After barely twelve weeks in charge, Wayne Rooney was dismissed by the club today. Blues defeat to Leeds United on Monday, whilst not unexpected given Leeds strong record at Elland Road, was clearly the final straw after alarm bells had been ringing for some time as to where the club was going under his leadership. Results and performances have been poor at best since his arrival in October.
The stats are concerning. All Championship clubs have played 15 games since Rooney’s appointment, with Blues anchored at the bottom of this current performance table. With Sheffield Wednesday rapidly improving and earning 19 points from their last 15 games, the reality is if this form was repeated until the end of the season the club would be relegated.
The run is identical to Barry Fry’s when he took over at Blues in 1993, which led to relegation, and is just 1 point better than Gianfranco Zola’s first 15 games in charge. That saw Blues only surviving on the last day of the season after a change of manager.
But it is not just form that was of concern. For those who have watched Blues of late there has been no clear style of play emerging, and many of the players seem to have regressed rather than progressed under Rooney. The owners desire for a more possession based style of football was logical and completely understandable, but the execution has been poor. This, coupled with some rather injudicious comments about the team made during his reign, saw support for Rooney erode very quickly. Even many of the fans that gave him the benefit of the doubt appear to have decided that enough was enough.
In particular, many of the fans who made the trip to Leeds made their feelings know about the situation. These are not casual fans or outsiders whose attention is now on the club following Rooney’s appointment. These are the hardcore fans who have stuck with the club through thick and thin over many years. It is difficult to remember such anger being directed at a Blues manager at an away game, even in the darkest days of Steve Cotterill or Zola.
The danger is that all the great work off the pitch risked being undermined by events on the pitch, and the project was in danger of being derailed at the first bend. The performance of the men’s first team is still, for many supporters, the key determining factor in judging success across the club.
Over the last decade Blues Trust has consistently called for stability at the club, and a sustainable plan to develop the team. As fans we will continue to get behind the team whoever is in charge. However, the situation with Rooney was simply not sustainable and those in charge at the club are to be commended for acting as they have now done. It must have been difficult for them to have seen this situation unfold, but they have taken an early decision to change course and in the Trust’s view that was exactly the right thing to do. There is still time to turn things around and move away from yet another relegation fight. There is surely the talent within the existing squad to do that?
The Trust wishes Steve Spooner well as he takes on interim responsibility, and of course the club well in its search for a new manager.
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