Often Partisan

The Kids Are Alright

Despite the much-needed win over Middlesbrough on Friday night I can’t help thinking that November has ended a bit of an anticlimax for Blues fans. The long-awaited trial of Carson Yeung is now even more long-awaited after a successful application for adjournment – ensuring he remains in limbo for another five months yet. Coupled with the fact Blues are seemingly no closer to a takeover despite the media posturing of Gianni Paladini and Peter Pannu and all in all November has turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.

The win against Middlesbrough means Blues now lie in nineteenth position with twenty-four points from twenty games. For a team that potentially was looking at promotion this season it’s a poor state of affairs and despite being as close to the playoff places as relegation (nine points) it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

The problem is that if Blues are to succeed they now have a mountain to climb. As a rule of thumb, 85 points is generally good enough for automatic promotion whilst 75 should see a team in the playoffs. To achieve the former would require sixty-one points from the remaining twenty-six games to be played – which would be a feat of herculean proportions whilst the more modest target of the playoffs would see Blues looking for practically two points a game from here on in. I’m guessing a few people have already but I think as a realist we have to assume promotion isn’t going to come to Blues this year.

However, the worry is that this season could become much worse. Blues urgently require investment at the moment and the fear is that without it the club will be forced to sell players in the transfer window just to keep itself afloat. People might complain about the choice between Caldwell and Ibanez in the backline but it could be possible come February 1 that is our first choice central defensive partnership if Curtis Davies is sold. Likewise, Blues are heavily indebted to Marlon King’s goals up front and he could well become a saleable asset in the transfer window to ensure that Blues have the cashflow to complete the season. Both are fairly nightmarish scenarios and that’s without going into the potential sales of young talents like Jack Butland and Nathan Redmond which would undoubtedly cause much anguish within the fanbase.

I’ve been critical in the past few weeks of Blues handing contracts to players like Papa Bouba Diop (who like me will be 35 in January) when money has been so desperately tight and I will confess my sincere worry that Lee Clark will look to similarly aged, out of contract players as stopgap solutions if sales are enforced upon him. In a team that is already devoid of pace and tempo to me that would be another body blow and I think would ensure that we would be desperately scrapping to stay out of the relegation places.

It’s my opinion that Lee Clark has to make a couple of tough decisions right now. I think we have to write off our chances of promotion and instead ensure that the club remains above the relegation trap door. Furthermore, I think Clark has to act now and start blooding some of the younger prospects in the first team so that if the inevitable does happen and players are sold then Blues stand some chance of being able to replace exiting players from within. For example, if Blues can bring through a player like Will Packwood or Jack Deaman in central defence then maybe the departure of a Curtis Davies wouldn’t hurt so bad. Likewise, Eddy Gnahoré in the middle might give some of the bite of a Papa Bouba Diop, or Mitch Hancox wide on the left would give us pace on the wing we’ve been lacking.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that the kids would be an immediate success. Indeed, there would be the distinct probability that they would struggle to adapt to the Championship from the reserves. However, it’s been my consistent belief that a team with kids playing in it – particularly kids who have developed through the Academy – will be granted a little more leeway and encouragement by the fans on the sidelines. Nathan Redmond proved last season that a local youngster making headway into the team is going to get a lot of encouragement from the sidelines and from what I’ve seen when Mitch Hancox has come on he’s had similar support from the terraces.

Whilst the slow death of the Carson Yeung regime has been trying on us all for varying reasons, I think some good can come out of Blues’ reduced circumstances. The club is remarkably free of debt (barring Carson and BIH), have an admin staff to be proud of and from what I’ve seen of the youngsters this season a developing academy and reserve side with a better crop of youngsters than we have seen in recent times. My one hope is that Lee Clark (who does go to the ressie games) sees the potential out there and realises that it might be worth giving it a shot.

