Addios Zola

Well, what a crap weekend of Easter football was that!

Assuming you do not follow the much more successful Blues Ladies team who made it all the way to Wembley on Monday it was exceptionally crap!

Both Rotherham and Burton games had that air of potential misery about them. The games themselves could have gone either way.  But as it happened both went the way of the toilet!

Neither performance were anything to write home about by all accounts. The overriding fact from both games were that Blues could simply not muster shots on target. with 12 and 20 shots on goal respectively Blues could only manage to get 5 on target over the two games. FIVE! Of those 5 on target, two came in injury time against Burton on Monday because as of the 89th minute we’d had none on target in 18.

Shots on target of 15% over the course of the two games tells a big story.  As does the fact that over the two games we had vastly more shots on goal and higher possession figures than our opposition but still failed to gather more than a single point form the weekend tells another grim story.

What I should be typing next is that “it came as no surprise that Zola made the decision to resign”.  But it was a surprise. He had the backing of the Board, the message coming out of St Andrews had been that of looking to the future, all of them planning the next steps for over the summer and the start of the next campaign.

Zola seemed to be even comfortable with the crap run of results in that he kept on putting out the same team with the same set-up, with only niggles and rests required creating changes in personnel on a match day.

Zola’s refusal to make significant changes in the face of such dismal fortunes either speaks of a man who knew he wasn’t being ousted so didn’t want to change or is so poor as a manager couldn’t or didn’t know how to change from what he knew.

The thing that worries me most though is the Board. Twitter was full of Hallelujah from Blues fans that Zola had decided to resign, but in their euphoria a lot had missed the point.

Zola had been left to fall on his sword. He wasn’t pushed. He wasn’t unceremoniously sacked. He knew.  He knew he wasn’t working out.  He knew once the home crowd started chanting for him to leave and on the back of a loss he had to go. He knew he didn’t want to be known as the man to send the team down.

Zola’s resignation seems to be the first time he’d displayed sound judgement during his pitiful Blues reign.

The Board didn’t know. The Board didn’t care that Zola had no support from the fans. The Board didn’t care what division we would be in next year. The Board didn’t want to lose face.

I know in Chinese culture pride is a big deal.  That’s why TTA couldn’t sack Zola when the time was right (about 10 weeks ago by all accounts).  I wonder how much face they will lose now, now that the man they backed to hilt has jumped ship.

What worries me the most is that the Board lack the decisiveness to make changes when necessary.  Birmingham has long been a club that gives managers a good crack of whip.  They do not flit between managers and I never want to see them become that type of club. But what I do want to see is sound footballing decisions being made at Board level in regards to the direction being taken.  The world of football is vastly different from the world of commerce, the Chinese owners do not need to worry about saving face.  They need to start concerning themselves more with the will and desires of the fans and what will benefit them in the long term. Involve the fans, get them on board, make them part of the ‘project’ and see the club flourish.

If we go down under those circumstances Blues will go down together. If we go down this season, there will be hell to pay.

Just in case TTA are listening to this (I sent my open letter to a company in Hong Kong where Paul Suen is a director and was read by about 20 people in Kong Kong), so if you are listening – Please, Please, Please get rid of Panos, he hasn’t got a clue what he is doing. Hire someone that understands the Blues fans and understands football.  It will serve you so much better in the long run and TTA might actually enjoy owning Birmingham City before they sell it off.

I’ve already started reading the latest odds on the manager shortlist. The word on the street is that Robbo is not going to be offered even temporary charge of the team for the remainder of the season. A bit of a pity among the faithful as he seemed a popular choice for caretaker. I do not think we need to worry about ‘arry Redknapp. Bir-minum is far to far up north to tempt him back into English football management.  However, if he was sworn in, it would only be to oversee the final three games, he would never commit beyond that.

I think the Board need to take their time, Truly assess the merits, records and achievements of prospective candidates.  Please do not pick the next manager based on their playing reputation.  Zola’s management record was God awful, and that alone should have been enough to throw his CV in the bin.

What Birmingham needs is a manager with a successful record at managing at both Championship and Premiership levels. One that can work with players on the lower end of the pricing market and that has proven ability to get the best out of the players they work with. If you can find a candidate that can do all that AND provide the fans with a little entertainment along the way then snap them up!

For what it’s worth, there are not many choices out there that I think are worth the punt, but if I had to choose anyone it would be Nigel Pearson.  He has the track record to suit and worked wonders at Leicester.  Would he get on with the owners? he has that about his character that one minute things are running like clockwork the next he’s unhinged doing or saying something crazy.

But before the merry-go-round starts up again, lets take a breath, steady our nerves, maybe vomit into a bag and give one last push to safety now that Zola is no longer in charge.


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