View from the opposition: Blues boss Monk still working under a cloud at St Andrew's
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Ahead of Norwich City's season opener at Birmingham we spoke to Joe Lombardi, better known to many Birmingham fans as @BrummieJoeHD on Twitter and through his YouTube channel.
How is the mood among Blues fans with the threat of a transfer embargo hanging over the club?
With Thursday evening’s EFL announcement, the mood is improving! We still have limitations, but it is a relief that Kristian Pedersen can play on Saturday and won’t be in some sort of limbo. The fans will also be happy that we are able to sign up to five players – as these will only be loans and frees with a limited wage, Garry Monk will have to be shrewd.
Is Monk considered to be the right man for the job after steering the squad clear of relegation last season?
Monk is the most beloved manager that we’ve had at St Andrew’s in over a decade. Not only has he shown his tactical ability in steering us clear of relegation, but he has made a huge effort to engage with the fans. The open training session held last week, for example – where everyone in attendance was able to meet the players and staff for pictures and autographs. A brilliant appointment and I hope he stays with us for a long time.
What is going on with the keeper situation?
We have two experienced goalkeepers in David Stockdale and Roy Carroll that are both on big wages – so we’ve tried to move them on. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do so, and it doesn’t look like they are going to join back with the squad any time soon. I’m not sure if it would be right to re-introduce them to the squad after missing pre-season, if so, young keeper Connal Trueman will have to be chosen. He is unproven but played well in his pre-season games, he could do a job until we sign a goalkeeper.
Having been unable to bring in new players so far, who do you expect to be the key players this season?
There are a few, Jota, Che Adams, and Isaac Vassell could all have great seasons. Vassell has been out injured for the best part of a year now but he has a lot of raw ability and could improve a lot this season. Jota is proven at this level but just couldn’t get the gears in motion under Cotterill; he started to look his usual self under Monk. The same can be said for Che Adams – a lot of potential with him. I think we have a good side, we’re just missing that central midfielder that can really pick a pass.
Do you think Blues could be in for another battle against relegation?
Under Monk, I don’t think so. I think we’ll see a season of mid-table mediocrity, which will be more than welcome after three final-day survivals in the last five years!
Do you see Norwich as a difficult first game of the campaign?
I think it could be worse. It’s winnable, but we have to respect the experience in their team and the fact that Farke will certainly have them organised. There’s no such thing as an easy game in the Championship – but I think it could go either way.
Will you be wary of any of the Canaries players?
I think Jordan Rhodes will be one to keep an eye on, he’s always been dangerous in the penalty area and we’ll have to make sure we don’t let him get into any space. I think the tougher challenge will be breaking you down, Tim Krul in goal is a very good signing and he will be hard to beat.
Which teams do you think will be challenging for automatic promotion?
With the side Stoke have, they simply must win the league. They have a premier league side, no two ways about it. Following them, possibly Middlesbrough. Nottingham Forest have also got a good side but it depends whether they’ll gel, it might take them a season like Wolves when the Mendez signings started coming in.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game?
1-1. I’d take that, we just don’t want to lose the opening game. It’d be good to get off to a winning start but I think Norwich have a strong side and will be difficult to break down.
• You can watch Joe’s YouTube preview of today’s game above
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