BCFC: Manager #38 Come In, We Are Ready For You

Birmingham City confirmed on Monday morning that Head Coach Pep Clotet is to leave the club at the end of the 2019/20 season. The announcement on the official website confirmed that Clotet is to step down and that the club have agreed to allow the Catalonian coach to “pursue other coaching opportunities”.

Birmingham City FC

I’m going to be honest here and say that this announcement caught me cold. While I knew that Clotet wasn’t on that solid ground at the club, I didn’t think anything would be imminent and so when my phone buzzed with the notification I was a little bit stunned.

I’m fairly sure that this was a case of Clotet deciding to walk away rather than him being pushed out of the door. The reasons for that are unclear at this moment in time and knowing Blues may never become clear.

However, I think the timing is right for Clotet to announce his departure.

As argued eloquently by Brian Dick in the Birmingham Mail, Pep announcing his departure while staying until the end of the season allows the club to conduct their search for the next head coach to be conducted without rumours surrounding Clotet’s job swirling – something which I think in the past has not helped the club.

I will admit that I do not believe the rumours that Blues have been looking for a replacement for Clotet for a while.

In the past Blues have been quick to name replacements yet the tone of the statement from the club made it sound as if this is not happening this time.

That’s backed up by the multitude of names I heard rumoured within an hour after the statement has been published, with Craig Gardner (who I cynically opined would get the job) quickly installed as a favourite with the bookies.

The truth is right now I have no idea who is going to be Clotet’s successor – and judging by the quantity of names being pushed forward I don’t think anyone else has an idea either.

However, what I do believe is that this is probably the biggest appointment the board will face as I think the whole of football is at a crossroads due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Normally, at this time of year we would see season tickets on sale to fans which would see money flowing into the club’s coffers.

That isn’t the case due to the coronavirus outbreak, and instead the club face having to refund people instead against games that are going to be held behind closed doors.

Similarly, commercial opportunities are going to suffer and there may even be issues over how much broadcast income the club gets.

Suffice it to say, the normal cash flow forecast from the club for these months will have been thrown out of the window – and because of that there may have to be some real belt tightening when it comes to next season.

That means the board cannot afford to get this choice wrong.

Whoever they choose has got to stay in the job for a while, and to keep the club at minimum on an even keel in the Championship – if not push for promotion.

The good news is everyone else is in the same boat, so while a bad choice could be catastrophic, a good choice could take advantage of the situation and move the club into a much better position.

I’m curious as to how the search for a new boss will go, and who will make the decision.

I’m sure Blues CEO Ren Xuandong will be involved, and I would not be surprised to see Kristjaan Speakman offer his opinion based on his knowledge and experience.

Birmingham Sports Holdings Chairman Zhao Wenqing is also present in the UK and I would expect him to have a say in the decision too.

I think we have to hope that the board have got some idea of a plan of how to go forward, so that when they do interview for the job they know what they are looking for.

There has been a lot of criticism with Blues now looking for their sixth permanent manager since the departure of Gary Rowett in December 2016.

Let’s hope that the board have learnt from those mistakes.