The soap opera at St. Andrew’s continued on down its usual route during the summer when Garry Monk, a highly popular manager, was relieved of his duties. Word on the street was that he was acting unethically and didn’t have the clubs ‘best interests at heart’ – but I won’t tread over old ground.
Monk’s assistant manager Pep Clotet was given the post. Pep Clotet – football’s first ever ‘permanent caretaker head coach’.
The club, via Dong Ren, confirmed that they wouldn’t be seeking any other candidates for the role. So that was that. Blues rolled into pre-season with Pep, a manager sacked from Oxford United, in charge.
These days, the word ‘permanent’ and ‘Birmingham City manager’ do not belong in the same title. Dong’s twitchy finger is seemingly always hovering nervously a few millimetres above the red button.
So here we are, nine games into the Championship season and already it appears that Clotet’s future is hanging by a thread. After two consecutive defeats, a large number of fans have taken to social media and other channels to vent their frustrations and to point the finger squarely at Blues’ Spanish boss.
But Clotet is merely a face plastered on the circus poster, the strings are being pulled by the puppet masters above.
Dong, who is the first Director of an English football club to have his office situated in the training ground, holds all the cards. He has all of the power. It seems that the Clotet appointment was an experiment due to end the moment the aforementioned Monk landed a new position of his own – which he eventually did in the form of Sheffield Wednesday. In theory, Monk would land a job and come sniffing around his former back room team, still plying their trade in the second city, and the two clubs would agree a healthy financial package. But when that doesn’t pan out, what next?
Oh a defeat at Derby should push Pep closer to the edge of the mountain. Forget the fact that Clotet was blameless for the loss at Pride Park, a game which saw Blues gift their hosts three goals and miss a penalty at 2-2. Ignore the fact that Gary Gardner’s lazy pass was the catalyst to the first goal, just two minutes in. Ignore the fact that Marc Roberts literally falls over to gift Derby a second. No manager in the world can stop his defender from losing his footing before hitting the deck. Oh well, let’s blame him anyway. It’s the easier option.
You see, Pep has been unequivocally hung out to dry. After all, while there is a manager to put the blame on, eyes won’t look towards the boardroom. But this board created the mess. But that’s ok, they’ve spent a few quid on players. That’ll appease the fans for a few months until they walk head first into the next disaster.
If a band doesn’t succeed, the front man will always take the flack while the drummer moves onto his next project.
The fact is, any manager worth his salt would think twice before accepting a role at this club. Where is the appeal?
‘Manager wanted for Championship football club. Duties include: coaching the players under the watchful eye of senior management, to utilise players signed by the board and to be solely accountable for bad results. All employment is subject to a 12 week probationary period at which point the board will decide suitability for the position’.
Dong appoints a manager who fairs pretty well, leads the team up the table and the fans are once again united. Dong takes all the plaudits for a shrewd appointment. Then, eventually, when he becomes bored of playing Solitaire on his office desktop, he will pull the trigger and quickly manufacture a reason to justify it. Blame the manager, that’ll work.
Dong appoints a manager who struggles to drive the team into the higher reaches of the table. Players lose confidence, fans start pointing the finger at the man in the dugout forcing Dong to pull the trigger and seek a replacement. And we’re back to square one.
Repeat several times. Blame the manager, that’ll work.