Editorial: Occam’s Razor

72 hours waiting for 21 words. Just over three days after Birmingham City rolled over and had their tummies tickled by Bristol City, Aitor Karanka’s reign as Birmingham City came to an end. No “thank you”, no “good luck” – just a terse two sentences confirming the Spaniard had exited the building.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

While it never seems normal being a Blues fan, the last 72 hours have been pretty weird. We all knew Karanka was out on his ear; we all knew that Lee Bowyer had quit his job as boss of Charlton Athletic to take on the hot seat in B9.

Yet nothing official was forthcoming from the club.

When there is a vacuum of information, rumour and gossip tends to take hold. In normal times, the rumour would have just been about whether Karanka was gone or not, but Blues don’t do anything by halves.

Neil Moxley wrote a piece on Monday outlining a crazy Sunday at the Wast Hills training ground.

The Blues Last Supper
Image courtesy @Kristoff1875

Players came in as normal for their warm down session, before joining Blues CEO Ren Xuandong and management staff for lunch to belatedly celebrate Ren’s birthday. I don’t know if Jamon Iberico was on the menu this time, but Ren used the occasion to tell players that Karanka was departing.

The daft thing is this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about Ren telling players of a departing manager at a “do”. Players learned that Garry Monk was to be sacked from Ren at Lukas Jutkiewicz’s wedding a short while before that became official.

Regardless, telling the players in this manner ensured the story was in the national press within an hour. While BBC and Sky Sports News do publish stories on stuff that isn’t quite official, they do tend to wait for a concrete source before they do – and in this instance, they could take their pick from any one of the first team who passed on the news.

Because it was so publicly broken as gossip, the delay in it coming out as official news got people antsy.

This was further exacerbated by Lee Bowyer quitting his job at Charlton, and Charlton Owner Thomas Sondgaard telling people on the record that Bowyer was coming to Blues.

Subsequently, by Monday evening every man and his dog knew what was going on – but still silence from the club.

By then, the rumour mill had gone into overtime.

There was the Whatsapp message from “Tony Uncle” about how “Dong is gone tomorrow”, and how when “the Asian stock markets” open, they would be told “Dong wasn’t CEO any more”, and that “Mike Wiseman was going to step in”.

No lie, I had this message forwarded to me four times by Monday morning from people asking me if it was true.

Obviously it wasn’t.

Birmingham Sports Holdings do not need to let the HKSE know if Karanka or for that matter Ren are got rid of; as a director Birmingham City Football Club plc would need to inform Companies House if Ren had resigned but Companies House aren’t known for their speed in publishing that kind of stuff.

Today the new rumour going round was that Blues were waiting to see what the result of the Rotherham game was, because there was a clause in Karanka’s contract that if Blues were bottom three with ten games or less to go, Karanka could be fired without a payoff.

The daft thing is I first heard this rumour in the middle of February after Blues lost 2-0 away to Millwall. As with any rumour like this, I ran it past a few people I know to see if it passed the “sniff test”, and the consensus I got back was that this rumour was bullshit.

As it turned out, Rotherham kicked off an hour after Bowyer was officially appointed, and went on to lose by a resounding scoreline of 4-1 – which obviously means Blues remain in 21st place. Had they really been waiting for Blues to drop into the bottom three they could potentially have been waiting for some time.

There is an old problem-solving principle called Occam’s Razor, which is in simple terms

“The simplest explanation is most often the correct one”

Convoluted stories about clauses and announcements to the HKSE sound believable, but often when looked at with logic don’t really stand up.

The simplest explanation for the delay is one of legal argument; how the final statement was worded and how much money Karanka gets for keeping his mouth closed. What many people also forget is that those negotiations are also done with the outgoing backroom staff – and that all takes time.

Karanka had 2.5 years left on his deal. He had no intention of quitting on Saturday when talking to Brian Dick, so either he had a conversion worthy of Saul on the road to Damascus, or he has taken a pile of money to agree that he “quit”.

My innate cynicism when it comes to football means I really don’t think Karanka had a change of heart without a fattening of his wallet.

Regardless of all this, the deal is now done and once again I (and I hope most other Blues fans) have some hope that Blues can get out of the mess that they have found themselves in.

There remains some questions over the future of Ren, and the rumour mill is productive there too.

For now, I think we have to wait and see what happens on that front – and remember that as many conspiracy theories are bound to appear right now, that we should remember that most of them are just that – theories – and not get drawn into the hype.