Is Lee Bowyer capable of unlocking Birmingham City's potential?
(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

One month ago, Lee Bowyer bravely stepped forward to take on one of football's biggest challenges - managing Birmingham City.

Pundits far and wide questioned his decision, some as far as questioning his sanity. However, his history and fondness for the club outweighed all the cons in his eyes.

In his first six games, he has engineered four wins, one draw and one loss. He has also achieved four consecutive clean sheets, a first for the club since Chris Hughton's tenure in 2011. 

Bowyer was not afraid to step up to the challenge and his first six games would suggest he is what Birmingham need in the long-term.

Bowyer, with playing ties to Birmingham, knows all too well about the club's highs - Carling Cup winner in 2011 with Birmingham, he will have that personal edge to find the key to unlocking those highs once again.

  • Turbulent decade

It has been a topsy-turvy 10 years for the Blues since their infamous Carling Cup triumph and subsequent relegation from the Premier League that followed. 

There have been a few beams of light in a thick, dark fog that has enclosed St Andrew's. Firstly, there was Chris Hughton. He guided the club to the play-offs in their first season back in the Championship and was unlucky not to carry the club into the knockout stages of the Europa League, all the while with the club's owner, Carson Yeung, under arrest for money-laundering. 

One of the other bright sparks was Gary Rowett's renaissance. He lifted Blues from the brink of League One to back-to-back 10th-place finishes. Understandably there was huge uproar at his dismissal in December 2016 under the current owners. They replaced him with Gianfranco Zola, who never got the same group ticking the way Rowett did.

The other was Garry Monk. Not only did he share a name with the club's last successful predecessor, he shared the same fashion sense. They both liked to sport a shirt and jumper combination on match days. 

When Monk joined in March 2018, he was able to pull off another survival mission. He reconnected the club and its players with the fans and there was hope that the worst was behind them.

He dealt with a points deduction and a transfer embargo the following season as a result of Harry Redknapp's shopping spree in the summer of 2017. Even with the nine-point deduction toward the end of the 2018/19 season, the Blues finished 12 points clear of the drop zone.

Like most good things for Birmingham, it was not to last. He was dismissed in the summer after rumoured to have fallen out with CEO Xuandong Ren. However, it was later reported that he was trying to get some of the club's youngsters including Jude Bellingham, to sign with his agent James Featherstone if they wanted to break into the first team. The club were unwilling to lose Bellingham and rightly did what was needed to protect the best interests of the club.

Following all these glimmers of hope, they have ultimately faded. Birmingham as a club and as a city, deserve to have the good times return.

  • Bowyer factor

Since his arrival at the club, you can tell the positive impact Bowyer has had on the players. They all look much happier and have even expressed it in post-match interviews.

As all new managers do who come in during the season, Bowyer focused on basics. Lukas Jutkiewicz was recalled to the starting lineup and the team was designed to play to his strengths and he has netted three goals in these six games.

He has instilled confidence back into the defence and managed to get a resolute back-line with three centre-halves; something which his predecessors could not achieve. The four consecutive clean sheets are an outstanding achievement and will be a huge boost for the mentality of the players.

The crucial factor that points to him possibly unleashing Birmingham's potential was Sunday's game against Rotherham United. It was the worst performance by his Blues side in his opening six games, yet they still managed to win. The best coaches are able to engineer victories even when it is not looking pretty for 90 minutes. 

To steal the game late on out of nothing does show the potential both Birmingham and Bowyer could reach together.

Another aspect about Bowyer that Birmingham fans love is that he sports the same match day outfit like Rowett and Monk before him. 

The 44-year-old already has legend status at St Andrew's for his part of the Carling Cup winning side. If he can pull Birmingham out of the darkness and get them challenging for a return to the Premier League, he would almost certainly be immortalized at St Andrew's.

Birmingham could end up having a strong finish in the Championship now that their relegation worries have been eased. 

Ahead of next season, Bowyer should be backed in the transfer market to build a squad to his satisfaction and with a full pre-season behind him and his group of players, he can start pushing the club back up the table and start to awaken this sleeping giant.