on track in their play-off push.

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Birmingham City

Why Garry Monk and Birmingham City are crossing paths at the perfect time

The former Swansea manager joins Birmingham in what will be his fourth managerial role.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Birmingham City have chosen to appoint Garry Monk as their third manager of the season after dismissing Steve Cotterill over the weekend. It represents an interesting marriage between a club and manager who have equally struggled over the last 12 months. Both will be hopeful that their luck can change and their reputations can be repaired by one another.

For Monk, he remains at the early stages of his managerial career at the age of 38, but he has failed in each of his last two jobs. Last season, he was given plaudits for the work that he did with Leeds United. Although he did get the sleeping giants to challenge at the top of the Championship, they slipped out of the play-offs during the final months of the campaign. Given they were mainstays of the top-six until then, he will view it as a failure.

During the same season, Birmingham were one of the teams competing with Leeds. That was until they made the odd decision to sack Gary Rowett in December when the team were in 7th position. They finished the campaign fighting relegation after a disastrous spell under Gianfranco Zola.

Despite avoiding the drop by bringing in Harry Redknapp for the final three matches, the decision to dismiss Rowett remains an incredible misjudgment from the board. He had done a great job at the club and took them from relegation candidates to play-off hopefuls without a huge transfer spend. It was a gradual development and it was destroyed by the short-sightedness of the owners, who thought a change would provide the momentum needed to reach the Premier League.

The club have still not recovered from the now-Derby County manager leaving the club. Redknapp remained in charge for the beginning of this season and was given a huge budget to transform the club into promotion candidates. According to, he spent just under £16 million. In addition to the transfer fees, a lot of the players coming in would have been given big wages. David Stockdale arrived from newly-promoted Brighton on a free transfer and his reason for staying in the Championship was likely a financial one.

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By spending the money that they did, it put the pressure on Redknapp to deliver a promotion challenge and he failed to deliver. He lasted until only September with Blues languishing in the relegation zone. The club were now facing another battle against the drop and Steve Cotterill was the next man in the hot-seat. It was an underwhelming appointment that suggested that lacked ambition. The board likely hoped he would lead them to safety, but as the side remain in the bottom three, it became inevitable that his contract would be terminated.

Cotterill only won six league matches out of 24 in charge and didn’t manage to get the best out of the squad available. Given the talent that have at the club, they should be well clear of relegation. It would be unfair to put all the blame on the two managers that have been in charge this season, but neither showed enough to suggest they could turn it around.

Monk is a much more ambitious appointment and there are many similarities between him and Gary Rowett, the last manager to achieve relative success with Birmingham. However, his stock was damaged further this season as he was sacked by Middlesbrough after only months in charge. They started the season as the favourites to win the league and he left the club in 9th position after 23 matches.

It is difficult to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt as a relegated club and Monk discovered that during his short spell on Teesside. There was a lot of talent at the club, but it is a gradual process to increase confidence levels and he wasn’t given that time. His successor, Tony Pulis, has also struggled and results have only picked up very recently.

Is this a good appointment for Birmingham?

This is Birmingham’s fifth manager in 15 months and that is a stat that suggests a lot of mistakes have been made. As mentioned above, Monk is similar to Rowett in the sense that both are considered bright, young British managers. The main difference is that he has suffered a lot more setbacks than the man now in charge at Derby County.

At the age of 38, Monk is taking charge of his fourth club and he needs sustained success with a club to consolidate his position as a promising coach. He has had encouraging periods with both Swansea and Leeds, but his failure with Middlesbrough is a concern. They underperformed under his leadership and the fact that he is taking over a team in the relegation zone shows that his stock has plummeted.

during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Leeds United at Craven Cottage on March 7, 2017 in London, England.

However, the squad at Birmingham have been underperforming and that makes it an attractive job for Monk. Given the lack of quality at the bottom of the Championship, he should be able to steer the Blues to safety and then he would have a platform to build on.

The Birmingham supporters have reacted well to the appointment and that should give the boost to the club at a crucial stage of the season. They are only two points from safety with 11 matches to play. The timing gives Monk time to get the club out of the bottom three and that starts with the visit of former club Middlesbrough.

It is a tough first game and one that Monk will be desperate to win given his sacking earlier this season. They then have a tricky trip to promotion hopefuls Cardiff City. The next four matches will be crucial as they have matches against Hull City, Ipswich Town, Bolton Wanderers and Burton Albion.

