Currently, the American flag is proudly displayed above the primary seating area at St Andrew’s. However, the owners of Birmingham City had a much grander vision for the team, one that did not involve fighting against being demoted to League One. Earlier this week, they chose Tony Mowbray to take over as manager, despite him having to cancel a planned trip to New York in the new year. This decision was made following the unsuccessful tenure of Wayne Rooney, which many had anticipated would be a major and ill-advised mistake.
It has been widely reported that Birmingham fired John Eustace in October when the team was ranked sixth in the Championship. However, in the span of three months, their situation has drastically changed. They are now seven points above the relegation zone and have only won two out of their last 16 league games.
One positive aspect in recent months has been the rise of 19-year-old Jordan James from Wales. In a match against Jamal Lowe, James made a fantastic long-range goal in the final minutes of stoppage time to tie the game and prevent Lowe’s close-range shot from securing a win. James, who came on as a substitute in the second half, fired a powerful right-footed shot that soared into the bottom corner.
The electronic displays at the stadium have been used frequently recently, proudly displaying Mowbray as the new leader, after the hype surrounding Rooney’s highly anticipated arrival. The media coverage was extensive and journalists were given special identification badges at his introduction. The chief executive who played a key role in his hiring acknowledged the high level of media attention, and mentioned Manchester City and Newcastle as examples of clubs that have successfully adapted quickly. However, things may not be as smooth for Mowbray.
The team Swansea is also behind, as this is the first game in charge for Luke Williams, who is 43 years old and has returned to the club where he used to be an assistant to Russell Martin. He has since gained a strong reputation while working at Notts County.
Birmingham showed more energy initially, but then Swansea scored first with a header from Harry Darling off a corner kick by Josh Tymon. However, Swansea’s lead was short-lived as Siriki Dembélé quickly equalized with a well-placed shot from the left side, past Brighton’s loaned goalkeeper Carl Rushworth.
Dembélé was consistently energetic for Birmingham and early in the second half, he missed an opportunity to take back the lead by not being able to get past Rushworth, the Swansea goalkeeper. Darling, once again unmarked, sent a strong header that hit the crossbar and John Ruddy saved a shot from Lowe at a difficult angle. Lowe was in the perfect position to beat Dion Sanderson to Tymon’s cross and redirect the ball past Ruddy, giving Swansea the advantage. However, James would ultimately have the last word.