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Blues hunt hangover cure after Christmas with Rooney - Interview
Wednesday, 27th Mar 2024 15:10 by Clive Whittingham

Birmingham have done that Birmingham thing again of sacking a manager while sixth in in favour of a big name vanity project and have now come full circle back to Gary Rowett to try and mop up the mess - @MatthewBlue1875 sums up a season that promised so much and may yet end in League One.

Wild season at Birmingham, sum it up for us?

Batshit-mental. It’s just typical Birmingham City Football Club. We finally get rid of the previous owners who have mismanaged and done years of damage to the and replace them with wealthy owners, who clearly want the best for the club. Owners that have invested a shedload of money to improve the infrastructure of the club, repair and rebuild the stadium and have opened up clear lines of communications with fans. Only to go and shoot ourselves in the foot with a Garry Cook vanity project in Wayne Rooney that was always going to be a disaster. Then, just as you think everything has settled down and is heading in the right direction with Tony Mowbray, the poor man falls ill and things fall apart again. Then to go full circle and bring in Rowett as an interim who was fired in very similar circumstances to Eustace is just incredibly surreal.

Birmingham league results so far…
Swansea 1-1 Birmingham Yates 76 – Dembele 45
Birmingham 1-0 Leeds Jutkiewicz pen 90
Bristol City 0-2 Birmingham Miyoshi 45, Jutkiewicz 84
Birmingham 2-1 Plymouth Hogan 8, Stansfield 90 – Hardie 60
Birmingham 1-1 Millwall Stansfield 53 – Nisbet 6
Watford 2-0 Birmingham Andrews 90, Rajovic 90
Preston 2-1 Birmingham Bielik og 51, Osmajic 67 – Stansfield 46
Birmingham 0-0 QPR
Norwich 2-0 Birmingham Sara 55, Rowe 60
Birmingham 4-1 Huddersfield Dembele 3, 64, Miyoshi 23, James 90 – Helik 90
Birmingham 3-1 West Brom Bacuna pen 23, Sanderson 38, Gardner 87 – Swift 5
Boro 1-0 Birmingham Rogers 88
Birmingham 0-2 Hull Delap 12, Philogene 74
Southampton 3-1 Birmingham Harwood-Bellis 9, Alcaraz 22, A Armstrong 86 – Stansfield 58
Birmingham 2-2 Ipswich Stansfield 13, Burgess og 51 – Harness 79, 89
Sunderland 3-1 Birmingham Bellingham 17, Sanderson og 57, Aouchiche 76 – Miyoshi 30
Birmingham 2-1 Sheff Wed Bacuna 45, James 81 – Byers 45
Blackburn 4-2 Birmingham Szmodics 47, 52, Hill 59, Leonard 90 – Dembele 63, 78
Birmingham 0-0 Rotherham
Coventry 2-0 Birmingham O’Hare 30, 77
Cardiff 0-1 Birmingham Bacuna 45
Birmingham 2-3 Leicester James 14, 74 – Mavididi 10, 50, Dewsbury-Hall 21
Plymouth 3-3 Birmingham Edwards 43, Waine 68, Whittaker 86 – Stansfield 15, James 39, Bacuna 69
Birmingham 1-3 Stoke Stansfield 69 – Thompson 12, Gooch 31, Vidigal 53
Birmingham 0-0 Bristol City
Leeds 3-0 Birmingham Bamford 34, James 45, Summerville 67
Birmingham 2-2 Swansea Dembele 38, James 90 – Darling 36, Lowe 58
Stoke 1-2 Birmingham Thompson 70 – Stansfield 10, Bacuna 49
West Brom 1-0 Birmingham Weimann 85
Sheff Wed 2-0 Birmingham Ugbo 15, 53
Birmingham 1-0 Blackburn Dozzell 77
Birmingham 2-1 Sunderland James 60, Miyoshi 80 – Clarke 22
Ipswich 3-1 Birmingham Chaplin 31, Sarmiento 81, Hutchinson 90 – James 45
Birmingham 3-4 Southampton Miyoshi 2, Stansfield 41, Bacuna 77 – A Armstrong 18, Brooks 55, Adams 59, Aribo 90
Hull 1-1 Birmingham Tufan 25 – Jutkiewicz 82
Millwall 1-0 Birmingham Tanganga 90
Birmingham 0-1 Boro McGree 17
Birmingham 0-1 Watford Dennis 44

John Eustace - I know Birmingham love sacking a manager when sixth, was that decision as stupid as it looks now?

Yes. Hated it at the time and was very angry about it for a while. I said to you in our last piece together it was always likely that the owners would want their own man in the future. I can understand this and expected it at some point, but it absolutely felt like the wrong time to do it. Not only that, but it’s who they replaced him with. Not only a big name, but a big name who just happened to be the client of an agent who was very good mates with our CEO…

Christmas with Wazza. Tell us about it. Rooney-Cole-O'Shea, with that brain's trust how on earth did they fail?

Absolute fucking disaster from start to finish. In his 15 games in charge there was probably about 70 minutes worth of decent football. The plan when Rooney came in was to play this front foot, no fear football. High possession, lots of chances and lots of goals. This turned out to be highly accurate. If you were the opposition of Birmingham City. Ripping up something that might not be perfect, but was effective and for the most part was working for the team, just seemed crazy. It completely derailed the season.

Tell us about the current situation. Why has it gone quite so badly since Mowbray was taken ill?

