Often Partisan

The Emotional See-Saw

If you think that Tom Ross is bad for your heart when listening to Blues matches on the radio you should try following updates on Twitter. Unfortunately I was on a train back to Brum when the match was on so it was the only method I had of following last night’s game and to say there was an emotional see-saw from Blues fans online would be the understatement of the century.

It’s kinda ironic that on the evening Ceefax is shut down for good (and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who’d be praying for a miracle Blues goalscorer the next time the page rolled around to the Blues score) that I was left with Twitter and the occasional text from Jeff the Cloth (who clearly fainted as I still haven’t got one saying 3-3) to find out what was happening. Three down with eighteen minutes gone and you could almost feel the masses of Bluenoses reach for their anti-depressant of choice to quell the nerves; once Marlon had got his hat-trick you could sense the disbelief that Blues had managed to pull it back. Having seen one poster on a messageboard vow to bare his backside on a nominated platform at New St should Blues win 4-3 I can imagine that he must have been quite relieved that they didn’t quite do it because that would have been quite a bad one to backtrack from.

As I have already said, I didn’t see the game so I cannot and won’t comment on individual performances. However, the result brings two feelings to mind. Firstly, that despite what anyone thinks of Clark that it was a good comeback and if he’s going to be criticised for the team going down 3-0 then he deserves some credit too; and secondly that if a team goes down 3-0 within eighteen minutes, particularly if what Colin Tattum tweeted – ie

quite simply, rank bad defending to crosses from right not dealt with by three experienced players who should know and do better

is true, then the players need criticism for that – particularly if you want to credit them for the comeback. In short it sounds like Blues have it within them to do well if they didn’t keep shooting themselves in their metaphorical feet.

I can understand why people want Clark out; Blues haven’t been the same team as last year and whilst we’ve been unluckier with injuries and suspensions this year there seems to be no cohesion or consistency to Clark’s team selections. It’s one thing for a poor team to play poorly but we’ve seen most of this team play so much better last season and the major thing that has changed is the manager so it’s only logical to blame the manager for the negative change in our fortunes. I will admit my concern also; whilst I don’t think he’s lost the dressing room I think it’s clear he’s lost a large chunk of the fanbase (if he ever had them in the first place) and I don’t think he’ll ever get them back – much as what happened to McLeish in the run-in to relegation in 2010.

That being said I still cannot demand his sacking. Firstly, because I know Blues can’t afford to sack him financially at the moment – and more importantly secondly because I can’t see a long-term replacement being put into place with the future ownership of the club still up in the air and the idea of a caretaker fills me with dread. If Clark was to be binned then his coaching staff would have to go too which would leave us either having to promote someone who’s never coached at this level before (and people say Clark is out of his depth), or bringing in someone who is known who is willing to work on a short-term contract until things are sorted out – and who would do that? Only someone desperate for the work… and that doesn’t fill me with confidence either.

So, in the meantime we’re (for want of a better word) stuck with Clark. I think he’s in a tough spot now; there isn’t anything he can say that will improve the situation and he’s in a no-win situation squadwise. If he drops non-performing members of his team he’s tinkering and doesn’t know his best XI; if he doesn’t change the team there will be concerns that players are picked regardless of form. In my opinion he’s got to do what he thinks he needs to for a win and then stick with it. If it comes off, then kudos to him. If it doesn’t – well, I hope he’d be man enough to know when to walk away from something.

Blues next game against Leeds on Saturday coincides with Lee Clark’s 40th birthday. They say life begins at 40 – I sincerely hope that the return to form of Blues truly begins then as well.

Talking Points sponsored by John Hicken Industrial roofing and cladding materials


39 Responses to “The Emotional See-Saw”

  • Ebeneezer says:

    You are right I do think Caldwell has lost his legs, not quite sure if he had last least, who knows. We had a great manager last season, and if no realises it now, BCFC fans do. Although im not the prat you thinks lee clark should get sacked immeditatley. Give hime 3–5 more game at least, if his tactics win a couple of homr games, maybe he’ll do do better.

    But do you remember when bruce became manager? Its was 30 games in, and he had some money to spend. and he spent some! and got some loanees in, whats more he got us into the playoffs
    … whatsmore we won it. whats to say that we sack lee clark in 5 games time and get a proper manager!

    But if we wins those 5 what do we do? start liking him? OMG! maybe it will all start working for him!

    Im not saying it will be alright, but its possible!

  • skareggae72 says:

    I see Barry Ferguson is being lined up as our next signing,that is not going to give us more legs,although his distribution might improve our pitiful possession ratings.

