McLeish, Bruce, Black and Boards

Posted on November 30, 2007 
Filed Under Blues News

I haven’t updated for a specific reason. I’ll come to that soon enough. First of all, I’d like to thank MerseyPete, Jake and Bazza (View From The South) for their recent articles to keep the viewing stats healthy whilst I’ve been mulling over my own feelings regarding Bruce leaving and McLeish being appointed.

I wanted Eric Black to take over. There, I’ve said it.

The current poll on the right hand side states that just 1% of 193 voters wanted Black. If I further check the stats, it shows that just one other person was with me. Maybe it was someone else who couldn’t make it to the Portsmouth game? That seemed to kill off any chances he had. And it was such a sudden change to. Before the game, I knew of a few people who wanted to give Black a chance. But straight after the game, a 25,000 strong crowd seemed to bundle his chances up, bung them into a coffin and then rapidly nail it shut. Not so much the final nail as all nails at the same time, really.

When Monday came, I was completely underwhelmed when McLeish was appointed. I gloomily trudged to work knowing that McLeish had resigned his post with Scotland and was due to be unveiled at St Andrew’s at a press conference at 10:30 AM. Still, I saw a Birmingham Mail headline along the lines of “Black With Blues Job Chance” on the way there and hoped that McLeish was set to be unveiled at Derby County instead!

No such luck as far as I was concerned… 10:30 came and I sneaked a look on the web to see that McLeish had indeed been appointed manager of Birmingham City. I tried to get excited. I really did. I came home and watched all the interviews and read all the quotes from the press conference. I read the opinions of people I respect, people I don’t respect and people I don’t care for one way or the other and to a man, they were saying that it was a great appointment.

I feel for Eric Black. His only crime seemed to be that he took his job as ‘caretaker manager’ a bit too literally. It was almost as if Steve Bruce was away for the week and Black had been told to carry out his instructions to the letter. We were doomed from the off and people came in their 1,000’s to say that it wasn’t good enough. Although typically, I had to read a lot about the game afterwards since Tom Ross’s version and the version of everyone who was at the game seemed wildly different.

(And whilst I’m on the subject of radio commentaries, I like Gary Rowett but he doesn’t stand up to Ross and tell him that he’s talking monkey urine like Broadhurst used to. Whilst Broads used to get on my nerves a bit for rarely giving credit or rarely being positive, it feels as though Ross coerces Rowett into agreeing with everything he says and therefore, the opinions given to listeners is very much what Ross wants them to hear – not what actually happened.

Someone has suggested that I try listening to WM instead but they seem about as passionate as a 90 year old couple named Edna and Norris going for a naughty weekend in Brighton. Ergo, I’m stuffed when it comes to local radio commentary or coverage. At least some of the ‘internet warrior’ fans are able to go to games and provide invaluable details for us ‘exiles’.)

The instant accusation was that Black was Bruce Mk II. An accusation I find wholly unfair considering that he’d had well under a week to work with most of the squad, that he didn’t know whether he’d be in the job longer than the Portsmouth game, that he had injuries.

People say that he could’ve at least tried changing the formation or go slightly more attacking but it’s a stance I just don’t agree with. To implement your own ideas, you need time and a bit of stability. Black had neither of those things, not to mention that all week, all he must’ve heard about was who we were being linked with. For Black, it was very much a “We’ll have you if no-one else wants us” sort of deal and that sort of situation isn’t possible to work with.

Not to mention that some people would be blighted by the memory of Steve Bruce. A lot of fans can’t seem to separate the two and whilst Black played a Bruce type team on Saturday, there’s no evidence to suggest that he would’ve continued down such a path. Any mistake that Black made might’ve been highlighted by the anti-Bruce brigade and it would be like Bruce had never left.

I was underwhelmed by McLeish too. He had a good record in Scotland with Glasgow Rangers although from what I hear, by the end, they were far than complimentary about him. He also did ‘okay’ with Scotland after Walter Smith had laid down some great foundations. It’s even been said that Berti Vogts implemented some good ideas despite his disastrous record as far as results go. McLeish seemed to come in at the right time and took advantage of a good situation although there’s no denying that under his leadership Scotland had some fine, fine results.

But my mind drifts back to the night I was in a Scottish hotel on the banks of Loch Linnhe¬† tuned into BBC One Scotland watching as McLeish’s side were played off the park by Georgia. Not quite the heroic failure against Italy during the final group game that everyone seems to remember and talk about.

