Birmingham City: “The last three defeats have been inexcusable!”

Birmingham will be playing in the Championship next season, but that is just about the only known quantity in B9 as things stand.

The conflict continues between board and fans while questions grow over the future of head coach Lee Bowyer as another turbulent campaign for Blues draws to a close.

They may have not at any point feared relegation this term, which in one sense is progression from recent campaigns, but they would be in the bottom three if not for 21 and six-point deductions for Derby and Reading respectively.

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that Adam from Blues Focus is a disgruntled Bluenose.

“After the West Brom game, Blues fans were looking forward to the remaining games of the season, but the last three defeats have been inexcusable, particularly the Coventry and Blackpool calamities.

“We know the players can sort of defend but they have all been ball-watching, had no fight and look like they’re already on the beach.”

Lee Bowyer

Although these performances have had no bearing on the club’s divisional status, they have certainly had an impact on the mood around St Andrews.

“It’s very toxic at the moment,” admits Adam. “However, I think a large majority of fans are past caring now to be brutally honest.

“We’re an easy bunch to please, win or lose, as long as the players give everything on the pitch then we will be satisfied, but we haven’t seen even a glimpse of that in recent weeks and that’s the worrying thing.”

Adam does acknowledge that there have been mitigating factors which have gone against Bowyer’s side, in terms of absentees especially.

“This season, the side has been plagued by injuries, the main ones being Man United’s Tahith Chong and Teden Mengi.”

On top of that, goalkeeper Matija Sarkic, 6’4” centre-back Marc Roberts, left-sided defender Kristian Pedersen, right-back Maxime Colin, technical midfielder Leandro Bacuna, widemen Jeremie Bela and Jordan Graham, creator Taylor Richards, forward Scott Hogan, target man Lukas Jutkiewicz and veteran Troy Deeney have all spent time on the sidelines.

As a consequence of these lay-offs, combined with the games midfielders Ryan Woods and Ivan Sunjic have missed through suspension and injuries, a staggering 41 different players have been used in all competitions.

Birmingham City

Despite the changes of personnel, Lee Bowyer has deployed a wing-back system in 33 of the 43 league games this term, despite calls for a back four.

Adam’s stance, meanwhile, is that Bowyer has been let down by the board and been unable to bring in players who would suit his system.

“Lee Bowyer is persistent with his back-three formation and although he has come under fire this season for his playing style, he simply doesn’t have the players to facilitate it.

“That problem comes from above him, the recruitment and continued false promises.

“Since Gary Rowett’s mindless sacking, it has been a downward spiral of a number of things – constant chopping and changing of managers, relegation scraps season after season, and so on.

“But the main thing that stands out to me is the defence – most of it has been the same players for almost five years now.

“Those select few have a mentality of ‘just’ staying in the league and that has dragged every new player that has come into the club.

“The recruitment of ‘big earners’ during Harry Redknapp’s spending spree has hurt us ever since and don’t even get me started on the ground.”

When there are so many problems at a club, it can be difficult to gain a firm grasp of how much of the poor results are down to a manager’s own individual shortcomings against the issues that predate them.

Supporters have recently begun to turn on Bowyer, yet Adam believes the focus should be squarely on the problems upstairs.

“I can understand the fans’ frustration with his tactics, however the problem comes from above and until we can get these owners out, I don’t think any manager can help change our fortunes around.

“On that basis, I think he should be given more time but I can’t see him wanting to be around the place next season and his recent comments to the press confirm that.”

In the lead-up to Saturday’s hosting of Millwall, Bowyer told the media that he had not been given the players that he wanted and that the board were not answering his phone calls about plans for next season.

Lee Bowyer

Asked if he fears relegation in 2022-23, Adam re-emphasises the feeling of apathy many natives feel towards their club.

“Honestly I think we have been favourites to go down every season for the past 5 years and somehow we have stayed up by the skin of our teeth.

“This year would have been the final nail in the coffin if it weren’t for the various issues at Barnsley, Peterborough and Derby. That being said, I don’t think it’s much of a fear, more of an acceptance.”

It would take a lot to rebuild any sort of optimism around B9, but Adam adds that investment in the club’s infrastructure and, in particular, ground repairs would make a difference.

“First of all, I would like to see the lower stands, if not part of them repaired for next season. At the moment there is little to no atmosphere.

“The place is lifeless and it’s sad to see. I think bringing back the ‘12th man’ would be beneficial to next season but I might be hoping for too much there.

“The summer is very important if we are to stay up next season. It all depends on whether Bowyer stays or not and gets the players he wants to suit his playing style.

“If the club decides to sack him then I think a fresh start would be beneficial, but only if they give a new manager a whole pre-season to work with, else our fate is all but sealed.”

Follow GabSutton on Twitter

Author: Paula Bryant