Editorial: A Need for Unity

While Blues’ Championship future has been secured for another season at least, there is an awful lot still up in the air as the final game of the season approaches. Fans still do not know what is happening with respect to the repairs of the lower Tilton and Kop stands, while on the pitch Lee Bowyer’s position as Blues boss seems very uncertain despite the remaining year on his contract.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

Bowyer has to be on shaky ground considering the performance of the team this season.

Although Blues cannot finish lower than their current 20th position in the table, Blues need to beat Blackburn on Sunday, hope Cardiff lose their final fixture to Derby and make up a negative five goal difference to have any chance of finishing any higher than 20th.

Had the EFL not deducted points from Derby and Reading for breaching various rules it would have been another desperate last day for Blues with only goal difference keeping them out of the bottom three.

It’s hard to judge the feelings in the stands about Bowyer from social media, with wildly varying results on Facebook and Twitter to polls I’ve posted about giving him the push or not.

When I asked the question on my Facebook page, there seemed to be a consensus of fans who thought Bowyer should stay at the club, for varying reasons such as stability and the lack of resources Bowyer has had to deal with.

Twitter seems a lot more circumspect about Bowyer, with many as disappointed with his formations and tactics as they are about the owners of the club.

I am somewhat in the out camp, but like my friend Mark Watson from Fat Lads Go In Goal said in our recent podcast chat, it’s as easy to make an argument for Bowyer to stay or to be canned.

From what I can observe inside the club, I think it’s a very different story.

I have absolutely no doubt the board and owners were incensed by Bowyer’s criticism of the owners in the press conference on April 21.

While I’m convinced that Bowyer was confusing club director Zhao Wenqing with the actual owners of the club, I’m also convinced that Bowyer deliberately was negative about the club ownership in an attempt to get himself the sack and a payoff.

It’s been widely reported that Blues would have to pay £750k to sack Lee Bowyer. If that’s true (which I have no reason to disbelieve), then it’s obvious why Bowyer wouldn’t quit.

I think it’s also the reason Blues have not given him his P45 as I do not think the club have the will or potentially the money to make the payoff.

That leaves the club in limbo; a manager who I don’t believe wants to be at St Andrews and who I think has not only lost the confidence of the players but has also lost confidence in the players.

It’s a situation which needs to be fixed over the summer because the club cannot afford to be in this position for long.

On Sunday night, the club issued the latest monthly update where once again the issue surrounding the lower Kop and Tilton stands was touched upon.

I’m not sure how many other clubs issue this kind of monthly updates, so part of me feels that it must be recognised that the club are at least attempting to communicate with fans.

That being said, the lack of actual new information in the update was disappointing.

We’ve known for some time that there have been various tests that have been done to help the club work out what the process is going to be to fix the stands. What we don’t know is any timescale of when how long the process of fixing them is going to take.

There’s a cynical feeling voiced by many fans online that news about the stands has deliberately been held back to prevent any trouble at the final game of the season against Blackburn.

I can understand this cynicism.

It’s been nearly 18 months since the original announcement about the issues surrounding the Kop and Tilton stands, and it feels like we’re no closer to knowing when the ground will fully reopen.

The lack of information is fuelling online rumours that the stands can’t / won’t be repaired, and that the club will end up groundsharing somewhere – despite MD Ian Dutton squashing that rumour more than once on Twitter.

My hope is that the cynicism is justified, and we get a full announcement on the ground fairly quickly after the Blackburn game. I think the longer it takes for the club to front up, the worse the fears are going to grow and the harder it’s going to be for the club.

I have to admit, I’m growing tired of how bad things have got at Blues. Every single year there is a managerial crisis of some description; every single year there are unhappy fans and people who are angry at the club’s owners for what has befallen the club since relegation from the Premier League.

I hate seeing people I know grow jaded with the club to the point of giving up. People who follow the club the length and breadth of the country actively questioning if they want to continue doing it, because of the sheer apathy they are starting to feel.

I’m also tired of seeing division between Blues fans online; division grown from questions over who to blame and what is going to happen. At times it almost feels like we’re being deliberately divided so that we are distracted by fighting each other to look at the big picture.

This summer needs to be one of unity.

A team and head coach / manager who are pulling together to become better than the sum of their parts.

A senior management team and board who are working on winning over hearts and minds with proper long-term fixes for the club instead of quick wins, positive PR and spin.

Most of all, a club where everyone is looking to the future with hope and belief, rather than worrying about blame and despair.