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Gary Rowett: Birmingham City bring back former manager as interim boss

Gary Rowett left his job as Millwall manager in October
Gary Rowett left his job as Millwall manager in October

Birmingham City have brought back popular former manager Gary Rowett as interim boss until the end of the season in a bid to end their alarming run of Championship results.

The 50-year-old, who has been doing media work since leaving Millwall in October, has taken charge in the continued absence of Tony Mowbray.

Assistant Mark Venus has stood in since Mowbray stepped away on 19 February.

But Blues have picked up just one point in the six Championship matches since.

That has left the US-owned club on the edge of the relegation zone with eight games left this season, kept out of the bottom three only on goal difference.

Mowbray is having medical treatment for an unnamed illness and the club confirmed he "will take a formal medical leave of absence until the start of pre-season 2024-25".

Venus will also step away until the start of next season.

Mowbray played a role in identifying Rowett as the man to take on the role in his absence, the club added.

"Based on Tony's decision to take some additional time away, we agreed it is in the club's best interests to appoint Gary Rowett to lead the team forward from the touchline for the final eight games of the season. Gary is an experienced leader and has our full support," said co-owner and chairman Tom Wagner.

Former Blues player and manager Rowett is back at the club for a third time and will become the sixth different man to pick a team this season, following John Eustace, Wayne Rooney, caretaker Steve Spooner, Mowbray and Venus.

He was sacked by Blues' previous owners in December 2016 when Blues were seventh in the Championship, kept out of the play-off zone only on goal difference.

Birmingham's next game is after the international break against QPR on Friday, 29 March.

Blues are the longest surviving club in the Championship, in their 13th straight season in the second tier following relegation from the Premier League in 2011.

They were most recently in the third tier in 1995, before being promoted under Barry Fry.

Rowett's managerial CV

Former Cambridge United, Everton, Blackpool, Derby, Birmingham, Leicester City, Charlton Athletic and Burton Albion right-back Rowett made 444 appearances in his 19-year professional career.

After taking his first job as a manager at Burton in 2012, he left to return to Birmingham as manager in October 2014, taking over with Blues 23rd in the second tier.

Rowett led them to 10th place that season, which is where they also finished the following campaign, 11 points off the play-offs.

With his team well placed in the promotion hunt in December 2016, he was sacked by Blues' then newly appointed owners after being linked to vacancies at QPR and Fulham, and replaced by Gianfranco Zola.

Three months later he was named manager of Derby County, who he took to the Championship play-offs in 2018 before resigning to join Stoke City.

He was sacked by Stoke after fewer than eight months in charge in January 2019 when they were 14th in the Championship, eight points off a play-off place.

But he then returned to Championship management nine months later when he took over at Millwall, with whom he finished eighth, ninth, 11th and eighth over the past four completed seasons.

'Unique problems often need unique solutions'

Analysis - BBC Radio WM's Richard Wilford

It is hard to see any downside in adding Gary Rowett's knowledge to the Birmingham City coaching staff.

This has now become a crisis management situation. And Gary knows both the league and the club so well.

Unique problems often need unique solutions.

The best-case scenario was that Tony Mowbray would be returning to work around Easter weekend.

But Rowett's arrival will now take the pressure off the Blues manager until he has fully recovered.

Blues' eight remaining games

Friday 29 March: QPR (a)

Monday 1 April: Preston (h)

Saturday 6 April: Leicester (a)

Wednesday 10 April: Cardiff City (h)

Saturday 13 April: Coventry City (h)

Saturday 20 April: Rotherham United (a)

Saturday 27 April: Huddersfield Town (a)

Saturday 4 May: Norwich City (h)

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