One person to polarise the Bues fans more than Nikola Zigic of late, is the manager, Lee Clark.
Kev posted a blog on here called, After Survival, What Now for the Club? For what it’s worth, I think he’s right. The club does need a change of ownership, and the sooner the better! That being said, as Kev asserted, we DO owe our best Premier League finish and Carling Cup triumph to them. Sullivan and the Golds COULD have gained those things for us, but if they truly believed that, they wouldn’t have sold up when they did.
What he didn’t deal with in his article, that I intend to address here, is the future of the manager. Sure, it could all be academic. A new owner, be it a born and bred Bluenose, an Australian opportunist or even another Chinese consortium, would be likely (though not guaranteed) to want their ‘own man’ in charge. Clark himself may well see it coming, as in interviews he’s said things like, “It’s not the manager in charge who matters, if they’re given the same parameters as myself to deal with, they will struggle.”
Some fans want him out, plain and simple. With our attrocious home form, this term, and our 93rd minute escape from relegation, who would blame them?
Some fans want him to stay, they’ve known since the season started that we’d find it hard keeping our place in the Championship, with Yeung’s trial hanging over our heads. For what it’s worth, I’m in that camp, he’s overseen hugely troubling scenes, and far from whinging and moaning, he’s gotten on with the job in hand, with quiet dignity. A ‘better’ manager may well have walked, within said ‘parameters’. Not sure? Check this article…
Some fans just seem content to pray for new owners, hoping it’s resolved one way or another before we bother with a new manager. Herein lies the problem, with the huge building task ahead, it seems likely any manager would struggle to identify player targets, convince them to come in, and build the team around them. Lee Clark – for all his flaws – has the basics in place already. He knows the facilities, the minimal squad we have remaining. With the sale of the club seemingly no closer than it was at the Reebok kick off, getting a new manager in now would seem futile. Who in their right mind would take it? And the longer the debacle of the ‘sale’ goes on, the more likely it is that any new manager was in post too late for pre-season!
I am sure some folks reading this article will bemoan our home form and some admittedly questionable tactics, and think I’m ‘off my head’ to suggest we should ‘stand by our man’, but I really feel it’s the case. Our last Joys and Sorrows poll asked the question, Is Lee Clark the right man, the wrong man or the only man? 46% said they felt he was the right man AT THIS TIME, 33% said he was the ONLY man we could afford/attract to the club. League One football would surely have made this MORE likely, but the poll was instigated before relegation was even an issue for most fans. Only 21% of fans felt he was the wrong man for Birmingham City. Perhaps a brand new poll, starting now, would reveal diminished support for him, but the fact is, an unknown syndicate may not be able to convince ANY new manager that their vision for the club is a good one, with enough financial backing. The current owners certainly won’t. There’s so much speculation that our future will imminently be decided, but one thing we’ve learned about Peter Pannu, Carson Yeung and BIHL, is that nothing is decided in haste. We must be patient, and if that means backing Lee Clark while he silently rebuilds our squad with the ability to find players like Paul Caddis, and bring in loan signings like Jordan Ibe and Federico Macheda, I say so be it.
In what was a shocking season, most would agree (even if they debate the cause), here are some of the highlights that I feel warrant a stay of execution, so to speak 🙂
We beat relegated Yeovil away, and knocked them (and Prem Swansea!) out of the CO Cup. I’ll accept the 2-0 home defeat wasn’t amazing
We did the double over Millwall who were lucky not to go down too.
Derby finished third, we held them at home AND away from home.
We ALMOST knocked Prem Stoke out of the CO Cup.
Drew at home with Blackpool and beat them away; they were also lucky not to go down.
We hammered relegated Barnsley away and drew 1-1 at home, so they deserved to be below us
We drew at home to relegated Doncaster. If they couldn’t beat us at home, they deserved to go down We also beat them at their place.
We held top half finishers Boro at home, and beat 10th finishers Bournemouth away, 2-0
Eleventh placed Forest (heavily invested team) we held 0-0 at home.
We held fifth placed finishers Wigan 0-0 away
We beat 8th placed Blackburn 3-2, away after going 3-0 up before half time.
We played really well (nobody would argue with this) against Prem Swansea in the FA Cup (at home too!!)
We beat Charlton away – they were lucky not to be in the relegation mix these past couple of weeks.
We held second placed Burnley 3-3 at home.
All in all, it wasn’t a great season and Clark will admit he made mistakes, but our results against the eventually relegated clubs proves we deserved to finish above them, so it wasn’t sheer luck that Clark kept us in the division. 4 points taken from the top five clubs wasn’t to be sniffed at considering our lowly position at the season end either. I think some of our negative performances and results have hugely overshadowed some positive achievements, in the circumstances….
At present, the players under contract for next season are Tom Adeyemi, Koby Arthur, Reece Brown, Paul Caddis, Colin Doyle, Neal Eardley, Demarai Gray, Matt Green, Mitchell Hancox, Lee Novak, Darren Randolph, Callum Reilly, Andrew Shinnie, Liam Truslove and Jonathan Spector.
With some quality additions from the Bosman market, I reckon it’s the nucleus of a good Championship side. Our manager needs to be able to add quality where needed though…not dictated by the latest trial date or lack of funds. Maybe I’ll leave the last words on this for now to Emyr Huws, and then leave it to you, gentle reader, to leave your own vitrol of friendly agreement in the comments box below 🙂
“the rising Wales star predicted that Lee Clark’s side could mount a Championship promotion bid, if Blues finances get sorted out.”
“I appreciate everything the manager has done for me,” he said. A loan signing does owe the manager, that’s for sure, but considering the stick Robbo and Clark got for saying what they said about SOME loan signings, it appears it certainly didn’t phase Huws.
Keep Right On