After a chilly start, Saturday morning had turned into a lovely bright and warm day; the sort of day that fills you with optimism and hope and then I remembered that I was off to see Blues play at home! I was catching the 10.31 train from Blackwater to Reading to catch my connection to Coventry where Chris picked me up from the station. This week was going to be a problem from the point of view of travel plans as my usual train back had already been cancelled. I had promised Mrs Bazza that I would get back promptly this week as we were taking my youngest son out in the evening to celebrate his recent birthday. Alternative trains did not look inviting or convenient so it meant the 17.33 from New Street or execution on my return by means most foul! It was a case of crossing bridges when they presented themselves and I would worry about it later.
At the end of my last report, I stated that after the defeat against Bolton that Lee Clark’s days were numbered and sure enough on Monday afternoon the news came through that he had been given the grand order of the golden wellie. It was inevitable given the appalling home record that we have now accrued which must be close to being the worst of any league club ever. Please correct me if I’m wrong readers but I can’t think of such a precedent before. I’d like to think that my prediction was inspired judgement but I only wish that I was the same with lottery numbers but alas having not won last night’s Euro Millions roll over draw I found myself travelling on the train and not by chartered helicopter quaffing champagne!
Clearly this week has been an eventful one with Lee Clark’s sacking and the narrow defeat at Blackburn and finally our drop into the relegation zone after Fulham’s flattering 3-0 win against the Addicks last night. If anyone was in any doubt, whatever happens in the next few weeks we are in deep trouble and will be doing well to survive in the division this time around. On the subject of Lee Clark I cannot help but feel a little sorry for him. He had to rebuild the side at least four times in circumstances that were nigh on impossible and I don’t see it being any easier for the next poor sod that takes the job on. I wish Lee Clark well as I am certain he will have gained from the experience of managing Birmingham City through one of the most difficult periods in the club’s history. His record wasn’t good from the point of view of win percentage and the home record was of course virtually unprecedented but given the owners he had to work with, the players at his disposal and the toxicity pervading the club, is it really any surprise? As a manager I saw him as limited but I think he is someone who will improve with the sort of experience he has endured with us. One of his strengths is that he does appear to be able to spot a player and his scouting abilities probably exceed his managerial skills. Hopefully, he will get another job in the future working for owners who are not broke, uncommunicative and mad and with better conditions we may yet see Lee Clark’s true potential. There is an old saying that goes; “Judge not a man by the way of his fall but rather the manner that he rises to his feet.” Despite the poor record under his management, Lee Clark deserves our gratitude for at least taking the job on in the first place at a time when a number of so called established names wouldn’t have touched it with a barge pole; he did his very best, with passion, showed dignity in the face of withering criticism and clearly cared deeply about the club. I know there are those who do not share these views but I would say this to them; Lee Clark is a decent, honest man and as a human being he deserves some sympathy for the position he found himself in.
Chris picked me up as aforementioned and we went back to the Oak at Baginton where I was furnished with a pint; Chris is still in the throes of sober October which is pretty good going for a licensee. Still he only has another week to endure and the first one on November 1st will taste all the sweeter! Will called up on the way and asked to be kept in touch with the game as he was taking his kids swimming. Just before he signed off I asked if he had any message for his brother. He said that Chris might try answering his phone once in a while to which Chris said; “I would but it got run over in the car park!” Apparently, his wife, Gayle had said he should get a new screen! The phone is about half the width it was before; a genuine slim line! I asked Chris where his Peaky Blinders cap was as I was sporting mine to which the reply came that little Jack had skanked it and he was going to have to buy another. We got to the ground just after 2 pm and went to the George where Daniel Ivery from Often Partisan was flogging his new book, ‘Haircuts and League Cups’ charting the rise and fall of Carson Yeung. I have refrained from buying a copy since I’m sick to the back teeth of hearing about the owners, BIH, Hong Kong, the HKSE, prospective buyers, Peter Pannu, the butcher, the
baker, the candlestick maker, Uncle Tom Cobbley, the man who went to mow and his dog WOOF! However, I wish Daniel well with the book sales based on hard work and painstaking research articulately presented on OP but I personally don’t want to wade through all that material again so no disrespect Dan, I’ll pass on that one.. Following a pint it was into the ground for another just before the game. We had a nice chat with some of the regulars including ‘Blue Hazel’ who cannot stand Andy Townsend, his commentary and all things vile; definitely my kinda girl!
