Why Clark has to take the rap for draining our spirit


February 19, 2013 by Made In Brum

On Saturday 16th February 2013, a very mediocre Birmingham City team was comprehensively taken apart at home by 4 goals to 0 by a well drilled, talented Watford. Watford are obviously very ably managed by an ex-player who had performed at the highest level and are backed by some dubious, but not unethical, funding from a series of overseas investors. BirminghamCity were, for a number of reasons, missing some of their most talented players. The selection policy of their manager – a solid, grafting midfielder who had played at the highest level, albeit not achieving as much as his Watford counterpart –  had been identified as erratic at best by most supporters, but seemed a little bizarre even by the high standards of peculiarity set by him throughout the season. Despite their overwhelming defeat, BirminghamCity supporters seemed somewhat resigned and indifferent to proceedings and at the end of the game filed out in silent, but subdued despondency.

And if only we could approach it all with such bloodless, detached objectivity we could all just get on with our lives, eh? Next year I will celebrate – and I will actually celebrate – 50 years of going to St Andrew’s. That makes it about 54 years’ worth of allegiance. In the past few years I have taught myself not to let defeats ruin my weekend – even after some of the appalling, abject no-shows we’ve been treated to of late. I contextualise matters, as I expect we all do, by considering genuine tragedy and mishap and, as I get older, I do have to say that I have also told myself not to waste time on matters over which I have no control. None of which is to say that I don’t care deeply and that I want it put right: supporting a shambolic  car-crash of a football club can damage your health (I expect).

Yesterday we had to endure a bunch of Johnny-come-lately ‘soccer fans’ in jester hats and brand new club scarves, taking the piss with barely a murmur in response. Now, I live near Watford and have a number of friends and acquaintances who follow them – mostly on and off. When they came up for the play-off semi they told me to a man – and there are some capable individuals among them – that they had never experienced an atmosphere so intimidating. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not some sort of ‘bring back the Zulu days’ revisionist – it just pains me to think that we’ve now become somewhere where visiting fans – and, of course, players – are relaxed and comfortable. And where we as supporters don’t go noisily ballistic at the institutionalised ineptitude for which we pay hard-earned money.

I wouldn’t like to estimate the number of column inches churned out in an attempt to nail the blame for this: Sullivan and Gold for selling (infantile reasoning); Bruce and The Scottish Manager for being unable to avoid avoidable relegations; Craig Gardner for diving against the dingles; Carson Yeung for being a villain – and a hopelessly inefficient  one at that; Tatts and Ron Toss for being unable to make anything more of the lies and obfuscation of Yeung,  BIH and the muffled mumblings of the manager than the rest of us. There’s some credibility in each of these suppositions. I am, however, in no doubt where the blame lies: damn Lee Clark and the horse he rode in on.

Let’s be clear; I didn’t expect him to be Chris Hughton. I didn’t expect him to get us to the play-offs and I don’t ever expect anyone else to guide us to a cup win in my lifetime – and  I don’t expect I’ll ever have a more drunken football-related night than Bruges. I wasn’t asking for any of that. I wanted a young manager with a few new ideas to come in and establish a side with a distinct way of playing, building on the experience of some established old pros and looking to the development of some decent youngsters. The number of ways in which that hasn’t happened is too voluminous to catalogue and I’m not going to re-heat any of the arguments. He simply isn’t good enough in any aspect which the job demands – but he’s cheap. And now, of course, because of his failure, so are we. Cheap, second-rate, damaged goods, unattractive to any but the most over-ambitious or deluded of prospective purchasers. Relegation would make us even more vulnerable, although the prospect of Yeung holding on to an asset that, even though diminishing by the minute, remains an asset of sorts, is still hauntingly possible.

