An opportunity for change

22 Mar 2021 | 11 comments

Lee Bowyer became Blues’ eighth manager in 5 seasons last week, to much acclaim, following the departure of Aitor Karanka. In his interviews he has stressed that he was wanting to build for the longer term rather than just sort out the immediate problems.

In several ways he starts in a much better position than Karanaka did. For a start he’s got 10 games this season to actually see the players and work with them to evaluate who he wants to keep, who he wants to let go and where the team needs strengthening. Then he will have a full transfer window and a full pre-season to condition the team ahead of next season. Secondly, he seems – from the outside anyway – to be less encumbered by being in ‘partnership’ with Blues CEO, Xuandong Ren, and ‘the project’. One of the enduring characteristics of Karanka’s time as Blues coach was his continuing references to the strong partnership he had with Blues’ chief executive. How much influence or input Ren had we may never know – but the club’s transfer policy once again seemed fraught and unbalanced. Blues scouting staff appear to be still on furlough with Ren saying in his recent interview that scouting activity was now partly outsourced to companies in France and Spain.

Bowyer starts with clean slate. Whereas Karanka very much seemed a Ren appointment it is much less clear who handled the appointment of Bowyer with some press reports suggesting Birmingham Sport Holdings chairman Zhao Wenqing was directly involved. Bowyer is also in a powerful position – the club (surely) cannot afford to lose another coach and he appears to be less dependent on the Chief Executive than his immediate predecessors. Arguably – following his close ties with the failed Karanka appointment – Ren’s influence is currently reduced presenting an opening to start reshaping important aspects of the club. At Charlton Bowyer forged a reputation as someone who was determined and independently minded. As the senior football person in the club Bowyer has the opportunity in his early days, not just to coach the current team, but to try and influence the wider football side of the club – how transfer policy will be handled, what the long-term scouting set up should be and how the academy should develop. In the end its how these elements develop just as much as his coaching skills which will probably determine his long-term success at the club. It is to be hoped that the senior management at the club give him the opportunity to influence and shape the wider football side of the club as he sees fit.

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  1. Sausage n Egg

    Bowyer needs to be left alone with a certain little man well away from him and preferably the club altogether… I also believe Bowyer won’t take any rubbish and will throw some crockery when it’s needed. It will also be good to understand his aftermatch comments rather than the rambling guff we have had to sift through of late.. Not expecting miracles with what he has but I’m sure he knows who he wants and doesn’t and given time who knows .. We can’t keep hiring and firing managers !! The rumour that it seems Dong didn’t want him makes him an even better fit in my eyes!

  2. Keith Dixon

    Because of the nature of the history of The Blues , the fans always give a newly appointed manager every chance to prove his worth and let’s face it we have had plenty of practice, as Lee is our eighth managerial appointment since October 2016 the previous seven surviving an average of six months each.
    But this time it’s different because Lee is “one of our own” and that’s important as the history books confirm.
    We have had seven managers since 1875 who have both played and managed the club on a full-time basis – ARTHUR TURNER – GIL MERRICK – GARRY PENDREY – TREVOR FRANCIS – STEVE BRUCE – GARY ROWETT and now LEE BOWYER.
    Why is this important? Because if you match the limited successes associated with Birmingham City then it happens when we are managed by “One of our own”
    Under Arthur Turner, who managed the club from 1954 to 1958 we won the Second Division (now Championship) in 1954-55 season, got to the F.A. Cup Final in 1956 and achieved our highest top division finish of 6th – a record which still stands today.
    Gil Merrick’s tenure from 1960 to 1964 saw The Blues beat local rivals Aston Villa over two legs to win the Football League Cup in 1963, he also led us into Europe where we made two Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final appearances in 1960 and 1961 losing both to Barcelona and Roma respectively.
    Next was Trevor Francis, our longest serving manager overseeing 290 matches, who took us to the Worthington Cup Final in 2001 and three successive Play-Off Semi-Finals.
    Inheriting Trevor Francis’ squad was Steve Bruce who got us the long awaited promotion to The Premiership.

