Often Partisan

Up and down

One thing with relegation is it’s not something that’s new for Birmingham City. Indeed, we’ve been up and down so often we should be called the Vengaboys. Bouncing back from relegation is something we’ve become good at, and as Mr_Kwacky pointed out on twitter, it might be something worth looking at.

Last time we got relegated was the end of the 2007/08 season. Things were different then; whilst Alex McLeish was in charge then as he is now, we were under the stewardship of the previous board, and Messrs Sullivan, Gold and Gold weren’t the most popular people around St Andrews. Indeed, the last game of the season saw a near-riot as many fans took to the pitch and a small minority proceeded to damage the goalposts and demand the board relinquish their positions. Whilst there were definitely feelings of discontent after we lost to Fulham at the end of the season just gone, I don’t believe the board are suffering the antipathy of the Blues fans as much as Alex McLeish is.

Back then, Steve Bruce took the blame for relegation from the board, for signing “crap” players like Franck Queudrue (player of the season 2008/09 for Blues) and Richard Kingson. It’s interesting that again this season the board has blamed poor signings for our relegation again, but this time it’s been chief scout Paul Montgomery who’s had to be the goat. Alex McLeish must be a very charismatic guy, because despite being relegated twice he’s never carried the can publicly with either the board for having done so. In saying that, I think McLeish is under a lot of pressure to ensure we bounce back again, and I think (as many do) if we’re not in the top two come the end of October, he’ll be getting the Spanish Archer.

One thing that can be said for relegation in 2008 was that money wasn’t seen to be as much of an issue as it is now. Blues released or sold only five first team squad players – Forssell, Kingson, Kapo, De Ridder and Muamba compared to the ten or so that have already gone in the week and a bit since we have been relegated this time. Indeed, Blues went out and committed large sums of money towards the wages of two older pros in Lee Carsley and Kevin Phillips last time – this time I don’t think we’ll be going near older players as McLeish seems to have been told it’s about retooling and making our squad younger, more dynamic and more importantly re-saleable.

I think this time it’s all about restarting, about creating a new Blues team. Sure, I think we’ll be keeping the spine of the team as best as we can, but it’s going to be about adding younger players with potential. In 2006/7, Blues went out and signed Cameron Jerome for £4mil from Cardiff whilst he was still (just) a teenager; they also added three young loan stars from Arsenal in Seb Larsson, the aforementioned Fabrice Muamba and Nicklas Bendtner. There was also Neil “Disco” Danns (24) and Stephen Kelly (23), along with Gary McSheffrey (26) from our local rivals Coventry City. These players, along with some other more experienced signings changed a lumbering “best side ever” that got relegated in 2006 into a more dynamic, younger unit that looked to have some potential. Blues have a better spine to add to now than we did then, and I’m a believer that if we can emulate that season and add some young talent we’ll be much better for it.

There remains a lot of pessimism amongst Blues fans about how well we’ll perform next season, which is understandable considering how poor we’ve been for the last few months and how many players that Blues have lost. However, it’s some time until the new season starts. Until we get a better idea of who Blues will look to bring in, I don’t think we’ll have a true idea of how well we’ll get on. We’ve been through this before – and no doubt we’ll go through it again. The hope is still there for me; hope we’ve learnt from the mistakes of the past and will become better in the future.



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7 Responses to “Up and down”

  • peter bowler says:

    Not antipathy no, more an air of quiet resignation

  • bob clancey says:

    well from where im standing relegation is a disaster !!
    no more match of the day ! no cable channels showing live championship games .
    no need to go to the pub anymore to watch games .
    Blues you have caused misery to my life ,its now either going round to the mother-in-laws for dinner or going shopping with the missus! now thats what you call apathy

  • tom jones says:

    bob clancey try going to the match then you wont have to go shopping or the mother in laws and its more fun than sitting in an armchair watching it on sky. 2 minutes on match of the day every week is hardly what you would call entertainment.
    Yes it was a terrible end to the season, but we won silverware so it aint all bad. Look forward not back, what has happened is gone. Keep Right On.

  • chris says:

    i also think these players may have gone during that closed season zarate, sadler, danns , vine

  • phil says:

    Wasn’t Palacios let go that season too? Big Eck hadn’t seen enough of him to be sure he was worth keeping. Hmm

  • AR says:

    AM’s first relegation was with a team which he hadn’t formed because he was in charge for only part of the season. He is a shrewder manager than any we have had before,added to which he is the best “sportsman” in dealing with ref’s decisions. I admire him.

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