I don’t know how professional football works. Some of us purport to, but I don’t think we do. Dodgy owners aren’t anything new – we’ve had our fair share and there’s more than a fair few in the sunny uplands of the Premiership, don’t forget. Greedy, obnoxious players who you’d make every attempt to avoid socially are not unique to any club. Fickle fan-bases are a statistically proven fact of life. The rampant commercialism of the modern game is generally unattractive but might possibly have brought more benefits than disadvantages – it’s open to proper question. But what can help us all, as supporters of a mediocre second division club, to rise above all of that is having a team which we believe can do something –  have a cup run, give our neighbours the occasional good hiding, have some players with character with whom we can associate, avoid relegation in a gutsy scrap – even go down in a gutsy scarp….anything! Anything except this formless, unambitious, uninspired randomness which has been this season at BirminghamCity. As I say, I don’t know how football works, but I find it impossible to understand how someone who has played at the highest level, is firmly entrenched in the game and who should know its intricacies and pitfalls –and, yes, I know he’s young – can preside over such a spiritless, shapeless fiasco. In any other walk of life, he’d be long gone. When the seats empty – or, even worse, where the occupants remain silently slumped in indifference, even when taunted by jolly fans from the Home Counties – surely you have to say to yourself it might be time to hold your hands up and say this ain’t the job for you.

If I get the energy, I might just expand on how the ownership is, of course, just as culpable as it hunkers down on the opposite side of the globe. And there’s plenty to say about players and their attitudes and application.  For the moment, like so many others, I wanted to vent my frustration at seeing a club that is in my blood and sinew shrink and shrivel like a lifeless balloon. And, yes, I will make the 200 mile round trip on Tuesday and, yes, I’ll try to give us much support as I can. I’d just like to think that the capabilities of the man in charge might even make a start in meeting my aspirations. I’m not holding my breath.

By Jon Berry


15 thoughts on “Why Clark has to take the rap for draining our spirit

  1. Davie says:

    Awful piece I’m afraid. Typically knee jerk fan reaction not basing anything on reality. The blame lies at the foot of Yeung and Pannu. End of.

  2. Dan B says:

    I actually disagree with the above comment, I fully agree and approve of this write-up. Granted the boardroom issue are a massive issue @ BCFC & under no circumstances should they be ignored or accepted for the plight we find out club in.
    However, that being said I’m pretty sure that when speaking to L.C in the summer Mr Pannu would’ve given L.C all the information requiered before he chose to take the job. L.C himself has been on record a number of times saying that he’s in regular and frequent contact with Mr Pannu so this season’s shortcomings have to come down to the manager. I highly doubt that anybody was expecting a Hughton styled season but Mr Pannu was still on record as saying that L.Cs objectives is to make the play-offs.
    Now given that we’ve kept: Jack Butland (for the season), Curtis Davies, Chris Burke, Nathan Redmond, Marlon King, Nicola Zigic & finally been able to sign Shabba (who we’ve seemingly spent near on 2seasons chasing) surely we couldn’t be forgiven for thinking we’re in for a decent season???
    Furthermore I think the addition of Caddis could bring long term stability to the R.B position for years to come (if of course we can finance some form of deal for him) and similarly to those moaning we’ve lost Jordan Mutch can I just remind you we’ve bought in Ravel Morrison & Rob Hall to cover this loss.
    Therefore in regards to the question of is the failing season down to the board I would say that in part – Yes it is as it was they who employed L.C
    However in regards to who I personally blame for the abismal season of football we’ve had to witness @ St Andrews I would say – L.C for being consistantly inept in his tactics, his lack of urgency in changing a game, his seemingly harsh and bullish managerial style & the continued and over-used weak excuses he comes out with in his post match comments.

    My final question is this – IF you were the manager of BCFC and you’d managed the Barnsley game would you not do everything within your power to make sure such a debacle never ever happened again under your management??? You can bet your bottom dollar this is exactly what I would’ve done and yet in the same season we get thumped 0-4 by a bunch of Italian reserves!!!!

  3. DaveBlues says:

    The annoying view from the minority is that the board are solely to blame.

    You may not want to hear this, people, but they’re not.

    The board do not select the team, they don’t train the players, they don’t set the tactics, they don’t play between 0 and 94 minutes of football a week.

    I’m sorry, but the desire for people to believe that the board are the sole reason we’re having an awful season is a false argument.

