Meet the opposition | Birmingham City
As Swansea City prepare to travel to Birmingham City on Tuesday evening (7.45pm), we take a look at the history, form and the key figures for the Blues.
What's their story?
Initially formed in 1875 as Small Heath Alliance, the club became Small Heath and then Birmingham, before finally settling on its current name in 1943.
Small Heath are listed as one of the founding members of the Football League Second Division and were the first champions of that league.
The Blues have played home matches at their St. Andrew’s ground for 116 years.
The highest league finish in the Blues 147-year history came in the 1955-56 season where they finished sixth in the First Division. They also reached the FA Cup final that year – their joint best performance in that competition, having also finished as runners-up 1931.
Birmingham are two-time winners of the EFL Cup (1963 and 2011) and were runners up in 2001. They are currently in their 12th straight season at Championship level.
How's their form?
On the rise. One defeat in the last six has pushed Birmingham into mid-table. An excellent win against promotion hopefuls Queens Park Rangers and creditable draws against fancied Burnley and Sheffield United show the Blues are capable of mixing it with any team in the division.
Defensively the Blues have been a tough nut to crack with the joint-best defensive record in the second tier. A lack of goals, however, has been a concern for John Eustace's side, having scored only 18 in as many league outings.
Who’s the gaffer?
John Eustace. The former Coventry City, Stoke City and Watford midfielder joined the Blues as head coach on July 3.
He began his coaching career with two years at Kidderminster Harriers before leaving to join Queens Park Rangers as an assistant manager under Steve McClaren.
Following McClaren’s departure, he retained his role under Mark Warburton and remained loyal to the former Brentford boss despite having opportunities to take on the lead job at other clubs.
However, he departed the London outfit following the appointment of Rangers’ new manager Michael Beale, after Warburton's exit was confirmed at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.
As a player, Eustace came through the ranks at Coventry and became a first-team player when the Sky Blues were in the top-flight.
Notable spells at Stoke, Watford and Derby followed in a career that took in just shy of 400 league appearances.
Who's the captain?
Troy Deeney. The former Watford man was named as Blues’ club captain in January following the departure of Harlee Dean to League One side Sheffield Wednesday on loan.
The 34-year-old has retained the captaincy this term as he adds goals and considerable experience to the team. The forward has made nearly 600 career appearances, the majority of these coming during his 11-year spell with Watford.
Although his name will always be synonymous with the Hornets, Deeney’s move to the Blues was something of a homecoming for the Birmingham-born striker, who grew up supporting the St. Andrew’s side.
Prior to his time at Watford, he spent four seasons with Walsall.
Who are the key men?
Scott Hogan is an experienced Championship striker and currently leads the goal scoring charts for Birmingham with eight goals. The former Stoke City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa striker finished the 2021-22 season in double figures – making him their top goal scorer.
Tahith Chong signed a permanent deal with Birmingham on deadline day following a successful loan spell from Manchester United last term. The creative winger was an important figure last season and has carried his attacking supply into this campaign with four assists to his name.
Arsenal loanee USA under-23 international Auston Trusty is a key part of Eustace's frugal defence.
Standing at 6ft 3in, the commanding defender has been an ever present in the Blues line-up, whilst proving handy at the other end of the pitch by chipping in with three goals, including the recent opener in the 2-0 triumph over Queens Park Rangers.
Experienced goalkeeper John Ruddy has been praised as one of the Midlands side's most consistent performers in the opening games of the season. The former England international has nearly 500 career appearances to his name, most of these coming for Norwich City where he counted Swans boss Russell Martin among his team-mates.