“I sincerely apologise for getting on your back and completely retract my statement of “Sacking Steve is our only chance of survival”

Well, here it is. It’s been a long time coming and is perhaps a little overdue. Retractions and apologies are often found deep within newspapers where they will be seldom seen or hidden in whispered after thoughts that are intentionally barely audible in the hope that they avoid detection and don’t lead to public embarrassment. Not me though. I’m arrogant enough to think I’m always right, yet humble enough to concede that that’s ashamedly far from the truth.

Part of the beauty of fan sites and supporter blogs, is that we can be brutally honest without editors and agendas looming over us. It also means that we can admit our mistakes and misjudgements without needing to uphold the national press pretence of “we’re always right”. In short, if we’re wrong, we can say so. So here it is, my open letter of apology to current Birmingham City Football Club manager Mr. Stephen John Cotterill.

On December 5th I first publicly questioned Steve’s ability to lead the team in an article on bcfcfollowers.com. In it I discussed the positives and negatives of keeping the unproven manager around midway through an horrific run of results. We had just been put to the sword by promotion chasing Wolves and were sinking further and further down the table. I initially outlined both sides of the sacking argument before going on to cement my thoughts 6 days later with an article titled “Why Cotterill Leaving Is Our Only Chance Of Survival”. Both articles received criticism and support in equal measure as fans began to turn on the struggling manager.

I contested that, “Steve looks like a deer in the headlights in front of the cameras…League One is on the horizon” and “He is tactically inept…we need a leader, at the moment we have a simpering coach”. Was I justified in these comments? Possibly at the time. But were they rash? Almost certainly.

In both articles I did state that Steve had a bad run of luck, especially with injuries, and I did attempt to put both sides of the argument for sacking him over, but they were heavily weighted towards the removal of Cotterill. I, along with many other fans (whether they admit it now or not) was convinced that Steve Cotterill was massively out of his depth and was only taking us one way; down. Though I did begin to lay off him post-Christmas and instead focused on writing about a possible upturn in our fortunes, an undercurrent of resentment towards the manager remained.

However, may I take this opportunity to apologise for some of the criticisms levied at Stevie C. It’s undebatable that he was playing guys like Big Sam way out of position as well as employing some rather obscure tactics, but Santa delivered a winning formula over the Christmas period and the team have exceeded expectations throughout the new year and running right up to the biggest derby in the country later this week.

Cotterill has dragged the team up both mentally and physically and brought us within touching distance of an FA Cup home tie with Man United and set us up to go into the Villa game in the best run of form we’ve had since the departure of Rowett. ‘Arry famously said that the current crop of players could be promotion contenders. Maybe he was right…

Who knows what demons Cotterill was battling with in the boardroom. We may never know and quite frankly, if this streak of great form continues then I no longer care. We may never discover who the bad eggs were, we may never be told what Vetre and Dein do on a day to day basis that actually benefits the club. We will probably never find out if the board dictated the style of play or how much money truly was available to splash out during the transfer window.

What we do know though is that something has changed. Cotterill and the team around him have begun to turn the Blues around and credit MUST be given where credit is deserved. The fans have played their part with unwavering support which may not have always been wholly positive, but never went away. Unlike Sheffield Wednesday fans who were seen leaving in their droves at half time.

Davis is back to his early 2017 self. Mallagher is an absolute revelation. Handing the armband to Harlee and placing full trust in him whilst allowing the back four of Grounds, Roberts, Colin and Dean time to gel and develop a chain of command and communication are decisions worth commending. Cotterill has stuck with the task at hand and, though we wish we’d have seen more evidence of it in press conferences, his resolve has truly paid off. We are now out of the relegation zone, up to 19th and 4 points clear of danger.

On behalf of myself and many, many other Blues fans that saw you as no more than a coach and out of depth replacement for Redknapp, I sincerely apologise for getting on your back. The Blues team we’re watching in 2018 are vastly improved from the beginning of the Autumn. I am glad the board have stuck with you and completely retract my statement of “Sacking Steve is our only chance of survival”. It goes without saying that we are not out of the woods yet and the hard work must continue if we are to see ourselves clear of danger, but I have full faith that you will succeed. I also truly hope that you are still at the helm at the beginning of next season and can keep shaping the boys into a Championship contending side. Regardless of the Huddersfield and Villa outcomes, you and your team have proven their worth over the last 6 weeks and it’s inspiring to see the passion and drive return to the squad in what has been a complete 180.

