List of Birmingham City F.C. managers
This chronological list of managers of Birmingham City Football Club comprises all those who have held the position of manager of the first team of Birmingham City and its predecessors Small Heath and Birmingham since the club was first admitted to the Football League in 1892. Each manager's entry includes his dates of tenure and the club's overall competitive record (in terms of matches won, drawn and lost), honours won and significant achievements while under his care. Caretaker managers are included, where known, as well as those who have been in permanent charge.
In the early days, team management was undertaken by a club committee. When payment of players was legalised in 1885, Alfred Jones began to act as club secretary on a voluntary basis. Small Heath's election to the newly formed Second Division of the Football League in 1892 prompted the board of directors to appoint him as the club's first paid official, responsible as secretary-manager for matters on the field in addition to his administrative duties. In his first season the club won the inaugural Second Division championship, and gained promotion to the First Division for the first time the following year via the Test Match system. Jones's 16-year tenure saw three promotions and three relegations, after the last of which in 1908 he resigned. Successor Alex Watson's two seasons in charge ended with the club having to apply for re-election to the league and with responsibility for team affairs passing to former player Bob McRoberts, who became the club's first dedicated team manager.
Frank Richards succeeded Watson as club secretary in 1911, and when the First World War broke out he took over the managerial reins as well. Under Richards Birmingham won the Second Division title in 1921 and signed players such as Joe Bradford, Johnny Crosbie and Dan Tremelling who did much to keep the club in the top flight through the 1920s. He also forgot to enter them in the 1922 FA Cup. Billy Beer and Bill Harvey kept them in the First Division, albeit in the lower half of the table, before former Arsenal manager Leslie Knighton took charge in 1928. He led them to their first FA Cup final in 1931 and a top-half league finish the following year, but left when Chelsea made him an offer Birmingham were unable to match. Former Birmingham defender George Liddell kept them in the top tier until they were relegated in the last season completed before the Second World War, resigning in September 1939 when league football was suspended. His tenure of just over six years made him the club's longest-serving team manager.
Harry Storer, appointed just before the war ended, won the championship of the 1945–46 Football League South wartime league and the Second Division title two years later. Under Bob Brocklebank Birmingham were relegated from the First Division, but they reached the semifinal of the 1951 FA Cup and Brocklebank signed many of the players moulded by Arthur Turner into a successful team. Turner won promotion in 1955, the next season led the team to their highest league finish of sixth place and their second FA Cup final, and in 1957 reached the semifinals of both the FA Cup and the inaugural Inter-Cities Fairs Cup competition. In 1958 the club experimented with a joint appointment, hiring Pat Beasley to work alongside Turner; the experiment annoyed Turner and after six months prompted his resignation. Beasley and successor Gil Merrick took the club to successive finals of the Fairs Cup in 1960 and 1961. Merrick managed the club to their first major trophy, the League Cup in 1963, beating local rivals Aston Villa 3–1 on aggregate, but four years in the bottom six places earned him the sack.
Joe Mallett presided over relegation before acting as assistant to Stan Cullis, who laid the foundations for the team's future success before retiring from football in 1970. Chosen only after abortive approaches were made to Don Revie, Brian Clough and Ronnie Allen, Freddie Goodwin converted the attractive but inconsistent football of Cullis's teams to a skilful, aggressive game capable of winning promotion and maintaining top-flight status. The side struggled after Goodwin sold Bob Latchford, so first-team coach Willie Bell was promoted to manager, initially in a caretaker capacity. After achieving little in two years, Bell was replaced by club director Sir Alf Ramsey, whose brief managerial tenure ended with him leaving the club entirely.[A] Jim Smith brought experienced players to the club but was sacked to make way for Ron Saunders, who had just walked out on league champions and local rivals Aston Villa.[B]
Financial difficulties and instability at board level led to six managerial changes in seven years. Saunders resigned after FA Cup defeat to non-league Altrincham, John Bond seemed out of touch, and in April 1989, once relegation to the Third Division for the first time in the club's history was confirmed, the club's new owners replaced Garry Pendrey with Dave Mackay. Within 18 months, with relegation to the Fourth Division a possibility, Mackay resigned. Lou Macari came in, revitalised the side, won the Associate Members Cup[C] at Wembley, and three weeks later walked out to join Stoke City. Terry Cooper won promotion back to the second tier and kept the team going during four months of administration before he quit, fearing new owner David Sullivan would want to bring in his own man.
