Millwall are back on the road this weekend in the Sky Bet Championship, as Birmingham City host The Lions and their former manager Gary Rowett at the St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3pm).
Millwall sit in 12th place in the League table going into the weekend contest, one point ahead of The Blues in 15th following the midweek fixtures.
Birmingham have competed in their current spell at Championship level since 2011. The West Midlands outfit managed four top-half finishes in the division in the following five seasons, but have failed to finish higher than 17th across the past three campaigns. The club have enjoyed 12 promotions into the top flight during their history, including four as champions, and in their final Premier League season achieved League Cup glory in the 2010/11 season – 10 years on from their last domestic Final appearance. The Blues have also reached two FA Cup Finals, and share a feat with Millwall as one of just a handful of clubs to represent England in UEFA European competition whilst a Championship club, following their simultaneous Cup triumph and relegation.
A number of players were brought into Birmingham in a bid to push up the table this season. Gary Gardner, Dan Crowley and Ivan Sunjic were recruited, along with Jefferson Montero, Alvaro Gimenez and Jeremie Bela. Aside from a clutch of promising young players departing on loan to gain senior experience, The Blues were able to keep hold of several of their talented assets. The major blow at St. Andrew’s was the departure of Che Adams to Southampton – the club’s top League scorer for the past two seasons. Isaac Vassell also left the club, along with now-Lion Connor Mahoney, who made 30 Championship outings for the club on loan last term.
Pep Clotet took charge of Birmingham on a caretaker head coach basis in June of this year, after previously being assistant to Garry Monk. Current Lions boss Gary Rowett managed The Blues over 100 times between October 2014 and December 2016, having a real positive impact on the club’s form on the pitch. Clotet, still just 42, began his coaching career whilst in his twenties after a brief amateur career as a player, and started in the dugout with UE Cornella. Taking on roles in Spain, Sweden and Norway, Clotet eventually took his first assistant role in the Premier League with Swansea City in 2013. He would later make the move with Monk to Leeds United, before becoming manager of Oxford United in 2017. Lasting just over six months in the role, the Spaniard rejoined Monk at St. Andrew’s and stepped up following the now-Sheffield Wednesday boss’ departure.
Millwall have won 13 past meetings against Birmingham, who have claimed 23 victories alongside 11 drawn meetings. However, The Lions’ recent record has been positive against the Midlands outfit, winning four of our last five contests with The Blues including a 2-0 win in our last trip to St. Andrew’s back in March – courtesy of Ben Thompson’s first-half double.