I used to play Mario Kart a lot when I was a child on the Nintendo Wii and my Nintendo DS. What a game that was! It was exhilarating and enthralling. Being able to race as different characters and battle it out on different race courses over a number of races with the hope of winning the prized cup at the end was something my younger self lived for! In Mario Kart you can change your character at the end of the completion of one cup if unsuccessful and go again with a different character next time in order to be victorious. In simple terms: You can chop and change as much as you want with no consequences in your quest for success.
What’s my point? What’s Mario Kart got to do with anything? Well I honestly believe the board of directors are treating our great club as if they were playing Mario Kart! Time and time again, if they deem a season to not be a “success”, a manager is quickly changed as swiftly and as easily as selecting a new character on Mario Kart. Every time we seem to be on the right track with the right man in charge the board decides that they aren’t happy with anything other than being at the top. The villain in Mario Kart and the Mario Franchise is Bowser. Bowser’s ultimate goal is to defeat Mario. The villain at Birmingham City is Xuan Dong Ren and his ultimate goal seems to be to destroy Birmingham City.
I mentioned the word “success” earlier and what is deemed as a successful season. This whole “you can only class a season as successful if you win something” concept is absolute nonsense. In my opinion Mauricio Pochettino was the best manager in the world last season. What he managed to do with Spurs having spent no money was incredible. However, it wasn’t just the results and the achievement of reaching the Champions League final that contributed to a “successful” season. It was the transformation of his players. Moussa Sissoko, a right sided midfielder who had endured a horrendous start to his Spurs career, found a new lease of life last season playing as a deep lying midfield powerhouse dominating the ball and the midfield. Look at the leaps and bounds that Dele Alli, Ben Davies & Harry Winks have come on under Poch. A football manager’s main aim is always to improve their players. Logically, if your players improve your results improve.
Garry Monk did just that at Birmingham last season. The work he, Pep Clotet and James Beattie put in led to transformations of players none of us ever expected. Who expected Jutkewicz from going from being an impact sub who scored 4 goals a season to a hungry, hard working goal scorer, vital to the team and a striker who hit double digits last season for the first time in over 5 years?! No one did! Monk’s faith and confidence in all his players was repaid on the pitch. The players were hungrier, ran further and wanted to win more than any Blues side I have seen in a long time. It was a joy to watch Blues at times last season and the feel good factor was back for the first time since Alex McCleish was in charge over 10 years ago! With a transfer embargo, a point’s deduction and a paper-thin squad, Garry Monk and Blues finished in 17th position having ensured their safety with two games to spare. The improvement of players, bringing back the feel-good factor to the club and, with the future looking bright, Monk had no doubt had a successful season.
However, supporting Blues is not for the feint hearted and is never straight-forward. Most reading this article have no doubt experienced more heart break and pain than myself but as an 18 year old I have experienced my fair share supporting Blues. From the jubilation of winning the carling cup and then suffering relegation from the premier league a few months later with a squad too good to go down, to failed promotion attempts, clueless managers, points deductions and transfer embargos I’ve seen it all! However, the decision to sack Monk has hit the hardest it really has. I can’t say it came as a surprise to see Monk leave but I always expected to see him move to another club instead of being sacked!
I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t look at the other side of the argument. Can we agree with any of the points that the club made for sacking Garry? “The board of Directors are hopeful that over time the team can adopt a fresh and modern footballing philosophy, whilst maintaining the Club’s core values.” Yes I will admit that Monk’s approach was defensive and the approach has been the same at Blues for a while. Maybe a complete philosophy change with a manager more competent than Zola is for the best? The club went on to say in their statement yesterday “It is our intention to drive the Club forward and challenge for promotion.” Now I have said this since day one but Garry Monk is not the man to take us up. Monk had done a fantastic job at Blues really stabilising the club. However, stabilising a club isn’t the same as going for promotion. Monk is limited and I strongly believe that in comparison to Chris Wilder who took Sheffield United up that Monk isn’t at the stage yet. You don’t have to agree with me but if you really think long-term I 100% believe Monk was not the man for Blues and the club obviously felt this way as well.
Monk was of course a really popular figure at Blues and will be remembered warmly for his efforts, commitment and passion for the club. It was infectious and we will always be grateful to him for this. However, as hard as this may be to hear, he’s gone and he is not coming back. It’s time to move on. I am not going to tell you what to do. The choice is yours. Protest, return your season ticket and brand new home tops if you want. Just remember, however, that the board have done this before with Gary Rowett, again with Garry Monk and no doubt they will do this again in the future. Dong Ren does not care about our club so don’t you think a protest would fall on deaf ears? And come on guys! We’re Blues not Villa! We don’t do stuff like protests. Now more than ever is not the time to turn our backs on the club.
Looking ahead to next season I really don’t know what to expect. The reliable We are Birmingham believe Pep Clotet has been offered the “head coach” role permanently and fellow Spaniard Xavi Calm is due to come in as the U23 coach. Regardless of who is in charge of the team next season it is going to be a difficult one for sure but all hope is not lost. With the board acknowledging that we won’t be spending much, and that our young players will be given much more of a chance, our team is still good enough to be finishing middle table at least! We still have a team of players who give 100% and love the club! This needs to be reciprocated by us the fans. So regardless of how angry you are at the decision to sack Monk it’s not the players fault. So get down to St Andrews, get on the coaches and trains to follow Blues around the country every week as soon as the football season starts. The players need you. A football club without fans is nothing! There really is nothing else I can say other than back the manager, the players and your club. In Mario Kart sometimes making a change can backfire or it can go the complete other way and can end up with victory. We have already had a change that has backfired but who’s to say that this time it may go the other way entirely?