Part Two of our look ahead to next season's Sky Bet Championship and the focus is on Birmingham City who will be looking to improve after last season's struggles.
Birmingham City's 2017/18 season
League Position: 19th
Average league attendance: 21,042
Top league goalscorer: Sam Gallagher (6)
As many managers as they had away wins, just 38 goals in 46 league games, and a dogfight against relegation right to the wire, this was not the season that Birmingham City fans were expecting when Harry Redknapp was splashing the cash last summer.
After bringing in 14 players over the summer, including the Brentford trio of Maxime Colin, Jota, and Harlee Dean, Blues fans expected an improvement on the previous season's 19th placed finish but they were to be in for a shock. Just one win in their first eight left them 23rd in the table when Redknapp departed in mid-September.
Steve Cotterill was next to permanently fill the manager's void but life didn't get any easier under the former Bristol City boss. A five game winless run in December meant Blues propped up the table over Christmas and they continued to be embroiled in the relegation battle until Cotterill's departure in early March.
It was only under Garry Monk that the Birmingham engine slowly clicked into gear. Consecutive wins over Hull City, Ipswich Town, and Bolton Wanderers took them out of the bottom three in April and survival for the Championship's joint-lowest scorers was ensured with a final day win over Fulham at St Andrew's.
Miles from Brentford: 119
Address: Cattell Road, Birmingham, B9 4RL
Garry Monk arrived at St Andrew's in March, having left Middlesbrough in December.
The central defender began his playing career with Torquay United before moving on to Southampton in 1996. Following loan spells with Stockport County, Oxford United and Sheffield Wednesday, he joined Barnsley on a permanent deal. After making just three appearances for The Tykes, he joined League Two side Swansea City in 2004 and went on to play in every division for The Swans until they reached the top flight in 2011, the majority of his later appearances coming as captain.
Stepping into the dugout, the 39-year-old saved his former club from relegation and took them to the Europa League Round of 32 having taken over from Michael Laudrup in 2014. The following year saw league doubles over both Arsenal and Manchester United as Swansea finished eighth. After a run of one win in 11 games, he left Swansea in 2015 after more than 12 years with the Welsh club. A season-long stay at Leeds United, where he guided The Whites to their highest league finish in six years, and a short spell at Middlesbrough followed before his arrival in the second city earlier this year.
The Key Man
Jacques Maghoma - 2017/18 44 appearances, 5 goals
The 30-year-old swept the board at Birmingham City's End of Season awards, picking up both the Players' and Supporters' Player of the Year prizes. It capped an impressive campaign for the winger who was one of the bright attacking spots in a side that struggled going forward. With five goals and seven assists, the Congo international was directly involved in more than a third of Blues league goals last term.
Head to Head
Brentford wins: 12
Birmingham City wins: 19
2018/19 Odds with Leo Vegas Sport UK
Championship Winners: 22/1
Odds correct at time of writing.
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