Editorial: The Monk – Ren Situation

On Thursday I tweeted that I, along with the guys from We Are Birmingham, had heard the relationship between manager Garry Monk and Ren Xuandong had become very fractious and that Monk’s continued role at the club has come into question.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

I decided to write this piece to help people to understand why we did what we did; to try to assuage those who think that we said what we did to seek attention and most importantly to try and explain the bigger picture.

I can understand why people were upset with what we broke, and the way that we broke it.

I think there is a valid criticism in that maybe we should have been less vague to begin with, but the truth is it’s frightening to be the ones to say something bad is going on without any safety net.

However, this is not something that has come up overnight. This is a story that has been brewing since the end of the season, if not before then.

Back in May, Garry Monk talked about how he didn’t want to leave the club in the light of rumours linking him to the role at West Bromwich Albion.

However, he also talked about how he needed a proper idea of where the club was financially, saying:

“My concentration is getting to the bottom of that financial understanding, that side of it runs a lot deeper than what I was first made aware of when I first came in here but my intention from the start – and still is at this point, is to be here and help this club move forward.

As quotes go, that was a big one because the implication was huge – that he had been lied to about the financial state of the club when he took the job.

To make that implication about your bosses in public is a bold and brave move – but one that I think Monk was certain he could make such is his backing from the fans.

Since then, behind the scenes things have not been great.

The Mirror today referred to Ren taking an office at Wast Hills, in what is an unusual move in English football.

If you can remember how Alex McLeish felt about Sammy Yu rocking up at the training ground, then it’s not hard to understand that Monk might be a bit miffed about having Ren as an office neighbour.

Sky Sports confirmed that there has been agitation between Monk and Ren over transfer budgets with Monk unhappy over the Jota / Gary Gardner deal.

It’s not all one-way traffic either.

Richard Wilford of Radio WM is quoted on the BBC website as saying that there is a difference of opinion on playing style and transfer targets, with the board keen to see a more creative and progressive squad take the field.

All of these threads add up to a situation where Monk and Dong are not seeing eye to eye. I understand that they have not spoken to each other in weeks – and it’s clear that something has to give.

It’s been reported that Monk has said he’s adamant he’s not going anywhere. With two years on his contract, I can hardly blame him.

That doesn’t mean however that he can’t be forced out – and it’s not like the current board haven’t got form for doing that.

The Gary Rowett situation in December 2016 is one thing that came into my thinking about this whole story.

For many people that came out of nowhere but I had heard three days before it happened that the club were going to get rid.

At that time, I was living in Poland and I sat on the story.

For one, I was a bit disillusioned with Rowett myself, and for two I didn’t think anyone would believe me.

This time, things were different.

I really like Monk. More to the point, so do a lot of other people.

There is a feel good factor around the club.

A connection between the manager and fans.

With this in mind surely the thing to do was to put pressure on the board to work something out.

The We Are Birmingham guys Matthew and Chris are two of my best friends out there. We have been talking about this for a while and last night, we tried to get as much info from as many people as possible to confirm everything we heard as being legitimate.

I’ve seen some people say we’re attention seekers who have got info from a “snake” at the club.

This is as laughable as the people who are convinced I have no sources because of the removal of the former senior management team – who in any case weren’t my sources when they were there.

The truth is, football is an incestuous sport, with lots of people knowing other people’s business.

Players talk, agents talk and the press talks. It’s no exaggeration that between the three of us we got info from maybe as many as ten different sources.

All of them said different flavours of the same thing – that the relationship between manager and CEO was reaching untenable.

Rather than wait for the inevitable, we decided we wanted everyone to know that.

Our hope was that we could appeal to the board of BCFC – if not put pressure on them – to help them understand that the current imbroglio is something they should work to get through rather than use as a reason to break things apart.

I’m not sure if it will work.

It doesn’t appear that the board or owners take much of what fans say into consideration – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Now all we can do is wait and see.

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