Southend United manager Barry Fry, hired at the cost of a record fine for "poaching", failed to avoid relegation but combined the Division Two title with another victorious trip to Wembley in the Football League Trophy[C] in 1995. After one ineffectual season in the second tier which brought his total of players used up to 61, he was sacked. Trevor Francis introduced Premier League players to the team and took them to the 2001 League Cup final, but three successive play-off semifinal defeats led to his departure by mutual consent. Two months later, after the dispute over his release from previous employers Crystal Palace reached the High Court, Steve Bruce took charge. Bruce, the ninth former player to have served as permanent manager, led the club to promotion via the play-offs in his first season; his tenure of nearly six years made him the club's longest-serving post-war manager. After uncertainty surrounding a takeover bid for the club led Bruce to accept the managerial post at Wigan Athletic, former Scotland manager Alex McLeish was appointed in November 2007.
Unable to avoid relegation at the end of his first part-season, McLeish led the team back to the Premier League at the first attempt in 2009, then guided them to a 12-game unbeaten run, a club record in the top division, and a ninth-place finish, their best since 1959. McLeish led Birmingham to their first major trophy in 48 years, by beating Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup Final, then took them back to the second tier. Amid rumours of his being favourite for Aston Villa's managerial vacancy, McLeish resigned by email in June 2011. His successor, former Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton, led the club into the Europa League group stage, narrowly failed to qualify for the knockout rounds, and reached the play-off semi-finals. With the club in financial turmoil and under a transfer embargo, Hughton left for Premier League Norwich City. Lee Clark, dismissed by Huddersfield Town earlier in 2012, led Birmingham to a mid-table finish in his first season. They escaped relegation to the third tier on goal difference via Paul Caddis's stoppage-time equaliser at Bolton Wanderers in the last match of 2013–14, but continuing poor form, with only one home league win in more than a year, brought Clark's dismissal in October 2014.
Burton Albion manager and former Birmingham City player Gary Rowett achieved two tenth-place finishes before – on 14 December 2016, with the team just outside the play-off positions, and to widespread surprise – the club's new owners relieved him and his staff of their duties and, within hours, appointed former Italian international player Gianfranco Zola.
All first-team matches in national or international competition are counted, except the abandoned 1939–40 Football League season and matches in wartime leagues and cups.
Manager dates and statistics are sourced from Matthews (1995) for Jones and Watson, The Birmingham City FC Archive for McRoberts to Francis, and Soccerbase thereafter. Omissions and other discrepancies are corrected with input from Matthews (1995), Matthews (2000) and elsewhere, and are noted in the table. Names of caretaker managers are supplied where known, and periods of caretaker-management are highlighted in italics and marked . Win percentage is rounded to one decimal place.
Statistics are complete up to and including the match played on 24 February 2017.
M: Matches played W: Matches won D: Matches drawn L: Matches lost
|Name||Nationality||From||To||M||W||D||L||Win%||Honours and achievements||Notes|
|Jones, AlfredAlfred Jones||English||July 1892||June 1908||566||260||108||198||45.9||[D]|
|Watson, AlexAlex Watson||English||July 1908||June 1910||78||22||16||40||28.2||[D]|
|McRoberts, BobBob McRoberts||Scottish||July 1910||May 1915||203||77||47||79||37.9||[E][F]|
|Richards, FrankFrank Richards||English||May 1915||May 1923||173||78||36||59||45.1||Second Division championship 1921||[D]|
|Beer, BillyBilly Beer||English||May 1923||March 1927||163||62||36||65||38.0||[G]|
|Harvey, BillBill Harvey||English||March 1927||May 1928||58||20||16||22||34.5||[G]|
|Knighton, LeslieLeslie Knighton||English||August 1928||May 1933||229||87||51||91||38.0||FA Cup runner-up 1931||[D]|
|Liddell, GeorgeGeorge Liddell||English||July 1933||September 1939||267||82||76||109||30.7||[G]|
|Camkin, BillBill Camkin||English||September 1939||November 1944||0||0||0||0||—||[D][H]|
|Goodier, TedTed Goodier||English||November 1944||May 1945||0||0||0||0||—||[H]|
|Storer, HarryHarry Storer||English||June 1945||November 1948||114||59||30||25||51.8||[I]|
|Walter Taylor||November 1948||January 1949||9||3||1||5||33.3||[J]|
|Brocklebank, BobBob Brocklebank||English||January 1949||October 1954||263||102||71||90||38.8|
|Turner, ArthurArthur Turner||English||November 1954||February 1958||166||74||35||57||44.6||[G][K]|
