The Blues, currently languishing in third bottom place with 12 games to go this season, come up this weekend against high flying Cardiff City. The Bluebirds are sitting pretty in second place with 70 points and are unbeaten in their last 9 league appearances. Although many will consider this match to be a one-sided affair, especially considering Birmingham’s six game winless run, fans will have had some hope restored after the appointment of new Blues boss Gary Monk.
Monk has ample managerial experience, being at the helm of Swansea, Leeds and Middlesbrough since 2014. His last job at Boro left him with a 46.2%-win percentage, far greater than ex-City boss Steve Cotterill’s 25.9%. Many Blues fans will feel Monk has the best chance of restoring the hopes Birmingham fans had under Gary Rowett and with the Blues having already beaten Cardiff in October the Championship may be in for a shock double victory.
Birmingham fans’ hopes will be boosted by the return of David Davis to training after a knee injury has left him out for 5 games. However, Vassell and Grounds are still confirmed side-lined, with Vassell especially painful to miss considering the strength he could have added to a side facing a physically challenging Neil Warnock team.
Cardiff however are not at full strength, missing midfielder Joe Ralls, who is the Bluebird’s second top scorer, through a knee injury and having doubts over defender Matthew Connolly. Top scorer Junior Hoilett is five games without a goal; therefore, the dangerman Birmingham have to look out for is Kenneth Zohore, who has two goals and an assist in his last three matches. Cardiff captain Sean Morrison could return and Callum Paterson, who is on six goals in the Championship, may pass a late fitness test.
Blues fans will hope forward Sam Gallagher can get back on form against Cardiff, being City’s top scorer this season with seven goals. However, his goal drought of seven games is worrying and is a more telling sign of a Birmingham side desperate for goals. With attacking prowess in the form of Gallagher, Adams, Jota and Maghoma, Monk has ample talent to work with as he moulds his new side’s style to fight a relegation battle that could have been so easily avoided this season. A win could move the Blues out of the relegation zone to 20th, whereas a loss could potentially move them down to bottom if Sunderland and Burton win. Cardiff are set to remain second regardless of the outcome, six points adrift of a stellar Wolves side and four points clear of a resurgent Villa team.
Whilst the odds may look slim (Skybet are offering 19/4 for an away win), there is always hope and with a new manager and proven talent in the squad, Blues fans shouldn’t be feeling too blue going into the match, with silver linings on the horizon and the magic of the championship always bringing surprises. KRO.