    Clark is an inexperienced and inept manager, the only thing the board are to blame for (aside from money issues) is appointing him.

  4. Cliff says:

    Davie some of the blame lies with Yeung of course, but a lot also lies with Clark.
    Yeung did not select 442 against Watford with a weak midfield against one of the best passing teams in the division. Yeung did not publicly criticise a player, for me thats an in house matter.
    Yeung did not pick the team against Barnsley or continue to play a high line with a slow defence that time and time again got picked off in numerous games. I could go on but the facts are we should be doing better with these players regardless of ownership.

  5. Jaffa says:

    Jon it’s fans like you that keep me hanging on to any hope I have left that one day the good times will return.K.R.O.

  6. northfield says:

    I’m in full agreement with the article, I said the other day on here that its Clarks fault were in this position. The blame lies solely with Clark, he is the manager, not Pannu or Carson, they have nothing to do with on field performances, absolutely nothing, and Clark actually made signing which have not worked out because of him and his tactics! Carson and Pannu have nothing to answer for when it comes to the football side of things! Great article Made in Brum well said.

    • northfield says:

      Carson has actually given us our most successful period in history, backed us more than anyone, but of course his assets are frozen now which he did not foresee.. look I’m not sticking up for Carson or Pannu for that, but never blame them for on field matters!

  7. Mike Ellis says:

    How is it that no one on here can see past their noses !!!! Lets get a few facts straight:…
    Yeung paid way over the odds for us in the first place . The people who decided that yeung and Co were ” fit and proper people ” to take us over, should be prosecuted !!
    Yeung appeared ONCE in front of the cameras stating that :” we would spend 40 million in the January window and ( wait for it !!) ” a similar abount in the close season”.
    So what did ACTUALLY HAPPEN !! We bought Gardner and Davies for 7 mill total. We WON the Carling cup , then after that we sold EVERYONE we could ( estimated to be 30mill) then we got relegated with 39 pts !! Then we had a parachute payment of approx 20mill .
    So we now have £50 mill to spend BUT what happens ?? We have spent NOTHING since january 2011 !! Wheres the money gone ??? I suggest yeung and Co should be asked that question. We have failed to produce accounts since they took over and our auditors have resigned !! We have signed anyone who is free,over the hill etc etc . THATS WHY WE ARE A SHAMBLES. We will surely go into administration soon. Personally if thats the only way these chinese sharks can be removed , the so be it ! The have NO AMBITION, NO INTEREST , NO MONEY and have done everything in their power to reduce us to the shambles we are now in. I was a season ticket holder for 45+ years until this season , but I will NEVER again set foot in St Andrews till the chinese have gone !!

  8. KROTOM says:

    I read many of the good and not so good websites about the Blues. I am not a fan of LC and can see the inadequacies of the board.

    I am surprised that little criticism is vented at those players on the pitch and often wonder why.

    The players including the younger ones are very well paid.

    One or two have their heart in the club the remainder are football mercenaries . I believe the majority of players earn more in a term of contract than the majority of supporters earn in perhaps a lifetime.

    Once the whistle blows it is for the players to perform.How many players have played to an acceptable level consistently this year. I would suggest very few if any have performed to a standard that merits their salary.

    The websites often have opinions and comment about loyalty and getting behind the team. I do not disagree entirely but would also like to see the same in the team.

    Irrespective of a poor manager, poor board and the continued excuses that come from various voices. The players have not performed and they are a major reason as to the position we find ourselves in.
    If the players accept the wage , they except the responsibility of performing for the fans. They have failed miserably and should be man enough to admit this.

    Irrespective of differences between coaching staff and players for the supporters sake they need to get together very quickly and sort this mess out.

    My first game was in 1961 ,i have seen many ups and downs, i do not remember players giving the impression that they are not interested as the current team and believe me i have seen some poor teams.

    I love the club, the ground and the memories and hope that this whole miserable season ends with a bang rather than a whimper.

  9. Country Blue says:

    I’m sure I ought to know this Dan B, but who is ‘Shabba’

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