BCFC: Changes for the Better

It doesn’t feel like that long since the last season came to an end but already the new one is upon us. Players have returned for pre-season testing, three new signings have already been made; and potentially most importantly, Blues have finalised their backroom structure that had been ripped apart by the sacking of Aitor Karanka and his staff and the subsequent departure of former CEO Ren Xuandong.

Birmingham City FC

After the depths of the shit show at times last year, it’s utterly refreshing to read in good detail what Blues are doing to try to make things right.

I’ll admit it, I was a bit surprised that Craig Gardner was promoted to Technical Director but with so little continuity at the club in the last few years it makes sense to put someone in the position that it already trusted by the manager and the board.

It’s also good to have someone at the club who actually has that title appended to their name, rather than performing in the role in an unofficial capacity as Kristjaan Speakman was. While Speakman’s official role within the Academy was quickly filled, his unofficial “role” wasn’t replaced and I really think it needed to be.

As much as I agree with people that Bowyer (as all managers should) needs a big input into scouting and recruitment, I think it’s also important to have someone who understands football who deals with the nuts and bolts of how it all works day to day – and who stands between the board and the manager to help bring together their thought processes. I’m really hopeful that as someone who has clearly enjoyed the confidence of the club for some time and who is a former team-mate at the club of Bowyer’s, Gardner can fill that gap.

It’s good to see Blues have also worked to bring together a backroom staff for Bowyer – and again there is some continuity there. The appointment of Mark Kennedy and Andy Marshall makes me think Blues have brought in the people Bowyer wants, while I’m hopeful that the change of role for Paul Harsley to First Team Development Coach will help to improve the pathway of players from the under 23s to the first team.

What’s most interesting is the position that it appears is not going to be filled – that of CEO. While I know of some fans who are disappointed that no one has been brought in to replace Ren, these kinds of changes make me wonder if there is any real need to bring someone in specifically be a CEO right now

I got the impression there were some veiled digs at the departed Ren from the club in their recent updates;  for example where the club has talked about the restructure talked about bringing recruitment back in-house and not outsourcing recruitment to a third party.

During Ren’s time as CEO, there were connections between the club and agents that seemed to go beyond the standard definitions. It’s well known that Darren Dein was on a retainer from BSH, but there were others such as James Featherstone and Andreas Manzano who seemed to have quite a lot of pull with Ren when they were in favour. Working with an agent can be very successful – just ask Wolves and Jorge Mendes – but it also puts a club into a situation where it has all its eggs in one basket which can make things difficult when relationships sour.

Don’t get me wrong, things aren’t perfect at Blues. There are still questions at the very top which are unanswered and will probably remain so for a while. There are no doubt going to be bumps along the road in this post-Ren era – and I for one am not expecting a promotion run this season.

However, despite all that and being known by many for being a “doom-monger” I can honestly say I feel more positive than I have done for a long time about Blues; and more hopeful than I have for a long time that we can have a good season on the pitch. I can’t really ask for more than that.