Birmingham City have had a lot of managers over the last 10 years or so. Playing football currently in the Championship, Birmingham City haven’t had any good luck with managers over the past few years. But this should not let us forget all the brilliant managers the club had over the years, who have done wonders for the club and achieved greatness. In this article, let us have a look at some of the greatest Birmingham City managers ever.
Based on the success, longevity, playing style, and win percentage and impact on the club, here are the ten greatest Birmingham City managers ever.
10. Leslie Knighton [1928-1933]
Knighton was the man who took Birmingham to their first-ever FA Cup final in 1931, just after 3 years of taking charge of the club in 1928. And just after that season; the club got a top-half league table finish. One of the greatest Birmingham City managers ever Knighton managed 229 games out of which he won 87, tied 51 and lost 91 games, making it a win percentage of 38 % over a period of 5 years.
9. Freddie Goodwin [1970-1975]
Goodwin is known best at Birmingham City for giving Trevor Francis his introduction to league football and for his legendary Blues team which centred around the strike force of Francis, Bob Hatton and Bob Latchford. Goodwin managed Blues for 269 games between 1970 and 1975, winning promotion from the Second Division in 1972. He had a win percentage of 36.7% as the manager of the club.
8. Steve Bruce [2001-2007]
Steve Bruce is rated very highly among the Birmingham City fans and why not? He got the club promoted to the Premier League in 2002 for the first time in 16 years. A lengthy unbeaten run saw the team qualify for the play-offs, from where they qualified to the top division. They struggled in the top tier at first but eventually finished 13th, which was pretty acceptable.
The next season they got as high as 4th in the table but from there, things started going sideways and they ended up at 10th place at the end of the season. Bruce’s men got relegated to the Championship in 2006 but got promoted back to the Premier League in the following season. After averaging 1.35 points per game in his time with the club, Steve Bruce left for Wigan Athletic in November 2007.
7. Trevor Francis [1996-2001]
The English manager, unfortunately, did not win anything with Birmingham but he did have a compelling win percentage of 47.9, which is among the very best in the club’s history. His team finished as runners up in the League Cup 2000–01, after getting defeated by Liverpool in a penalty shootout.
It was not long after that he left the club by mutual consent after being at St Andrew’s for five years. He was a regular player in the ’70s for the club and when he returned in 1996 as a manager, he guided his team to the playoffs but wasn’t quite successful in gaining his team the promotion at the end.
6. Barry Fry [1993-1996]
Barry Fry was appointed Birmingham’s manager in 1993. The team got relegated in his first season at the club, but they were already in a bad shape when he joined. He was loved by the fans even though the team got relegated and he continued to build the team. He made some good signings during his reign too.
After 2 years of managing the club, he finally won silverware in the form of the Football League Trophy 1994–95. Not long after that, Birmingham bagged a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town on the last day to clinch the Second Division championship title, making him one of the greatest Birmingham City managers ever.
5. Gil Merrick [1960-1964]
Gil Merrick was the first inductee to the Birmingham City FC Hall of Fame in 2009. Railway End Stand at St Andrew’s was renamed ‘the Gil Merrick Stand’ in his honour after he passed away in 2010. Merrick spent his whole career of 21 years in Birmingham City as a player and after retiring in 1960, he started managing the club.
He took Birmingham to the Fairs Cup final in his first season in charge and his team went on to play the competition’s final in the next season as well. The English manager led the team to their first major title beating local rivals Aston Villa to win the 1963 League Cup final.
4. Alex McLeish [2007-2011]
Alex McLeish is the last manager to win silverware with the club. The Scot joined Birmingham City in 2007 and served as manager for 4 years. Alex gained the Blues promotion to the Premier League in his first full season at the club by finishing second just behind Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Birmingham under McLeish ended the following season with their highest-ever finish in almost 50 years. Promotion to the top tier and finishing 9th in the Premier League isn’t his greatest achievement with the club. His greatest achievement came when his team defeated Arsenal in the final of the League Cup 2010-11 at Wembley and they lifted the cup.
McLeish decided to leave the club in 2012 when they got relegated to the Championship on the final day of the season. He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest Birmingham City managers ever.
3. Alfred Jones [1892-1908]
More commonly known as Alf Jones, the English manager was the first-ever secretary-manager of the club, appointed in 1892. Jones is the longest-serving manager in the history of the club. He managed the Blues for 16 years and 566 games, winning 46 % of those games.
He won the club the first-ever Second Division Championship in his first season in charge, but due to the rules at that time their title win did not mean an automatic promotion so, they got promoted in the very next season under Alf Jones.
2. Harry Storer [1945-1948]
Harry Storer is the manager with the highest win rate in Birmingham City’s managerial history. He managed 114 games between June 1945 and November 1948, winning 51.8% of them.
Under Harry Storer, the team won the Football League South wartime league and reached the semi-final of the first post-war FA Cup. Two years later they won their third Second Division title, conceding only 24 goals in the 42-game season.
1. Arthur Turner [1954-1958]
Arthur Turner is possibly the greatest Birmingham City manager ever. His team won the second division in 1955 and finished 6th in the first division, only four points off the runners-up spot, in the very next season, which is the club’s highest-ever finish. They also made it to the FA Cup final that season but unfortunately could not win it.
Turner had a win percentage of 44.5 %, which is one of the best in the club’s history. He was in charge of the Blues from November 1954 to February 1958 and managed 164 games.