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45 Responses to “The Kids Are Alright”

  • marc says:

    i totally agree if we do have to let our saleable asset’s go in jan then it is time to start bringing the youth through.I have already resigned myself to the fact that promotion or even play off’s is way out of our depth now. We had a good result Friday night hopefully we can go on a good run from now up until the transfer window closes so that if we do lose players then at least we would have stacked up some points before they are gone. I was at the game on Friday and was totally disgusted by the so called blues fans with there bedsheet we all need to get behind the team and Lee Clark because they need us to, and I know many want Clark gone but have to realise the state were in at the moment we cant replace him and being realistic who would want to replace him. All we can do is Keep Right On like always. I hope we dont lose nobody in jan though.

  • BluenoseDownunder says:

    Thanks Almajir, i think your idea is a good one, however the club could start by giving Redmond some regular time in the middle, has been injured or just out of favour atm? I hardly think they are going to consider blooding other academy players over him, assuming he isn’t injured he should be the first kid in the squad, Hancox too? KRO

  • Qas says:

    Hopefully by the time the window rolls around a deal will be agreed in principle with someone and that deal will include not having to sell any players, but I am seriously worried, losing Curtis, Redmond or Butland would be huge blows and I don’t even want to think about the possibility of Marlon going anywhere, I would be glad with mid-table, new owners and some stability this year, I just hope that we can achieve that.

  • Sean says:

    You say 75 is a figure for play offs, if we win our next three it would put us on 33 points at the halfway stage. If we repeated the same form over the second half of the season that would give us 66 points. So over the second half of the season we would need just three extra wins to be in with a chance of the play offs, not impossible me thinks!!!

  • swissjonny says:

    Almajir these are very valid points.The thought of Marlon leaving right now is horrendous.In his post match interview on Sky he seemed really motivated and up for it.He also appears to be a lot fitter than last season.Whilst horrified by the possible departure of Butland and Redmond I suspect we could stay in the division without them.If our only real goal scorer goes then prayer or witchcraft may be the best options.We can have all the graft and team spirit in the world but without someone to convert the sweat life could be very difficult.Lets hope our worst fears do not materialize . KRO and fingers crossed.

    • chris says:

      Would be gutted if Butland and Redmond were sold they are our future and hope and the frustration of waiting for kids to make and when we do they are sold too sonn will be gutting, but staying in the championship i agree is more important, so needs must, no thanks to oir useless board of directors.

  • ChrisG says:

    I would love to see the ratio of games won/lost with Redmond in the squad, I personally don’t think he’s actually hit the ground running this season & maybe he’s felt the pressure of expecation a bit.
    I have to disagree with you on the points tally for promotion this season, I think it’s gonna be a lot lower than previously as it’s been pointed out by almost every player & manager in this league that no one is running away with things & any team can beat anyone on their day, & as also pointed out the run that Reading put together to steam through & win the league last season gives us all hope.
    I don’t think this is the time for doom & gloom on the back of 2 pretty good results & we are only 3 wins away from the playoffs, like the song says what will be will be. What ever happens in Jan will be out of our control so lets just get behind the lads & do what we always do…….. KRO

  • bluespeter1 says:

    I think anyone who thought we would be pushing for promotion before we’ve lost Carson was probably very, very optimistic. Avoiding the relegation battle and getting new ownership with some funds is probably the most we could of hoped for this season. If we retain some of our best talent that probably a bonus at this point. The only way to rebuild with no cash is with youth and as you say we desperately lack pace currently. But we can’t go anywhere forward until Carson does the honorable thing and gets the hell out of Dodge, That;s what Ive asked Santa for this year.

    • swissjonny says:

      I fear, dear comrade in adversity, that it may be the Easter Bunny that delivers this particular present and not the big fella in red. We can but hope.

  • Bring on the kids. It worked years ago with the likes of Kenny Burns, Trevor Francis and Bob Latchford.