  • andy says:

    If that comeback last night isnt a turning point in Blues’ season then there will never be one.

  • evesham blue says:

    Before the game when I saw the teamsheet – I thought fair play he is going for it. I liked it I must confess.So I cant then say he got it wrong again. The problem I think is the defending. We shoot ourselves in the foot. Caldwell is his captain and we are leaking too many goals.I cant however see him dropping Caldwell if he is his captain.

    It would have to be Chris Wood wouldnt it as well!

    I think it is fair to say that we are inconsistent to say the least which to be fair is hardly surprsing given the injury situation BUT sort the defence out Mr Clark to give ourselves a chance.

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    The players have got to be held to account as well. It’s not just Clark.

    • QatarBlue says:

      Agreed. I listened to it on the radio.

      The players left Clarke brutally exposed to accusations of incompetence in the first half of the match, but effectively vindicated his team selection in the second half.

      As such, our predicament might be less to do with Clark, who might actually be saying and doing the right things behind the scenes, and more to do with our players ‘picking and choosing’ when to play and putting in Jekyll and Hyde performances.

      I’m going to cut him some slack for now. He can’t possibly legislate for players not turning up for half of a match, and then playing a complete blinder in the other. There’s only so much he can control.

  • ed_blue says:

    Following any match when you’re not there is hell-ish – even Andy Walker’s live updates when the local wi-fi freezes him out.

    Tatts tweet about the defending is true – it was a horror show right in front of us from defenders who simply did not, er, defend.

    My personal view on Clark is that the longer he stays at the club, the more damage he is likely to inflict on the team. This will reflect on loss of revenue at the gate and, as there is always the possibility of players sales in January, potentially lower transfer fees for players who look hopelessly out of sorts. Any compensation due to Clark et al would be easily offset by protecting other sources of revenue.

    Clark should consider his reputation as a manager and do what he can to protect this; the sensible option would be to resign, but as we’ve seen from the season so far, sensible is a word far from his vocabulary.

  • Blueboy 88 says:

    Everything seems so fragile from top to bottom of our club atm.

    Fair play last night though , they showed a lot of spirit to get back into a lost cause .

    We do desperately need a positive turning point , hopefully Leeds is going to be that,
    Lets just hope last nights second half team turn up , not the first halfs…

  • Wingman Blue says:

    Leeds are emotionally fragile too at the moment, so a win won’t necessarily prove anything. A thumping loss and there’ll be calls for The Return Of The Blessed Trev, if only as caretaker!

  • Ian B says:

    Agree with your opinion re Clark, particularly not being able to afford to sack him.

    Fundamentally, I think the problem for Clark is that his management style is totally different to Chris Hughton’s; Whereas Hughton was articulate and could convey his tactics, Clark doesn’t seem to be able to string a sentence together and wants to rant at the players. Hughton would often stick to a plan (sometimes frustratingly), whereas Clark wants to keep ‘chopping and changing’. And finally, Hughton was ‘Mr Cool’ on the touchline, Clark shows every emotion – his body language is often reflected in the players performance.

    What we are seeing is that Hughton is a hard act to follow. We can only hope that Clark can put a run together and then win the squad’s belief and confidence.

    • ed_blue says:

      Agree that much may be down to a contrast of styles, but Hughton was changing the team from game to game at this time last year because of the extra Europa League games.

      Preparation for games may be different, Hughton being meticulous in his planning. Watching last night unfurl in front of me, I wonder if Clark had bothered to watch Millwall beforehand – they look as though they can only play in one style.

  • James says:

    Great article.

    Its never dull being a bluenose and last night’s comeback was truly epic.

    We should take a decent number to Leeds this Saturday – if we get 3 points we can start to believe again.


  • Tom says:

    Following Blues-Games via twitter is my destiny every week….;-) Best regards from Germany! Tom

  • Bluenosesol says:

    Major concerns last night were observations from Radio WM commentary. Cauldwell and Davies all at Sea. Robinson awful and Lita for the whole of the first half just didnt want to know! On paper we have a half decent team. Psychology is all in football, this team need to get their heads together!

  • evesham blue says:

    One of the problems is even if we get a result vs Leeds in doesnt mean it is a turning point. On the evidence so far this season we would just be back to being pitiful the next game.

    That is what worries me the inconsistency. Looking at our points haul so far – we will be in a relegation dog fight come the end of the season if we carry on as we are.

    We cant grind out a result either e.g Leicester.

    I think Clark has been unlucky with injuries and the rub of the green on the pitch but that is the mark of a team that will struggle.

    I mean come on. There is nothing in this division that is a cut above so why are we letting in 5 goals at home to Barnsley and 3 goals in the first 19 mins at Millwall?

