Tag Archives: Pep Clotet

Sheffield Wednesday thoughts and photos

Hogan’s late equaliser was a great way to end the game and it sent me home happy. I thought Blues were better in the first half but not so good in the second so a draw seemed like a fair result. I always want Blues to win, whoever and whenever they play, but I can’t say that I wanted Garry Monk to lose. I remember how he kept us up in 2018 and  feel grateful for that.

When Pep Clotet said that that he considered Hogan “a doubt” for the game, the only thing that seemed clear was that Clotet didn’t want the opposition to know whether or not he would play. I wasn’t surprised to see him in the starting line-up and was very glad he stayed on till the end.

In the 12 games we’ve played this year, we have only lost once, to Wigan on New Year’s Day, and we have only failed to score in the 0-0 draw with Coventry.  That’s not a bad record. I am hoping our unbeaten run is continued at Millwall on Wednesday.

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Notes on the news

There was a lot of news about Birmingham City this week. On Monday, the draw for the FA Cup fourth round brought up the intriguing possibility of Blues being the away team at St Andrew’s if Coventry win the third round replay. The FA confirmed that Coventry would be the home team if the tie goes ahead.  A club announcement said that the Middlesbrough game would be moved to Tuesday evening,  21 January.

On Tuesday, the accounts were published and revealed that “freehold land and buildings” had been sold to Birmingham City Stadium Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Birmingham Sports Holding Limited. This raised questions about the application to register St Andrew’s as an Asset of Community Value.  A post on the Blues Trust website explained the timeline for this and said,

“The failure of the Club to tell the fans that the ground had been sold … is a continuing example of the unwillingness of Directors to engage with supporters. We understand that the EFL had known for some time that the ground had been sold, but because the sale value does not appear to have been inflated, the EFL had no issues with it.  So why was this information withheld from Supporters by the club?”

Blues Trust also published a link to an article in the South China Morning Post, which included a reference to the Blues Trust statement.

A new group of Blues fans, 1875, set up a new website and sent a letter to Birmingham Sports Holdings Chairman Zhao Wenqing, requesting him to improve the situation at Blues. They believe that writing to the powers that be will be more effective than moaning on social media.

The Birmingham Mail published some articles about the EFL charge and other matters at the club. One had a large headline that said, “The fans deserve to know what’s going on at Blues.”  I agree with that.

Amid all this disturbing  news, there were some reassuring quotes from Pep Clotet.  He said that Marc Roberts should be available for the Cardiff game, Blues’ next home fixture on 18 January. And, commenting on the EFL’s charge that the club had breached the imposed business plan, Clotet said the staff and players had been informed “there is nothing to worry about and what we need to do is focus on our job which is trying to win games.”

I hope that today they will try to win their game against Luton and will succeed in doing that.

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Not good

Birmingham City’s decade did not get off to a good start. They didn’t play well against Wigan and, at times, some of the players who can usually make decent passes seemed to launch the ball into the air without thinking where it might end up. It was a dispiriting game to watch. 

As usual, at half time, there was an announcement about voting for man of the match.  It was hard to think of one but I think if I’d had to choose one, I’d have chosen Kerim Mrabti. He scored our first goal and looked as though he was trying to play. I also felt sympathy for Lukas Jutkiewicz as he seemed to spend a lot of time with a Wigan player holding on to him.

The game is over now, thank goodness, and I’m not going to suggest what should be done. I think Daniel was probably correct when he said that he didn’t think Pep was the problem and that “the problem are the people above him”.  Sacking Pep Clotet might not lead to any improvement in results.  

One bad game is not enough to sever my allegiance to my team. Yesterday’s performance was not the worst Blues performance I’ve seen.  I stayed till the end of our 0-8 loss against Bournemouth in 2014 and that was much, much worse.  I have a ticket for our FA Cup game on Saturday and will be there hoping to see a better game.

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Anything can happen

The best team does not always win in football; that’s what makes it so interesting. However, I wouldn’t bet on Birmingham City beating West Bromwich Albion today. I’m just hoping that they don’t score too many goals. This will be the first game I’ve gone to in December as I didn’t go to the QPR game on Wednesday.  I have a season ticket and rarely miss home games but I had something else to do that I thought more important.  It sounds like it was a good game to miss.

I’m glad they have removed the ‘caretaker’ from Pep Clotet’s job title. It sounded so stupid. I have no idea if this means his job is more secure. It probably still depends on results.  Supporters can only support their manager and the team on the pitch. I  hope we support them well today, regardless of our views on who should play and what formation is best.  

My biggest fear for the club is not their performance on the pitch but the indications of a lack of competence in some areas.  They don’t seem to be doing a good job of recruiting volunteer Supporter Liaison Officers and, at some games, their kiosk on the Kop side has not been open.  That seemed to indicate that there weren’t any volunteer SLOs on duty. Daniel has written about their credit scores and said, “The late payment of the CCJ doesn’t strike me as the actions of a company that is acting competently.”  For me, that is more worrying that losing a few games.  

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Getting old

Eight years ago, on 13 August 2011, I went to a meeting of Birmingham City fans to discuss setting up a supporters trust. Daniel Ivery had suggested on his blog that might be a better way to react to the club’s problems than waving a slogan on a bedsheet. I got involved with the steering group that set up the trust and have been involved in various ways since then. Most recently, I’ve been the secretary but I stepped out of that role after our AGM on Saturday.