||February 1958||September 1958||17||6||5||6||35.3||[L]|
|Beasley, PatPat Beasley||English||September 1958||May 1960||95||39||20||36||41.1||Inter-Cities Fairs Cup runner-up 1960||[M]|
|Merrick, GilGil Merrick||English||May 1960||28 April 1964||202||64||46||92||31.7||[G]|
|Mallett, JoeJoe Mallett||English||July 1964||27 December 1965||66||15||16||35||22.7||[N]|
|Cullis, StanStan Cullis||English||27 December 1965||18 March 1970||214||87||51||76||40.7||[N]|
||18 March 1970||29 May 1970||6||1||0||5||16.7|
|Goodwin, FreddieFreddie Goodwin||English||29 May 1970||18 September 1975||269||99||83||87||36.8||Second Division promotion 1972||[O]|
|Bell, WillieWillie Bell||Scottish||18 September 1975||5 September 1977||91||28||20||43||30.8|
|Ramsey, Sir AlfSir Alf Ramsey||English||8 September 1977||6 March 1978||28||11||4||13||39.3|
|Smith, JimJim Smith||English||12 March 1978||15 February 1982||182||59||50||73||32.4||Second Division promotion 1980|
|Bodell, NormanNorman Bodell||English||15 February 1982||22 February 1982||2||1||0||1||50.0||[B]|
|Saunders, RonRon Saunders||English||22 February 1982||16 January 1986||202||72||53||77||35.6||Second Division promotion 1985||[B]|
|Leonard, KeithKeith Leonard||English||16 January 1986||22 January 1986||1||0||0||1||0.0|||
|Bond, JohnJohn Bond||English||23 January 1986||27 May 1987||65||17||20||28||26.2|
|Pendrey, GarryGarry Pendrey||English||28 May 1987||26 April 1989||98||20||27||51||20.4||[G]|
|Mackay, DaveDave Mackay||Scottish||26 April 1989||23 January 1991||91||34||27||30||37.4|
|Coldwell, BillBill Coldwell||English||23 January 1991||7 February 1991||3||2||1||0||66.7|
|Macari, LouLou Macari||Scottish||7 February 1991||18 June 1991||24||12||6||6||50.0||Associate Members Cup[C] 1991|
|Cooper, TerryTerry Cooper||English||9 August 1991||29 November 1993||135||48||36||51||35.6||Third Division promotion 1992|
||29 November 1993||10 December 1993||1||0||0||1||0.0|
|Fry, BarryBarry Fry||English||10 December 1993||7 May 1996||156||68||44||44||43.6|
|Francis, TrevorTrevor Francis||English||10 May 1996||15 October 2001||290||139||70||81||47.9||League Cup finalist 2001||[G]|
||15 October 2001||12 December 2001||12||5||4||3||41.7|
|Bruce, SteveSteve Bruce||English||12 December 2001||23 November 2007||270||100||70||100||37.0||[G][P]|
|Black, EricEric Black||Scottish||23 November 2007||27 November 2007||1||0||0||1||0.0||[P][Q]|
|McLeish, AlexAlex McLeish||Scottish||28 November 2007||12 June 2011||168||62||51||55||36.9|
|Hughton, ChrisChris Hughton||Irish||22 June 2011||7 June 2012||62||26||21||15||41.9|
|Clark, LeeLee Clark||English||26 June 2012||20 October 2014||116||33||35||48||28.4||[R]|
||20 October 2014||27 October 2014||2||0||0||2||0.0||[R]|
|Rowett, GaryGary Rowett||English||27 October 2014||14 December 2016||106||42||32||32||39.6|
|Zola, GianfrancoGianfranco Zola||Italian||14 December 2016||Present||15||2||4||9||13.3|
- Ramsey's biographer has him "locked in an increasingly bitter three-way dispute with his star player, Trevor Francis, and the board". After initially accepting the player's transfer request, the board changed their minds, fearful they would "incur the wrath of already disgruntled fans". Ramsey duly handed in his notice. The Times reported that "Sir Alf said he told the board two weeks ago that he intended to quit and sever his links with the club. ... He said at a board meeting on February 20 he recommended both Francis and the defender, Joe Gallagher, should be transfer listed. The board agreed but three days later changed their minds about Francis. Sir Alf said he then decided to opt out because of the board's policy."
- Saunders was announced as Birmingham manager on Thursday 18 February 1982, having walked out on local rivals Aston Villa some two weeks earlier. As the Birmingham derby was scheduled for the Saturday, he took over formally as manager after the derby on Monday 22 February. "Mr Saunders said that the final formalities were in the hands of solicitors and accountants and, subject to completion of the details, he would be taking over on Monday, Norman Bodell, acting as manager since Jim Smith was suddenly dismissed on Monday, will be in charge of the side for the local derby."
- The Associate Members Cup was renamed the Football League Trophy in 1992. It is popularly known by its sponsored names, the Leyland DAF Cup in 1991 and the Auto Windscreens Shield in 1995.
- Club's first full-time manager.
- Formerly played for the club.
- Formerly played for the club.
- Took charge of matches in wartime leagues/cups only.
- BCFC Archive totals omit ten games in 1945–46 FA Cup.
- The club's chief scout Walter Taylor was appointed assistant team manager shortly after Storer's resignation and acted as caretaker until Brocklebank's appointment. As BCFC Archive doesn't specify detail for period between Storer and Brocklebank, statistics are sourced from Matthews (1995).
