Often Partisan

Losing My Religion; The Bristol City Preview

The second half of a double-header at home against teams in the lower reaches of the division see Blues take on the other BCFC in the division, Bristol City. Saturday’s result against Ipswich seems to have intensified the complaints against Lee Clark’s managerial status and one fears that a less than satisfactory performance from the team today will see the real ugly side of the crowd break through.

I have a confession here to make. I will be at the game tonight but it will be more out of a sense of obligation than actually wanting to go. There is something toxic about St Andrews at the moment; the need for change of ownership, the lack of faith in manager or team from a large section of the fanbase and the downturn in attendance have all combined to make home games a bit of a trial. It’s a terrible, terrible thing to say (and no doubt there will be some of the mob from across the expressway gloating about it to distract them from their own issues) but right now it’s not fun being a Blues fan.

Clark has spoken about inconsistency; however it’s the consistently poor form at home that is worrying. Two wins in seven league games isn’t anywhere near good enough and five home league goals speaks volumes about where we are. I freely accept that injuries etc have been a factor but the truth is that the team aren’t performing in front of their own fans.

I was sat in the upper Main Stand behind the dugout on Saturday and I could see the exasperation on Clark’s face that the team were playing so poorly – however, it is matched by the exasperation on the terraces that Blues seem to have gone backwards in the last three months. It’s not about formations or tactics – we’re not even getting the basics right. Blues continue to concede very poor goals; make poor decisions when passing the ball and have the penetration skills of an impotent badger. The team lacks creativity, it lacks guile and worryingly it’s not even “workmanlike”.

If Blues are to do well at home then the team must do something straight off the bat to get the fans onside. A couple of crunching tackles, a shot on goal (even if it misses by a way) – something early on to get the fans ignited. In the latter half of the game as Blues pressed forwards the crowd came slightly alive – as Clark said that needs to happen from the first minute. However, Clark also needs to realise that as manager it’s HIS responsibility to get the team psyched up and ready to deliver.

I would love to be able to say, yes, Blues will win, no worries here but I can’t. I would love to be able to have faith that Clark will pick a team that will go out from the get-go and give it their all – but I don’t. I desperately want Clark to succeed and for the team to start putting together wins and lift the pall of angst that surrounds the club – but I can’t see it happening.

In short, my faith in Clark has now evaporated. I’m not one to call for him to be sacked – mainly because I know Blues can’t afford that right now but I can’t see him succeeding and as such I just hope Blues manage to pick up enough points so that when there is a change in ownership etc, they can undo the mess that they have created in the first third of the season.

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64 Responses to “Losing My Religion; The Bristol City Preview”

  • Art Watson says:

    What a depressing but very accurate account of your feeling which know doubt is shared by thousands of Bluenoses.

    As you know I have never supported Clark but at the moment the team are desperate for a win and I sincerely hope that we can get one tonight.As for Mr Clark and his mates-until the new owners arrive its all about damage limitation and let’s hope the damage is repairable.

    • chris says:

      Said in June i didn’t want him and many fans on web say they didn’t want McCarthy well we have a chance to see how he now performs at Ipswich.
      At least he has experience and knowledge of this division and promotion unlike Clark, they let their hatred of Wolves cloud their judgment.

  • Ad says:

    As a BCFC and a football fan you want to be entertained and see players trying to the highest ability, but at the moment we have a manager and a bunch of players whom show now passion or pride for BCFC which is very disappointing. Obviously we all love to see our team win, but I can even take losing or drawing if my team play well and entertain me.

    LC has caused alot the challenges at BCFC due to his level of frustration, he sends out negative vibes to the players and the crowd which causes a very edgy atmosphere in the stadium and on the pitch.

    I also think he needs to stay out of the press, every day his in the mail stating the same old, lets start doing the talking on the pitch not off it.

    Come on blues a result is required!!

  • bluey says:

    £300,000 to sack the Management team?