  • bluesbot says:

    Carson pressed for an adjourment so he could raise funds to mount a proper defence, as the only real saleable asset he has is BCFC, so hopefully this will mean he will want to sell sooner rather than later

    • chris says:

      Yeung WILL NOT SELL BCFC, unless a) he is jailed, so that won’t be till the end of the season.
      B) he is offered £40 million plus, which he’d have to find someone who is useless in the business world like himself, so that won’t happen either.
      He wants to retain a stake in the club at all costs and i believe this is why they dismiss and slate Paladini, because he is putting them under pressure from the HK Stock Market, media and shareholders to sell, when they don’t want to.
      All they want is an investor to get them through his trial period, so he can then become chairman and largest shareholder again because his assets will be free and he can buy back the shares from the investor they are currently looking for.

  • Blueboy88 says:

    Friday night proved the current squad is good enough to be challenging for the play offs,
    Nigel Clough recently described it as frightening..

    But the real dangers do lie within the events of the next 7-8 weeks , & they will define this club
    for many years to come , without any fresh investment.

    I hate to say it but in the short-term if we have to sell to survive , we would be better off moving on Redmond & Butland , than Davies & King . Lets hope neither course of action is required , & in 2013
    we can have a right good go at this league & the FA Cup….KRO

  • andy says:

    Its the way forward for most clubs with the current climate in football, bringing your youngsters through. As for Jack Butland, it is no secret how coveted he is by the top clubs and unless the mess at Blues is sorted quickly then the club will only serve to be holding a talent like Butland back and no doubt he will want a move anyway. Its all ifs, buts and maybes along with a circus at the top which has demoralized most Blues fans.

  • Terry says:

    When will people get it in their heads re Redmond? Poor all season, not delivered when given a chance and looks as if he has got too big for his boots. This job is a massive job and wait to Yeung and Pannu start ordering players sales then what does Clark do? The owners are the biggest danger to the success and very existence of our great club. Not Clark.

    • chris says:

      Too right, I may have my critisms of LC but who would we get in anyway. I think he just needs to play to players strengths instead of his rigid tactics
      I think Mick McCarthy would have done a resonable job, but even he with his promotion experience would have struggled under this regime. Other managers are struggling in this league with money troubles or turning squads around like Derby, Bolton, Sheff Wed, Ipswich, Blackpool, Leeds and Forest, we are not alone.
      Who would work miracles in these circumstances?
      Hughton left because he knew this season would be worse and left while his reputation was top notch.
      It’s a time for the club not just the manager to blood youngsters, try and get in more young players from lower leagues (e.g. Caddis) and keep a few elder statesmen for experience.
      Palace have done this and struggled for the last five years and are now reaping the benefits of their youth policy (by getting rid of Ambrose for example) and sticking with their manager who stupidly has had his head turned by a club £80 million in debt.

  • clubclassblue says:

    What goes on off the pitch at board level is out of the control of supporters, players and management staff. If LC has to sell players we need to understand the reasons why, and continue to support the men on the pitch. Other than a minority of supporters (banner wielders etc) I thought the supporters got behind the team on Friday evening. I agree that we can pretty much write off promotion but must look for a top half finish as a minimum.

  • Barry says:

    It’s sad how things have ended up so far. During pre-season I was more optimistic about the club than I had been for many a year and even with the departure of CH everything seemed to be moving forward in the right direction. Now, a few months on that feeling is long departed. I too have resigned myself to the fact that a promotion challenge is not on the cards and the consequences of this could be far-reaching for the club. It will be difficult financially to maintain our current squad let alone strengthen it without investment . It will also be difficult to retain current squad members if the clubs prospects do not match key players ambitions. The club sale is the key and while the administration staff have done an impressive job at getting us clear of some of our debts will it be enough to get a buyer to commit sooner rather than later?

  • On the point about the targets required for play-offs and automatic promotion, I have already written an article on this with graphic illustration as to why Blues will be nowhere near this season. Check it out on the following link:

    http://www.joysandsorrows.co.uk/2012/11/why-birmingham-city-will-not-make-the-play-offs/

    KRO SOTV

  • Tana says:

    Still filled with rage at the banner wavers…they must be known by someone..can we not name and shame them…

  • DoctorD says:

    Come May, will we look back on Marlon King’s 45th-minute penalty as a turning point? A poor first half turned into a victory that was the platform for a great second half of the season.