- Turner was the first manager to manage an English club side in European competition, when Birmingham played their first group game in the 1955–58 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup on 15 May 1956, a goalless draw away at Internazionale. The competition lasted over three English seasons with the final not played until 1958. (The London XI, a representative side made up of players from several London clubs, were the first English team when they played their first group game in the same competition in 1955.)
- Joint appointment.
- Beasley was appointed "acting manager" when Turner left in September 1958, becoming manager in January 1959. He was the first manager to manage an English club side to the final of a European competition. The home leg of the 1958–60 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final against Barcelona, a goalless draw, was played on 29 March 1960; Barcelona won the away leg 4–1. (The London XI were the first English team when they reached the final of the 1955–58 Fairs Cup.)
- Cullis accepted the managerial position on 7 December 1965, but did not take up his duties until 27 December.
- BCFC Archive totals include the away leg of the Texaco Cup quarter final match against Newcastle United, abandoned at 1–1 and later replayed.
- Soccerbase has Bruce replaced by Black on 19 November 2007. Wigan Athletic announced Bruce as their new manager on that date, but a financial dispute meant he did not officially leave Birmingham until 23 November, when Eric Black took over officially as caretaker.
- Soccerbase has Black leaving on 28 November 2007, the date of McLeish's appointment, but in fact he left the day before.
- Soccerbase has Clark still in post after his 20 October 2014 departure, but any matches over and above his 116 are to the credit of joint caretakers Beale and Crosby.
- The Birmingham City FC Archive. Tony Jordan. (via archive.org).
- Birmingham City managerial history at Soccerbase.
- Birmingham City at Statto.
- Matthews, Tony (1995). Birmingham City: A Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books. ISBN 978-1-85983-010-9.
- Matthews, Tony (2000). The Encyclopedia of Birmingham City Football Club 1875–2000. Cradley Heath: Britespot. ISBN 978-0-9539288-0-4.
- Matthews (2000), "Jones, Alfred", p. 127.
- Matthews (1995), pp. 8–9.
- Matthews (2000), "Watson, Alexander", p. 231.
- Matthews (2000), "McRoberts, Bob", pp. 145–46.
- Matthews (2000), "Richards, Frank", p. 190.
- Matthews (1995), pp. 14–15.
- Matthews (2000), "Beer, Billy", pp. 27–28.
- Matthews (2000), "Harvey, Billy", p. 107.
- Matthews (2000), "Knighton, Albert Leslie", p. 130.
- Matthews (2000), "Liddell, George", p. 138.
- Matthews (2000), "Storer, Harry", p. 212.
- Matthews (2000), "Brocklebank, Bob", p. 42.
- Matthews (2000), "Turner, Arthur", p. 225.
- Matthews (1995), p. 29.
- Matthews (1995), pp. 61–62.
- Matthews (2000), "Merrick, Gil", p. 154.
- "Gil Merrick". Birmingham City F.C. Archived from the original on 22 June 2009.
- Matthews (2000), "Mallett, Joe", p. 147.
- Matthews (2000), "Cullis, Stan", p. 63.
- Matthews (2000), "Managers", p. 147–48.
- Matthews (1995), pp. 37–38.
- "Willie Bell – Hewn of Scottish granite". The Mighty Mighty Whites. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
- Matthews (1995), p. 39.
- McKinstry, Leo (2006). Sir Alf. London: Harper Sport. pp. 486–87. ISBN 978-0-00-719378-3.
- "Francis issue caused Sir Alf to quit". The Times. 9 March 1978. p. 14.
- Matthews (1995), pp. 39–42.
- Jones, Stuart (19 February 1982). "Villa's loss becomes Birmingham's gain". The Times. p. 20.
- Walker, Paul (27 January 2008). "Havant enter Cup folklore". sportinglife.com. Press Association. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011.
- Matthews (1995), p. 65.
- Tattum, Colin (22 January 2008). "Blues legends – Garry Pendrey". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- Matthews (1995), p. 47–48.
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- Wiechula, Frank (23 May 2011). "Worst moment of my career, says Alex McLeish". Daily Express. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
- "Alex McLeish resigns as Birmingham manager". BBC Sport. 12 June 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
- Hardy, Martin (7 April 2012). "Chris Hughton: Low key, highly regarded". The Independent. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
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- "Birmingham City ask Merrick to resign". The Guardian. 29 April 1964. p. 16.
Yesterday Mr W. Adams, the secretary of Birmingham City, issued the following statement: 'Mr Gil Merrick met the board this morning who notified him that changes and complete reorganisation of the club were to take place, and asked him to resign. To this Mr Merrick agreed.'
- "Cullis to manage Birmingham City". The Times. 8 December 1965. p. 4.
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