, Harry s end game

Red­knapp’s Birm­ing­ham exit

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

AT 3.45pm on Satur­day, Septem­ber 16, some­thing hap­pened which ended Harry Red­knapp’s reign as man­ager of Birm­ing­ham City.

We were beat­ing Pre­ston North End 1-0 and the crowd of 21,168, in­clud­ing the away fans, were im­pressed with the per­for­mance of Harry’s team.

It was only the third game that he had had the chance to se­lect a team which in­cluded all his new trans­fer win­dow sign­ings.

In his man­ager’s col­umn in the match day pro­gramme, he stated :“We’ve signed some fan­tas­tic play­ers and this team is be­gin­ning to take shape. And it is a team you sup­port­ers will get ex­cited about, which is im­por­tant.”

At half-time, the Bluenoses were be­liev­ing Harry’s com­ments. Could this, at long last, be the start of a new be­gin­ning for the Blues which would see us chal­leng­ing for pro­mo­tion to the Premier League?

Fifteen min­utes later the same team came out and gave the fans the most ap­palling dis­play I have wit­nessed since we were de­mol­ished 8-0 by Bournemouth im­me­di­ately after the Board had sacked Lee Clark.

On re­flec­tion, this was worse be­cause against Bournemouth at least the play­ers kept go­ing as the crowd ex­ited St An­drew’s. There was a sim­i­lar crowd exit on this oc­ca­sion as all eleven play­ers ca­pit­u­lated to a good but not ex­cel­lent Pre­ston out­fit, go­ing down 3-1. This was our eighth league game un­der Harry this sea­son. Our haul of points was four from a pos­si­ble 24 and that’s why we were sec­ond bot­tom in the Cham­pi­onship. More re­veal­ing is the fact that those four points had been gained in the open­ing three games of the sea­son and we had lost the last five. As usual, we fans have been served the usual ex­cuses for poor per­for­mances: “In­juries to key play­ers” (the num­ber of ham­strings that have been pulled this sea­son must be some sort of record!) ,“this team is still pre­dom­i­nantly the pre­vi­ous man­ager’s” and, of course ,“play­ers need to get used to each other and new tac­tics”. Al­though these plat­i­tudes are an­noy­ing, they are true, but what hap­pened to the mo­ti­va­tional skills of Harry which helped us to win a fi­nal day rel­e­ga­tion battle in 2016/17? Did they leave when Kevin Bond re­placed Steve Cot­ter­ill? If a team can per­form as well as the Blues did in the firsthalf of the Pre­ston game, how can an ac­claimed, ex­pe­ri­enced man­ager let it fall apart in the sec­ond-half with­out show­ing some an­i­ma­tion and pas­sion from his tech­ni­cal area as the op­po­si­tion scored three?

This is why I be­lieve some­thing hap­pened in the home dress­ing room which fun­da­men­tally de­stroyed the spirit of the team which then sub­se­quently de­liv­ered such an ab­ject dis­play.

The only time I have seen it hap­pen be­fore was in the sec­ond half of the 1956 FA Cup Fi­nal as a ten-year-old sit­ting with my Dad in front of a 10-inch Mar­coni tele­vi­sion, view­ing the match in glo­ri­ous black and white with no re­plays or pun­ditry.

Blues were red-hot favourites to beat Manchester City as we had fin­ished sixth in Di­vi­sion One (still our high­est top level fin­ish) and had got to Wem­b­ley with­out play­ing at St An­drew’s.

At half-time the score was level and we had ev­ery­thing to play for – and then some­thing hap­pened.

In his bi­og­ra­phy en­ti­tled “Gil Mer­rick”, the leg­endary Birm­ing­ham goal­keeper records the fol­low­ing:

“At half-time we were 1-1 and we knew we were a team that was stronger in the sec­ond half; how­ever, in­stead of us­ing the 10 min­utes at half-time pos­i­tively, a huge row broke out be­tween Arthur Turner (man­ager) and Len Boyd (cap­tain).

“Arthur came storm­ing in and laid into Len about get­ting hold of (Don) Re­vie, who was play­ing in a deep po­si­tion for a cen­tre-for­ward.

“Len gave as good as he got and the lan­guage was dis­gust­ing, but it took up the whole of the half-time break…..and it was a de-mo­ti­vated side that left the Wem­b­ley dress­ing room.” Strangely, the de­feat was also 3-1. I may well be wrong but let’s con­sider the cir­cum­stances. The own­ers had been pa­tient with Gian­franco Zola, giv­ing him over 20 games be­fore fi­nally sack­ing him.

So why sack Harry after eight league games of a new sea­son when they had given him mas­sive sup­port fi­nan­cially to the ex­tent of break­ing our trans­fer fee paid record by bring­ing Jota in from Brent­ford for £6m?

In fair­ness to Harry, and as men­tioned pre­vi­ously, the Pre­ston game was only the third in which he had had the chance to field all his sum­mer trans­fer win­dow sign­ings, and on pa­per they looked good.

David Stock­dale (best goal­keeper in the Cham­pi­onship in 2016/17 – but yet to live up to that claim to date?), Maxime Colin and Har­lee Dean from Brent­ford, Marc Roberts, the Barns­ley cap­tain in 2016/17, Jason Lowe and Isaac Vas­sell.

So big com­mit­ments from the Chinese own­ers in terms of fees and wages, so why act so quickly? I was hav­ing din­ner at around 7.30pm after the Pre­ston game when the news of his sack­ing was an­nounced!

And what about the loan play­ers that had joined the club on the back of Harry’s rep­u­ta­tion? Jeremie Boga (Chelsea), Co­hen Bra­mall, Carl Jenk­in­son (both Ar­se­nal) and Liam Walsh (Ever­ton)?

It does not make sense, which is why I hold onto my con­spir­acy the­ory.

Good luck to new boss Steve Cot­ter­ill and as­sis­tant Lee Cars­ley.

Let’s hope they can get the Blues climb­ing the Cham­pi­onship ta­ble – and sur­vive longer than Zola and Red­knapp!

Feel­ing Blue: Harry Red­knapp

cel­e­brates End of the road: Jor­dan Hugill the Blues putting Pre­ston 2-1 up against

Good times: Harry en­joys keep­ing Birm­ing­ham up last sea­son

Big sign­ing: Jota

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