Birmingham City v Middlesbrough: Facing Boro '˜not ideal' first game in new job, admits Garry Monk

New Birmingham City manager Garry Monk.New Birmingham City manager Garry Monk.
New Birmingham City manager Garry Monk.
FOOTBALL is full of strange quirks. Just ask former Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk.

As a unique 39th birthday ‘present’, Monk has been handed an opening match in charge of Birmingham City against the club who sacked him just over a day before Christmas and he admits that the timing is far from ideal.

Just 73 days after being shown the door by the Teesside club, Monk, who went on record to state that he believed his axing to be unduly harsh, will be attempting to put one over on Boro and claim three precious survival points.

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However, you sense that he will probably be glad when tonight is done and dusted.

Monk, who had controversially left Leeds United last summer before linking up with Boro, said: Football has a funny way of doing these types of things.

“It is not ideal, but I have enjoyed working with the (Birmingham) players, they are a very good group who are determined to get themselves out of this situation.

“We have not been able to go through the full preparation (for the game), but we have identified certain things to focus on that will give them security and confidence to go out and play how we need them to play.”

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On his brief six-month stint on Teesside, where his lavishly-assembled side failed to live up to expectations after being installed as pre-season promotion favourites, Monk added: “You learn lessons every day. Throughout my managerial career there will be lessons to be learned.

“It is my fourth year, but I have already had huge experience in that four years, a lot has gone on and I have learned a great deal.

“You take all of that into your next opportunity, it is a process you go through. I feel confident my work has been relatively successful in the short time I have been doing it.”

Adam Clayton is likely to deputise for suspended Boro captain Grant Leadbitter, who picked up a tenth booking of the season in Friday night’s 3-0 victory over Leeds United.

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Tonight also sees Boro defender Ryan Shotton make his first return to St Andrew’s following his move in August.

Boro have won just once on their last 19 visits to Blues.

Last six games: Birmingham LLLLLL Middlesbrough LWLWDW.

Referee: S Martin (Staffordshire).

Last time: Birmingham 2 Middlesbrough 2; April 29, 2016; Championship.