It's not all Lee Clark's fault

By Chris Quinn on Sep 28, 12 07:30 PM in Birmingham City FC

Much has been made this week of the future of Blues boss Lee Clark following the team's 5-0 home demolition by Barnsley.

The general consensus amongst Birmingham fans is that he should either be sacked or resign - a viewpoint I find frankly absurd.

The pressure was always going to be on Clark from the off following our successful campaign last season. On paper, the squad seemed to have been improved and without the "distraction" of the Europa League, it seemed feasible that Blues could improve on their 4th place finish of last season.

A year ago this Saturday (29th September), Blues were winning away in Maribor, this time, they face arguably a tougher trip to league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion.
What a lot of people seem to be forgetting is that Blues are only seven games into the campaign. So far, their record reads P7 W2 D2 L3. Rewind to the same stage last season and I'll let you guess what our record was. You got it; P7 W2 D2 L3.

So no matter how bad you think this start has been, the important thing to remember is that we were in the same position last season and turned it round to finish fourth. Not only that, but Chris Hughton did not have the defensive crisis to contend with that Clark has.

We go into tomorrow's match without the "two best full-backs in the league" in Carr and Murphy, according to Clark. The Irishman's replacement, Paul Caddis, is also sidelined with a dislocated shoulder, meaning that either Hayden Mullins or Jonathan Spector are likely to be reverted to defence - a case of square pegs in round holes. On the other flank, Blues signed Paul Robinson on a month-long contract this week, coincidentally the same time Murphy is out with a torn hamstring. He feels he needs two weeks to get into shape, but I get the feeling Clark will throw him straight in tomorrow.

In the centre of defence, Blues have been without Curtis Davies since the Coventry game with an ankle injury, meaning Pablo Ibanez has been deputising alongside a desperately out-of-form Steven Caldwell. As seems the norm with the Spaniard, though, every time he gets a run of games, he gets injured. This time, a chipped bone in his foot will see him miss out and Davies return.
Add to that an injury to Darren Ambrose and Keith Fahey missing most of pre-season and it's easy to see why Clark has a right to be aggrieved over injuries.

Not only is he being hampered by missing these players, the ones on the pitch are a shadow of themselves from last season.

I'll touch on the defence imminently, but higher up the pitch, Chris Burke's refusal to get in and amongst players for fear of getting hurt is evident, whilst Nathan Redmond seems to have forgotten how to take on a full-back.

A quick glance through the results this season and you can find the blame for the majority of goals are results of individual mistakes.

The first goal against Charlton comes from allowing the opposition three headers in our box from a corner, a collective error. Then against Sheffield Wednesday, jack Butland dropped a cross, Caldwell inexplicably lost Rodri and Jermaine Johnson scored against an exposed backline pushing for a goal. Caldwell then gave away a ridiculous penalty against Watford, before Vydra exposes the centre-backs who are on different wavelengths regarding offside. Three woeful goals followed at Coventry, but as that was a cup game, I won't go into depth on that game.

Then, Blues seemed to turn a corner, taking seven points from a possible nine, dropping two to a spirited Forest comeback and wonder goal from Simon Cox. Clark's charges then ground out wins against Bolton and Peterborough before the Barnsley debacle - which I touched on here if you can bring yourself to relive it.

There are obviously some questions to be asked of Clark, I'm not naive enough to think otherwise. The lack of game time Ravel Morrison is seeing is debatable, whilst Mullins and Ambrose, his signings, have yet to settle.

But to place the blame for the slow start to the season solely at his feet is very harsh. He came out and took responsibility for the Barnsley debacle, but I can't help but think that some of the players should be the ones being scrutinized.

If only he had some of the luck Chris Hughton enjoyed, it could all be so different.


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