    We can but hope…the reality though is 12th- or 13th-place finish

  • Art Watson says:

    Tana,

    Those advocating violence against the banner wavers are just as bad as them.

    This is a matter for the club to sort out and should not be the concern of genuine supporters.

    The club have the security technology to identify the culprits and remove them if they are legally able to.I don’t think the wavers are breaking any laws so the club may find this to be difficult if the law is not being broken.Maybe the club have the power to evict them without relying on the law.?

  • AR says:

    Another well-thought out article. Has it actually been said by PP or anyone else to do with the club that we will have to sell players in January to survive?

    • almajir says:

      It’s my understanding from speaking to several sources that this is the case

      • bluenoseneil says:

        Several sources not including Peter Pannu who’s charge with running the club? Therefore this is only conjecture, but reasonably well supported conjecture at present.

        My theory is January comes and goes without incident and we end ups mid table with a buyer arriving to finalise the deal in the coming months.

        Relegation avoidance is key as we lose parachute payments.

        With the club remaining silent on nearly everything it’s a case of trying to speculate all the time to fill column inches in the papers and on blogs and all it really does as invite more opinion and that can range from positive to utter horror story.

        I suppose “let’s just see what happens” is a pointless statement I make as we all enjoy a good guess at what’s going on but none of us – Dan included – can be inside Peter and Carsons heads so we have to sit back, endure, enjoy and wait…

  • Ali Duncan says:

    Fully understood regarding potentially necessary sales in January however I would so love to see a team sheet in the not too distant future that had the names of Butland, Deaman, Hancox, Packwood and Redmond on it. Not just because of financial reasons but because they have gelled together over time from being in the youth set-up.

    It would be of geat pride for the support base to see this happen. It happened in the late 80s and early 90s with your Frain’s, Peer’s and Sturridge’s etc so I don’t see why it can’t happen again as the tough current financial situation is arguable a mirror image of that period.

    I totally agree with getting some pace into the side and I really want to see more of Hancox. I’m hopefully the Leeds Cup game is where Clark will actually give as many as possible some game time.

    KRO!

    • Alex T says:

      My sentiments exactly! you just beat me to the post.

      Also, the youngsters are alot cheaper on the wage bill. Marlon and Curtis are two of our top earners

  • Alex T says:

    Blueboy comment..
    ‘I hate to say it but in the short-term if we have to sell to survive , we would be better off moving on Redmond & Butland , than Davies & King’

    But what about the long term? I want to support a club that has roots, players that want to play for us and a future. If we sell Redmond and Butland then we will be heading down the path of bringing in journeymen and temporary stop gaps for a long time to come.

    Ideally, I would like to see us get as many points in the bag as possible before the end of Jan, and if we are in a position to, sell Marlon King. His stock is high and he (presumably) has quite a while left on his contract so we could get a good price. Then, sell Davies (personally, I dont think he is as good as everyone says – he never heads back to the GK, rather heads a ‘clearance’ anywhere in front of him, usually to the opposition and it usually only clears 5 yards!!) as we have a very promising CB in Will Packwood.

    I guess it is a risk, hence why we would need points in the bag, but for me the future of our club in the long term depends on players like Redmond and Butland. We would also get to see more of our up and coming talent like Packwood and Hancox who I genuinely believe are more than capable of doing a job in this division if only they were given a chance.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    A lot has already been written re;, Points needed, and again about which players we wish to try and retain, !!. All of that is out of our immediate control, ?.

    Instead, I would rather pick-up on part of your article and endorse the deep thanks we owe to the ADMIN STAFF< who have worked miracles so far, !!!!!!!!.

  • Paul Carter - The Voice Of Reason says:

    I don’t agree with your article Dan. I know a lot of Blues fans none of which thought we would get any where near the play offs this season. Apart fom one or two posters on here like Alex T who would pull anyone on here who said we’d be around midtable.

