On Saturday, Birmingham City suffered their worst ever home defeat in the clubs history, losing 8-0 to Bournemouth at St. Andrews. A result which has not only embarrassed the fans but has also been scathing on the clubs reputation will be hard to take for Blues fans.
Although it is tough to comprehend a loss by an eight goal margin in a professional game, this result has summed up Birmingham’s turmoil in recent years. It had been coming.
Lee Clark was finally relieved of his duties last week after Birmingham suffered yet another home defeat against struggling Bolton Wanderers. Despite Clark being ridiculed by fans throughout the course of his tenure, the hierarchy at Birmingham stuck by him. In his first season with the club after making his switch from Huddersfield Town the club finished in twelfth place in the ‘Championship’.
Last season, Clark had Paul Caddis to thank for him still being in a job after his strike on the final day of the season meant Birmingham survived relegation to the third tier in England. Subsequently Clark remained in his position for the start of this season and it’s taken a record of one win in twenty four home games to see him eventually sacked.
While Clark obviously hasn’t covered himself in glory, it remains to be seen whether his replacement can do a much better job. Birmingham are a club with rich history but the ‘Small Heath’ outfit have been dwindling for some time.
Whoever takes charge on a permanent basis has an incredibly difficult task of first stabilising the club in the Championship and secondly forming a team worth challenging for promotion. The latter may not happen in the foreseeable future.
Cast your minds back to 2007. Birmingham are a Premier League club, Steve Bruce is in charge and Hong Kong based businessman Carson Yeung takes a majority share in the club. Surely this can only benefit the club? Wrong. Bruce moves to Wigan Athletic on the basis that under new owners, he was destined for the exit regardless. City then go on to be relegated under newly appointed Alex McLeish.
Despite their relegation McLeish is kept on for his first full season with the club, and Birmingham are promoted back to the Premier League in their first time of asking. Not only did they perform more than adequately for the majority of the season but they managed to achieve their best finish for over 50 years, finishing ninth in the league.
Birmingham followed up with two seasons of relative security in the top division and the proverbial ‘yo-yo’ club seemed to have established themselves as a solid Premier League club. Then comes probably the most bitter-sweet season the blues fans have ever had to endure. They defeat an Arsenal team who are overwhelming favourites to lift the League Cup, thanks to an 89th minute winner from Obafemi Martins, which gives them the cup for the second time in their history.
Having won the cup, Birmingham are also entered into the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. What should be a season of celebration for the ‘Brummies’ turns sour when they get relegated from the Premier League. A relegation they have yet to recover from.
The majority of their playing squad depart the club and money is beginning to shorten up. Alex McLeish then leaves the club to join Birmingham’s bitter ‘Second City’ rivals, Aston Villa. A financial meltdown is now on the cards at St Andrew’s and a transfer embargo has been placed.
Considering all that has occurred Birmingham have done extremely well to keep their Championship status over the last three seasons and when Chris Hughton left for Norwich, Clark was appointed.
Two seasons later and Birmingham find themselves in a similar position. Up against the wall in the Championship, manager-less and still under strict financial restraints which have led them to employ a loan system strategy in order to acquire new talent.
Birmingham have lacked leadership when its really mattered recently and whoever they choose to appoint in the coming weeks will need to have real resolve and patience if they’re to get the club back on track.