Meet the opposition | Birmingham City

24th August 2019
First team
Birmingham City

As Swansea City prepare to lock horns with Birmingham City at lunchtime on Sunday, we take a closer look at the Blues.

What’s their story?

Harlee Dean

Birmingham have spent the majority of their 141-year history in the top-flight, but are currently in the midst of their ninth-straight season in the Championship after dropping out of the Premier League in 2011.

They have finished higher than 10th on only one occasion during that time and they have battled relegation in three of the previous six campaigns, with former Swan Garry Monk guiding them to safety in the previous two seasons – the latter after a nine-point deduction had put them in danger of the drop.

The St Andrew's club have won two FA Cups and two League Cups, with the most recent of those successes coming in 2011 when they stunned Arsenal in the League Cup final at Wembley as Obafemi Martins scored a last-gasp winner.

How’s their form?

Lukas Jutkiewicz

It’s been an encouraging start to the season for the Blues, who have taken seven points from their four matches so far.

A fine win at Brentford on the opening day was followed by a creditable draw with Bristol City, but they were well beaten 3-0 at Nottingham Forest in what was a first defeat in 10 league games.

However, they bounced back with a midweek win over Barnsley.

Having lost five games in a row towards the end of last term the Blues had been left to rue a case of what might have been in 2018-19 given their points deduction and the fact that they drew 19 of their 46 league games. Only Stoke (22) drew more.

Who’s the boss?

Pep Clotet

Pep Clotet. The Spaniard is a familiar face to Swansea City fans, having spent just over two years in SA1.

Born just outside Barcelona, the Spaniard originally joined the Swans as academy consultant in November 2013 before stepping up to assist Garry Monk following the departure of Michael Laudrup. 

He helped the Swans to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League in 2015, but left in December of the same year following Monk’s exit.

Having attained his UEFA Pro licence in 2003 at the age of just 26, he coached at Espanyol for five years before becoming assistant-manager to Roland Nilsson at Malmo and then had spells at Halmstads, Norway's Viking FK and Malaga before his move to South Wales.

Since leaving SA1 he has worked with Monk at Leeds and Birmingham – either side of a stint as boss at Oxford United – before taking over as caretaker head coach at St Andrew’s this summer.

Who are the key men?

Fran Villalba

The Blues made some notable additions over the summer, including snapping up midfielders Fran Villalba and Ivan Sunjic from Valencia and Dinamo Zagreb respectively.

Spanish striker Alvaro has also joined, while defender Jake Clarke-Salter joined on loan from Chelsea.

They still have powerful defender Harlee Dean and direct winger Jacques Maghoma to call upon, although they lost Jota to local rivals Aston Villa.

Lukas Jutkiewicz – who scored 14 goals last term – has led the line early in the season, with Gary Gardner providing experience in a midfield missing the influence of the injured Maikel Kieftenbeld.

Jefferson Montero, on loan from the Swans, is unavailable for this fixture under the terms of his season-long move.