Often Partisan

Taking Stock

With the win over Leeds Blues now know what division they will be in next season – the first time for three years that has been decided before the last game. As there is no extra money for placing higher in the Championship like there is in the Premier League, the last two games are dead rubbers (for Blues at any rate) and as fans we can start to take stock on the season properly.

It’s been a weird season. At the start of this season I’d have said a finish around 10th place would have been a probable underachievement; yet around Christmas time I thought we’d be lucky to finish above 16th or 17th and thus 10th is a definite improvement. For most of the season a seemingly large section of the fanbase have spoken about the certainty of relegation yet Blues only spent one week in the bottom three and have never lost more than two league games on the bounce.

from statto.com

As the graph demonstrates, Blues have had a marked upturn in fortune in the second half of the season, gradually improving and pulling away from the bottom to find themselves in the highest place they’ve been all season. Of course, it’s led to the inevitable “what if” scenario – Lee Clark himself has spoken of wasting the first three months of the season and the thought does cross my mind what if we had started this season as we’d finished. Furthermore, the stats show that Blues have the 5th best away record in the division but the 18th best home record and it’s that home record that has killed any hopes Blues might have had of going up.

I’ve been a critic of Clark’s in the past but it seems to me that after a tricky start he is pulling it together and he’s now got a formation and a set of players that look pretty good. He’s now got a back four he can pick week in, week out; a spearhead in attack surrounded by young hungry players looking to feed off him and most importantly, a plan b on the bench should the team need to push forward for goals. If people are going to blame Clark for some of the abominations of the earlier part of the season then Clark must also deserve praise for getting the team winning again.

One thing I think this season has also taught us is the danger of changing managers too early. Blackburn Rovers (who are onto their third manager of the season) languish just above the relegation zone – when Steve Kean was sacked they were sixth – along with Wolves who replaced an experimental choice in Ståle Solbakken with (in my eyes at least) an incredibly strange choice in Dean Saunders and now  find themselves in very real danger of going down. Of course, it can work – as our next opponents Ipswich Town have proven – but bearing in mind the financial situation at Blues I don’t think they could have brought in anyone who would have done any better than Lee Clark – or even as well as he has in the second half of the season.

What the win over Leeds means is we can now look to next season now. Naturally, we can’t be too sure of what will happen because there remains this situation over the clubs head with respect to the ownership and potential takeover but all things being equal I think Lee Clark has earned another crack at it next year. With so many players going out of contract I suspect the team that starts the new season may well be different from the one that ends this one and thus the onus will be on Clark to bring in who he can to improve the squad.  There has already been some movement with Andrew Shinnie looking like he’s going to join on a Bosman from Inverness CT; with the amount of trialists that have been at Wast Hills of late I’m sure that Shinnie won’t be the only young pro to come join the Clark revolution in the next few weeks.

I’m not going to lie – the financial situation does seem to be precarious and if a takeover doesn’t happen soon it’s going to be frightening this summer. Throw in the court case for Carson starting next Monday which could see him trying to get the scores from inside the slammer come August and you’ve got what could well be interesting times. However, if the improvement on the pitch so far in 2013 continues next season I think on the pitch at least there will be something to sing about.

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52 Responses to “Taking Stock”

  • Always a Blue says:

    I’d have to agree, where we are compared to where we were in Dec is now more than acceptable.
    Next season will be interesting,let’s hope LC has some support from new owners.

  • tony says:

    over the whole season looking at signings,results,tactics and performances then you have to say its been pretty poor in the main.Its ok clark bemoaning the first 30 games but his inept managemet cost us alot of points.Yes there has been an upturn in form but why did it take him so long to realise cauldwell is garbage and when he did drop him then bring him back as captain.I hope in the summer there is a new owner otherwise i fear for us starting from scratch again with clark having to make signings and what would most likely be the sale of redmond and davis.So i’m hoping for a new owner and a new manager.

  • ChrisG says:

    With our current financial situation I wonder if it wasn’t such a bad thing that we weren’t promoted, I mean we can’t afford premier class players & we probably would have spent the whole of the season propping up the table. There are going to be a lot of different scenarios coming up over the next few months notably IF we get new owners & IF they’re prepared to invest in the squad, another season of rebuilding is one thing we can be sure of & let’s face it, I’t’s never a dull moment being a bluenose!! KRO

  • sutton apex says:

    lets hope for new owners and an ever learning lee clark deserves another season in my opinion.If not after a summer firesale the clark babes will be unleashed !! Either way i think we can possibly make the play offs next season as long as we keep one quality striker – ie king or zigic

  • thongs says:

    The last two games may be dead rubbers for some but they represent the last to games as an attending blues fan for me. I won’t renew my four season tickets, i will not be lining Pannus pockets and I’m not travelling the country to watch Clarks fag packet team selections.

  • Ali Duncan says:

    Very well written. There was a similar well crafted analysis in the Leeds Made In Brum fanzine regarding the season and why the writer was backing Clark.

    Clearly player retention and releasing the right ones is key this summer and I trust Clark to get it spot on. He has been man enough to hold his hand up and acknowledge that he has made mistakes but the last 4 months have been excellent and most enjoyable. Looking forward to seeing how he operates on a tight budget (again) and I applaud his loan signings which have been inspired and I reckon he’ll get it right again.


