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What’s next for Birmingham City?

As expected, it went to the wire. However, a win on the final day wasn’t enough.

Plymouth Argyle, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers all won their final-day fixtures, leaving Birmingham City in the bottom three.

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Birmingham’s 1-0 win against playoff-bound Norwich City highlighted a fight, desire and urgency that had been missing in large parts of the season.

A season full of change on and off the pitch, but the most important change in Birmingham’s immediate future is that they’ll be playing League One football for the first time in 30 years.

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The relegation presents all kinds of questions: How did this happen? How many players will leave? What staff will come and go? How much money will be there to spend in the summer?

As a Blues fan myself, I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on the events of Saturday as I try to map out a plan for the club next season and what the new-look Birmingham City will have to do to bounce straight back.

The story of this season

Right then. Where do I even begin?

Blues have been given more media attention this season than I can ever remember. Very little for good. Mostly for bad.

Outsiders looking in like to throw jibes at Birmingham for obvious reasons. An American owns the club and is very public in his approach. There’s celebrity involvement with Tom Brady owning a minority share. And last, but not least, is the appointment of Wayne Rooney as manager.

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I won’t go into too much depth about the statistics regarding Birmingham before and after John Eustace’s dismissal, as I’m sure all Blues fans are sick and tired of hearing it.

All outsiders need to know is the dismissal of Eustace for Rooney in October caused the ripple effect that resulted in Birmingham’s relegation.

And, to rub salt in the wounds, he went on to manage Blackburn, who beat Championship champions Leicester City last Saturday to send Birmingham down.

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Eustace and Rooney were two names in a list of six to take charge of Birmingham this season, with the last a returning name.

Managerial merry-go-round

After being harshly dismissed in 2016 under similar circumstances to Eustace, Gary Rowett returned to the Blues dugout. A full-circle moment.

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Although Rowett managed to win three of his four home games in charge, the away form left a lot to be desired.

The final two away games saw Blues travel to 24th place Rotherham and 23rd place Huddersfield Town. Both games ended as draws. Missed opportunities which resulted in Birmingham falling into League One alongside these two teams.

There were only three away wins in the league all season, a damning statistic which makes you sympathise with the fans who travelled up and down the country to support the team. A fiercely loyal fanbase, that will have many new travel destinations next season.

Who will be the manager next season?

The million-dollar question.

As it stands, Tony Mowbray will take charge of Birmingham City next season.

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A name not mentioned yet, Mowbray took the reins at Blues when Rooney was sacked in December. A manager with decades of experience and knowledge, ‘Mogga’ brought a breath of fresh air when he arrived.

Joking with the press at conferences, boosting the morale of the fans and players alike; he understood Blues.

Mowbray’s brand of football is expansive in a way the board want, but executed with an approach that was miles above anything Rooney set out to do.

He knew the capabilities of the players, and what they could and couldn’t do. He also brought personality to the touchline. But unfortunately, after a run of four wins in six games, Mowbray stepped away from management duties for the season with health problems.

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Rowett was placed in interim charge until the end of the season, but now the season is over, is Mowbray well enough to return to the dugout?

Who will be playing for the Blues?

A mass exodus of playing staff is expected, with 15 first-team players either out of contract or returning to their parent clubs after loan spells.

One player who definitely won’t be returning next season is Jay Stansfield.

The striker on loan from Fulham has been a shining light on what’s been a dark season for the club. Five awards at the end of the season awards highlight the impact he had and how he proved to be a cut above most in the squad.

One of the ten players out of contract in the summer of Lukas Jutkiewicz.

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‘Juke’ has been Blues’ saviour for numerous years. A player the fans could count on to rescue the team from danger. However, this season panned out differently.

He featured in a slim 13% of Championship minutes this season, mostly down to injuries and players being picked above him in the pecking order.

The new-look Birmingham will need a lot more fight than what the current crop of players showed this season. Jutkiewicz fights. However, the question remains regarding how long he has left, and the few minutes played this season are a worrying sign.

The long-term strategy

For me, the key to success long-term is not looking too far into the future, but instead focusing on what’s already here.

The infrastructure has been put in place for the club to go to the next level. This was highlighted in the most recent ‘Open House’.

Relegation is most certainly a blip in the road. But, it would’ve been catastrophic under the old ownership.

Knighthead Capital and owner Tom Wagner have a vision of where they see the club in a few years. He and his team have delivered on statements they’ve made in the past, including improving the look of St Andrew’s, buying the Bordesley Green Wheels Park which will be the destination of a new stadium, as well as doing more in the community.

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They’re pumping money into the club, but as seen this season, having money off the pitch doesn’t exactly translate to results on the pitch.

Going into League One is a step backwards and a step not many would’ve expected at the start of the season, but ultimately, the players and management will have to adapt.

It will be tough, with big teams such as Sunderland, Ipswich, Bolton and Derby taking more than one season to get out of the league this decade.

But, with a squad overhaul, some stability on the pitch and plenty of investment in the summer, the team can give themselves a good chance to bounce straight back.


  • Sam Sheppey

    Sam is a 22-year-old award-winning sports journalist from Hertfordshire with experience writing for club media with Stevenage Football Club, magazine articles with Greenways Publishing, and podcasting for talkSPORT and Birmingham City fan channel Blues Focus. Link to portfolio: