Often Partisan

Hope and Expectation

Birmingham City completed their home campaign at the weekend with a 1-0 win over Charlton Athletic, elevating the team to 11th place in the Championship with 60 points.

I think everyone (including myself) has noted the complete turnaround in results since the appointment of Gary Rowett as Blues manager and it’s hard to write a piece about the club at the moment with rhapsodising over the Bromsgrove Mourinho. It’s been a pleasant relief to be able to talk about wins, about excellent football on the pitch and the emergent talent of new players on the pitch.

Without wishing to appear contrary though, any manager is only as good as their last few results – and any club chairman/chief executive/el gran jefe is only as good as their last transfer window. For both Rowett and Panos Pavlakis, I think the hard work starts with this close season.

With Blues having performed so admirably under Rowett, the bar of expectation has now been raised. We’ve seen that he’s been capable of getting far more out of players than Clark was – the improvements in the performances of Jonathan Grounds, Stephen Gleeson and Andy Shinnie confirm that Rowett knows how to inspire and lead. We’ve also seen that Rowett has a good eye for a player, with the signings of Michael Morrison, Robert Tesche and Diego Fabbrini all adding a new dimension to the team.

Once the league campaign is completed this weekend at the Macron, Rowett will have to confirm which players he wants to move on – either by transfer or by release at the end of their contract. With the ownership situation somewhat up in the air still, it’s not going to be an easy decision, and he will require proper support from Panos Pavlakis in those decisions.

The club have been insistent that the financial situation is fine at the club and there have been hints that money may be available for bringing players in. I will be honest in saying that I personally cannot understand how that is possible – the last accounts point to a club that is on the edge financially – but I’m no accountant and it’s easily possible that I’ve missed something.

If Panos can provide money for new players – and Rowett can continue to find and bring in players that have the impact of Morrison and Tesche, next season could easily see Blues competing at the right end of the table. I’m sure I’m not the only person daring to think this – and it’s this expectation that is going to make next season exponentially harder for Rowett as I think fans will be less forgiving of poor results and performances.

However, I am of the belief that given the right tools Rowett can succeed. What has pleased me most of late isn’t just that Blues have been winning – but that we look worthy of winning. We’ve played some great football at times of late – not just on the counter but also possession football – and there seems to be a nucleus of a side there that really can achieve.

There is an old saying “it’s the hope that kills” – referring to how having hope in a situation is bad because you’ll invariably let down. I can’t agree with that sentiment; for so long we’ve been without hope – more expecting that the club is going to suffer more. Restoring the hope of better times at St Andrew’s has been Rowett’s greatest success – and it’s my hope that doesn’t turn into what metaphorically kills his Blues career.


41 Responses to “Hope and Expectation”

  • Bluedad says:

    Really fine article Dan. But while we all hail Rowett as our hero and rightly so, lets not forget the excellent team of coaches etc he has around him who also must take a lot of credit for performances on the pitch.

  • Agent McLeish says:

    Assuming of course that GR is still here next season. He is on a 12 month rolling contract so I assume there is compensation built in to ward off any poachers?

  • Matt says:

    Just think how different things were last time we were at Bolton. Really looking forward to next season now and I haven’t been able to say that for the past 3 seasons.

  • ChrisG says:

    I think what a lot of people forget is that at the start of this season we had an almost complete new squad of players & as most managers will say players need time to get to know one anothers game & I think as the season has come to an end with GR picking virtually the same team each week that this has been proven. If the majority of this squad stays together & with the addition of 2 or 3 new faces i’d say next season is gonna be a pretth good one & with a bit of luck we’ll be pushing for a play off place at the very least

  • ROBIN says:

    The turn around since GR arrived has been a joy & getting up on a Saturday and actually looking forward to going down the game ….i’d actually forgot what that was like !
    We have seen it would not take a lot of investment to challenge for at least a play-off spot next season, lets hope we have some positive news from Honk Kong soon & we can move on KRO

  • Blue Lizard says:

    Well…if Bournemouth can scrape out of the championship with a team of virtual unknowns(banging in 12 against us in 2 games) who says we can’t? wether they stay there on small gates unless the kindly Russian that has funded them steps up again who knows…..Lets hope the rubbish in HK is soon over and we get shot of those with no interest in us.GR will know by now who is going and who he would like and we should trust him and Panos to do what they think is right to push things on…as usual gossip and rumour will be rife about GR and Gray….and of course new owners…Aint never dull being a Blue nose is it?

    • Shirley Blue says:

      While I understand the feeling that if Bournemouth can do it anyone can they have some serious money behind them – they have been co-owned since 2011 by Russian businessman Maxim Demin and Eddie Mitchell. While their team are not full of household names they are top quality Championship players. Burnley came from nowhere last season again without any star names. Watford have done it thanks to their connections with the Pozzo family who also own Udinese. My point is that’s its a far cry from our ownership situation. They have been able to improve their playing staff over a few years to get into this position. My concern is that under the new TV deal clubs that get relegated into the Championship from next season are going to get massive parachute payments. I havnt checked but I think I read £98m for four years. We have been out for four years now so we will not get any more. It is going to be extremely difficult for us to be able to compete with them. The Chamionship could end up being a two tier division due to this.

      • Hillfield Blues says:

        That ones always going to be a problem we will have to overcome along with about 15 or so other championship sides who haven’t had any premiership football in their recent history.
        On the positive side,if we can beat Bolton and finish 10th after the start we had,no money spent on players and a 5k wage cap,we can’t be a million miles away you would think.

    • chris says:

      Don’t compare us with Bournemouth as they have access to far greater finance than we do.
      Bournemouth lost £15.3 million year ending July 2013, the season in which they were promoted to the Championship. They lost £3.4 million for 2011-12.
      Russian owner Max Demin helped ease the financial burden with a loan of £8.7m, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
      Bournemouth also owe a company controlled by Demin £7.5m, which was due by 5 October 2014
      All this doesn’t even include wages which i suspect are double what Blues (5k a week) can afford.
      I would like to know how they pass FFP with all this debt and loans.
      In League One there is a turnover limit so how they stuck to this with a £15 million loss on gates of 10,000 is beyond me and seems to beyond the Football League as Bournemouth and QPR have never been brought to book over their debts.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Unless we get new owners, or significant investment, my expectations will be the same as this season. 10th-12th. Without decent investment in the squad, we’re unlikely to push much higher. As good as Rowett is, with 3 more teams coming down with parachute payments, it’ll be even harder to crack the top 6…. because the clubs with money can always bring in that bit of extra quality when it matters.

  • chris says:

    Even Derby on gates of circa 28,000 struggle to get out of this League as their owners can’t compete finacially with rich owners at Watford, Bournemouth, ~Mi8ddlesborough, Wolves and QPR & Leicester last season, plus the relegated teams with massive parachute payments.
    So we will stuggle to compete anywhere near the top six on gates of 16,000.
    We will need either a miracle by GR and his team or gats of 24,000 to get near the top six next season.
    Burnley who run their ship correctly will have plenty to spend as will the other two relegated teams, plus parachute clubs Norwich, Fulham, Cardiff, Blackburn, Bolton & Reading.
    So on money terms that leaves us fighting for around tenth place.

  • oldburyblue says:

    I think over-expectation for next season could be our downfall. GR has done a wonderful job but to be honest we have over-achieved with the players at his disposal, so more of the same is as much as we can hope for next year. I just hope for all our sakes that Clayton Donaldson remains fit as he has proved to be the Kingpin of the team and the system we use.

    • Tony says:

      Corrrect ,people go on about Clarks ability to spot a player but the truth is under Rowett we have overachieved.
      Our players without exception would shave to be replaced to a man to have any chance of surviving in the premiership, they are basically leage one players.
      Donalldson has done well but dont tell me he would cut the mustard at a higher level he would not.

      • oldburyblue says:

        Of course Donaldson wouldn’t cut the mustard at a higher level Tony…..but if we are honest NONE of our team would. We have had some very good players over the recent years, much much better than our present players, but just how many have gone on to star for higher level teams having left us? We have no premiership-standard players and if by a miracle we WERE promoted next year we would have to replace the whole team just to survive or do a Blackpool and take the money and run. God help Wolves if they manage to get up this year.

  • Tracykro says:

    I do believe there is a little bit of money in the bank,
    1, Wages been cut to £5000 a week, there’s a few players on a bit more, unlike the season before there was Zigic on £65000 and pp money.
    2, When GR returned the average gate has gone up this season 2000 more fans that will bring a little more cash.
    3, All this season shirts training and kits are already sold, they had to have a sale to get rid last season.
    4, Season tickets all ready on sale

    I still believe we need money from owners, I wish we had new ones
    If we don’t it be the same has this year BUT WHAT A DIFFERENCE
    Im Really feeling positive for a change cant wait till it starts
    KRO Bluenoses

  • The Flying Pig says:

    Barring new investment, I fear the only realistic possibility of getting in players to help us challenge for a top 10 place (let alone the play-offs) lies in the loan system. Sir Gary has used this really well this year so let’s hope he can work some more magic next year. He really ought to be a candidate for Manager of the Year in the Championship; in my opinion, he would be on many a shortlist for this.

    Squad size could be an issue which impacts his ability to get in quality and release those who need to go; he cannot afford to lose too many. Accordingly, I cannot see him releasing all of the players he would probably want to, even allowing for his previous statement that he was happy with a smaller squad.

    I hope I’m pleasantly surprised, but I expect that the manager will have to indulge in some expectation management.

    • Shirley Blue says:

      I think he is going to have to be absolutely ruthless this summer to even sustain us to where we are for next season. If you look at the squad lists on the back of the programme we always have a significantly bigger squad than even the teams above us. If we have got players that are not good enough to perform at minimum mid table Championship level then they have got to go. He will want to be operating with a much smaller but better quality squad with every player competing for and able to hold a first team place at this level. This hopefully will release wages budget to enable us to pay more than £5k per week which is football League 1 levels. Good news is I think he is ambitious and tough enough to do it and not be sentimental.

      • The Flying Pig says:

        I agree with what you say, I’m just a bit concerned that the present financial climate will mean he is unable to cut as far as he would like.

        The ‘retained list’ for most of us who attend regularly will be pretty similar, but I wonder if some of those who would be on the ‘release’ list will get to stay.

        Another problem for the Sir Gary is those who might be offered a new deal but who might want to see if there’s a better offer – perhaps Spector might be an example of this. For me Spector is a decent squad player for us but his wages would have to reflect that and he may hold out for a better offer. This makes it hard for the manager to plan.

  • Ted says:

    Dan, Do you think we have a realistic chance of keeping Diego Fabrini?

  • Dave Mann says:

    Hope and expectations all comes down to new investment and new owners during the summer .. If this doesent happen then its same again next season with a 12th-10th finish because the current squad as proved it can substatin that level but if there’s change at the top then it’s bringing in a bit more quality and competition for places and a push for the playoffs is a possibility … Bournemouth finished 10th last season and are now promoted, lets hope lightning strikes twice and we finish 10th this season and who knows!! … I HOPE for new owners and then EXPECTATIONS will multiply with that . Kro

  • blue n bad says:

    There are very few examples of clubs reaching the Premier League without reasonable investment. Until we get such investment i fear that some of the optimism being shown may be a little bit misplaced. If a takeover does not happen i doubt GR will stay beyond next season.

    • Dave Mann, says:

      blue n bad, I think we’re all unanimous in the fact that without investment were stay where we are or it will get worse , the optimism being shown is the fact that with new owners and new investment we can push for the playoffs and that doesent sound misplaced to me, premiership football is miles away if there’s no change that’s obvious but with the core of that first team squad and keeping the likes of Tesche and Fabbrini and adding to it there’s every right to feel more optemistic than for a while because we don’t know if these players have over achieved , that’s just down to opinion and not fact. Kro

  • Andrew says:

    I would love for a season of ambition, it seems ages since the club has even thought that way. But I am of the opinion that I dont think fans can expect much more than a mid table finish realistically. Unless we get some giant funds to buy players I cant see us even being on the fringes of playoffs. I will still be the same supporter I have always been but i dont ant to see a situation where the atmosphere around the ground goes sour again just because we arent where we think we should be.

  • Captain Blues says:

    I think realistically next season will be difficult to even match unless there is a reasonable amount of financial investment although such is the nature of life Gary Rowett has raised expectations for next season, I just feel it is important we keep any hopes grounded in realism unless of course there is a change in our financial position.

    • Shirley Blue says:

      We can if we don’t give out contacts to Robbo, Novak, Green, Duffy etc. As I said he has got be ruthless for the greater good. Much easier said than done. It can be a lot harder to get rid of players you don’t want who are still in contract than to get new ones in. We have got far too many in the squad who have contributed little or nothing this season – I don’t include Robbo in that but he is well past his best.

  • Mitchell says:

    Unless we get an Abramovitch overnight, we will be stretched again next season with 60 plus points I fear a hard task. We are what we are and mid table is a luxury. Next term with good Prem. teams coming down we will need the same guts to grind out results.If you offered me 11th spot now, I would snap your hand off.

  • ian ambrose says:

    Poroud and Brilliant Manager GR at blues He is clever too and type good manager and five player bring here name is Kieman. Morrison, Dyer,Tesche and Fabbrini help to blues stay up too and hope so 10th table league this saturday last one game… KEEP GR next new season bring new player and blues fans 2015/16 COME ON BLUES

  • Beadsy says:

    Not sure if anyone has touched on this but whilst we need investment surely we will have to comply with FFP or be sanctioned. Not too sure but I think current regs allow a £3m loss on trading plus £3m shareholder investment so whoever comes in needs to bring ‘sponsors’ with them so that incoming money is accountable. Doesn’t leave much scope for buying quality players unless profitability is substantially increased.I believe Blackburn, Forest and Leeds have embargo’s and several other clubs are under investigation. I think the parachute system was originally designed (but obviously flawed) to allow relegated clubs to cover their premier league costs and not necessarily future investment. Going to be extremely difficult whatever happens but … 2 of the 3 relegated teams from last year are below as are 2 from the previous season 1 of which will almost certainly relegated. Doesn’t always work out as we think.

  • Aduffin says:

    Has anybody got an idea on the ticket prices for the Birmingham senior cup final on Thursday?

  • Crazy about blue says:

    Is there nothing happening in hk? The suspense is driving me mad

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Remember once the game is over at Bolton we are significantly weaker. No Tesche, Fabbrini, Kiernan, Dyer, Randolph so we’ll struggle for midtable. I’m keeping my expectations in check

  • Mitchell says:

    Risking a backlash here..but why the almost hysterical hype over Fabbrini. Decent,quick feet,energetic and for us a crowd pleaser. This is ok and lifts us out of an awful time under LC. However, we must focus on improving our team in a guts and thunder Championship league. Strong and aggressive he isn’t, goal scorer he hasn’t history and regular team player over the years he hasn’t been. I like him as an icing on the cake player, but if GR has a choice between a dainty attacking midfielder or a strong less crowd pleaser like a Palacios or an Adeyemi , then at this level the choice is obvious. Finally, the difference is that Fabbrini is similar to an ex player, but he scored goals (Peschisolido).

    • beegeeblueboy says:

      Is Fabbrini technically able and a team player? I leave that for GR to decide. What I will say though excites. He’s a ‘bums-on-seats’ player and we need at least one of those. Still if you prefer a Damien Johnson clone you wont carry me with you.

    • oldburyblue says:

      It depends on what you want from a game. Although I love to see us win every game I also like to be entertained. I think a better comparison would be with Jose Domingues who lit up a game every time he touched the ball….although in truth there was rarely an end product to his wonderful dribbles. What makes Fabbrini special is that he does his tricks right in the middle of the midfield hustle bustle having made the time and space for himself. I don’t think I have ever seen a player turn in such a tight circle whilst retaining possession. Pesky was more of an out-and-out striker.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    We need two key players to be on top of their game again – Donaldson and Cotterill and we have no cover for them if they don’t. I think if we look at the stats for Cotterill they aren’t very impressive for the last 8-10 weeks so he needs to be challenged for his place.

  • Raymondo says:

    We’re lucky that we couldn’t be in better hands as far as the management team. We just have to be patient to get better owners. Nothing stays the same forever.What a different scene at Bolton this Saturday!. KRO.

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