    • almajir says:

      More. I think it would be seven figures

      • The Truth will hurt says:

        Not even close. Clark is on a surprisingly low ball deal.

        • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

          What dya reckon then Truth?

          • Bluenosed says:

            I think most of the salary will be performanced related. I admit I am not an expert in the field but I think £300000 would get rid of the lot.

          • NooBloo says:

            it would cost in the region of £1 million to get rid of them all, taking into account tax and Employers NI

            It would cost that to keep them for a year anyhow.

            We could get a decent manager ffrom the lower leagues to replace him who would do a better job.

            PP made a mistake in hiring him. He got it right the previous year with CH but we are now left with un motivated players and they need to be remotivated somehow

  • Thongs says:

    Finally we are all agreeing.

    After 35 years watching Blues it was clear to me after 4 games that this guy hadn’t got it. Give him ten games they shouted, give him 15, its madness to sack him they screamed.

    We are where we are and Clark has to shoulder the blame.

    • chris says:

      Clark doesn’t make them not make a simple pass or not to retain the ball.

      • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

        Spot on

        • Blueboy88 says:

          No but he does pick the team , & we have a left back at rightback , left footers playing right midfield & right footers playing left midfield , you wouldn’t get away with that on the Birmingham Parks in the Sunday afternoon League….let alone the Championship,,

          & as for his loan deals Ben Gordon , James Hurst ….?

          That is all his responsibility & its rank poor…

    • BobbyBlue says:

      After 4 games?! Using all that insight and wisdom, would you please pick our next manager for us?

      Basically, you wrote Clark off without giving him a chance. It may be you are right… he may not be the right man for the job. But any judgement made that early is nothing more than a guess, and without knowledge of all the facts (which we, as fans, rarely have).

      I will support LC and the boys tonight just as I have every other man to have the Blues crest on his chest. Thats our job. We are supporters.

  • Alan Francis says:

    Can we afford NOT to sack Lee Clark?? If we lose tonight I think there is no choice.

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    Fair enough if that’s what you’re thinking Dan but I still can’t wait to get down there tonight. No matter how bad things get (and we’ve had much worse), no matter how crap the team/manager or how low the crowds I still ALWAYS want to get down there. I love the place see, and the club.

    Cannot wait.

  • dcp says:

    what worries me the most is the evident delusion of mr clark – this quite taken directly from the club website

    “The fans have seen that we can do it at home against good sides like Bolton and Leicester and with tough, workmanlike performances against Peterborough and Charlton. We’re a good side and we have got to deliver.”

    Highlighting ‘good’ performances in the home games against Leicester & Charlton? We were woeful in both and deserved to lose both! Talk about clutching at straws. If he thinks those performances have shown us ‘we can do it’ then LC needs to get his head checked.

    • Ali Duncan says:

      Agreed. For LC to state that Charlton was a good performance makes me ask three very important questions:

      1) Does he have a drink problem as his view and memory of things is extremely distorted?
      2) If not then how far from reality is he?
      3) Do I know more about football than Lee Clark?

      Jokes aside, the excuses are wearing very thin and it’s the usual token statements in the media after EVERY poor performance now.

  • Art Watson says:

    My other concern about Clark is the damage he is causing to the confidence of the young players.

    During his after game comments on the Blues web he publicly criticised Redmond for giving the ball away which lead to the Ipswich goal.

    This in my view is totally unacceptable and reflects his immature management style.

    I suspect the older players have very little respect for his bully boy attitude which helps to explain their inconsistent performance’s.

    • chris says:

      It seems as though a few key / older players are dictating how we play or don’t.
      They know if they don’t perform at home he is more likely to be sacked, whereas bad away results add lesser pressure for him to be sacked.
      Probably talking garbage above, but i can’t think of any other reason as to why the older pro’s are not even close to last years performances even allowing for manager’s inept team selection or tactics.

  • Mickey07 says:

    Remember tatts last season used to write every week about the “band of brothers” feeling we had in the squad,where’s that gone??Clark has managed to destroy that within the short space of time he’s been here,you only got to look at Chris Burke for instance……the place is rotten it’s sad to say.

    • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

      How many of last seasons squad did hughton come back for?

      • Mickey07 says:

        All depends if he had better players too work with at Norwich as they were in the prem and we wasn’t….

        • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

          Well if you /he values this band of bothers stuff so highly how come he’s shown zero interest in any of em?

  • Masaccio says:

    Last Train to Clarksville leaving Birmingham tonight….

  • Downpour says:

    Win, lose, or draw, at training tomorrow Terry Mac will still be telling a few jokes, putting the cones out, and he still makes a great cuppa. It’s the only time he doesn’t sit down with his hands on his head,stareing at the floor.

  • Smokin says:

    Sorry, but Clark is unsackable at the mo.

    Think it through, you sack Clarke, but as the Club is being sold who wants to come in without the backing of the new owners (who are not yet known)? And will prospective bidders be happy with Pannu giving them an additional p45 to pay out on?

    Sack Clarke, and we end up with a temporary manager for two months with even less experience, who knows he ain’t going to get the job full time, and as a result will not be able to build a team. For those who say anybody is better than Clarke, don’t be so sure!

    • chris says:

      Smokin, sacking him and only having a temp manager would be no different to promoting backroom staff on a temp basis.
      Someone like Billy Davies, Nick Barmby, Steve Cotterill, Owen Coyle or even ex players but qualified coaches Michael Johnson or Paul Peschisolido maybe willing to do a two month spell just to prove themselves and that two months is an estimate it could be the rest of the season.

      • NooBloo says:

        I would sack them and go and find an older experienced manager from the lower leagues. Someone who is only looking for a job for a year or two. Someone like dario grady who is nearing end of career but who has a bit of know how

        • almajir says:

          Seriously?

          Do you think Dario Gradi would leave his position at Crewe where he continues to manage the academy he built himself and the club he has worked for for the last 29 years?

      • Casper says:

        I reckon Michael Johnson would be a good bet for the short term – he couldn’t do much worse than the current Clarke!

  • Bluenosesol says:

    I am gutted that I have to miss the game tonight, second time this season, but strangely, the people who are normally clamouring for my ticket dont want to know!

  • bluenoseneil says:

    I will be there tonight hoping to Christ I don’t have to sit near a bunch of whingers that will get on the team’s back the minute a mistake is made or the play is flat.

    Unlikely because I am guessing in advance there isn’t anywhere in the ground I would be safe from this right now…apart from the toilets…

    Therefore I am inclined to agree with Dan here. I look forward to coming to Stans every time and I generally go feeling positive. However this toxic atmosphere that pervades around the place will surely rear it’s head again unless we whallop Bristol City 3 or 4-0.

    Lets hope we get the performance that the club, fans, players and manager want even if we can all say its not fully deserved right now…

  • DoctorD says:

    I should point out that Bristol City are terrible at the moment too — they have lost five on the bounce and their own manager Derek McInnes is facing the sack.

    Win, lose or draw, this match is likely to be the most woeful ever seen at St Andrew’s in a long time. It has 0-0 written all over it.

    Having said that, football being it what it is, it’ll probably be a 5-4 thriller.

    • chris says:

      They are only losing by the odd goal and have beaten Cardiff and Palace so they will be up for it tonight, but will we or will the players only wake up in the second half.
      The players are the ones going out as if they aren’t bothered and don’t care about the club.

  • James says:

    I can’t remember the last time we were this desperate for 3 points – anything less than that and the boo boys really will be out in force.

    I was at the game for Leeds and it feels like a lifetime ago; I just hope the players come out of the traps early, get the fans onside and put in a shift.

    KRO

  • Ali Duncan says:

    Trying to keep my positive hat on for tonight. Sitting with the Gil Merrick Ultras for the first time so looking forward to stretching the vocal chords.