    Not good at all. I noticed that Clark defended the players this time even tho they should be bollicked for schoolboy defending.

  • evesham blue says:

    All season we have been skinned at fullabck. All season the CB’s have missed routine clearances. All season any team with pace will turn our defence. All season the midfield has been light weight.

    Now look at the teams who are doing well. They are well organised and big.

    Now – first and foremost we need to be competitive before we can put a run together. That means cut out the mistakes, keep a shape and stick to a plan and compete for every 50-50 ball going.

    Why are the players switching off? That’s not Clark’s fault is it ?Why is Burke a shodow of himself? He was ripping defences apart last year. Have teams clued up to him?

    • Blueboy 88 says:

      Burkes form is a symptom of the ongoing full back problems. He showed briefly when Caddis played, & I am positive with a fit Carr or Caddis behind him he will come again.

      Robinson played RB last night (Desperate), say no more…!!

      We are also plainly a much better team with Murphy at LB .
      With a bit of continuity in the full backs positions the central defenders will feel more secure as well.

      All that said LC has done himself no favours with Ben Gordon & James Hurst , boys being asked to do a mans job in the Championship.

  • Masaccio says:

    Went last night, Millwall should have been out of site before Marlon got one back. Butland and the defence need to take a long hard look at themselves and watch the DVD a few times. Clark must have given the team some sort of talk before the game and told them how to play? You wouldn’t have thought so in the first half.
    Second half we started to play but were knackered for the last 10 minutes allowing the home team to come back at us.
    I can see us getting a point at Leeds and then getting some of the injured / suspended players back into the fold. Ziggy would have been a good option last night.

  • GoodyBlueShoes says:

    I cannot for the life of me understand why people are so shocked at how we are playing.

    1. No pace in positions where you need it most.
    2. Team selection and tactics have been just wrong on many occasions
    3. Injuries
    4. Loan players with no conviction
    5. Lack of leadership on the field
    6. No dedicated backs that are anyway near good enough

    Was it my imagination last night or did 4 or 5 of the players look shattered after 30 mins????

    Training methodology correct????

  • Bromsgrove Blue says:

    4 hours there on the BCFC coach – detour – lost in the backstreets around Tower Bridge – but even that didn’t prepare us for the first 18 minutes. All of the goals were ridiculous for professional footballers. It was like watching a pub team on Sunday morning – with defenders still drunk from the night before. No cohesion or understanding. However, the passing that led to the first goal was amazing – and that carried on for most of the second half. As someone in the crowd said – “the half-time team talk will need to be good – it’s the only way Clarke can save his job”. Hughton was cool, talked tatics and never mentioned a player’s poor performance – Clarke is like Keegan – he wants “big hearts” and “warriors” ! End result – 3-3 with some brilliant moves. My view – Clarke went with a 4-4-2 (would McCliesh or Bruce have done that?) – he couldn’t have anticipated his experienced defenders going AWOL. All managers need time – so let’s just support him and the team.

    The club itself has no leadership at the moment and no organisation can function properly without good leadership at the top end (look at Albion’s steady progress) – so let’s get behind the team and the manager esp. on the pitch. Remember Chris walked out – we were lucky to have had him – now let’s move on and make the best of what we’ve got until the future of the club is settled. C’mon – KRO,

  • Dave Stevenson says:

    Brooms grove Blue, The new Voice of Reason.
    Well said sir.

  • Ali Duncan says:

    Wow…I’ve still not caught my breath from last night. To say it was a game of two halves is an understatement and that’s not just for the three goals.

    I can safely say that is the worst defending I’ve ever seen in such a short period of time during one game. The ball watching, inability to simply clear your lines and anticipate the balls movement was frankly embarrassing. The lack of a shot on goal in the 35 minutes added to the cagey nature of almost every Blues players on the ball made this one of the worst performances so far in Lee Clark’s tenure. I still can’t get over the number of backward passes and players that appeared scared of being in possession of the ball.

    Jump to the second half and I can’t believe it was the same eleven on the pitch.

    I genuinely thought I was watching a Chris Hughton side!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The lads on the pitch had desire, were passing to feet and then knocking the ball into space for others to run onto. There was a nice tempo build up, players were moving intelligently off the ball and also brilliantly and courageously retaining the ball even when under pressure and with back to goal. The link up play between the midfield and attack was smooth and the understanding between King and Lita was a joy to watch – two big strong players leading the line in the 4-4-2 we need and expect down the Blues.