The next six games will decide whether Birmingham can move clear of relegation or if they are to face a nervy finish to the season like they had last season. The appointment of Monk comes at a good time and it will be an interesting period for both parties. They have each had failures and now come together at the perfect time. It will be hoped that they can repair their reputations together.

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Birmingham City

Three managers that Birmingham City should target to replace Harry Redknapp

Jake Jackman



Birmingham City

Birmingham City are on the lookout for a new manager after deciding to sack Harry Redknapp after the team’s loss to Preston North End. Many supporters believe that the decision was a premature one, but the side had taken only four points from eight matches. The Blues are currently in the bottom three and facing a difficult task to make up the ground to the play-off places.

They have struggled since the sacking of Gary Rowett and two managers have failed since then. Gianfranco Zola was a complete disaster after taking the job. Redknapp did well to keep them up last season, but he wasn’t the right man long-term. It is crucial that they now find a good fit as they can’t afford any more upheaval. There are a number of managers in the running, with Steve McClaren, Gus Poyet and Nigel Adkins all mentioned in the media. Lee Carsley is the favourite and has been placed in temporary charge.

There are good managers that could take Birmingham forward. Here are three managers that they should target:

Aitor Karanka

The former Middlesbrough manager is an eye-catching name in the betting and he would be an ambitious appointment by the club. He may have failed in the Premier League, but he showed himself to be an effective manager in the second tier. The Spaniard managed to get Boro back to the top-flight and played some attractive football in the process. Although he switched back to a more defensive set-up in the Premier League, he can coach a team to play an exciting style.

Birmingham did bring in some very talented players during the transfer window and they have the potential to make significant progress up the table with the right coach. Karanka could be the perfect fit. He will make them tough to beat to begin with and provide a foundation for the flair players to do their thing. Last season wasn’t one to be remembered, but he will have learnt from it and is a name that would get the fans on board.

Alan Pardew

This will be filed under unlikely, but the former Newcastle United and Crystal Palace manager will be keen to return to the game after nearly a year out of a job. There are a lot of negative opinions about Pardew, but he has made an impact at most of the clubs he has managed. He guided the Magpies to fifth in the Premier League and got to the FA Cup final with Palace.

It would require him to drop down from the Premier League and return to the second tier. This won’t be what he would want in an ideal world, but he needs to rebuild his reputation and this could be the perfect opportunity to do that. Birmingham have a decent squad and money to spend in future windows. If he wanted a project that had a good chance of being successful, this could be a good fit for him.

Nigel Clough

The current Burton Albion manager hasn’t been mentioned, but if Birmingham want a manager that is tailor-made for the Championship, Nigel Clough would be a good appointment. He has performed miracles at the Pirelli Stadium and knows how to get results in this division. Birmingham need to appoint a good manager, rather than a big name and the 51-year-old should be under consideration.

Clough may not be interested in a move to Birmingham as he is settled at Burton, but it would be difficult to turn down the greater chance of success. He would get respect based on his recent achievements in the Championship, which neither of the previous two managers had. It seems like players enjoy working under Clough and he would be a worthy candidate for the post.

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Birmingham City

How Twitter reacted to Birmingham City signing Jota from Brentford

Jake Jackman




Birmingham City have completed one of the deals of the day in the Championship as they have signed Jota from Brentford. The official site confirms that they have broken their club-record fee to bring him to the Midlands on a four-year deal. The Spaniard had been linked to Premier League this summer, while the Bees had rejected offers from Middlesbrough and Hull City. It is seen as a huge coup for the Blues to land him.

Harry Redknapp was delighted with the transfer and the following quotes were reported by the Evening Standard:

“There will not be many better players in the Championship than him, that is for sure. He has got great ability. We are very pleased to have got that one done.”

The Blues manager has always pulled out big deadline day deals throughout his career, but this could be one of his finest. He isn’t wrong when he says that the Spaniard is one of the best players in the division and he will provide the spark that their attack has been lacking during the opening weeks of the season.

Last season, he was excellent during the second half of the season, contributing 12 goals and five assists. Brentford had one of the better attacks after his return and Birmingham will be hoping that he can have a similar impact on their front-line.

Jota is an intelligent player, who takes up good positions in the final third and is capable of producing end product on a consistent basis. It is rare to have a player like him in the Championship and the Blues will have to be seen as one of the favourites for promotion now.

Here is how Twitter reacted to the news:

Birmingham fans were pleased with the news:

Brentford fans were disappointed, but couldn’t see why he wanted to move to Birmingham:

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