I didn’t leave the job because I’ve given up on the idea of a supporters trust but because I’m slowing down as I get older and it seemed like the right time to hand over to someone else. In fact the fate of Bury FC has reinforced my belief in the usefulness of trusts. It looks as though Bury is going to be liquidated so now there’s a group getting ready to form a phoenix club. In their statement they said, “134 years of history will not die when Bury FC’s last rites are read. Bury FC is alive in every single fan.” Every football club needs to have some group that keeps an eye on the governance and finance and which will step in if things go pear-shaped.

It’s not clear how things are going at Birmingham City; the club still seems to be losing money. We might end up in financial trouble again if we don’t get promoted. Performances and results have improved but nobody can guarantee a top two position for a club. 

It was good to get another win on Saturday.  I had just taken a photo of what I thought was the half time score when Pederson scored a goal in time added on, so I had to take another photo.  Luton’s equaliser was disappointing but I kept hoping that we’d score again and Jutkiewicz did. The final whistle went, Pep Clotet came on the pitch to shake  hands and hug, and I went home happy.

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Blame game

We’ve lost three games in a row and some people are discussing who to blame. 

Is it Pep Clotet’s fault and should he go?  Or is Pep just following instructions from Ren Xuandong and should he be the one to go? For me, the most important factor is not who goes out but who comes in and I agree with what Daniel said in his editorial:

“The only way Blues move forward in my opinion is if the owners can realise that the club needs a CEO who knows how football works.
It needs someone who can run the day to day things without pushing experienced staff out due to their temper tantrums and inability to accept advice.”

I don’t think there is much chance of that happening. So, as I go to the game this evening, feeling the usual mixture of hope and fear, I think the fear will be dominant. I really don’t want to watch my team lose their 4th game in a row. I hope that there will be a decent crowd and that they’ll provide some good support.  I feel that’s the only thing you can do while your team is playing; you can only support the team on the pitch even if it’s not the team you would have picked.

It’s been nearly 5 weeks since I last saw Birmingham City play, a  family meet up took precedence over football when we played Preston, and I have thought about not going.  But I go because however bad it is, I feel better suffering surrounded by fellow sufferers than to be home alone listening on the radio. I’ve seen us lose 0-8 at home and it can’t be worse than that, can it?

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We lost

We lost on Saturday and our performance was not too convincing. Birmingham City didn’t score any goals and Nottingham Forest scored 3. It doesn’t mean that we are going to be relegated; that will depend on what we do in the other 43 games. 

I can tell when something is not working in a game but can’t work out why.  So I’m not going to offer any analysis of tactics or team selection but I’ll note a few random observations.

Seeing Pep Clotet described as ‘Caretaker Head Coach’ on the stadium screen felt weird.

I saw Maikel Kieftenbeld posing for pictures with fans at half time. And I heard that Grounds and Mrabti were in the crowd also. I liked that.

I also liked the way some of our fans started singing after Nottingham’s third goal. Our support was not bad.

It wasn’t the best day I’ve had supporting the Blues but neither was it the worst one. And tomorrow evening, the team has a chance to do better.

(I’m disabling comments on this because I won’t have time to keep an eye on them.) 

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Hope

I can sympathise with Brentford boss Thomas Frank, who said his team did ‘everything’ better than Birmingham City during their 1-0 defeat at Griffin Park. The stats back him up.  Brentford had 76% possession, 15 shots, 3 shots on target, 6 corners and hit the woodwork 3 times.  Birmingham had 1 shot and 2 corners. Birmingham won because their shot went into the goal and none of Brentford’s did. I just listened to the commentary on Radio WM and probably shouldn’t comment on the game, but I will. I think we were lucky.

Pep Clotet’s interviews and comments have been interesting. My impression is that he has accepted the fact that he is not responsible for deciding the system the team will play and he follows the instructions given by Xuandong Ren.  However, he is keen to make it clear that it takes time to change the way a team plays. In an interview after the game he said,

“We want to keep the hard-working mentality of this Club, the defensive organisation. We want to turn into more of a challenger for possession, slowly build that more offensive type of football.
You can either do a major turnaround, or do it slowly. Brentford, the way they play, it didn’t take three months – they did it over a long period. We don’t want to lose the type of Club we are. We want to add to it.”

If Pep accepts the instructions he is given and Xuandong Ren gives him the time and players he needs to make the changes, then we might just have something that will work.  As I said in my last post, there’s always hope.

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Transfer window

I’ve never liked transfer windows.  I’m usually irritated by the silly rumours about who Birmingham City might bring in. This window I’m worried about who might leave. I feel bad that Omar Bogle’s loan has been cut short; he scored a great goal against Stoke and I would have liked to see a few more like that.  I will feel a lot worse if we lose one of our first team regulars. If someone like Che Adams is sold, it will feel as though the team is being ripped apart.

Birmingham City are playing Swansea this evening. It’s a place that has a lot of memories for Garry Monk and Pep Clotet, who has talked about his time there in an interview.  He said:

“We are better coaches now because of the difficulties we have faced,” says Clotet. “Garry has given me a lot of insight about British football and that has helped when dealing with players. I guess I have made him a bit more Spanish too. We have made each other better.”

I’ll be feeling a lot of respect for the players and fans, outside on a cold winter evening while I’m at home, keeping warm.  I hope they play well and get a point or three. I think it will be good to follow a game and think about that rather than the window. And it will fill some of the time until the window closes at 11 pm on Thursday.  We will know then which players we have and, even if it’s bad news, we can get on with the rest of the season.

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