Unexpected news coming from the EFL Championship where Birmingham City announced the sacking of John Eustace despite the team sitting sixth in the league table with 18 points after 11 matches.
Eustace was appointed by Blues ahead of the 2022/23 season and led the team to a 17th place finish, marking Birmingham City’s best points tally in the second tier in five seasons. The board’s issue was not the results but rather the playing style, with the club stating its desire to hire a coach with an attack-minded approach.
The search for the next Birmingham City manager is already underway, with the media having one name as the runaway favourite for the vacant spot at St Andrew’s.
List of Potential Next Birmingham City Manager
Leading in the race to become the Blues next manager is Wayne Rooney whose departure from DC United was announced earlier in October. In case Birmingham fail to agree terms with the former Manchester United striker, we have also compiled a list of other candidates that may excite the fans.
Wayne Rooney began his coaching career in the EFL Championship with Derby County in 2020/21 mid-season, first on an interim and then on a permanent player-coach basis. He took charge of a team at the bottom of the league table and led them to safety by finishing in the 21st spot.
Ahead of the 2021/22 season, Rooney put an end to his playing career in order to fully focus on the new role. The Rams were inconsistent throughout the season, and coupled with the 21-point deduction for administrative reasons, suffered relegation. Rooney’s departure was announced at the end of the season.
Between 2022 and 2023, Rooney coached DC United in the MLS. However, he was sacked from his position in October 2023 as the club recorded 14 wins, 14 draws and 25 losses during his 15 months in charge and failed to qualify for play-offs.
Despite the lack of impressive coaching achievements, Birmingham are in advanced negotiations with the 37-year-old for him to become the next Blues manager. Some fans are sceptical about his potential appointment despite his attack-oriented style.
If the negotiations with Rooney somehow fail, there is another Premier League legend that may be interested in the job opening at St Andrew’s – Frank Lampard.
Of course, Lampard is a Premier League legend based on his playing career, not on his coaching career. The last inscription on the 45-year-old’s CV is his interim role at Chelsea where he failed to salvage the season. Prior, Lampard had been sacked from Everton (12 wins in 44 matches) and also had an unsuccessful first spell at Stamford Bridge (44 wins in 84 matches).
However, many still remember Lampard’s solid work with Derby County in the EFL Championship in 2018/19. In his sole season at Pride Park Stadium, the former England international took the Rams to a 6th-place finish, only missing out on the promotion in the play-off final.
If Lampard is interested in restarting his career, the job at Birmingham may interest him. He already knows the league, and his proactive playing style meets the club’s demands.
On the opposite side of the two previous names on our list of potential new Birmingham coaches is Neil Warnock, whose coaching experience is second to none.
The 74-year-old Englishman holds the record for the most games coached at the professional level in England, having worked at 16 different clubs in the span of his career. That lists includes teams from the Premier League as well as from lower divisions of the English football pyramid.
At present, Warnock is out of work as Huddersfield Town parted ways with him just weeks ago. Similar to Eustace, the results were not the driving force behind the decision, it was that Huddersfield decided to take the team in a new direction.
Warnock is not necessarily the most modern coach when it comes to tactics, but his experience, adaptability and his motivational work in the dressing room may bring the winning mentality back at St Andrew’s.
Scott Parker, on the other hand, is much more dogmatic in his approach. The young English manager prefers possession-based, attacking football and always insists on his style. However, this approach does not guarantee results, and that is why Parker is currently unemployed.
The former England midfielder began coaching at Fulham in 2019 on an interim basis. Parker could not keep the Cottagers in the Premier League, but he showed enough to be named as permanent manager. He then led Fulham to immediate promotion back to the Premier League via play-offs, although they would get relegated back at the end of the 2020/21 term.
Parker then won another promotion to the Premier League, with Bournemouth this time. But due to disagreements with the board – and 4-0 and 9-0 losses to Manchester City and Liverpool respectively – he was fired by the Cherries only a month back in the top flight.
His last spell was with Club Brugge in Belgium but he would only last for 12 games in charge, failing to instil his playing style and winning just two games.
Dean Smith is next on the list of coaches whose last spells didn't go too well. The 52-year-old was called upon by Leicester City at the end of the 2022/23 term with the goal of keeping them in the Premier League, but two wins, three draws and three losses under his command were not enough to avoid relegation.
Smith made a name for himself at Aston Villa, as he led them to Premier League promotion in 2018/19, survived the first season in the top flight and also reached the EFL Cup final in 2019/20. All while having his team insist on possession, a high backline and with a focus on intense pressing.
Aside from his experience with the Villans, Smith also had good solid spells with Walsall, Brentford and Norwich City. Dean Smith could be a safe bet for Birmingham City as he knows the EFL Championship and has the personal attributes and coaching principles that suit the club’s needs.