Given the struggles for form and consistency in recent seasons, 10th place wasn’t bad at all and the club certainly looked better after Gary Rowett’s arrival. The club have clung onto Demarai Gray and can look towards building a solid squad for the season ahead. The club ended the season with three straight wins and clean sheets, fans will want more of that come August 8th.
Last Season: Championship (10th)
Manager: Gary Rowett
GKs: Connal Trueman, Nick Townsend, Adam Legzdins, Tomasz Kuszczak
DFs: Neal Eardley, Jonathan Grounds, Paul Robinson, David Edgar, Mitch Hancox, Jonathan Spector, Michael Morrison, Paul Caddis, Josh Martin
MFs: Stephen Gleeson, David Cotterill, Andrew Shinnie, Koby Arthur, David Davis, Reece Brown, Demarai Gray, Charlee Adams, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Jacques Maghoma
FWs: Clayton Donaldson, Wes Thomas, Lee Novak, Denny Johnstone, Alex Jones
In: Alex Jones (West Brom), Jacques Maghoma (Sheffield Wednesday), Adam Legzdins (Burton Albion), Tomasz Kuszczak (Wolves), Maikel Kieftenbeld (Groningen)
Out: Mark Duffy (Burton Albion – Loan)
First Six: Reading (H), Burnley (A), Brentford (A), Derby County (H), MK Dons (A), Bristol City (H)
Likely Lineup: (4-3-3) Kuszczak – Caddis, Morrison, Spector, Grounds – Gleeson, Kieftenbold, Cotterill – Gray, Donaldson, Maghoma
A word from…Bryan Hughes
On his time at the club It was a fantastic club to go there as a 20-year-old, playing alongside the likes of Steve Bruce, Gary Ablett, Anders Limpar, Barry Horne etc.
There were some big, big names and it was a pleasure to be around them and train with them on a daily basis. Getting into the Premier League took us longer than we expected given the group we had. We were always favourites with the bookies but when Steve came back as manager he got us promoted within the first six months.
On Steve Bruce His man management was excellent, he got on really well with the players, I had the beauty of playing with him and then him coming back as my manager a few years later!
I had a good relationship with him and I still do to this day, I’m still based in Hull near him and I class him as a good friend. He had that respect off the players for what he’d done during his playing career and that gave him a foundation to be successful as a manager.
On the play-off win Nobody was really thinking about the League Cup final heartache, we’d done so well to get there and we played really well in the final, we were unlucky not to win it.
We’d broken the voodoo in the play-offs of getting past the semi-finals when Stern John scored against Millwall, those were great times. Maybe it was playing on some people’s minds, especially the fans, but going into the final we were very confident, we were on a great unbeaten run and we had a fantastic mentality.
On the mental side of success It does have a mental strain on you but as I said, that team of that year, our mentality was not to get beat and that’s what helped us towards the end of the season.
Even when we conceded in the final, we’d been the better team and we believed we’d come back and then obviously Horsfield got in there and got the goal. Darren Carter’s always going to be remembered as the young Brummy lad who got them into the Premier League.
Consistency is always important, no matter what league you’re in. One of the biggest things is, and was, the team spirit, you’ve got to build that from staying over at away games, pre-season tours etc and I think that’s massively important when you’re trying to get success.
On the current team I’m good friends with Gary Rowett, obviously I played with him for a while so I always look out for them, there’s a few other lads there too like Michael Johnson as well.
I think they’ve got every chance under Gary, the club was crying out for someone who knows the club and I was hoping he would get the job, I was delighted when he did.
There was a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes so I think it’s good for the fans to know they’ve got someone who they can trust but also someone good enough and talented enough to take the team forward.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: Gary Rowett did a very good job when coming in last season and has kept hold of a few key players. With one or two more additions in the right places, Birmingham could be an underdog when it comes to who sneaks into the play-off spaces in May.
Key Player: Demarai Gray – The young attacker was highly sought after last season, leading promotion chasing Bournemouth to make several bids for him back in January. But Birmingham have managed to tie down the tricky attacker and he’ll once again be key to any hopes they have this season.
One to Watch: Maikel Kieftenbeld – The 25-year-old comes in after making almost 150 appearances for Groningen in the Eredivisie. The defensive midfielder has a good reputation and could further help shore up a Birmingham defence that ended the season with three consecutive clean sheets.