    Another concern tonight is a gate as low as 12k. With City likely to bring a max of 500 and the massive apathy and poison around our support base at the moment I think we’ll be looking at our lowest home league gate in over 20 years. If that doesn’t send a message to the board then I don’t know what does.

    However I will always continue to come down the Blues no matter how rubbish we are. I don’t think that is just blind loyalty I think it’s about being proud to be a part of something, hanging out with your family and friends and not being a fickle, arrogant top four “I only come down for the good times glory supporter” scumbag. More often than not Blues haven’t played slick champagne passing football in my supporting lifetime and on those very frequent occasions that the quality of football on display is awful the match simply becomes a sideshow to a few beers, banter and a day out. Don’t get me wrong, I want to win and see decent attacking football but in the ever increasing world of greed and over the top finance in this sport my expectations are simple and humble – just like most of the humble men and women who attend Stans regularly.

    KRO!

  • The Flying Pig says:

    Taking on the theme of the things we are not doing at present, I have to add that it seems that the team lack passion. I’m not actually saying that they do lack passion, but as fans we need sometimes to see it. On Saturday, we only really came to life for the last 20 mins or so and perhaps then we demonstrated a bit of energy, but not true passion; I don’t see enough players looking like they’re going to run through a brick wall to get a goal [although I do think Robinson shows a great will-to-win]. I’m still not convinced the players believe in Clark, although I think there’s a difference between this and saying ‘he’s lost the dressing room’. I also feel that Caldwell is off form and is hardly leading by example just now – also, why does he keep going up for corners and is the apparent target for the ball when he doesn’t win a header?

    Our midfield remains woefully lacking in cohesion, there’s very few options for players on the ball and we resort to a big boot up the pitch. Occasionally, Marlon or Leroy will win a header, but more often than not we surrender possession. I do not want to see us playing a long ball game, but if we are going to hit it long then Zigic has to play. We cannot play two wide men in a four man midfield and apparently instruct them to get chalk on their boots whilst not getting the ball out wide QUICKLY. Partly our cr*p home form is to do with the oppostion sussing us out after last year, but we have to find a way around this and, for me we are far too ponderous on the ball.

    I shall still be there tonight and I am looking froward to it, but, like Almajir, once the game kicks off I’m starting to lose the enjoyment.

  • chris says:

    Ali, don’t blame the fans for not going when they see half the squad not bothered, as many have said before all we ask is the players give their all for ninety minutes, but we aren’t seeing that.
    They are still in the pre-match bar for the first half in most games.
    I’m sure more fans would go if they saw some forthrightness, good faith, and sincerity from the players.
    Why pay good money in these hard times to see lazy, egotistical players not even trying for the club / cause.

    • Ali Duncan says:

      I don’t blame them at all Chris. The basic principal is that you pay to be entertained and enjoy an experience. If that stops happening them you’re more than entitled to vote with your feet and not go and I fully understand that. The point I was making is that I’ll always enjoy the match day experience even if the performances are not up to scratch.

      What does annoys me is the people that go down there just to moan because it’s their only outlet to get things off their chest and makes themselves feel superior. Tuppence psychology of course but the Blues are a convent coat hook for people to let off some rage and it’s quiet annoying when people who turn up and pay good money don’t support the team but scream bile and vitriol at them to compensate for a bad week at their own place of business.

      I think another point I was making is that ours isn’t a fashionable club yet we still turn up and cheer the Blues on yet another club in our fair city have the biggest moaners on the planet and more often than not only turn up for the big games and the (not many recently) good times. It fills me with great pride that I support the true club that represents our city and real Brummies and the loyalty of our fan base through thick and thin.

  • Terry says:

    You say yourself that they can’t get the basics right. Whose fault is that? Clark tells them to dictate from the start, to set the tempo and they don’t and can’t pass a ball. That is down to the players not Clark. When they do get the basics right at Brighton & Leeds they win and play well. Funny that the players then get the credit but not Clark. The constant moaning about a manager who is working under awful financial restrictions and with a group of players who can’t handle the pressure makes me embarrassed to be a Blues fan. Clark wanted the job, Hughton couldn’t wait to jump ship. The biggest problem are the owners. Until they go what do you expect?