  • mark says:

    Dan your article covered most things of the way the season gone – probably a fair reflection….
    Clark imo definately deserved another crack. Its noted Dan- there will moaners for the sake of moaners, and some fans will never be happy no matter what clark attempts to do. Some them still live in past….. their own dream world… Never looked at the bigger picture.. C..Houghton did, and went bye,bye….somethings you cannot put spin on….
    Yes clark young manager, yes he probably made mistakes, and is learning from them please don’t forget this is a massive club for the likes of Clark. Clark has shown more passion,desire, commitment to our course than pervious managers , and its own fans. It is the fans who have been the biggest disappointment to me their apathy toward our beloved club shows how fickle football can be come or turn.. call me old fashion….one think I have learned is to stand firm……….
    I am blues fan whether win, lose or draw, what ever divison we are in ……what are you…..inclarkwetrust.

    • mighty_bluenose says:

      Completely agree.

      In many ways Clark has done better then Houghton with less resources and in worst circumstances. Fans will always question the manager and team before themselves but look at the performances home vs. away.
      Why did our team feel more confident and comfortable playing away from our home in front of away fans and our traveling support. When compared to dwindling and self abusing support at home who looked for the first niggle or mistake to pounce on for most of the season and did it with more venom and bile then the opposition fans.

      Hopefully, Clark securing our place in the division has won some more over and with trial hopefully concluded during the seasons break we can all look to support and hope for a brighter future with more honours and more of fortress feel to Stans then a pit of despair that it has felt like at points this season.

      I live in hope

  • Blueboy 88 says:

    Quality wise this is the worst Championship for many a long year.
    The three relegated Premiership teams have all under-performed , indeed two could still chalk up successive relegations. Layer on , there have been no stand out teams in the division, & that we finished fourth last season in a much stronger league.

    Unless we get new owners we will look back on this season as a great opportunity lost to get back in the Prem. An opportunity that may well not come around again for many a long year.

    • Ali Duncan says:

      Blue Boy – a fair comment although I think you have to remember that a new man came in, there were boatloads of comings and goings and it is natural that it took a while for the manager and players to find their feet and for Lee Clark to know the squad properly and decide on a settled first team (which he now has)

      You wonder if it will be as open and of such a poor standard next year and if it is what could Lee accomplish if he can keep some of the players that he has now and also recruit wisely.

      I am thinking not a lost opportunity based on ability but more on time and we’ve simply now just run out of road when things are finally working out well.


  • Alfie says:

    Mark…I love you….

  • prewarblue says:

    Last seasons 4th place finish gave many high expectations of doing better in this,,,,,myself I thought mid-table would be as much as could be expected,,,,,,fairly easily as well ,,,,not with the struggle there has been,,,,,,injury,s,, players who came in not exactly enhancing their reputations,,,mistakes by Clark in selections and tactics did not help,,,,,his management skills have been shown to be lacking at times at this level but he has shown a steep learning curve in recent weeks [and with the trip to Barcelona ] also a willingness to learn that has not been shown by Blues managers for a long time.

    As for next season,,,,with the number of players who will be departing during the close season I think that there will basicly a new team at St Andrews which will need time to gel together [ from the top down hopefully],,,,,Clark hasnt had a level playing field from the start,,,,,next season he knows what to expect and therefore we should see just how good a manager he really is,,,,,by then he will have learned from his mistakes [ hopefully] and mould a team that wont cause fans to scream for his head on the block [myself included]

    • Ali Duncan says:

      Very well put. It’s all about managing expectation levels of course and it’s fair to say that there is a serious lack of parity on that score where our fan base is concerned.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Almajir;, Do we have any more premier league monies to come, ?. or are we now down to our own resources from here in, ??.

  • mark says:

    Dan- how deep has our players wage bill got to be cut for next season???? especially if we cannot move the likes of Zigic on in the summer…..

  • Oldbluenose says:

    If there is no sale duing June/July, With £8, million less income, we will struggle to keep [ and add ] players this close season, !!.

    Just when the playing staff, + L,C’s, tactical nous is honing up better, it is certainly going to make for an ” interesting ” few months ahead,!!.

    We have to hope that our youngsters will continue to grow, and such as Spector + Packwood regain full recoveries, lkewise Fahey, + Murphy,

    The goalkeeping spot + central defence need strenghtning, [ Robinson, hopefully being retained, !!.

  • mark says:

    With norwich possibly staying up Houghton will probably come infor Davis in the summer?? 6mil upwards….

  • Marky mark says:

    A fair and accurate summing up of the season Dan, its going to be a summer that is both frightening and exciting.

    Two things I hope for.

    1). Our fans manage there expectations in line with the events that unfold.
    2) Our fans get back to doing what they do best, support the team through thick and thin like no other fan base.

    Unfortunately, to many of our fans have failed us this season and that’s a fact, I can hold my head up high can you ?

