A new dawn, a new day and the first match of the new Monk era. After a season full of shambolic football and continuous losses, Steve Cotterill was sacked and former Swansea, Leeds & Middlesbrough manager came in with his backroom staff including Pep Clotet and James Beattie.
Middlesbrough, under the management of former West Brom boss Tony Pulis, came into this game on the back of a 3-0 victory against Derby, Boro were in good form coming into this.
Obviously for Birmingham there was a certain buzz in the air with Monk in town, and an interesting choice of formation with Monk opting to go back to basics with a 4-4-2. Jota came back into the starting 11, there was also a rare start for Lukas Jutkiewitz leading the line with Che Adams. Pacey wide-man Adama Traore seemed to be the main threat that Middlesbrough possessed, running Maxime Colin into the ground.
The game started positively for blues, Middlesbrough sat back soaking up any forward Birmingham pressure with Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala as the centre back partnership. Jaques Maghoma was a bright light in the home team breaking forward, cutting round the full back and playing the ball inside; Birmingham were really taking the game to the Boro.
Jota was a new man and possibly finally proving his price tag, Craig Gardner and Mikael Kieftenbeld seemed to be a good combination in the middle of the park but Kieft did give the ball away a few times. The Monk effect did pay off a little bit because we seemed to be the better side. Middlesbrough opened Blues up with a corner and it fell to in form striker Patrick Bamford who hammered it home to put Middlesbrough one to the good heading into half time.
No changes going into the second half, Monk keeping his experienced approach with Jutkiewicz up top. Middlesbrough knew they just needed to soak up any Blues pressure and catch them on the break which they did a couple of times. Birmingham offered nothing to the second half, a damn sight less than they offered to the first but still a strong enough effort and something for Garry Monk to build on.
A few Blues chances in the later stages once Sam Gallagher was eventually substituted on but still nothing coming our way… Was a painful end to the game knowing Monk’s side only had maybe one or two shots on target all game. With Britt Assombalonga coming on to frustrate the Blues back line; especially Carl Jenkinson who fouled him twice and then Boro just held the ball up and made it even harder for Birmingham to attack.
Monk had a tough first encounter then against his former employees Middlesbrough, but plenty of positives for the St. Andrews faithful to take from it but many things for the new manager and coaching staff to work on.
RB Jenkinson , CB Morrison , CB Dean , LB Colin
RM Jota , RCM Gardner , LCM Kieftenbeld , LM Maghoma
RS Adams , LS Jutkiewitz
RB Shotton , CB Ayala , CB Gibson , LB Friend
RCDM Clayton , LCDM Besic
RW Traore , CAM Howson , LW Downing
Possession – Blues 54% , M’Boro 45%
Shots – Blues 9 , M’Boro 8
Shots on target – Blues 2 , M’Boro 3
Corners – Blues 5 , M’Boro 5
Fouls committed – Blues 7 , M’Boro 12