Almost exactly five years ago, Gary Rowett was appointed as Birmingham manager, after consecutive play-off position finishes with Burton.
In the years that have followed, The Blues have been through five permanent managers, but still maintained their Championship status, usually fairly comfortably.
Managers have generally operated on a relatively tight budget – especially in the past couple of seasons – apart from the short ill-fated tenures of Gianfranco Zola and Harry Redknapp. Therefore, free transfers and loan signings have generally been crucial to the West Midlands side producing a competitive Championship side.
Here, we will look at the three loan signings who have made the most significant positive contribution to this over the last five years:
Morrison was Rowett’s first signing after arriving at St Andrews.
Having had such a porous defence all season, and having just shipped eight goals at home to promotion-chasing Bournemouth, the Blues boss saw the Charlton defender as the perfect man to lead a more solid backline
The Blues kept a clean sheet in his first game, and after producing numerous solid displays at the heart of the defence, was signed on a permanent basis by January. Birmingham went on to finish in the top half.
Of course, the 6ft centre back went on to become a stalwart for the club, making 183 appearances, many of which were as captain.
He even scored 14 goals for the club, before going to Reading at the end of last season.
The big Southampton-born striker arrived from Burnley on loan in 2016.
Having never been a prolific marksman, his signing was met with a mixed reaction. He scored a grand total of 0 goals for Burnley from over 30 games, so the reaction was understandable.
However, judging a striker on only their goal return is too simplistic, and the 6ft 1in striker’s game has always been based around his good hold up play and his aerial strength
By December 20, Jutkiewicz had scored 6 headers and become a crucial part of the Blues attack, and thus unsurprisingly was signed on a permanent basis by new manager Gianfranco Zola.
Needless to say, he is still with the club at present with a very creditable goal record of 33 goals in 130 appearances.
Indeed, he was so impressive last season that WhoScored.com ranked him as the best player in the whole league, with 14 goals and 10 assists.
Spanish attacking midfielder Toral was signed on season-long loan deal by Rowett for the 2015-16 season, having spent the previous campaign on loan at Brentford as they reached the play offs.
His calmness and quality on the ball quickly led to the Spaniard becoming a favourite with supporters.
Indeed, after a fine goal scoring performance in a 5-2 win at Fulham in November, Rowett told the BBC that he was “the best player on the pitch, in terms of composure and vision”.
With a total of 8 league goals and 3 assists, Toral won the Supporters’ Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, and Goal of the Season. Not a bad return for a loanee!