BCFC: The Pep Problem

The clamour online for Pep Clotet to be dismissed from his role as Head Coach of Birmingham City grew louder this weekend after a humbling 3-0 defeat to Hull City. The result was the third defeat on the spin for Blues and extended a run of ten games without a clean sheet. Is it time for the Catalan to get the Spanish Archer?

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

I have to admit that right now I’m somewhat ambivalent towards the idea of Clotet getting the sack.

On the one hand, the numbers speak for themselves.

Blues have taken one win in their last nine games, taking a grand total of six points from a possible 27. Only three teams have scored fewer than Blues this season and only six teams have conceded more.

While Blues are fairly secure in mid-table with 28 points from 23 games, this run could cause the club to once again drop into relegation trouble.

On the other hand, we’ve seen what continued turmoil has done for Blues in recent seasons.

Based on previous appointments by the club, are people confident that a new manager would be better than Clotet?

I’ve seen much online talk about Chris Hughton but the truth is that Hughton left Blues because of the mess behind the scenes with Carson Yeung. Is he going to come back to what is potentially a worse situation?

Likewise, after getting burnt by giving the manager job permanently to Harry Redknapp, are the Blues board likely to offer it to Tony Pulis or (involuntary shudder) Neil Warnock?

Right now, it’s difficult to get much out of Blues as the board and club CEO Ren Xuandong in particular have become paranoid about moles within the club.

A good example of this is the situation surrounding Paco Herrera.

It’s my understanding that Herrera has not been present at Wast Hills since the middle of last week.

This wasn’t clarified until the press conference after the game on Saturday when Clotet confirmed

“Paco has had a very difficult family problem to deal with,” said Clotet.

“For the last couple of months Paco tried to manage that problem as much as possible whilst being here.

“This week we agreed on him going home and trying to try and get a grip of the problem.

“I need to respect his decision because at the end of the day family comes first and he has gone there on compassionate grounds.

“The problem that he’s having makes it very unlikely that he will be coming back.”

However, Herrera was quoted earlier this month in the Spanish media as having said that he had told Clotet he was leaving and going home.

Whatever the situation is, I for one wish Herrera all the best and hope that things become better for him.

With this situation in mind, it’s not hard to believe that it’s very difficult to get a handle on how close Clotet is to being given the sack.

However, there are a couple of pieces of information I can offer.

While it might seem that Clotet was given more security when he had the “caretaker” part of his job title removed, it’s my understanding that his contract has not been improved or extended.

Furthermore, Birmingham Sports Holdings Chairman Zhao Wenqing has been in the UK for the last couple of weeks and was present for the two home defeats to QPR and West Bromwich Albion.

I believe Zhao is staying in the country over the Christmas period and as such it could be that the next three games are crucial to Pep’s continued employment with the club.

Zhao operates as the right-hand man to the elusive Wang Yaohui (aka Mr King) and has been sent to the UK in the past to deal with a change of management, sacking Steve Cotterill.

The continued presence of Zhao in the UK is not good news for Ren or Edward Zheng Gannan either.

During the sacking of Cotterill and the appointment of Monk it did appear for a short time that Ren would follow Cotterill out of the exit door before there was a change of heart from the owners.

However, I also believe the removal of any member of staff, management or board would only happen if a replacement was immediately lined up to take over from them – and for that reason alone I don’t think anything will actually happen quickly.

Like most things in football, we’re just going to have to wait and see.

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