    This just proved that the players can and more importantly have the will to perform at a high level in this division and compete. I agree with the above – if this result doesn’t turn around our season then nothing will. We must hit the ground running on Saturday and a positive result at Leeds will build on the excellent positive and attractive football that I witnessed last night.

    For the first time during Lee Clark’s reign I am actually excited and feeling property.

    See you all at Leeds, KRO!

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    The contrast was amazing which just brings me back to the responsibility of the players. They need to be focused for 90 not 45 minutes. Leicester was an improvement but that first half last night was Barnsley-esque. I’ll say it again it’s not wholly Clarks fault.

  • James says:

    Well said Bromsgrove – coming back from 3 down deserves some praise.

    Looking forward to Saturday. Half of my office are Leeds fans so it could be a great Monday moring or bloody horrible!


  • Oldbluenose says:

    Methinks, that I should change my ” User-name “, to ” totally bewhildered “, Just how can a team play so badly, — Defensivly in the 1st half, Then almost turn it around Offensivly in the 2nd half, ????.

  • KeeprightCroydON says:

    Why the Jekyll and Hyde performances? We know this team is capable of good defending, playing a a good high tempo passing game, but somehow they switch of. Switch off really badly, and pay a dear price. I can only put this down to confusion of tactics, players not being sure of their and their team mates roles. If LC is serious about sorting out the “game of two halves” malaise, he needs to get the players to understand and buy into his philosophy – I’m assuming he has one. And do it pretty sharpish.

  • andy says:

    People can moan and whinge as often as they like, but nothing can be done until the ownership of the club is sorted out. The team reflects what the club is at the moment, a mess, from the top downwards. The sooner new owners who want to take the club forward come in, the better. And that is stating the obvious.

    • KeeprightCroydON says:

      I do agree with your the the ownership of the club is the crux of the problem, but that does not mean that we accept that nothing can be done about how the team plays. There’s lots of room for improvement once the players cross the white line.

  • Art Watson says:

    Just can’t understand how so many people (having conceded three goals in under 20 mins )appear to be happy with a draw against Millwall.A better team would have given us a spanking.

    Frankly I think the result is a disgrace and reflects the calibre of the management team.

    • Blue in Spain says:

      Yes, it’s a disgrace the way the management team told the players to go out and let 3 goals in, in the first 18 minutes, by defending like a pub team!

  • Art Watson says:

    I get your point so why aren’t the players performing to the same standards as last season and what’s happened to our normally solid defence ?

  • Oxfordblue says:

    The problem with the defence is plain to see and staring you in the face. It’s AGE!

  • Paulo says:

    OK, first and foremost ..it was a draw. It was probably the toughest comeback to date under LC (or was it the only one, I don’t know?). Let’s not forget, after all the ‘tweeters’ last night slating LC, then when Marlon does the business ..I see statements like ‘LC is the best’. You couldn’t make it up.
    We havent come out the traps since Charlton on day one, and the man has (in public) slagged off his own team and everything else, except himself and a certain other couple. He settles for a draw, and our expectations are to now survive in the championship this season.
    I doubt he did anything constructive or unusual at half time, and the work was done by actually getting the ball in their half, and that Millwall are not too different from us ..never have been.
    It would cost too much to sack LC, and to be honest I dont think PP gives a toss about him right now anyway (current circumstances) so he is being palmed off to the next chairman.
    Personally, I think McDermott and Fazerkerley should be booted, a new manager brought in (who comes with proven results and is ‘known’) and LC becomes a number two. It’s no big deal, but it would be good for everyone really, especially LC.
    What we need is someone who can read the pitch, the players and the fans ..and do the right thing, instead of talking about it.

    • Blue in Spain says:

      Paulo, not only haven’t we come out of the traps since day one, we never came out of the traps for a 2 leg semi final prior to that, people seem to forget this, and who was manager then?

  • andy says:

    Lee Clark is totally commited to being a success with Birmingham, he is passionate and his desire needs to be met by the players, on last nights evidence the players responded to that desire in the second half and it could be, and i say could be, the turning point for us. I shall back Clark until new owners come in and he is able to bring in players without the aid of loans or out of contract players desperate for a club and build his own Birmingham squad and be judged on results then. Its unfair now to judge whilst the club is in a mess.

  • tamuffblue says:

    Andy – Keeprightoncroydon are absolutely spot on !!!!!!! we are a CLUB not a team in TURMOIL !!!!all the problems at the top is having a draining effect on everyone – players not knowing whats going on – manager wandering whats going on – supporters who are totally ignored and blatantly lied to but are expected to turn up in their droves and live in a parallel world for a couple of hours each week spending their hard earned cash – apart from that great comeback last night at a dodgey venue

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