  3. Rita

    I’m pleased that Bowyer was most likely suggested by Zhao Wenqing and that Ren Dong was not in favour. If that is the case then maybe we can hope for a more honest approach to club ownership.

  4. Mark R

    It is clear Blues need some stability in terms of the coaching staff element of our great club. The hiring and firing policy we have witnessed in recent years clearly hasn’t done us any favours as we’ve seen decent managers fired (Rowett, Monk) and duds brought in (Zola, Karanka) during that time. (Though in my opinion the best football I have seen was under Pep Clotet before the first lockdown, and he chose to leave the club, allegedly)
    Anyway, let’s hope Lee Bowyer is with us for a few years and has the chance to develop and recruit his own squad, and make us proud of the club again
    Up the Blues!


    • Bill

      The constant turnover of managers has, there is no doubt, contributed to Blues awful league record since the takeover but so has the weakness of the playing squad dispute the summer of crazy spending a few years ago. Lee Bowyer’s task will be difficult particularly given the budget he will now be given in comparison to other championship clubs.
      But as Blues fans we just Keep Right On .

  5. Wingman Blue

    Echo Sos’n’ Egg. We have a chance to bring in a better and more successful football style and also lay secure foundations for the future.
    Always felt that Lee Bowyer gave his utmost as a player for Blues, and whilst he’ll never be chummy, I for one am looking forward to his influence at the club.
    He has the potential to be one of our best ever managers.

  6. Mitchell Bray

    Good move in hiring Bowyer for the next campaign. Sadly I feel survival this time around is just a bridge too far. All this of course has been totally unnecessary with suicidal decisions by Karanka. We just never stood a chance and the paltry games that remain are simply not enough. Ren gets the blame but who in their honest right mind would have foreseen such a clueless-almost deranged manager make such ludicrous decisions both in team selections and tactical meltdown. Signings such as Clayton, Toral, San Jose, Valery, McCree, Friend to name just six spells relegation in anyone’s language. Lee Bowyer will sort this I am sure but my advice to him would be simple – forget a strike partnership of Juke and Hogan-they will not do it. Move them on and get younger, fitter and physically mobile with goals in their lockers.

  7. Dodge

    Regarding the above I fully agree. Would rather see a strike partnership of Cosgrove and Halilovic.

  8. Brian Taylor

    Regrettably Hogan is on a 4 year contract which his performances both pre and post COVID have never deserved. Unfortunately the head coach change is probably too late but whether we stay up or not there is a lot of deadwood to get rid of in the Summer. Hopefully we close down the Spanish recruiting set-up – nothing worthwhile has come out of it!

  9. Mitchell Bray

    Looking at yesterday’s reserve fixture against Cardiff, it was interesting to see Bowyer has wasted little time in assessing what first team squad he actually needs to keep. By including San Jose, McCree, Valery, Clarke-Salter and Leko certainly will give him a good indication. Seddon and Cosgrove will I feel be given roles for the next campaign-especially if League One is to be our place. Playing 4-4-2 will please supporters providing we have the necessary quality wingers and that’s where Leko and Reid will be assessed in my opinion. Bela and Sanchez not reliable enough although neither has been poor. We all have opinions as to strikers we would like leading the Blues line and this popular debate is crucial as we simply need goals whichever league we are in. Bowyer I feel is good in this area as proved at Charlton with Taylor and Bonne before they moved upwards into the Championship. More than anything during the summer we need hope and much needed enthusiasm in order to return to St.Andrews- it will not take much as battle hardened as we are- we crave for better times. Lee Bowyer is a popular choice for many supporters and will no doubt be warmly greeted by the attending B9 faithful. He has come in at a time when we reached despair and without a great deal of hope- today we are beginning to see the slowly lifting out of the doldrums- next will be the serious stuff of getting results.

  10. Eric Jones

    Well said – thanx. I believe the current ownership, changing almost without acknowledgement and whoever they are, need to sell. Their only interest in the stock market in their country. I do pine for the days when we had local owners who love football….old fashioned I guess. I am now very pleased with Bowyer – as I was with Rowett and Monk. The owners need to understand the British way and they are not showing that they are doing that. I am not a fan of the Chinese way and I think they need to adapt if they wish to be successful.

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