I decided that I’d at least be fair to the bloke and give him a chance. So he has until the full time whistle against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday to prove to me he’s good enough otherwise I’m fully ensconced in the “McLeish Out!” camp. After all, that’s all the time that many people were willing to give my particular favourite for the job so therefore, I’m going to get my own back!

I am, of course, just kidding. You must give any new manager a chance and now that McLeish is here, he’ll get my full backing – along with his two assistants. I’ve been reading and watching the press coverage with interest and he certainly talks a good game. A lot of people would’ve picked up on his quotes about playing football the right way and after so many luke-warm attacking, passing performances over the last six years, it’ll be something to look forward to.

However, my favourite quote from him appeared only today:

I don’t think anybody will tell the players that they should fear failure because then they can play with more freedom.

I’ve said it time and time again but Bruce seemed like a man paranoid by failure and what I’ve wanted to see from any Blues side is the willingness to really get out there and have a go like they don’t know failure exists. We’ve seen them put it in and we’ve seen them have a go but it’s always been in a sort of “Don’t lose what we’ve got” sort of a way. What I’d love to see is a Blues side who grab a game by the scruff of the neck and say “We’re going to take everything here.”

If you catch my drift?

McLeish and co have made all the right noises and there’s genuine optimism around the playing side of the club again. I mean, there’s a real feeling that we might at last get to see some decent football and if he can pull off a decent performance against Reading on the 15th in front of a big and noisy St Andrew’s crowd then things could really start to take a turn for the better.

A fresh impetus, new ideas and a different viewpoint on almost all things is very much welcomed and I’m more than willing to admit that McLeish’s breezing in probably was for the best. We already have a talented squad and with the right purchases in January, an escape away from the relegation trapdoor mightn’t be as difficult as it might once have been.

Inevitably, there’s been rumblings about transfers and how much he’ll get in January. If, like Bruce, he’s somewhat restricted then we’ll probably not move on much further but much will depend on the takeover. There’s been more about it today in the Birmingham Post although it really doesn’t add any weight to either scenario so basically, we’re still as unsure about who’ll be leading the club come Christmas as before.

And speaking of Bruce, I’m quickly realising that his interviews and general demeanour were actually becoming very irritating. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fella and I’m certainly not one of those who have jumped on the “Let’s slate Brucey and hope Wigan Athleitc go down!” bandwagon since he’s left… but his shelf life as Blues manager was over a long time ago and the injection of enthusiasm and excitement that Alex McLeish has brought has been very good for the club – in the short term, at least. The long term is, of course, impossible to know about just yet.

So after several days worth of mulling it over, I’ve joined everyone else on Planet Pleased. McLeish seems to want to play things the right way, we’ve got new impetus and there’s another day crossed off the calendar meaning that we’re 24 hours closer to knowing who will own the club come Christmas.

None of that can be bad, surely?


6 Responses to “McLeish, Bruce, Black and Boards”

  1. bruceand bradyfan on November 30th, 2007 10:31 pm

    The metamorphosis sounded painful Aff but your there now and in harness. I decided to skip that stage and go straight behind Mc Leish regardless. Easier in the long run.

    I looked at his stats and from memory he won
    37% of 156 games with Motherwell.
    47% of 164 games with Hibs.
    66% of 235 games with Rangers.
    and 7 or 70% of 10 games with Scotland.

    SB on the other hand only achieved 37% of his 270 games with BCFC. Not wanting to sound like a turn-coat as i was a SB supporter as BCFC manager – what don’t speak don’t lie and Eric Black can’t seperate himself from them stats until Wigan do well or he gets a team of his own again where i’m sure he’ll do all of the things you suggest.

    I still think degeneration started with Mark Bowen, Savage and more lately Dunne leaving so i guess i was never a big fan of EB which may be doing EB a diservice because of my assosciation with them events if so i apologise to EB.

    Ok i admit Big Eck was palying in a different league with different resources but it is relative and i think he’ll have a win or bust attitude and not a feint hearted one. We’d have been glad of Martin O’neil( or at least i would have been) and Eck performed well against him in the two team battle. So prooff enough for me.

    SB lost his belief in winning after Chelsea in my opinion, even stating during interview that Linnekar had called him a whinger! I think SB had a confidence lapse – the supporters were no help sometimes, the takeover, the lack of funds for real Premiership players, no vote of confidence with a contract. In some ways the club was the architect of his demise and left him no alternative but to bolt whilst the bolting was good. Who would have acted differently?

