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Gary Rowett keen to build after steadying the ship at Birmingham City

18 November 2014

Gary Rowett has enjoyed his unbeaten start at Birmingham City, and the former Blues defender is now focused on building points, performances and players' confidence.

Rowett arrived from Sky Bet League 2 Burton Albion last month, after impressively guiding the Brewers to the Play-Offs in the last two seasons. He was pipped to promotion both times, by Bradford City and Fleetwood Town respectively, but his efforts in Staffordshire earned him many plaudits in The Football League.

His rise to management began in 2009 when he called time on his playing days, and was appointed as Burton’s assistant to Paul Peschisolido. He was then thrust into the limelight as temporary successor to Peschisolido following his sacking in 2012, a position that quickly transpired into a permanent role.

Having halted their slide towards the relegation zone, eventually finishing 17th that campaign, Rowett turned the tables over the following two seasons by reaching the Play-Offs in successive years.

After another strong start at Burton this term, Championship strugglers Blackpool were reportedly interested in his services, but then Birmingham came knocking following the dismissal of Lee Clark.

Rowett, a Blues player between 1998 and 2000, duly accepted the offer that came and took his Brewers backroom team of Kevin Summerfield (assistant), Mark Sale (first-team coach) and Kevin Poole (goalkeeping coach) along with him to start the new project at St. Andrew's.

Three games into his tenure, having been tasked with the immediate responsibility of salvaging some pride to the side that suffered an embarrassing 8-0 defeat to Bournemouth, Rowett has led the Blues to just their second win at home in 26 games, and more importantly gone undefeated.



A goalless stalemate away to rivals Wolves stopped the rot in his first assignment, and then victory against Watford three days later injected instant optimism at the club, while another draw, against Cardiff City, made it one goal conceded and five points from a possible nine prior to the international break.

As for his players, Rowett refuses to believe his current crop lack the ability to dig them out of the club's recent demise, insisting they’re stronger than displays have suggested over the last 12 months.

"I think it [recent form] shows the character deep down within the group, they had that before my arrival,” Rowett told football-league.co.uk.

“They're working hard on their own accord and they're doing it to win games. That says a lot to me. I think we saw it against Watford - there was real relief and joy on the players’ faces when they won the game. They're an honest bunch, they're desperate to do well and they know they haven't done as well as they should have been.

"I've said to the players that in a very short space of time we've gone three unbeaten and conceded one goal in that time, which after the Bournemouth result would suggest it's a step in the right direction. The Watford game we created a good amount of chances, in the other ones maybe not quite as many as we would have liked but maybe that'd be a bit greedy hoping for that second win in such a short space of time.“

The Midlands club have had it tough the last year or so. They survived the drop from the Championship by the finest of margins on the final day of last season, and have endured wretched form on their own patch.

But Rowett is determined to focus on the big picture, and not their current lowly standing.

“It's a table where you know roughly what you need to get to where you want to be, so it's about building points, performances and, most importantly, confidence for the players. I think if we can do that then I think we'll see them playing a little bit more to their potential and results will follow. I think that's already started, with the five points from three games.

"What's important is if you look at those five points and think where we might be if we hadn't got them. We've got a lot of teams that aren't that far away from us, and it only takes one win to claw four or five back in, so I don't think where we are in the table really matters at the moment. It's important that we keep playing well and keep performing."

Without those five points from their last three, Birmingham would still sit 23rd in the Sky Bet Championship table, six adrift of Bolton Wanderers, who are one place above the relegation zone, rather than a solitary point.

For Rowett, the next few weeks, or perhaps even months, will consist of the cliched approach of one game at a time, starting with Saturday's trip to 19th-placed Rotherham United, who are only two points better off than the Blues.

The new manager has already steadied the ship in his short period in charge, just as he did at Burton, and the rebuilding process is now firmly under way at St. Andrew's.

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