  • matt says:

    Almajir, Whats your views on Ian Holloway? I remember the Birminingham mail running a poll in the summer asking blues fans who they wanted as the next blues manager after chrissy hughton and Holloway came way out top with around 70% i think. He’s just moved to Crystal palace for a compo fee of £300,000. we spent that on Ambrose!! surely by getting a manager in that the majority of fans wanted would of given the board a bit more time even if the results were going as bad as they are now ?

  • Cypriotblue says:

    LC clearly has to go. I am sure we could afford 300k if it came down to it. I am a firm advocate of a passion manager and who better to lead a team than Steve Carr? He could be player manager, although he wouldnt play too much given his injuries, and we dont have to pay for a new manager. Atleast give him a chance even if it only as interim manager, on the off chance of a takeover. He couldnt do any worse!!! What happens if the take over doesnt go through?? We have stuck with an inadequate manager just in case, losing us points every week, it cant be allowed to happen. He would get the players believing again, its virtually the same team as last year!!

  • Art Watson says:

    Terry,

    Manager working under financial pressure?-he was aware of this before accepting the job.

    Players can’t handle the pressure?-most of the players are established, experienced professionals who by now should handle any type of pressure but perhaps they just don’t buy Clarks tactics-coaching or management style.How about the players he brought in?Name one player who is doing well..You only have to see Clarks after match interview to realise he’s out of his depth and so is the coaching staff.
    .
    Are you also suggesting that the new owners should back Clark?

  • Dave Sherlock says:

    It’s a strange one for me I used to like Clark as a player and I really want him to do well. I’ve got family from Huddersfield and some of the things I heard about Clarks personal life were very worrying but those are rumours and unfounded so I won’t go into it. It’s a shame but I’m losing faith in him now. I can see Di Canio being our manager by January if Paladini gets the club

  • Solblues says:

    I think a bigger problem that can we afford to sack LC and his team is what do we do then??

    Clearly we are a sinking ship playing wise with LC at the the helm but somebody needs to manage and to my knowledge I cannot think of any likely candidates within the club and in truth what sort of manager are we likely to get in at the current time?

    Unfortunately I think we have to stick with LC and hope that come the changeover we are in a position where something can be recovered from the season, which for me is remaining in the championship and hipefully retaining some of decent players.

    On the subject of players moving on the only positive thing about our performances this season is that none of them have really put themselves in the shop windoiw as a must buy item, with the possible exeception of Jack Butland, who after a shakey start has looked like he could be a decent keeper (thank god).

    One thing that is for sure is that eventually Blues will come back from this, it’s horrible and the moment and going to matches does feel like a chore, but we will recover.

  • DoctorD says:

    According to Twitter, Peter Lovenkrands is in bed watching “Undefeated” — the film about a US American football team that tries to win after years of losses. Don’t tell me being a footballer is hard.

  • Baller says:

    Religion/faith or just a relationship for life, it is difficult when there is no sense of the people in charge having any true affiliation.
    If Clark et al left today (on any basis) we could not recruit a high calibre replacement. He wouldn’t come due to the uncertainty of ownership.
    At a specific level, Redmond was the last player to touch the ball before the Ipswich goal but Mullins stuffed him with a poor pass. It is sad when a player (Mullins) is merely given an indiffernet “uh” when the teams are read out, in contrast to the cheers for better contributors. If Clark left we are still lumbered with his acquisitions.

  • The double m says:

    Hehe….impotent badger

  • sam says:

    For some strange reason still haven’t given up on LC, I think he tries too hard to appease fans in his interviews which only serves to give amunition to those who don’t like/believe in him. He could leard a thing or two about diplomacy from CH and then try and let his management do the speaking on the pitch.
    Leeroy Lita still has a lot to prove for me as a partner for king shame wood not here as a younger mobile striker would work well with king’s guile.
    Sure it’ll be cold and frustrating but there’s something in blood says i must go… KRO

  • Kaje says:

    I want us to win tonight, as a Bluenose I obviously want us to win every game no matter how we do it or who does it for us.