    As far as blooding the kids is concerned I would urge great caution. You blood kids slowly but surely not en masse and you don’t look to them to be the saviours. You look at the older experienced pros for that. Given some of the kind of scumbags watching the games now they would ruin any kid who had a couple of poor games. Then Clark would get slated for giving em a go,

    I have no worries about going down. We are exactly where I thought we would be. I’ll say it again we’ll win some and lose some in equal measure this season. All the Wembley season ticket holders and boo boys could help by turning up and supporting the club.

    • Alex T says:

      I dont think I have once mentioned where I think we should be??

      As long as we finish above 22nd then I dont care, im more bothered about the type of players the new owners would be left with. Ie. I hope we keep the kids.

      And no, I dont think we should bring the kids in en masse….. But Packwood, Hancox, Butland and Redmond have already been introduced and should now be looking to become more regular.

      • Paul Carter - The Peoples Favourite says:

        Might have the wrong Alex mate apologies.

        There was an Alex on here pre season who replied to any post stating a mid table to bottom half finish with a post stating why we would win promotion.

        Don’t think he mentions the P word much now :)

  • James says:

    If we are not relegated then we’ve had a good season. My expectations are low so anything than 22nd is a massive bonus

    The boo boys should stay away from the ground. Who exactly does it help? I’d personally ban them from the ground and couldn’t care less how long they’ve been supporting the club ” I was there under the Wheldon regime” classic or the equally painful ” I’ve paid my money so I have a right to boo”. No true supporter of any football club is remotely interested in attacking their own players/staff.

    Getting back on point I think the kids are performing well; if LC starts to see some poor performances they can always be told to work/train harder – Redmond being a prime example.

    KRO

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Totally agree with you. Elsie needs to start playing the youngsters now because if the shit hits the fan in January we will struggle big time. I’ve been calling for Packwood as DMC for most of the season as Mullins is useless.

    LC appears to be developing players for other teams at the expense of our own players. Why did LC bring in Gordon, Hall, Diop, Robinson, Lita or even Morrison before giving the likes of Hancox, Asante, Jervis, Gnahore, Packwood, Deaman and Reilly a proper chance. When money is virtually non existent as at present it makes even more sense to make use of what we have.

  • Dave says:

    Weren’t Reading in a similar league position this time last year?

  • Paulo says:

    I have my opinions of LC’s choice of tactics and formation, and I am under no illusion that he settles for a draw and plays some of the team out of position (esp in key areas). It becomes very obvious, at times, that he lost the confidence in the dressing room long ago, and his body language (when he comes out on a matchday) can easily be seen as ‘lost before we’ve kicked the ball’.
    LC isn’t our saviour, but in no way would I want to publically have a dig at him. All this negativity and stupidity is detrimental to him and our team. I doubt he is happy trying to deliver in such circumstances, and my guess is ..neither are the team.
    I do hope we can finish well and in the top half of the table, but I don’t know. I just can’t even have wild guess on our inconsistency at the moment. As I read somewhere, you might as well stay in the pub and come to the match at half time.
    However, I think we all know that we are facing some very bad times if we do not pull our fingers out right now, and that goes for the team as well as BIHL.

  • swissjonny says:

    Im no LC fan but I think his negative body language is being misread.I noticed when he was interviewed on Sky he was very nervous and had difficulty looking into the camera.I know what you mean but I think the bloke is just chronically shy.He wouldn’t have been my choice but I’m warming to the bloke as I think he’s pretty straightforward and he is doing his best in very difficult circumstances.The sooner a takeover happens the better…

  • kippertie says:

    Reading had 27points from 20 games last year

  • Art Watson says:

    Anyone thinking that Blues have a play off chance are deluding themselves.

    Show me the evidence that supports the fact that Blues can achieve just under 2 points a game between now and the end of the season.Under Clark we have struggled all season and will continue to struggle.

    There is a big difference between being optimistic or realistic.


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