“Steve looks like a deer in the headlights in front of the cameras. His press interactions look more like apologies than explanations. You’d think he was stood in the dock at Birmingham Crown Court!”
It’s often said in sport that when things aren’t quite going your way, the misfortunes continue to pile on top of each other. Decisions don’t go your way, deflections go wide of the goal rather than straight into the top corner and your club cameraman slips over live on national TV during the walk outs. However, there are very few things we can blame ‘not getting the rub of the green’ on during the game against Fulham. Once again, Blues were the masters of their own destiny, both on and off the pitch. Jeremie Boga’s obscene penalty attempt is the exclamation mark on our downfall.
It pains me to say it, but League One is on the horizon. If we harbour any desire to avoid the inevitable, something needs to change. Now.
Around a week ago I wrote an article putting forward arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ the sacking of Steve Cotterill. I’ve read hundreds of comments and had numerous discussions with Blues fans about whether Cotterill should remain or not. It’s like Brexit all over again. Blexit, if you will.
I’ve come to the conclusion that finding a new manager is our only hope of survival in the Championship. The main argument I’ve read that opposes Steve’s sacking is that it’s actually the players that are to blame. I agree and disagree with this in equal measure.
The players certainly aren’t performing this season. As much as I love the guy, Davis is a shadow of his former self. Morrison has turned into a church mouse and Juke is busy playing hide & seek. However, it must be remembered that all three of them performed well under Rowett.
Keif, Tommy, Adams, Mags, Davis, Juke, Grounds, Cotts, Morrison, Gleeson, they’re all still there. They all have it in them to perform. They haven’t simply forgotten how to play, and contrary to how it looks on the pitch, I don’t think they’ve stopped caring either. Make no mistake, I’m not defending the boys, I just think there’s a bigger picture surrounding the slump.
I also don’t subscribe to the rhetoric that “they’re paid a fortune, if they don’t give 100% at all times, regardless of circumstance, they need to go”. Are footballer’s overpaid? Yes. The whole world knows that. But ask yourself if you’d turn that money down. If someone approached you and offered you 20k a week to kick a ball around, would you say “nah, sorry mate, I’m not worth that much”? Of course not. As for the commitment; money doesn’t buy energy. Money doesn’t buy team chemistry. Money doesn’t buy job satisfaction. The player might be rich, living most people’s dreams and relatively care free; but they’re still human at the end of the day.
Call me naïve, but I still believe the boys have the ability. They ARE capable of surviving this fight. They just need more synergy and someone to bring them all together.
The current debate seems to be whether the players or management are most to blame for our current plight. In reality, it’s a mixture of the two. The problem is, we cannot afford to replace the whole team and at this point we’re not going to attract any big names either. We have the dressing room that we have and we need to work with it.
Crystal Palace fans were also calling for the heads of their players. As were West Ham. Both changed their managers instead, and both then went on to beat the Premier League Champions, Chelsea, with the exact same squad of players.
Another argument I’ve heard is that TTA should go. I totally disagree with this sentiment. It’s been said a million times now, but sacking Rowett was madness. However, TTA wanted Zola in. Then when they got their man, they supported him. Rightly or wrongly, they stuck to their guns. A little too long perhaps, but they gave him the time and money to do the job. Then when Redknapp came in, he too was given a war chest (by our standards) but he didn’t deliver and his heart wasn’t in it. TTA may have started this slide into turmoil, but they certainly aren’t responsible for its continuance.
It’s worth noting that Dong Ren is seen in the stands at nearly ever game too, including away games. Not many clubs can say that about their CEOs. TTA are guilty of a lack of understanding of English football and looked to emulate Leicester’s success ASAP and it’s backfired. But They do seem committed to the cause and there’s only so much they can do to affect results from an office desk. Like them or not, TTA aren’t going anywhere and they don’t need to go anywhere, so any calls for them to leave are just a waste of energy.
This leave us with Steve Cotterill. In football there are generally three things that can be changed to improve a team. 1. The owners. 2. The players. 3. The manager. Managers get sacked so often because they’re the easiest, quickest and cheapest change to make. With the predicament we’re in now, sacking the manager is our only real option.
To be honest, Cotterill hasn’t had the easiest ride so far. Injuries have crippled our team. Vassell and Colin were our best signings this season and Adams is our shining light for the future. Jenkinson came to us with great promise and Lowe arrived with a good reputation. These are key squad members that are sorely missed.
However, Steve has not helped himself either. He is tactically inept and the team sheet on Saturday looked like the sort of team I’d put out on Football Manager 18 when I’ve all but given up and started experimenting and flirting with the absurd. We may have a long list of injuries at the moment, but surely a better manager would still get results with what we have left?
Cotterill’s press conferences also leave a lot to be desired. The excuse against Wolves was essentially that if they hadn’t scored, they wouldn’t have won. What an insight! He also stated that if our shots didn’t get blocked, they’d be on target. Well, Boga proved this wrong with his penalty. There wasn’t a single white shirt blocking that and it still went into row Z.
Steve looks like a deer in the headlights in front of the cameras. His press interactions look more like apologies than explanations. You’d think he was stood in the dock at Birmingham Crown Court!
Cotterill looks like a defeated man both before and after the game. Press conferences should be an opportunity for Steve to show the world his defiance and put across the belief him and his squad have in themselves. Managers should be solid, strong in their resolve and confident when questioned. If what we see on camera is Steve’s attempt at confidence, then I shudder to think how he is on the training ground when the media isn’t watching. We need a leader, at the moment we have a simpering coach.
Blues fans largely made their feelings known at the Fulham game too, with chants such as “We’re f***ing s**t” and “We want Cotterill out”. “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” also made a small comeback and there were boos at half time. Blues fans have every right to air their views, however I will back Cotterill in his decision not to come over to the fans at the end of the game. Many seem offended by this, but to be fair he probably wasn’t expecting a rousing reception if he went over and in all honesty, who can blame him for walking straight down the tunnel. If someone was calling for my head at work, I think I’d avoid them too. I don’t think this necessarily means he doesn’t care, but it does show a certain lack of strength in character.
The way I see it, we have two options. Stay the course and hope all’s well that ends well, or cut the cord and try a new direction. A fair few people are calling for Pulis to come in. “Whoop whoop, that’s the sound of da Pulis” being my personal favourite tweet of the day.
I don’t have much love for the guy and I think his brand of football can be like watching paint dry, but I’ll take it at this point. We need someone that has a proven record of motivation. Someone that will believe in the squad and get them believing in themselves again. We’re in desperate need of a leader.
And maybe a private eye to try and locate Craig Gardner too.
The decision needs to be made now. He seems a nice enough bloke, but Steve Cotterill needs to go.
By Mark Watson