Garry Monk and his new Birmingham City coaching team are plotting to disrupt Cardiff City’s Championship promotion charge.
Newly-appointed Monk, a former Swansea City player and manager, has been charged with leading the Blues clear of relegation danger.
His backroom staff is now complete.
Pep Clotet, the assistant manager, was the only new member of staff in the Blues dugout with Monk in his opening game in midweek, a 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough.
Closet was a manager and assistant in Spain, Sweden and Norway, while he joined Monk’s backroom staff at Leeds United.
James Beattie is Monk’s first team coach, while Darryl Flahavan is on board as goalkeeper coach.
Head of performance Sean Rush and head of analysis Ryan Needs are also in place.
The Bluebirds, meanwhile, have won five in a row, are second in the table and manager Neil Warnock has been voted Championship manager of the month for a record equalling ninth time.
“I’ll probably donate the trophy to the fans at the end of the season,” said the Cardiff City boss.
The 69-year-old, chasing a record eighth promotion this season, has guided the Bluebirds into second place in the Championship with 16 points out of a possible 18 last month.
He is, though, unimpressed with his newly earned trophy, saying: “You wouldn’t want it on your sideboard at home.
“I will be asking the League Managers Association if they can change the award. I’ve got some lovely Wedgewood plates and big bottles of champagne with the date on from the past.
“But we don’t even get the date on the award now. I have two or three awards now with no date on so I haven’t got a clue which is which. It’s wrong, really.
“The EFL will have to look into it because you want something you can display. I will be mentioning it, not that it will help me.”
Warnock’s Bluebirds are chasing down Championship leaders Wolves, but insists he doesn’t care if the high-flying Black Country club sign Neymar, as long as they stick to the rules.
Both Cardiff and Wolves are chasing automatic promotion, but the Football League have pledged to look into Wolves’ relationship with super agent Jorge Mendes following complaints from Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani.
“All this talk of advantages – let them sign who they want,” says Warnock. “It doesn’t bother me if they sign Neymar,” said Warnock.
“I think it’s great, I wish we all had contacts like they have. Let’s not start bitching about them – good luck to them because they’ve been in the doldrums for so long.
“If you can get an advantage, good luck to you, as long as it’s not illegal. I don’t see anything illegal in an agent helping a club.
“You do get jealousies, but I’m sure most of the people bitching about it wish they were in the same situation. Wolves have had it hard for so long and their fans are unbelievable.
“They’ve had to put up with so much over the last 20 years. My first game as manger in the Football League with Scarborough in 1987 was against Wolves.”
Mendes has brought in several players at Wolves, including head coach Nuno Espirito Santo, £15million midfielder Ruben Neves, attacker Diogo Jota and on-loan winger Ivan Cavaleiro from Atletico Madrid.
Some suggest almost half the 25 players signed in the past 18 months have come from Mendes’ Gestifute agency with last summer’s spending spree topping £50m.
Wolves recently announced pre-tax losses of £23.2m for last season and if they don’t go up they could be forced to off-load their top earners to avoid breaching Financial Fair Play rules.
Wolves face third-placed Aston Villa today, while City, at home against Birmingham City, have a complete team still in the treatment room – a team with which Warnock believes he could do extremely well in the Championship.
“It’s alright having money, but you’ve still got to spend it right,” he says. “You’ve still got to get a dressing room behind you and Nuno has got good players who are fighting for him,” added Warnock.
“Sometimes it’s more difficult when you’ve got money. I could tell you two or three clubs who have spent fortunes and I wouldn’t spend any money on their players.
“I think Wolves have done well with the players they’ve got and the spine of the old British players has helped them on the pitch and in the dressing room. We’re delighted we’re not far off them at this stage of the season with what we have.
“We had to shop at the other end, but who’s to say Aldi is not as good as Waitrose? I like going in Aldi, they’ve got a nice bottle of whisky in there.”
The Bluebirds players who have been having treatment this week include Joe Ralls, Danny Ward, Frederic Gounongbe and Jamie Ward. All of those are highly unlikely to be involved against Birmingham.
Sean Morrison is back in training, but Warnock says: “I don’t want to risk him if it’s going to put him out for another five weeks. I’d rather he miss another game and then be available for Brentford and Derby next week.
“That’s more important. A lot depends on other people being fit.”
Callum Paterson suffered a knee injury during the 2-1 midweek win against Barnsley and Warnock said: “Callum has had a scan an there’s nothing untoward there, but it was that knee he had an operation on.
“The Barnsley lad landed on him and just pushed his knee inwards, so it’s bound to be a bit sore. But you know what Paterson’s like it will take a bit to get him going.”
Matt Connolly, Lee Peltier, Armand Traore and Aron Gunnarsson are all making progress after suffering knocks.
Cardiff City, possible (v Birmingham): N Etheridge, M Connolly, B Manga, S Bamba (capt), J Bennett, J Hoilett, L Damour, C Bryson, M Grujic, K Harris, K Zohore.