I honestly couldn’t tell you. The team were really starting to gel under Mowbray. Confidence was growing, the football was improving, it was more exciting to watch and we were creating more chances. I assumed that the team would just ride it out with the backroom staff until Tony as back, but I guess there is a reason Mark Venus has always been a number two and has never been a head coach or manager. Whether or not it’s down to man management or tactics, I don’t know, but what is clear is that the players were just not responding to Venus and something desperately needed to change if Mowbray was not coming back soon.

What do you make of Rowett coming back?

I’d grown very tired of Rowett by the time he was fired in 2016. The quality of football and his alleged never ending desire to flirt with other clubs wasn’t an ideal situation for me. However, putting aside the way I felt about Rowett back then, I think this makes a lot of sense for the current situation. We are a club in crisis that needed a manager who knows the league to get results and fast. The pool was small, we were practically left with Warnock, Rowett, Allardyce, Pardew type scenario… ugh… Despite my feelings towards him, Rowett still has a lot of love from Blues fans, so this gets a big portion of the fanbase on side and Mowbray has given it his blessing too. I think it is the right decision and I believe he’ll do what it takes to keep us up.

When you're signing Roberts, Laird and Dozzell, we certainly raised some eyebrows at your recruitment. Given your league position, how do you reflect on it?

I’m still in a small portion of the fanbase that actually likes the majority of our recruitment, including these three mentioned. What I do wish we’d done, is just brought in a little more physicality to add to the technical ability that we brough in over the two windows.

Laird is universally loved around the club and the fanbase. Very big character, all smiles on and off the pitch. He rarely has a bad game for us. Had it not been of a couple of injuries I think he probably would be up for player of the season.

Roberts is clearly a very talented player. It took a long time for us to see him in action, as he picked up an injury and missed almost half a season. I know, you must be shocked. I like him, but the fanbase is very much divided. That said, Mowbray seemed to like him and when he was involved a lot of our good moves involved him. What the short term future for him looks like under Rowett, I have no idea.

Dozzell. Only a small sample size, but he’s very neat and tidy and plays some wonderful passes. He’s another one where I think we look better when he is in the team. He has been in and out since Mowbray’s illness though, so I do not know what the short term future looks like for him, either.

Summer Ins >>> Dion Sanderson, 23, CB, Wolves, £2m >>> Lee Buchanan, 22, LB, Werder Bremen, £1m >>> Ethan Laird, 22, RB, Man Utd, £700k >>> Krystian Bielik, 25, CM, Derby, £500k >>> Tyler Roberts, 24, Tart, Leeds, £500k >>> Koji Miyoshi, 26, AM, Antwerp, Free >>> Keshi Anderson, 28, AM, Blackpool, Free >>> Sirki Dembele, 26, LW, Bournemouth, Undisclosed >>> Cody Drameh, 21, RB, Leeds, Loan >>> , 22, CB, Cremonese, Loan >>> Olly Burke, 26, AM, Werder Bremen, Loan >>> Jay Stansfield, 20, CF, Fulham, Loan

Summer Outs >>> Tahith Chong, 23, AM, Luton, £5m >>> Jobe Bellingham, 17, CM, Sunderland, £1.5m >>> Maxime Colin, 31, RB, Metz, Free >>> George Friend, 35, LB, Bristol Rovers, Free >>> Sam Cosgrove, 26, CF, Barnsley, Free >>> Nico Gordon, 21, CB, Solihul Moors, Loan >>> Harlee Dean, 31, Meathead, Released >>> Troy Deeney, 35, CF, Forest Green, Free >>> Jordan Graham, 28, RW, Orient, Free >>> Josh Williams, 20, RB, Cheltenham, Loan >>> Zach Jeacock, 22, GK, Gloucester, Loan

Winter Ins >>> Alex Pritchard, 30, AM, Sunderland, £100k >>> Seung-ho Paik, 26, CM, Jeonbuk Hyundai, Free >>> Andre Dozzell, 24, Ghost, QPR, Loan

Winter Outs >>> Kevin Long, 33, CB, Toronto, Undisclosed >>> Nico Gordon, 21, CB, North Texas, Undisclosed >>> Brandon Khela, 18, CM, Ross County, Loan >>> Zach Jeacock, 22, GK, Released

Player of the season candidates?

Juninho Bacuna or Cody Drameh. Ethan Laird (if not for injury)

Weak links in the side?

Yes, lots.

Will you survive?

Yes, we will do just enough. Prior to Rowett’s arrival, I had predicted a maximum of four more points. I think we can maybe get eight or nine now.

Links >>> Birmingham City official website >>> St Andrew’s — Ground Guide >>> Small Heath Alliance — Message Board >>> We Are Birmingham — Podcast >>> Birmingham Mail — Local Press

The Twitter @loftforwords, @MatthewBlue1875

Pictures — Action Images

Action Images

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GroveR added 20:18 - Mar 27
Interested on the view of Laird. Sometimes a permanent move does a player a world of good.

Hooping_Mad added 00:42 - Mar 28
Andre Dozzell, 24, Ghost, QPR

TacticalR added 16:33 - Mar 28
Thanks to Matthew.

Surprised to hear that QPR misfits Roberts, Laird and Dozzell have done ok at Birmingham.

History does point to Rowett being able to manage clubs at the lower end of the Championship, so this seems like a good appointment given the situation.

Benny121 added 19:11 - Apr 1
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