    That, however, comes with a caveat.

    My major worry is that we’ll win tonight and it will mask the clear ineptitude displayed by Clark thus far. It will give fuel to the – dwindling, admittedly – pro-Clark fire and we’ll be left wondering whether we should rethink our position on the Geordie.

    I hope we win, but I hope it’s in a manner that continues to highlight Clark’s inadequacies.

    • IOB says:

      I couldn’t agree more, I have a feeling that we will win tonight albeit by the odd goal, but I hope that us winning will not paper over the hugely obvious cracks that are in the team and fuels the Clark fanboys fire for another few days….

  • evesham blue says:

    We have been poor at home and better away. Players must be affected by the atmosphere at home?. The last game was the same starting line up that beat leeds that performed so badly vs Ipswich. You just knew that a team that is struggling suddenly gets new belief with a new manager.

    We have also been better against teams in the top half of the table and struggled against teams in the same position as ourselve at the bottom. Knowing footy it can get a lot worse than it already is. I doubt PP is interested in changing managers.

    Just when we appear to have turned a corner another poor performance sets us back. I gave up any hope of us turning this season around after Ipswich.

    We are just not good enough. Perhaps we should stop kidding ourselves we will be anything better than a mid table team.

    For me – Clark cannot turn things around as he has lost the fans. He has had long enough to find a formula. Coyle got the bullet for far less. Look at out attendances? A chairman should be acting now to address this decline. PP just isnt interested. Perhaps this slump will hasten their departure but I wouldnt bet on it.

    • evesham blue says:

      When was the last time we had an update from PP? Just something to say he is backing the manager would be something. Far too many times they have said jack.

      Bristol City will be scrapping for their lives tonight. They know all too well that all they need to do is frustrate us and the crowd will get on the backs of the Blues players.

      I too fear that it is going to get very ugly if Bristol City score first

      • almajir says:

        Qeustion for you Evesham Blue – if PP didrelease a statement backing the manager would that not be seen as the “dreaded vote of confidence”?

        • Kaje says:

          It would be, but I almost wonder whether it would be a GOOD thing.

          It might publicly show Lee Clark that everybody is sick of the dross we’re playing, the crap selections and the pathetic whimpers we’re hearing in the press post-match.

          That could well be the kick up the backside he needs, I don’t think he’s been shown any ‘tough love’ yet and he’s in desperate need of it.

        • evesham blue says:

          Most people in their jobs have performance related pay or have a review of their performance. PP has not said anthing to us fans so can only assume that LC can carry on regardless. I do remember that CH said he was constantly getting updates from the board which makes me think that maybe LC is not getting these updates.

          Why hire a manager if you cannot sack him in the first place? It’s a result business and LC is not delivering.

          I would like some update from PP even if it was about how crap the weather was! Better than nowt.

          • evesham blue says:

            It’s also worth noting that PP is chairman of BIHL as well. How on earth can he devote his full atention to Blues when his paymaster is in court soon. There is no leadership at the top otherwise Blues interests would be sell pronto

  • Cypriotblue says:

    Does no one have a view on Carr being interim manager? Not sure if he has coaching qualifications, but he would bring the passion back…….and of course he is a bluenose and he hates the viler fans (and the north stand!!)

  • Tom says:

    Whether your for or against Clarke tonight: how about we remember our club anthem and get behind the team? Lets not have so called “supporters” following players as they leave the field at half time and screaming profanities after them. How would you perform at work if you were followed out of the office and verbally abused/berated for your performance so far when you left for lunch? We are not Villa fans – we are better than that!

    Its a long, long road ther’ll be joys and sorows too!

  • Art Watson says:

    I agree entirely so perhaps Mr Clark should do likewise with his player management skills.


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