BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall head to Birmingham City on Saturday with an excellent recent record – but Gary Rowett is more intent on the South London outfit continuing a solid run of form.
The Lions won 2-0 at St Andrews last season with Ben Thompson bagging both goals.
Fred Onyedinma got a 77th-minute winner in February 2018 while Alan Dunne sealed a 1-0 victory three years earlier.
Rowett is a former Blues boss. He led them to seventh in the Championship table before being sacked in 2016.
“I’m always reticent to look too much at recent form and what has been done previously because of course it is what you are going to do in the next game that dictates how you feel,” said Rowett, when asked by the South London Press about the Lions’ enjoyable recent trips to Birmingham.
“It is always a tough place to go and away teams don’t relish it, because they know it is a great atmosphere.
“Birmingham have changed their style and will be a slightly different proposition perhaps to the last few seasons. But I’m someone who has managed there and got a good idea of how it all works. We’ve had quite good results when we’ve gone back as well [with Rowett’s other clubs since leaving].
“But I don’t think that dictates how the game is going to pan out.
“We’ve got to go there off the back of not a great performance [the 2-2 draw against Wigan] although it was a battling one, full of character.
“We’ve got to go and play a lot better to get any result.”
Millwall chalked up their first away win of the season last weekend at Swansea.
Rowett switched to a 5-2-3 formation and Jed Wallace’s superb free-kick proved decisive.
“We’re really pleased with that performance,” said Rowett. “We did something different.
“The challenge in the Championship is always can we go again in such a short space of time? Can we play with the same energy and quality to replicate that display?
“We’re on a good run of form. And I don’t mean just in our five games here – three wins, a draw and a defeat. If you look, the three games under Adam [Barrett, caretaker manager] the points tally was really good.
“You can say for the last eight games the team has performed well. You want consistency and to hit the heights of the Swansea game, but I won’t bemoan picking up a point, like we did against Wigan.”
Gianfranco Zola succeeded Rowett at Birmingham but did not even see out the season – as the club dropped completely out of the top-six picture.
“I look back with incredible fondness on my time there,” said the Millwall chief. “I had two years there. When we went they had just been beaten 8-0 and people were saying it was an impossible job, a team that were second from bottom.
“But we had a fantastic time and a great rapport with the fans and the people running the club at the time, then they all left.
“I feel really, really privileged to have been manager of Birmingham City. It’s a great club with great fans. Ultimately they made a decision and we go back there trying to win the game.
“There will always be a little place in my heart for the club. I’m sure I’ll get a bit of stick, knowing Birmingham fans, but that is pretty much par for the course.”