Aside from the seven new arrivals, perhaps the best piece of business Birmingham City did this summer was keeping hold of manager Gary Rowett. And in doing so, it means the West Midlands club are incredible value at 14/1 to win promotion to the Premier League.
With top-flight side Hull City spending much of the pre-season on the hunt for a new boss, a name on many people’s lips was Rowett following an impressive start to his managerial career.
But it seems the man from Bromsgrove is adamant on helping his current side achieve their long-awaited return to the pinnacle of English football. And given what we’ve seen so far, there’s every chance that this could be the year he does just that.
Birmingham currently sit in fourth place behind only Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Barnsley after six games which have brought about an impressive 11 points.
Three clean sheets so far this campaign are partly the reason Rowett’s men boast one of the best defensive records in the division, conceding just five goals.
And now it seems 32-year-old striker Clayton Donaldson has found his goalscoring touch with three goals in his last two outings. That would have been four as well, had it not been for an excellent save from Fulham goalkeeper David Button from the penalty spot before the international break.
On paper, this Birmingham side boast a perfect blend of experience and potential. Alongside Donaldson, there’s Tomas Kuszczak, Paul Robinson, Ryan Shotton, David Cotterill and Lukas Jutkiewicz who will all provide cool heads as the season progresses.
And the likes of Jack Storer, Reece Brown and Che Adams in particular will allow Rowett to turn to younger heads to provide pace, creativity and energy if and when required.
The Blues are currently averaging 1.8 points per game. Maintain that throughout the season and they’ll have another 73 added to their current tally of 11. No side has ever failed to reach at least the play-offs with a tally that high.
Up next for the Blues is a midweek trip to mid-table Reading, where goals from Donaldson and Shotton secured a 2-0 victory for Rowett’s side back in April. It’s 16/1 for a repeat of that result.
There’s obviously a reason Rowett has stayed loyal to Birmingham, so could this be the year his players finally reward him with promotion?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.