Date:Wednesday April 11 2007
The inevitable rumblings have started again about Steve Bruce's tenure as Birmingham manager (if they have ever truly gone away since the ignominous defeat to Liverpool in 2006). While some fans have failed to be convinced by him all season, others have been more happy to give him a chance to prove himself with a new team.
The "Bruce Out" voices are gaining strength again since Blues slipped into the playoff places and effectively lost the advantage of their game in hand.
The implication has always been this season that the onus on Bruce was promotion or nothing and it will be interesting to see whether the ever-lenient Golds stay their hand if the playoffs result in failure, or if the nightmare scenario of finishing outside the playoffs becomes a reality.
One of the principal arguments of the "Bruce in" faction has been that there has not been an adequate replacement available. When the axe nearly swung after the Norwich game in October 2006, the only real contender was Curbishley, who had just stated that he was only interested in managing a Premiership club.
Other decent options (Pardew, Jewell, Davies et al) were all under contract elsewhere and it was obvious that the Board did not want another debacle of the type that took place when they snatched Bruce from the hands of Simon Jordan in 2001.
Last night the management sack race took a new turn in the Premiership with Chris Coleman the latest casualty following two poor performances over the Easter weekend. Fulham are still in danger of relegation this season, particularly while Charlton and West Ham are showing an improvement in form.
Blues fans` ears have certainly pricked up at this news, and in fact, Coleman was already a name that has been mentioned recently as a possible manager for Birmingham City.
Now he is free; sacked by El Fayed he is at liberty to declare an interest in jobs elsewhere. In any case, it is very unlikely that he is going to take up another post before the end of the season, particularly as the vacant place at Leicester was filled immediately with the appointment of Nigel Worthington.
So, should the axe fall on Steve Bruce, would Coleman be a good choice for Blues? It`s true to say that Fulham have not pulled up any trees under his tutelage, but he has maintained their place in the Premiership with little or no money to play with. He would surely do better with the sort of funding that could be made available by the Birmingham board in a push for promotion.
He is very young in management terms but already has a few years` experience. He is also no-nonsense and fairly outspoken. He does not make excuses for his team`s performance and is a likeable character.
If Blues don`t achieve promotion one way or another by the end of this season, it is difficult to see how Steve Bruce will be able to justify his position, particularly as a decent replacement could be waiting in the wings.
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