You have come under criticism for how you have chosen to vent frustrations over recent months, especially during confrontations with fans. However, it is nice to see that you were just as frustrated as us. Hopefully we will all be celebrating survival sometime soon with games to spare. You, your staff and the players are giving us reason to cheer whilst restoring pride in our performances. If Saturday is anything to go by, we will be fine and a real buzz is beginning to permeate through the city. Keep it up Steve and Keep Right On!

By Mark Watson

@MarkWatson1875

9 COMMENTS

  1. I’m really glad SC has turned things round, for one I obviously want Blues to do well, but i’ve been in his corner from the start literally shouting my head off at some of the ridiculous disrespectful things i’ve seen on social media, constantly pointing out that he had to sort out the squad from 4 previous managers and that every manager needs time. Of course i’m not always right I was in Zolas corner as well for a while but the less said about that the better!!!!. I think the one thing he did that’s helped change things was him getting every player in his office on a 1-2-1 basis, man management is so important and hopefully he’s got that part sorted. The players are playing with more confidence but the big test will be how we bounce back from a couple of defeats which will inevitably come sooner or later.

  2. Cotterill played a pressing game at Cheltenham and at most clubs he has been at . He has adapted our squad into a unit which pushes and presses . It will not always work but the players have bought into it. I wanted him as manager I thought he was a good coach – yes we can all say Gallagher should be s centre forward but other managers have said he does well coming in from the wing.The board in my opinion thought big names mean success – they do not as many big name managers fail as succeed as do players. Paul Merson said Man City signing De Bruyne was a joke as he had not made it at Chelsea. Fans, pundits and the media do get it wrong. Big on you to apologise – well done KRO and lets see how far we can go this season.

  3. i dont think we are out of it by a million miles. cotteril still does have allot to learn like when not to play a 6’5 forward as a winger, when to take off a leggy french midfielder on a booking etc etc. Maybe he did have things to sort out but he took that role on and its on his head when results are poor. Let me also say it was obvious that Morrison isnt a footballer and was one of weakness’s.

  4. Well done for apologising. SC needs a load of credit for turning this lot into a decent ream following the craziness of the Redknapp era and some evident divisions in the dressing room. I, for one, (probably the only one) would like 3 at the back but, hey, the recent performances have been excellent. derby was just an unlucky result.

  5. Fair play to you for your apology it takes a man to admit he was wrong.
    A lot of people including Steve Cotterill had no idea of the task he was taking on.
    When SC was last at our club for the final 3 games of last season as assistant to Harry he had a great rapport with the players, who had nothing but respect for him and his training methods.
    When he returned as manager we had 13 new signings all on more money than the players who Cotterill had previously coached 3 months earlier.
    He didn’t realise that he was about to walk into a broken dressing room with a lot of backstabbing and bitching behind the scenes.
    On top of this he inherited a group of players who were completely unfit due to the outdated training methods of a certain Mr Kevin Bond. Our players were a million miles from being physically and mentally fit for the start of the new season. Harry was just a face for the club and spent most of the week at his home in Sandbanks, leaving the day to day business to his coaches.
    I think a lot of Blues fans owe Steve Cotterill an apology, ya clear he has got a lot of respect for our great club and the staff that work miracles behind the scenes.
    We are Birmingham City a working class club , with working class fans , we don’t need big name Charlie’s for managers ( Zola, Redknapp)
    We need someone who is proud to be our manager, someone who is honoured and understands how big we can be and how lucky they are to be in charge of a club with such Fantastic fans as we are lucky to have.
    So all I ask is Get behind SC and the boys and let’s not turn into fickle fans like them twats from witton, and I’m sure SC will produce a genuine team we can all be proud of. KRO SOTV.

  6.     Anyway, leading up to the game Cotterill said that he was planning to make changes to the side, and boy did he, as nearly the whole squad was changed. With the likes of Carl Jenkinson returning and Jason Lowe also returning, who Blues fans thought Cotterill had killed in training, Blues fans were intrigued to see if the team would give Huddersfield a run for the money, especially with them making numerous changes as well.

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