Often Partisan

Season 2012-13 Review – Pt I

With the close season upon us, I thought it might be time to look back at last season and reflect on what happened. I’ve split it into five parts which will be published across this week.

After the disappointment of the playoff semi defeat to Blackpool, expectations for the season started fairly high. Although the close season started off with some difficulties – Chris Hughton leaving for Norwich, taking the backroom staff with him, and a transfer embargo that remained in place until the start of July – the signings of Hayden Mullins, Peter Lovenkrands and Darren Ambrose seemed to signal an intent to have another tilt at promotion.

Pre-season seemed to back this up too; a creditable draw against Borussia Moenchengladbach in Munich despite the Blues fielding a fair few kids followed by a couple of big wins away at Bury and Plymouth showed a team that was attacking minded and was looking to score goals. Blues bolstered their midfield with the signing of former enfant terrible Ravel Morrison on loan and with the pursuit of Ben Gordon wrapped up from Chelsea and the debut of England international keeper Jack Butland to throw in too, the promise was there.

Blues started their campaign with a league cup first round game against Barnet. Despite the scoreline, Blues made much harder work of the game than the 5-1 scoreline suggested., coming back from a listless first half to make experience and better fitness count later on. Whilst the result certainly left the fans happy, the problems Blues were to face were all to evident for us to see as they struggled to get a grip on the game. The first game of the season at home to Charlton showed that again, with Blues nicking a point with a last minute equaliser from Zigic after a fairly sub-par performance prior. The loss of Stephen Carr (who was injured in the final pre-season game against Royal Antwerp) had hit Blues hard and young American defender Will Packwood had to adapt quickly to an unfamiliar right back slot to cover.

The next two league games also ended in defeat; away to Sheffield Wednesday despite another goal for Zigic and a 95th minute penalty from King and then a horror show against Watford on Sky which was much of a beating than the 2-0 scoreline would have you believe. Blues had made their mark on the Championship in 2011/12 by having a rock solid defence but evidently the extra year had caught up with Steven Caldwell as he appeared leaden footed, slow and out of sorts. In midfield, both Darren Ambrose and Hayden Mullins struggled and it was only the introduction of Morgaro Gomis and Ravel Morrison that allowed the team to get any handle on the game.

However, it was the League Cup 2nd round that really brought home the problems Blues had within their team. Away to Coventry City, Blues realistically should have expected to have won the game but another dismal performance saw them eliminated after extra time, 3-2. Clark had tinkered with the side again, playing Burke behind the front two and Darren Ambrose on the right in a diamond and neither player looked comfortable. Ben Gordon, making what was to be his last appearance in the first team was like a rabbit in headlights, absolutely lost and bewildered at left back leaving two players who had been seen as nothing more than cover in Gomis and Spector to try and pick the team up by the bootstraps. I will admit then I was having my doubts about the appointment of Clark.

It took until the first day of September for Blues to record their first win, with a 1-0 victory over Peterborough at St Andrews. Clark went back to basics with a 4-4-2 and with the acquisition of Paul Caddis at right back on loan the team looked somewhat more balanced. However, the warning signs for the season were there for all to see – a bench with five teenagers on it showcasing the thinness of the squad. Blues then went to Nottingham after the international break and managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory, conceding two late goals to finish the match against Forest 2-2 before taking another vital three points at home with a win over Bolton. Blues had picked up Leroy Lita on loan from Swansea and the former Reading striker scored a decent goal in what was one of the best performances of the early part of the season. Another player who came to the fore in that game was Wade Elliott – a player who was to become increasingly important to the side as the season went on.

However, four days later all the good work that had been done was massively undone with what has to be one of the worst games I have ever witnessed at St Andrews. A poor first half saw Blues and Barnsley go in goal-less but unfortunately Blues decided that they could play even worse in the second and conceded five in twenty-eight second half minutes. Fans looked shell-shocked; it wasn’t that Barnsley that were that good, it was just Blues were that poor. Yes, there were injuries – Blues were down to one fit defender on the pitch by the end – but there is no way that a team can play that bad and expect anything else than a tanking. Of course, it was all on Sky too, in front of a half-empty stadium. I was a bad fan; I left when the fifth goal went in with a child in floods of tears and there was a very palpable sense that people weren’t happy with the team, the club or Lee Clark.

