My Birmingham Mail Column-Weds Mar 7th
Birmingham City’s owners have made their last throw of the relegation dice by sacking Steve Cotterill and appointing Garry Monk as manager. With eleven games to go are hoping for a “new manager bounce” with enough points to stave off the threat of dropping into League One.
Hopefully that will have started last night against Garry’s old club Middlesbrough (this was written before the game) but whatever the result last night, when he accepted the challenge he had 11 games to provide the points needed. It’s a massive ask and it will take a change in attitude on the pitch to win those points. Instilling belief and confidence in the players whose confidence has been shot to pieces after losing five games on the bounce will I am sure be high on his priority list.
I don’t know if Garry Monk will be a good manager for Blues or not but he definitely left a good impression as he talked about wanting the players to come off the pitch having given their all. He also talked about working with the players on a one to one basis to improve them. He gets the importance of having the supporters onside and made all the right noises about how hostile he found St Andrews as a visiting player and manager and how he wants St Andrews Rocking to help the players perform as well as intimidating the opponents. Time is not on his side but there is certainly enough games and points to give him a very good chance.
As happens in football Steve Cotterill leaves with a pay-off that you or I could only dream about so it’s difficult to have too much sympathy even though no one likes to see people lose their jobs. He definitely cared but the bottom line is results and the simple fact is he didn’t win enough games end of story. A very intense man who I am sure underneath the outwardly brash exterior was quite insecure as his often acerbic press conferences both pre and post-match showed.
In my opinion I don’t think he was helped by the failure of the club to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window for whatever reasons that are best known by the owners.
Once a manager loses the support of the majority of fans he is in trouble and that was apparent over the last few games for Steve Cotterill. Hard working Brummies demand effort and honesty from the team and from their manager and sometimes when you lose they would prefer a manager to take it on the chin without to many if’s what’s and maybe’s.
I hope he realises it’s not personal. It is just that the game is about winning and of course survival and with a win ratio of just 25% added to the fact that the team were the lowest scorers in the whole of the pyramid. Add all that together and I am sure he knew the writing was on the wall before the Forest game.
Garry is the 8th manager in charge since Blues lifted the Carling Cup just 7 years ago on that magical day at Wembley and that is not healthy. Whoever advises the board and whoever chooses the new manager must be right this time as there is no time for another mistake?
Garry Monk, who by the way has always been forthright in his interviews with me on talkSPORT while at other clubs, will need everyone united on and off the pitch for the eleven cup finals they face between now and May. It won’t be about formations, tactics and stats but about passion, desire, commitment and hard work while a huge slice of luck would not go amiss.