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 only 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 in charge.
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 4 May 2013.
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|
|Alfred Jones||English||July 1892||June 1908||566||260||108||198||45.9||Second Division championship 1893
Second Division promotion 1894, 1901, 1903
|Alex Watson||English||July 1908||June 1910||78||22||16||40||28.2||[D]|
|Bob McRoberts||Scottish||July 1910||May 1915||203||77||47||79||37.9||[E][F]|
|Frank Richards||English||May 1915||May 1923||173||78||36||59||45.1||Second Division championship 1921||[D]|
|Billy Beer||English||May 1923||March 1927||163||62||36||65||38.0||[F]|
|Bill Harvey||English||March 1927||May 1928||58||20||16||22||34.5||[F]|
|Leslie Knighton||English||August 1928||May 1933||229||87||51||91||38.0||FA Cup runner-up 1931||[D]|
|George Liddell||English||July 1933||September 1939||267||82||76||109||30.7||[F]|
|Bill Camkin||English||September 1939||November 1944||0||0||0||0||—||[D][G]|
|Ted Goodier||English||November 1944||May 1945||0||0||0||0||—||[G]|
|Harry Storer||English||June 1945||November 1948||114||59||30||25||51.8||Football League South wartime league championship 1946
Second Division championship 1948
|Walter Taylor||November 1948||January 1949||9||3||1||5||33.3||[I]|
|Bob Brocklebank||English||January 1949||October 1954||263||102||71||90||38.8|
|Arthur Turner||English||November 1954||February 1958||166||74||35||57||44.6||Second Division championship 1955
Club's highest First Division placing (6th) 1956
FA Cup finalist 1956
|February 1958||September 1958||17||6||5||6||35.3||[K]|
|Pat Beasley||English||September 1958||May 1960||95||39||20||36||41.1||Inter-Cities Fairs Cup runner-up 1960||[L]|
|Gil Merrick||English||May 1960||28 April 1964||202||64||46||92||31.7||Inter-Cities Fairs Cup runner-up 1961
League Cup winner 1963
|Joe Mallett||English||July 1964||27 December 1965||66||15||16||35||22.7||[M]|
|Stan Cullis||English||27 December 1965||18 March 1970||214||87||51||76||40.7||[M]|
|18 March 1970||29 May 1970||6||1||0||5||16.7|
|Freddie Goodwin||English||29 May 1970||18 September 1975||269||99||83||87||36.8||Second Division promotion 1972||[N]|
|Willie Bell||Scottish||18 September 1975||5 September 1977||91||28||20||43||30.8|
|Sir Alf Ramsey||English||8 September 1977||6 March 1978||28||11||4||13||39.3|
|Jim Smith||English||12 March 1978||15 February 1982||182||59||50||73||32.4||Second Division promotion 1980|
|Norman Bodell||English||15 February 1982||22 February 1982||2||1||0||1||50.0||[B]|
|Ron Saunders||English||22 February 1982||16 January 1986||202||72||53||77||35.6||Second Division promotion 1985||[B]|
|Keith Leonard||English||16 January 1986||22 January 1986||1||0||0||1||0.0|||
|John Bond||English||23 January 1986||27 May 1987||65||17||20||28||26.2|
|Garry Pendrey||English||28 May 1987||26 April 1989||98||20||27||51||20.4||[F]|
|Dave Mackay||Scottish||26 April 1989||23 January 1991||91||34||27||30||37.4|
|Bill Coldwell||English||23 January 1991||7 February 1991||3||2||1||0||66.7|
|Lou Macari||Scottish||7 February 1991||18 June 1991||24||12||6||6||50.0||Associate Members Cup[C] 1991|
|Terry 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|
|Barry Fry||English||10 December 1993||7 May 1996||156||68||44||54||43.6||Football League Trophy[C] 1995
Division Two (level 3) championship 1995
|Trevor Francis||English||10 May 1996||15 October 2001||290||139||70||81||47.9||League Cup finalist 2001||[F]|
|15 October 2001||12 December 2001||12||5||4||3||41.7|
|Steve Bruce||English||12 December 2001||23 November 2007||270||100||70||100||37.0||Division One (level 2) promotion 2002
The Championship (level 2) promotion 2007
|Eric Black||Scottish||23 November 2007||27 November 2007||1||0||0||1||0.0||[O][P]|
|Alex McLeish||Scottish||28 November 2007||12 June 2011||168||62||51||55||36.9||The Championship (level 2) promotion 2009
League Cup winner 2011
|Chris Hughton||Irish||22 June 2011||7 June 2012||62||26||21||15||41.9|
|Lee Clark||English||26 June 2012||present||50||16||17||17||32.0|
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