Editorial: People Hold On

After having threatened to do so for a few weeks, Birmingham City finally fell into the bottom three of the Championship following a 2-1 defeat away to Leicester. A late Leicester winner coupled with an injury time winner for Huddersfield conspired to ensure Blues now lie in 22nd place, one point from safety.

With Blues playing their next game a day later than their relegation rivals, there is every possibility that the situation could look a little bleaker by the time Gary Rowett’s men kick off against Cardiff City on Wednesday night.

As expected, there has been a fair amount of dismay and anger online from some Blues fans. Yet despite the bleak position Blues find themselves in, all hope should not be lost yet.

Still In Our Own Hands

“People hold on,
We’ve got to be strong”
– Lisa Stansfield, “People Hold On”

I’m not going to lie, every time I heard Jay Stansfield’s name being mentioned I’m reminded of the nineties pop singer Lisa Stansfield.

It’s kind of annoying because she’s absolutely not the kind of music I listen to – yet the words “people hold on” have buzzed through my brain with regularity as I think to myself how important it is that us Blues fans don’t lose our collective minds yet.

Let’s not sugar-coat it, we’re deep in the brown stuff.

Like many people I’m very disappointed that Blues find themselves in this position in the table and I’m concerned the club may find itself in a similar position at the end of the season.

It is important though to have a sense of perspective.

While Blues now lie a point from safety, the club are still only five points behind Swansea who are in 15th position.

More pertinently, many of the eight teams who lie so bunched together in the bottom part of the table still have to play one another.

This means that even though Blues are in the bottom three, destiny lies very much in the hands of Gary Rowett’s team.

And while defeat away to Leicester was tough to take due to the fact it was a late goal again that sealed the deal, we should understand in reality this was not the game that would condemn Blues to the third tier.

Before the Preston home game there was a fear as to where the next point would come from for Blues but that win showed that at home at least, Blues can still win games.

Two big games this week could make a huge difference to our league position. Win both and I think it’s likely we’ll be in a much healthier position.

I’m not going to insult any Blues fans by saying how important it is we get behind the team in those games, cos we all know the situation and I think Blues fans have stepped up when needed this season.

There is a question however if the same extends to players and staff at the club.

The Blame Game

After any bad result for Blues, it’s easy to find people pointing fingers of blame at someone, be it a player for making a mistake or a manager for picking the wrong team.

Obviously, this has also extended to fingering someone for the trainwreck the season has become, with several people under the microscope.

In reverse chronological order I’ve seen:

Mark Venus blamed for one point in eighteen.

Craig Gardner blamed for selling Kevin Long, or for not signing a centre-back / forward / a. n. other better player

Wayne Rooney for his ill-fated reign as manager

Garry Cook for appointing Wayne Rooney.

I’ve even seen people try to blame Knighthead for appointing Cook / not firing Gardner etc.

The truth is that like most other things, there isn’t one person who is purely to blame.

I think we have to accept that like everything else in life, the situation at Blues this season has been complex and that there are number of factors that have helped things go wrong, including stuff that was already a problem before the start of the season.

For example, while I can readily accept that Blues have made some transfer errors in the transfer windows, I’m also conscious that until recently Blues were more reliant on Stellar Group and the generosity of Darren Fletcher at Manchester United than an actual scouting network.

Likewise, while I’d love Blues to have gone big for a striker in January, the issues Blues have with keeping within profit and sustainability thresholds made that task really difficult.

Everything is clearer in hindsight and it’s easy for us now to pull apart some of the errors of this season that maybe weren’t so obvious at first.

For me, the biggest issue this year has been the fascination with being seen as “world class”.

Back in October when Rooney was appointed, I talked about how all the additional publicity generated from the appointment could have adverse effects as it brought more attention to what the club does.

The words “world class” and “no fear” have become millstones around the club’s collective neck.

Every time something goes wrong, we get the words world class thrown back at us. Every time the team loses a game, the words no fear football are used mockingly.

If anything needs to be learned from this year, I think that right now there needs to be understanding of how broken the club was and how “competency” is a good place to build from, before aiming for the stars.

And while there are those who demand some get the Spanish archer, I think the most important thing now is accountability.

The Open House

I had a fear that Blues would be in the bottom three for the Open House and so it has come to pass.

It’s too late now to cancel or postpone the event so it’s going to have to happen – but it’s going to be difficult talking about ambition when the club is looking down the barrel of relegation to the third tier.

And no doubt there are going to be fans who are angry that the meeting isn’t concluded with some huge act of penance for all the mistakes that have been made.

I have to admit, I’m not going to ask for Garry Cook to throw himself on his knees begging for the mercy of the court at the Open House.

However, I think it’s absolutely essential that mixed in with all the high-falutin’ talk of ambition there is some accountability that things have gone wrong and that lessons have been learned.

As with the first Open House, attendees have been asked to submit a question if they want for the end session.

My question for the April Open House

Last time, the questions and answers were a bit of a farce, with only a few questions being asked – and done in a way that was a bit too subservient for my liking.

With this in mind, I want to share the question I have submitted in advance of the Open House along with my reasons for doing so.

If you have the perception my question is a bit of a softball, you’d be right. I know for a fact that asking something that could be perceived as being angry or abusive is absolutely not going to be brought up.

However, what I’m hoping is that by asking this question is that there will be a recognition that this is a good opportunity to offer a truthful and honest answer that has some accountability.

I don’t need to hear Garry Cook, Craig Gardner or anyone else admit mea culpa.

What I want to hear is what things have been done to try to ensure mistakes don’t happen in the future in the same way.

Mistakes are inevitable in life, including in football.

We have to accept that sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to – including how transfers and managers work out.

The important thing is always how people react to making those mistakes.

We only have to look at the previous regime and people like former CEO Ren Xuandong to see what happens when there is an executive who doesn’t know how to deal with failure or getting things wrong.

I sincerely hope I leave St Andrew’s on Tuesday evening not only impressed with plans for the future, but more confident that the here and now is being looked after too.

The good news I guess is that a week is a long time in football, and it could be that by this time next week things will look a lot rosier.

I’ve talked before about how we need the hope and the belief that will happen.

As rough as the Leicester game was, I have the belief we can get points in our next two games.

If we can reinforce that with the belief that the club is getting better with the bigger picture too, then maybe we can get through the next month without losing our minds online.

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