Blues as a rule don’t sack managers as a knee-jerk reaction; the last manager who was properly sacked by Blues was Barry Fry back in 1996 but after that shambolic performance I think the feeling was that had Blues been able to afford it they probably would have done after that game. It’s strange looking back on it, because two teams who did sack misfiring managers – Wolves and Blackburn ended up being criticised for being too quick to make a decision and in Wolves’ case eventually ended up getting relegated whilst Blues found mid-table security. The only way for Blues was up and they did round off the month with a morale-boosting victory against Brighton.

The review will continue this week with the next sectoin looking at October and November tomorrow.

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24 Responses to “Season 2012-13 Review – Pt I”

  • Euston 9.18 says:

    Bit off topic ALMAJIR.

    Read that next season in the Championship the guidelines about how little a club can loose each year (4 million) & receive from benefactor owners (8 million)

    Do these guidelines have to be met at the start or end of the season & do you know what the penalties are ??

  • Dave Bates says:

    The Barnsley game was so bad that I also left before the end…..the one and only time I have ever done so!

  • Chris Smith says:

    Would like to add that the barnsley result and performance were in stark contrast to the previous one against Cardiff. Although they lost, they actually looked like scoring and held possession well.

  • Letsby Avenue says:

    Yes AJ

    I’ve muttered, choked and splundered all over the Blues blogs and forums this last year.

    I don’t know to this day —-where Barnsley came from ! ! !
    Where OUR performance in that match came from.

    It got worse and worse.
    Under St Chris and also Lee, we’ve seen Jekyll & Hyde performances from one half to another, but Jeeeez..Barnsley was the worst I’ve ever seen, and that includes a few Barry Fry throwaways.

    I’m a desperate, Pannu and Yeung…HOPER…All right :=)

    But whilst my own upbringing will never include dispagement to any Blues player or manager —or owner—I came near after Barnsley.

    Very bloody near. Because it made no sense.to me.

    I think that Barnsley opened the floodgates to the abuse and lies — ( and repiittion of abuse and lies) from the “six-poster-forum” that you directly contribute toward.
    Why ?)
    We had Keith abuse, Lee abuse, Stevie C abuse,Darren and even Nathan abise on that forum you post on.

    All lies, All fantasy.

    But it is the most well read and LEAST participated pile of manure –and you POST there.?

    Anyway, I look forward to your future reviews, thanks for this one—even though I think Barnsley was more significant than we realise.


  • mark says:

    Why do fans continually moan about a freak result with barnsley….. Simply get over it… In the 1987/1988 season on saturday 1oct birmingham 3 v barnsley 5 that was not a very good either…….

  • In nearly 50 years of watching Blues three results in terms of abject awfulness are etched into my mind:

    Birmingham City 0-1 Oxford United circa 1969
    Birmingham City 0-1 Norwich City about five years ago
    Birmingham City 0-5 Barnsley aforementioned

    Despite the closer score lines of the first two, believe me the performances were as bad if not worse from the point of view of ineptitude. I agree with Mark though, we have to get over defeats and look ahead. Every team suffers bad reverses.

    • KeepRightcroydOn says:

      In fairness to AJ, this is a review of that slice of the season, so it’s only natural that the Barnsley match would feature in it.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    May I refer you all to this?


    I think the home team manager should have been sacked after a result like that!!!! =))

  • Tony says:

    Letsby I have some difficulty following your post, are you saying that no criticism should be allowed, that your upbringing forbids you to pass any kind of judgment on pathetic disgusting efforts of players management and owners?.
    you refer to any such voice as manure and link it to speculation regarding Fahey, and why this thing refering to players and manager by their christian name
    Furthermore what is this pile of mannure you refer to? the one that the owner of this blog contributes to ,do you mean OP? What is this six poster forum that Dan contributes to that you openly attack?.
    The Barnsley game will forever live in the memory of a lot of people it was not just a bad defeat it was the worst performance many of us have ever seen at St Andrews. It was more than a humiliation It was the end, the end of pride , tradition and over 100 years of football as far as I was concerned they could have bulldozed the lot and built a tescos there thats how bad I took it and time has not healed things much.
    You are right in one thing that match turned people against Clark ,the tactics the utter stupidity of the man, compounded by displays of man management defying belief he was clearly out of his depth and would have been more at home on a sunday afternoon parks pitch, once he had got his players out of the pub.
    You may be loath to pass judgement but I am not ,nor does criticism from the happy slappers on here who think attending every match is a pre requisite to being a fan they are the ones who are damaging this club far more than the non attenders. They are the ones keeping Pannus pockets bulging a man who treats us with complete and utter contempt.