That is where the fun as far as the day was concerned ended. I am not going to describe the game in detail because if you are feeling that masochistic read the details in any national or the Birmingham Mail. Even in my wildest dreams I could not imagine a worse start to a match. 1-0 down on two minutes because our defence parted like the Red Sea allowing Brett Pitman to score with ease, down to ten men with the sending off of David Edgar having got the wrong side of Callum Wilson resulting in a last man foul on six minutes and from there the inevitable concession of the second goal: a shocking clearance from Randolph was played straight back to Callum Wilson who was offside but he buried it nevertheless. Three down at half time when Matt Ritchie lobbed Randolph left stranded once again by dreadful marking by his defenders (should have been four had they scored instead of hitting the post.) The second half was simple capitulation with no heart, no fight, no pride and no spirit. Two free headers followed and Marc Pugh grabbed a hatrick; the easiest he will ever achieve. Tokelo Rantie chipped in with another couple as the Cherries scored at will in what became a turkey shoot.
This is the heaviest defeat that I have ever seen by a Birmingham team in over fifty years of watching my team and the hurt and humiliation I feel is beyond measure. A fellow supporter sitting near me said that he had no idea what the future was as there seemed no way forward. This is a sentiment I share I’m afraid; without new owners, fresh investment, better players and a brick wall erected in front of our goal I cannot see a way out of our predicament. No disrespect to Bournemouth but there is no way ANY team let alone them should be beating us 8-0 at home, ten men or not. The performance was nothing short of reprehensible and there are no excuses for what took place. What is worse is had it not been for wastefulness on the part of our opponents it could and should have been 12! They struck the post again at the end for what should have been nine and to rub it in they converted the penalty awarded to them whereas Caddis had his kick saved. We didn’t even have a consolation goal to cheer. Our penalty award came at 0-3 down for a blatant push by Tommy Elphick on Clayton Donaldson as he attempted to head in Cotterill’s cross. The defender should have received a red card but the model of inconsistency, referee, Mr Hill showed a yellow instead. Now with a correct decision it’s ten men apiece, score the penalty and 1-3 the place would undoubtedly have been given a lift but heads dropped instead.
Wolves and Watford next; even heaven cannot save us. On this showing both those teams will get a cricket score; a new manager is urgently required and his first task is to organise the team and get them solid; it is possible even with poor players like ours. Find a way to get a clean sheet Blues and personally I don’t care how it’s achieved.
The Good: We only lost 8-0!!!!
The Bad: Don’t ask!
The Ugly: The fact that our proud and famous club has come to this! This death spiral our club is in is horrible to witness. The pain I feel is indescribable.
Birmingham City: Darren Randolph 2 Paul Caddis 4, David Edgar N/A, Grant Hall 3, Paul Robinson 3, Jonathan Grounds 2, Stephen Gleeson 3 (Callum Reilly 46, 5) Wes Thomas N/A (David Davies 10, 4) David Cotterill 4 Lee Novak 4 (Koby Arthur 66, 4) Clayton Donaldson 6.
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Andy Shinnie, Will Packwood, Brek Shea.
Sent off: Edgar 6 minutes.
Bournemouth: Artur Boruc 7, Simon Francis 8, Steve Cook 7, Tommy Elphick 7, Charlie Daniels 8, Matt Richie 7, Andrew Surman 8, Harry Arter 7 (Dan Gosling 56, 7) Marc Pugh 9, Callum Wilson 8 (Ryan Fraser 71, 7) Brett Pitman 7 (Tokelo Rantie 64, 8)
Subs not used: Lee Camp, Adam Smith, Junior Stanislas, Ian Harte.
Goals: Pitman 2, Wilson 35, Ritchie 40, Pugh 63, 69, 83, Rantie 82, 86.
Bookings: Cook, Elphick, Surman, Arter.
Referee: Keith Hill 3; started off fine and he was right to send Edgar off. Unfortunately, whilst irritatingly pedantic as to where free kicks should be taken he allowed encroachment with ten yards frequently and failed to book at least three Bournemouth players for cynical fouls when Blues did threaten to get in good field position. He should have sent the Bournemouth defender off when he awarded our penalty since Donaldson has to score if unimpeded. The assistants were also poor; the second Bournemouth goal which finished the match as a contest was offside.