New Year, same old Blues. A 3-0 defeat away to Leeds on New Year’s Day was evidently the straw that broke the camel’s back for Tom Wagner and Knighthead, with Wayne Rooney receiving his marching orders less than 24 hours later. Blues now seek their tenth permanent manager in just over seven years, as once again the R word hangs in the air like a bad smell.
It’s pretty easy to say it’s not been a great Christmas for Wayne Rooney or Birmingham City. Three games seen as winnable have resulted in just two points gained and barring 20 minutes against Plymouth the performances have been distinctly poor. With Blues now lying 20th in the Championship table seven points above the relegation places, has the time come for Rooney to be given his marching orders?
Another weekend, another defeat. Saturday saw Blues lose 3-1 away to Sunderland, pushing the club down to the familiar situation of 18th place in the table. As to be expected, the reaction online has become ever more toxic with more fans insisting that Wayne Rooney and even Blues CEO Garry Cook must go.
Based on results alone, it seems inevitable that the reign of Aitor Karanka had to come to an end. While it’s not been confirmed at the time of writing, practically every outlet has reported that the 47-year-old Basque has departed Blues. So what next?
Another day, another defeat. Millwall were the victors this time, beating Blues 2-0 at the Den on Wednesday night to condemn Aitor Karanka’s side to their ninth defeat in 13 league games. Blues lie one point behind Rotherham in 21st place, although the Millers have two games in hand. For any other club the assumption would be Karanka’s place is untenable – but there is no sign of change. What needs to happen?
Defeat to Norwich City at Carrow Road on Tuesday evening extended Birmingham City’s winless run to five games. Chances were at a premium for Blues and the sending off of Adam Clayton for a second bookable offence turned out to be the prelude to the only goal of the game. Yet there are reasons that Blues fans should be patient.
Aitor Karanka’s first press conference as Birmingham City head coach was an ode to “sensible, reasonable things” as both the Spaniard and Blues CEO Ren Xuandong spoke of learning from mistakes and long-term futures. Is this the start of something beautiful at St Andrew’s?
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.
While Blues CEO Ren Xuandong has been criticised heavily on Blues social media and forums recently, Kristjaan Speakman has been somewhat under the radar. Listed on the official Blues website as Academy Manager, Speakman has been acting as a de facto Sporting Director at Blues in recent times. Is Speakman culpable for the club’s current situation.
Now the dust has settled on a prolonged and difficult campaign in the Championship, it’s time once again for the Birmingham City hierarchy to look forward. With confirmation that the new EFL season begins on September 12, there are less than seven weeks until kickoff to sort out a number of issues.