  • Tony says:

    We will be lucky to get £3mil for Davis

  • Evesham blue says:

    Think it took a long time for LC to find his feet with the right tactics and players. He probably just stumbled on it after all the experimentation. Tbh I think he was out of his depth to start with. His signings were poor at the start of the season and he was clueless both tactically and media wise.

    Having said that he turned it a round I think when he realised he needed to play the younger players.

    Realistically I think I would rather stay in the championship unless we have the squad and the investment to go up and stay up. We should be in with a shout of the playoffs but look how long it has taken Cardiff?

    Hopefully will be playing the Vile next year as well.

  • dave mann says:

    lets be honest its been quite a dissapointing season. i thought that top 6, like last
    year was a possibility, but to be fair weve rallied well recently and we wont be
    far away after the next 2 games have concluded.
    bring on next season because with what weve got, and hopefully with new
    owners comming in the summer, new faces on board, promotion next season
    is definetley a priority, and a possibilty. KRO.

  • Tony says:

    lol Dan im not as bad as I make out I seem to rile Tony thats what matters

  • Tony says:

    oooops meant Paul ,forgetting my own name now thats how bad its got

    • mark says:

      Nightmares still with you tony……lol īts only football….we all be happy tonight when viles get stuffed tonight against utd…. Oh happy days… Are here again..

  • Tony says:

    Just wish Sunderland, Wolves and Blackburn would go down, Johnson, Dann, Gardner, and the Swedish winger it would be sweet Justice.
    To my mind Gardner is the worse all his heart bleeding love for blues was just a sham, when it came to money he was off.Dissapointing because I liked him he was a good player
    Well he came unstuck, his missus hates it up there as would most people I could have told him for a Brummie boy thats no place to be.

  • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:

    Going up this season would have been even more frustrating because it would have meant the possibility of CY and PP hanging on for dear life and no proper groundwork done in preparing the team, squad and management in the top flight. Would we really have made any mark there or given any sort of account of ourselves??
    We more than likely would have come straight back down and in crap circumstances. Please no more yo-yoing.

    It is all speculation, but CH may not have faired any better than LC – look at what has happened to our play-off opponents from last year, where they are (even if their changes in managers hadn’t occured they would not have made much impression me thinks), and maybe that is why he thought it was an impossible situation and moved on. LC had the challenge in him to take it on and has given it his best shot under the constraints placed on him. Next season we could be alot more settled and as long as we keep the core of the team – including Davies if he wants to stay, we could try and achieve the play-offs.

    Another season together for most of the players with the management will do no harm and will benefit us in the long-term.

    What we need is new owners or investment.

    • Oldbluenose says:

      Atahualpa old mate;, Your last sentance, says it all really, !!.

      To have had the chance to be promoted this season, I am in total agreement with you, as we would not have had the squad strength, to sustain ourselves, likely to have ended up embarressing ourselves and giving added ammunition to the Clark bashers, !!.

      The other very valid point you made, was C,Y. would have hung on longer, hoping for some of the Premiership Millions, to re-coup his lost value, ?.

      • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:

        Alright OBN

        I was all for giving CY and his team the chance to try and redeem themselves at Blues – after all, the fella did spend money on players previously never envisaged, but it has simply not worked out and with his legal woes, they could get a boatload worser and the club is suffering as well.

        LC deserves his chance at Blues next season and should be given the opportunity to try and mould things in his fashion, and then we will be in a position to see the situation in clearer terms.

  • Andy Jones says:

    The worry is if we have half a new team next year then Clark will need another 1/2 season to get them to gel and play together. Caddis would be the most important new signing, as well as keeping Davies – but unfortunately neither is likely to happen.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    With all the players going in the summer it is important LC uses these remaining games to give the likes of Arthur game time. Overall satisfactory and unless we get sold next season will be even more fun.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Just read on the official Blues site, That the young Scot, has signed a pre-contract with us for 3, yrs,

  • Wingman Blue says:

    Whatever happens next season, it will be different from this one…

  • Paul says:

    Another dig by Mark and Mike at a season ticket holder this morning. When will you guys give up, thongs has clearly spent a fortune on Blues and he’s decided, no more, that’s his call. Good for him, I’ll use this analogy again, If u ate a crap meal at a restaurant you wouldn’t keep going back. People’s money is tight, and football is a luxury. When blues play crap, I don’t waste my money, when they play well, I take a chance with 100 quid for me and the kids. That’s life, so please guys stop being martyrs, maybe u can afford to go maybe you can’t but its your choice, like not going is mine and thongs!!

  • Andrew Whalley's Skoda says:

    Baring in mind that the squad will be completely revamped in the summer and LC will probably bring in some 20 or so players, he should at least be given until Christmas next season to show what he can do.

  • chudlt says:

    My worry is that Pannu will sit around and do nothing about our out of contract players until it is to late. The trial will drag on and next season we will have an even smaller and weaker squad.

  • Mikey J says:

    Lets pray for a new owner, keep the young talented lads we have and add to them also. People want instant success but I would rather see younger homegrown players that grow as a team and reach success. I’d like to remind you that Sir Alex didn’t win anything for 3 years and was close to getting the sack. He is now beating the scum from across the road to win another trophy. Keep right on!

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