Birmingham City in Austria: Chris Davies searches for the three Cs in pre-season camp

Birmingham City are due to touch down in Austria today and begin their pre-season campaign with the backdrop of the Alps.

Chris Davies and his players’ trip to Austria was delayed due to an aircraft issue, meaning they have continued to train on home soil in Henley-in-Arden this week. The weather will be warmer out in the district of Kufstein but storms are forecasted too.

Davies won’t mind the odd thunderstorm. After all, he did say that he wanted to have a good handle on his players' characters by the end of this week.

Blues will have two days to prepare for Saturday’s pre-season opener against FC Paderborn 07 at the Pendlingstadion in Thiersee. Davies will hope to have formed three important building blocks by the time Blues return to Birmingham.

READ: Birmingham City have a new transfer priority after addressing three positions

READ: Late arrivals & what Hansson did in Blues training after Austria trip delayed


This is what pre-season is all about, especially when you have a new set of coaches and players – Blues will have more of the latter by the start of the League One campaign. For a few days at least, everyone associated with the club’s first team will live inside each other’s pockets.

Those who usually rush off home after training will have to stick around and socialise with their teammates. Players will share rooms, they will eat together and the chances are there will be the odd activity amidst the training sessions and gym work.

The last time Blues visited Austria back in 2018, when Garry Monk was manager, the players cycled to and from training. Even things like that, which divert the players’ minds from the daily grind of pre-season, help form togetherness.

With the budget and the players Blues have at their disposal, we can say quite confidently that they will have one of the best teams on paper in League One this coming season. Their success will be determined by how well they gel together.


This point relates to the playing style. At times last season Blues’ players, many of whom are still in the building, looked lost and devoid of confidence trying to play possession football.

In fairness to Knighthead, they have stayed true to their words – even though the words ‘no fear’ will probably never be uttered inside the corridors of power at St Andrew’s again. Davies is a manager who shares the owners’ belief that possession-based football is the route to success.

It is down to Davies to implement it more successfully than those who held the position of manager last season – excluding Tony Mowbray who was on the right track before illness denied him the chance to see the job through. In training footage we have seen a number of passing drills and sessions designed to increase confidence in possession.

The buy-in from players increases when they see the fruits of their labour paying dividends in a match. Managers often say pre-season is all about getting minutes in the legs but Davies will want to see some of his coaching points play out against Paderborn.


Alex Pritchard has gone and Juninho Bacuna is on his way but Davies’ hand still includes a number of assets that Blues won’t want to lose. Krystian Bielik, Paik Seung-ho and Jordan James to name three.

It seems unlikely that Blues will keep James, given the open transfer dialogue between the Wales international and club officials in January when Atalanta came calling. Now that Europa League winners Atalanta are in the Champions League, James would find it hard to resist if they could muster an offer to convince Blues to sell.

Bielik is understood to have been receptive to Davies and has an affinity with the club dating back to 2017 when he first joined on loan. Having said that, an offer from the Championship or abroad could change things.

Paik is in a similar position. The South Korean became a lynchpin in Blues’ XI within weeks of joining the club in January and will no doubt have offers to move on.

It is important to note that all three players mentioned are under contract for two more years. Davies will want clarity early on to know who he can and can’t count on.