It’s safe to say the decision to sack Gary Rowett was not a popular one. In the warmth of the Sky studio at Pride Park Rowett must have allowed himself a wry smile as he heard the away fans sing his name while his former charges huffed and puffed on the pitch. I wonder how much members of the BCFC board in the directors box smiled as they saw chances of a playoff push recede somewhat further.
This next month is going to be a huge test for the new BIH owners. As replacements for Carson Yeung, they could have benefitted from the same “not the previous person” feeling that Panos Pavlakis and Rowett did when they came in to replace Peter Pannu and Lee Clark respectively. The removal of Rowett however has sent a shockwave through supporters and has almost immediately put TTA and their cohorts under intense scrutiny. Under Rowett, a top half finish would have been more than acceptable for Blues fans; under Zola anything less than a playoff finish will be seen as a failure.
Much has been made of the £10m transfer funds made available to Zola. Couple that with more money available for wages and expectation is there to improve the squad significantly. How Panos, TTA et al manage that expectation in what is historically a sellers’ window is one thing.
How Zola then manages to blend in three, four or even five new signings to the squad is another. Throw in the expectation of an upturn of fortunes as the season progresses, and I think it’s not hard to think that those hopes of playoffs are almost doomed to failure from the start.
Welcome to the world of Championship football, Mr Suen.
I think the key next month has to be to bring in players that are not only right for Blues now, but that are something that can be built upon in the future. I was impressed with Rowett’s pursuit of Che Adams for exactly this reason – an exciting young footballer who brought something new to the squad and who one could assume would only get better.
If Blues continue in that vein – ie bringing in players who will not only add to the squad but are going to grow with it too, then I’ll be happy personally. What I fear is that Blues will go down the route of loaning players looking for an immediate lift which will mean in six months we’re in exactly the same position squad-wise.
I think it’s going to be a key month too for Ewan Chester. Chester was definitely a Panos appointment made in the face of Rowett not wanting a Director of Football. Zola has already made it clear in interviews he will give the board an idea of what he is looking for, with the inference that the act of sourcing players for Zola’s approval will come down more heavily on Chester. I said on OP in the past that I think a proper scouting system is important and I’m interested to see how this progresses now.
One interesting thought I saw retweeted by @TheSpecialRon on Twitter was that Zola would get more of a break from the fans if he was to bring in players like Reece Brown into the team. I think fans would be more forgiving of a young team failing to push on if it meant that Blues were bringing through their own youngsters and were developing a squad for future seasons that would serve them well. Whether that fits in with TTA’s philosophy however… well that remains to be seen.