Birmingham City’s resurgence under the tutelage of Garry Monk hit something of a brick wall at the weekend, as the Premier League’s newest members Wolverhampton Wanderers picked up a 2-0 victory over them at Molineux.
While it was more of a promotion party than anything else, the game was still an opportunity for the Blues to cause something of an upset against their local rivals – but they failed. In essence, they executed their game plan quite well in terms of trying to neutralise their attacking prowess, but Wolves are on a whole other level.
Prior to the loss, Birmingham also suffered defeat at the hands of Bristol City, but before that Monk had guided Birmingham to a four-game unbeaten run. The momentum of bringing in a new boss is always going to have a positive effect, but his influence goes beyond that.
If you ask any Birmingham fans about their immediate future, they will have so much more confidence than they did just a few months ago. Yes, they could easily still suffer relegation into the third tier, but that does not seem to matter as much as it does to have a strong and stable leader.
Despite that, there was an overwhelming optimism surrounding the club as they knew Benitez would be able to do some great things if given the chance. In comparison, Monk is a young and hungry manager with plenty of potential, and a trip down to League One could actually be an exciting prospect.
They have the players and finances in place to bounce straight back up if they were to go down, and Birmingham fans are well aware of that. There is no guarantee of success, but there is hope, which is more than could be said of Steve Cotterill’s reign.