Coventry City visit Birmingham City this weekend in their FA Cup clash. Here is a lowdown on what to expect from the opposition…
Name: Birmingham City FC
Stadium: St Andrew’s
Address: Cattell Road, Birmingham, B9 4RL
Pitch Size: 109 x 72 yards
Coventry: Sky Blue Kit
Birmingham: Yellow Kit
Birmingham City currently find themselves on a four-match unbeaten sequence and sit 18th in the Championship standings. With clear daylight between themselves and the bottom three, Blues will be looking to be upwardly mobile in the final third of the campaign and climb up the table.
Blues have acquired the services of exciting young players Dan Crowley and Ivan Sunjic during the summer, alongside the emergence of teenage wonderkid Jude Bellingham and they promise to offer the Sky Blues one of their toughest tests of the campaign so far. Ex-Sky Blue Lukas Jutkiewicz is the main man they turn to for goals and the forward will be looking to continue his recent good from in front of goal.
Replacing the 22 goals scored by outgoing striker Che Adams has proved difficult for Blues, finding the net on just 35 occasions in their 29 matches so far. Blues will be looking to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since the 2011-2012 campaign.
At the tender age of 42, Pep Clotet has a wealth of coaching and managerial experience in his 18 years in the industry. He began in his native Spain, and had roles at Cornelia, Espanyol and Figueres before joining Malmo FF as assistant to former Sky-Blue Roland Nilsson in 2010 after nine years in his homeland.
He remained in Scandinavia, undertaking roles with Halmstad and Viking before moving back to Spain to take over at Malaga B. Clotet made the move to England for the first time in 2013 as part of Michael Laudrup’s coaching team at Swansea.
After the Dane’s sacking he was promoted to assistant under Garry Monk and also took on the same role at Monk’s next club, Leeds United. In 2017, Clotet got his first crack at management in the English game when he took over at Oxford United, but was sacked after just 36 matches in charge of the League One side.
After reuniting with Monk at St Andrew’s and Birmingham City, Clotet took over as caretaker when Monk was sacked and got the job on a permanent basis after a positive six months in the temporary role.
Last Six Games:
L 4-5 v Leeds United (H)
L 2-3 v Wigan Athletic (H)
W 2-1 v Blackburn Rovers (H)
W 1-2 v Luton Town (A)
D 1-1 v Cardiff City (H)
D 1-1 v Middlesbrough (A)
Last Time We Met:
The Sky Blues last faced off against Birmingham in the League Cup Second Round during Coventry’s first season after being relegated from the Championship. City went into the game without a manager and Richard Shaw was placed in temporary charge for the match.
Blues took the lead thanks to a Peter Lovenkrands header from a set piece. City turned the game on its head thanks to two goals in three minutes from striker Cody McDonald and a rifled effort from new club captain Kevin Kilbane.
City couldn’t hold the lead until the break and were pegged back on 44 minutes thanks to a goal from USA international Jonathan Spector. In the second half there were chances for both teams, and striker Marlon King laid on a chance for Chris Burke which narrowly missed the target.
City responded and had chances of their own in the second period but neither team could find the breakthrough and the tie was forced into extra time.
It took just seven minutes of extra time before Coventry found what turned out to be the all-important breakthrough, when talisman Carl Baker smashed home from a Kilbane cross to give struggling Coventry a much-needed reprieve.
Coventry Wins- 17
Birmingham Wins- 23
Republic of Ireland international central defender Gary Breen joined Birmingham City in 1996 after plying his trade in the lower reaches of the Football League.
He joined for £250,000 and impressed during his solitary season in the First Division and Premier League Coventry City came calling, for whom he joined for £2.5 million the following summer.
Breen played five full seasons for the Sky Blues, four of those in the Premier League and was a mainstay in the Republic of Ireland set-up during his time with both clubs.
Following the conclusion of the 2002 World Cup and one season in the second tier with Coventry, Breen joined West Ham United on a free transfer.
Coventry signed exciting forward Peter Ndlovu to England from Highlanders in the players homeland of Zimbabwe. His Sky Blues career got off to a dream start with a debut goal at Highbury, followed by a thunderbolt winner against Aston Villa at Highfield Road.
In 1992 he became the first African player to feature in the Premier League and became a fans favourite with his performances in a Sky-Blue shirt.
The following season saw Ndlovu in his best form, and was subject of a £4 million bid from Arsenal, which saw Bobby Gould resign in response to the imminent sale of Coventry’s star man. Ndlovu stayed however and became the first away player to score a hat-trick at Anfield for over 30 years.
Peter moved on the Birmingham City in 1997 for £1.6 million, dropping down a division in the process. He helped Blues to two successive play-off appearances, but failed to reach the same heights he had in the Premier League for the Sky Blues. Ndlovu managed four seasons and over 100 appearances in Royal Blue before departing in 2001.
Tim Robinson is the referee for Saturday’s fixture, the first Sky Blues match he has refereed since 2016.
He has officiated in the Premier League and Championship so far this term, dishing out 63 yellows and one red in the 20 games he’s took charge of so far.
He will be assisted on the day by Adrian Waters and Matthew McGrath, with Ben Toner as fourth official.