THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Lee Clark's team look lacklustre

icon leeclark28 September ~ Birmingham City – the perennial bridesmaid of West Midlands football – tomorrow night face a Brighton exuding the same early season confidence that many Blues fans had hoped they would show themselves. Brighton have won their last five games and under Gus Poyet are playing attractive football worthy of their status as league leaders. Birmingham have gone from being inert to inept. A 5-0 humiliation by Barnsley last weekend – the club's worst home League defeat in 25 years – reflected a side low on confidence, bereft of any ideas and worst of all for Blues fans, full of players who simply didn't appear bothered.

When appointed, Lee Clark appeared to be a natural successor to Chris Hughton. A young, ambitious manager who'd had a modicum of success at Huddersfield appeared to be a good fit, especially given our somewhat erratic ownership.

Time may prove Clark to be a good appointment but there's little early indication that he will repeat Hughton's trick of forging a Birmingham team greater than the sum of its parts. Neither his preference for "experienced" journeymen over academy products like Nathan Redmond, the apparent disintegration in form of players like Curtis Davies nor the presence of Terry McDermott have inspired much confidence.  

Birmingham cannot financially afford a change of management. The club are stuck in limbo. The current owners appear willing to sell – for a price – but potential buyers are perhaps wisely awaiting the outcome of owner Carson Yeung's forthcoming court case in Hong Kong before they make their move. Many Blues fans hope that the trial will force Yeung to relinquish his control but the club appear to be well run, with relatively little debt and staff who have the best interest of the club at heart.

As any takeover would need to be sanctioned by Blues' Hong Kong-based parent company, it could be months before there is any change. Given the only consortium that has gone public in their wish to buy the club is one headed by former QPR chairman Gianni Paladini, there is natural fear that things could actually get worse.

In the meantime, we plod on. Gates are falling rapidly (the attendance against Barnsley was the lowest since 1997), injuries are stacking up and the memories of Braga, Bruges and Maribor becoming more distant. At least we have something to smile about. This week, Birmingham City Ladies made their Women's Champions League debut, beating Verona 2-0. Chris Sanderson

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