    • mark says:

      Tony I might need a week off with that rant, what utter bollox….i will never recover from what you just mentioned……..yeah I will I just renewed my ticket…… I have recovered join me tony on our next quest move on in joys and sorrow. Be brave tony ……. Otherwise you will be always known as negative tony……

      • bcfc1978 says:

        Mark- totally agree I have renewed. I have come away from stans alittle upset but that wouldnt stop my continual support for my beloved team.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    The Barnsley game produced a performance that would be embarrassing even in Sunday League football…. but for heaven’s sake, get over it. IT WAS ONE GAME!!

    • StaffsBlue says:

      At the end of the day, it wasn’t so much the defeats that stopped us putting in a serious challenge (Hull, Watford and Leicester had as many, or more defeats than us,) it was more the draws. In which case, we weren’t THAT far away.

  • TracyKRO says:

    it was the worse start of the season I have ever watch, I was talking to Colin Tattum before the next games and said all I want is some fight and passion in the team there wasn’t. I called us dads army for the first half of season

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Tbh Tracy, it was a season too far for a lot of our more experienced players. I think they’d given everything the season before and had little or nothing left in the tank. It happens. That’s why I’m looking forward to this season, with a new, young, hungry squad. =)

  • TracyKRO says:

    Me to StaffsBlue a bit more fight and Energy in the young squad what we lacked last season and not paying all those wages to people not even playing and in there 30s

  • Blueboy 88 says:

    Barnsley was one of many many poor home performances.

    As home games are by a long way the main platform on which supporters opinions are formed ,
    criticsism of Clark & his coaching team was inevitable.

    Uktimately it was that poor home form over the whole season that cost us a play off place.

  • tony says:

    in truth the first half of the season under other circumstances would have seen Clark sacked . We could have easily lost the first 7 games including the barnet game.The pre season game against Antwerp perfectly summed up our season and had me wondering then about tactics.Thankfully the 2nd half was an improvement and despite still playing games for 45 minutes then switching off we did all feel more encouraged seeing the kids playing. Oh and mark i’m not the same tony lol

  • RichardM says:

    Happily I missed the Barnsley debacle, but listened to the deluge on Radio 5 in a performance described by the commentator as “embarassing for a professional football side”. Like a lot of people I’ve been critical of Clark this season, – I guess becuase we expected a continuation of the form of the previous season, and when that didn’t hapen Clark was the obvious differentiator between then and now. I wouldn’t have been sad to see him kicked out after the Watford game, but in hindsight this would not have helped and could potentially have damaged us still further.

    At least this season there will be no expectations on Clark – everyone is fully aware of the crippling financial situation he faces, and I fully expect to lose Redmond, Davies and Burke before the season starts – players that will be nigh on impossible for Clark to replace. Frankly speaking, if he can keep us up this season he will be a bloody hero in my eyes.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    The Barnsley defeat did wake Lee clark up though. It was the worst performance I’ve ever seen from a Birmingham City team. The players were absolutely shite on the day they couldn’t put two passes together and there were no leaders on the pitch. It wasn’t just the players in shock that day even LC and his staff sat on the bench watching in horror unable to act. I think this was when LC realised his signings of Ambrose, Mullins and Lovenkrands were poor and started to shuffle his pack with squad players like Gomis and Reilly. I think the best signing of the season was Robbo he led by example and was the leader on the pitch where previously there had been none. The players lacked discipline and need an extension of the managers boot to kick them on the backside to keep performing at a high level for the full 90 minutes. Let’s hope LC can get Robbo to sign a new contract as next season without the likes of Davies and King promises to be a much tougher season and we’ll need toughened hard men like that if we are to stand any chance of survival.

  • mark says:

    Well-done Kevin Phillips you are blues legend. Wish we could have kept you-……best wishes

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