BCFC: Welcome Aitor Karanka

It took a while but like the Mounties, Blues CEO Ren Xuandong got his man. Birmingham City confirmed late on Friday evening that Aitor Karanka has signed a three-year deal to be the next head coach of the club. The 46-year-old Spanish coach ends an 18 month exile from management since walking out on Nottingham Forest in January 2019.

Birmingham City FC

It was a deal that seemingly took forever to cross the line. There were rumours before the Derby game that Karanka was to take the job should the club dodge the relegation trapdoor, yet in the immediate aftermath there was nothing but silence from the club.

As the silence went on, the rumours went that Karanka had decided against the job. It fooled a few journalists – along with myself, I have to confess. Even in the minutes before the teaser announcement on Twitter, I had messages from a journalist convinced it wasn’t going to happen.

By heading to Spain to negotiate with Karanka, Ren outflanked the gossip and concentrated on doing the one thing he needed to do – to tie down the manager he wanted to a deal. I’ve criticised Ren frequently when he’s got stuff wrong so it’s only right I offer him praise now for sticking to the task in hand.

The length of time it has taken to finalise the deal actually gives me belief that this could be something that will turn the page for Blues.

Karanka is known for being meticulous and pedantic, and it’s my hope that he pushed hard to set firm guidelines for how things will work; transfers, coaching staff and the relationship with the board.

I said a while back that I believed the best choice for a manager would be someone with the force of personality to tell Ren to Foxtrot Oscar without it causing an argument; someone who would cause Ren to compromise and to adapt rather than sticking to tired old positions.

It’s my real hope that Karanka is that person – and that these weeks of negotiation have helped to build a rapport and respect between him and Ren to set up their working relationship.

I think as fans we have to be patient too.

While I firmly believe the club should always aim for promotion and go into every game with the aim of winning we cannot expect either. The squad is imbalanced and threadbare; it needs a fair few new players brought in and a lot of work doing.

I think Blues will continue last season’s blueprint of bringing in young players with potential ability and resale value, although I hope this year we’ll be a bit more choosy about creating a balanced squad.

I’ll be honest, I’d love us to discover another Jeremie Bela or Dan Crowley – young players who came in inexpensively who offer a step up in technical ability and creativity. Both of those signings prove it’s not always about the money spent; and as we head into what is the best buyer’s transfer market in years I hope we can maintain that financial prudency.

For the first time in months I feel truly positive about the future of Blues. It feels like there is a plan to take the club forwards and a head coach who is capable of doing that. Not only that, but it feels like others feel it too.

Let’s hope that feeling continues for the next six weeks as we bring in players ahead of the new season – and that when the real ball comes out, we’re ready for it.