    For this reason I think Big Eck will get more money than SB would have got in January as i’m sure the board will find the money and underpin the revolution.(If the right players say yes) and now that’s two centre halves and two forwards since Djourou may return to our rich uncle Mr Wenger.

    I think Yeung is finished since it is now public and clear that he is not wanted. (I don’t think he’d tell big Eck what team to pick either)I think there will be someone else that wants us- but that will probably be after the January transfer window now.

    So welcome to planet pleased and mark my words 0-1 on Staurday fuelled by adrenalin, new manager syndrome and Iron Brue!

    Eckand Bradyfan

    KRO sotv, Wigan and Blackburn!(tee hee – not really)

  2. TheOtherHalf on November 30th, 2007 10:49 pm

    Eric Black: Apart from his obvious intellect and linguistic skills, I believe Black was a poor coach and I am glad he did not get the job. Eric was the main architect of the style of Blues play in recent times, with Brucie in much more of ‘management’ role. looking for players, initial brokering of deals etc. Blues have been tactically inept this season, rarely looking like a team, losing possesion, and lacking almost any movement off the ball. We were static against the Villa and paid the price. I am firmly in the pro-McLeish camp, not only because of him, but also because he brings Aitken with him – an excellent coach. It’s a good coaching team that I believe could bring the best out of our underachievers (Kapo?).

  3. justwondering on December 1st, 2007 10:10 am

    McLeish should do a fine job. It looks pretty obvious that the takeover is dead that’s not such a bad thing in my opinion. Apparently Gold would like to pay: David Sullivan and Carson Yeung: for their respective shares and takeover the club completely but that’s just rumours so don’t hold me to it, please!

    The thing that strikes me about McLeish’s backroom is how old they are Watson and Aitken are both 50 other than in football I can’t see a 50 year old doing any kind of coaching like football.

    Whelan said after his appointment of Steve Bruce that he was a good up and coming manager McLeish is the same age as Bruce. Excuses, excuses, excuses – Wigan just lack ambition.

  4. block 17 - the ref on December 1st, 2007 3:14 pm

    for me – while i had the utmost respect for bruce and his team – on reflection it was time for a change blaming everything but our ability to score or prevent silly goals i am pleased for the change.

    I have not seen an “in house” replacement work apart from liverpool in the 70’s – more recently it has not worked at wigan, bolton and i could not see Eric Black working – the supporters would have just blamed the previous relationship.

    I was surprised the club managed to get McLeish and his team – and frankly – others in the frame did not impress me – Jimmy calderwood – a decent guy has done a great job.. not that impressed with Jewel – it could have been holloway, or joe royle as the supporters keep saying we have no future with this board!!!!

    I wish McLeish the very best of luck – and this appointment the board have done a great job in selling the club to him…

    and if the states from bruce and brady fan are precise than the stats speak for themselves…

    they usually say a new manager get 30% extra… so given wigan, derby etc have new managers then nothing has really changed!!!

    but i think some of the ex blues players will not be happy with bruce going to wigan and derby – nothing to say about them.. as they are down all ready… so maybe we have a chance now..

    we will see.

  5. bruceand bradyfan on December 2nd, 2007 9:54 pm


    We haven’t played with that much gumption for ages – maybe the Wolves match at Molineaux last year – i need to stop and think!

    Cameron never got a decent cross all day and did it himself any way. (Nice to see Macca break his duck too)

    Seb’s 92nd minute,29 yarder at 69 mph should be in goal of the month and it just shows what can be done if you play with heart.

    Spurs were the better side in terms of capability – hey thats football. It’s about time we had “the rub of the green”

    Lots to do therefore and we definately need another two up the back as Schmitz is way off the pace.

    We’ve got to harvest in December now as January will be tough

    Man U Arsenal Chelsea (We play Arsenal February too!)

    If we keep the new manager syndrome going an play our socks off like today – we could well be safe

    Exand Bradyfan (Alex said he’s Ex and not Eck!)

  6. Hiro_Protagonist on December 3rd, 2007 10:20 pm

    I was a fan of Brucie – but in the wake of it all and allowing ,
    myself to take a step back, maybe we had gotten used to the defensive game too much and didn’t expect anything more. Or rather we didn’t know what a quick flowing attacking game was anymore.

    One win does not mean things have changed – but I did nearly drop my pint when I saw the subs coming on….Forsell, Kapo etc . Jesus, doesn’t Alex know we’re playing for the point….

    I hope we continue in that vein…we have some good attack-minded midfielders and Forsell on his day is world class – lets play to their strengths

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