Birmingham City vs Nottingham Forest Preview: Reds set to kick-off new era

Birmingham City vs Nottingham Forest Preview: Reds set to kick-off new era

After five consecutive defeats, Forest fans will be hoping to kick-off the new era for the club with a win as they take on Birmingham City at St Andrew's Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Sam Straw

Nottingham Forest manager Philippe Montanier could be taking charge of the team for the last time as he looks to end his time in charge on a positive against Birmingham City at St Andrew's Stadium

Birmingham are also in need of a win, with new manager Gianfranco Zola failing to win any of his first five matches in charge since taking over from Gary Rowett

How they've fared so far

Forest's 2-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic last time out means they have now lost five consecutive games in all competitions. This appears to have caused new potential owner John Jay Moores to start looking for Montanier's replacement. 

The takeover of the club is hoped to be completed before this fixture. However, Montanier is believed to be taking charge of this fixture on Saturday regardless, whether the takeover has been completed by then or not. The defeat against Wigan was a performance which would warrant the sacking of most managers. Forest had no clear strategy in place and were dominated by a Latic's team who sit below them in the Championship league table. 

Although this defeat is of less importance due to it being in the FA Cup, it looks like it has sealed Montanier's fate. It is the situation in the league which will be more of a concern for Forest supporters. The club currently find themselves sat just two points above the relegation zone and are badly in need of an upturn in form to drag them away from a relegation scrap.

Gary Rowett is the man that the new owners reportedly are talking to in regards to replacing Montanier. He is a manager who is more than capable of taking on the current challenge at Forest and keeping them in the division. In the long-term, Forest fans can hope that he can achieve the success he did with Birmingham at The City Ground.

As for Birmingham, they have really struggled to adjust to life post-Rowett after his shock dismissal in December. He was a very popular figure amongst fans, some of whom are still very angry about the owner's decision. New manager Gianfranco Zola has failed to win any of his five matches in charge so far.

This has seen Blues drop from just outside the play-offs on goal difference, to seven points off. They currently sit 13th in the league table, with a season of mid-table mediocrity beckoning after what was such a promising start under Rowett. Blues fans will be hoping that Rowett isn't in the opposition dugout on Saturday afternoon as this would be a very painful experience for many.

Last time they met

Forest last played Birmingham in what was arguably their best ever performance under Philippe Montanier as they comfortably beat Blues 3-1 at The City Ground. Goals from Eric Lichaj, Apostolos Vellios and a superb solo effort from Hilderberto Pereira were enough to seal all three points. Lukas Jutkiewicz did give Blues brief hope by making it 2-1.

Last season, Forest also got the better of Birmingham over the two matches. Dexter Blackstock's goal gave Forest an away victory at St Andrew's Stadium in September 2015. Birmingham then got a 1-1 draw in the return fixture at The City Ground in January 2016. 

Team news

Philippe Montanier has had a significant amount of injuries to deal with during this poor run of form for Forest. Danny Fox, Armand Traore, Chris Cohen, Damien Perquis, Matty Fryatt, David Vaughan and Joe Worrall all missed the Wigan game on Saturday. Key players such as Britt Assombalonga have also missed other important games throughout the season.

Henri Lansbury's future is still not resolved so he is unlikely to feature on Saturday. Montanier said he was not in the right 'frame of mind' to take part in the game at Wigan on Saturday. He has been strongly linked with a move to Aston Villa this January with the player himself interested in the move. However, Gary Rowett who Forest have been strongly linked with in the last few days, is said to be keen on the player and may be able to persuade him to stay at The City Ground if he takes over. 

It will be interesting to see how Forest line-up defensively on Saturday. It was clear to see against Wigan that Matty Cash isn't comfortable playing right-back in order for Eric Lichaj to play left-back. The American full-back would also clearly prefer to play right-back as he switched to that position on Saturday afternoon in the second-half. Forest desperately need Danny Pinillos to return from injury. A back four of Lichaj, Mancienne, Hobbs and Pinillos would surely get clean sheets in this division. That would also allow Cash to move back into midfield where he is much more effective. 

As for Birmingham, they have this week re-signed fan favourite Craig Gardner on loan from local neighbours West Bromwich Albion. It is likely that Zola will start Gardner against Forest on Saturday as he is bound to prove to be a quality addition to his squad. 

Lukas Jutkiewitcz has had a successful spell at Birmingham so far and is likely to lead the line again for the Blues on Saturday. Kuszczak, Spector, Morrison, Shotton, Grounds, Tesche, Davis, Cotterill, Adams and Maghoma may also feature.