After the dreadful period for the club while Zola was manager, I like many Blues fans, were convinced we would be relegated. Zola’s performance must be the worse ever period for a manager in the whole of the Championship let alone in the history of our club. (To be honest I can’t be bothered to look it up, but it feels like that). He ended up with an 8% record from 24 games. Basically in half a season only 14 points. Having said that, at least he walked away with 3 games to go – still with a chance of staying up. I must confess, I did think it wasn’t enough.
I know the board have had some criticism, some justified, but to be fair to them they got Redknapp in quickly. I don’t mind admitting that I was surprised at his arrival. However he definitely had an impact. Firstly he created a buzz about the club. The media love “‘Arry” and were therefore interested in us. Secondly for the fans, Redknapp definitely falls into the “high profile” category, but more importantly for fans – he also falls into the very experienced category.
His first game against Aston Rovers, saw a much improved performance. It was a game we deserved at least a point from but immediate positives were there. I guess his experience enabled him to use players in their natural places or places they could perform in!
Of course the victory against Huddersfield without conceding AND down to 10, shows the resilience we had under Rowett and shows that Zola’s problem was that he either didn’t know how to play players in the correct place, or he told the defense, midfield and attack to all play different ways. (May be the second suggestion isn’t true – but it felt that way!)
Then of course the final game, the win against Bristol City, was vital with the other two sides also winning and we would have gone down without our three points.
So three games and only 1 conceded and 6 points.
So looking forward, we now know Harry is here for next season. I have full confidence that he will bring in the right players at the right quality level for us to be a challenge the right end of the table. Steve Cotterill and Paul Groves are still to be confirmed. Earlier in the week Blues captain Morrison was full of praise for the impact they have had, so hopefully they will. Blues have also appointed Jeff Vetere as director of football. I think many Blues fans thought that Harry would get that role with Cotterill becoming manager, and may be he will later – but this seems an excellent move right now. Vetere brings a wealth of experience and means that Redknapp and his team can focus on the players.
The club have also confirmed the signing of new contracts for Gardner, Kuszczak and Grounds. It’ll be interesting to see who Harry goes for but I think we need an experienced CB, some speed in midfield and AT LEAST one forward, but probably two. The next couple of months will definitely feature us in the transfer market though!
I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect us to competing next season. We certainly finished this season with a much better feeling than when we survived against Bolton, although that one was more exciting!
Welcome Harry and team, and bring on next season!
(Harry Redknapp image used with kind permission from BCFC)