If you were lucky enough to watch Birmingham this season, than you can understand what a transformation has Garry Monk made when it comes to this team. Since they’ve sacked Gary Rowett, Birmingham City has been struggling at the bottom fighting the relegation battle, and they were most certainly one of the clubs with the worst style of play. This season, we are watching a completely different team, they are properly motivated, they are fighting and they managed to compete with some of the favorites to win the league.
To stay unbeaten 11 matches at the beginning of the season is remarkable achievement. Although they have struggled to score at the beginning, it was more of a bad luck than it was problem with strikers. Since their first win, against Leeds United, Birmingham has been magnificent. They won their last four matches; they are finding a back of the net quite easily and they’ve managed to beat some of the teams that are in excellent form. As this season is becoming harder for most of the teams in Championship, Birmingham City is silently moving up. Therefore, the obvious question is, can Garry Monk get Birmingham back on top?
Is Birmingham the perfect club for Garry Monk?
We all know Garry Monk as a young and promising manager that insist to play an attractive style of football and that is very ambitious with every club that he is managing. However, he has been struggling so far to make a big impact in Championship and achieve anything more than getting sacked at the end of the season. For me, his biggest problem was the fact that he was the manager of Leeds United and Middlesbrough. These clubs will always want to fight for a promotion and be in top 6.
With Birmingham City, Garry Monk can build his team and give his players time to get used to his system. The fact that he feels no pressure at all and have the trust of the board can also boost the morale of the team. For me, Birmingham City is the perfect club for Garry Monk, as much as Garry Monk is the perfect manager for Birmingham City. It is great to see his system works and I believe that Birmingham is yet to show their best this season.
Can they reach play-offs anytime soon?
By the end of this calendar year, it would be a great achievement for Birmingham to manage to grab a play-off spot. Personally, I believe that they are capable to do that, but my opinion shouldn’t really matter, as their form is something that is really showing us what they are capable for. Birmingham can be very dangerous when it comes to home performance, hardly any team can dominate the game against them as they always look to gain more possession and create a big number of chances.
Lately, they have been scoring a lot. Their main striker, Lukas Jutkiewicz, finally found his form and so far he’s got 8 goals and 3 assists. If he stays injury-free, this can turn out to be the best season in his career. Young striker Che Adams has been another player that stepped up his game under Garry Monk, and Adams and Lukas Jutkiewicz are currently carrying their team. Garry Monk is obviously thrilled with the partnership that these two are forming and he showed his excitement as he spoke for Birmingham Mail:
“I thought Jukey and Che on Tuesday night were fantastic. The pair of them at certain moments in that game were both unplayable. That’s what we need. You have the team, then you have within the team certain partnerships or relationships that need to be strong. They have been growing and getting stronger. That comes with understanding as well. Especially Jukey he has been very consistent and I think Che is now understanding what he needs to do to complement Jukey and for Jukey to complement Che. I thought Tuesday night was probably the best performance the two of them have given as a partnership so far this season. The demand is you have to do it again – and again, and again, with every single game which is difficult to do but I think they are in the right frame of mind to continue doing that together.”
Should they have a better away record?
When you watch Birmingham play at home you can see how dominant they are and the way they can fight against any team in the league. Away from home, they are not as good as they are in home matches, they have been struggling to score, but their away record is not bad at all considering that they have lost only two away games so far. However, if they want to continue their excellent form, they certainly have to improve their away performance. They’ve managed to avoid losing against some of the top 6 teams in away matches so far and now is the perfect time for them to start winning. Their unbeaten run is certainly filling them with confidence and that confidence is something that can help them improve their game.
If they manage to improve their away performance, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fighting for a straight promotion. The most important thing is keeping their good form and unbeaten run. Currently, there is not a big number of injured players in their squad, so if they continue moving up, by the January they can set up new goals and improve their squad with new players.
Next few fixtures can define their season?
Next few fixtures are simply too important for Birmingham City. They have proved before that they are able to compete with some of the best teams in Championship, but now they have become direct opponents. Their next match is an away game against Derby County, they have to get at least a point and stay unbeaten if they want to go up, a win would get them above Derby County and potentially in top 6. Three of their next four games will be away for home, and other then Derby County, they will meet with Aston Villa and Millwall. All of these clubs are excellent at home and this will be a very tough challenge for Garry Monk and his team.
For me, Birmingham City this season is reminding a little of Fulham last season. Their start has also been bad, but lately they’ve picked up their form and managed to get a promotion. I don’t expect Birmingham to get a promotion this season, 8th place looks very realistic for them and I believe that it would be a great achievement for the club that has been fighting a relegation battle last few seasons. But looking at their form and their performance so far, Garry Monk seems to be someone that can certainly get Birmingham back on top.