It all seems so very long ago now, but when Birmingham City made a change of manager, it would be easy to say that they didn’t see the early set of games under Wayne Rooney going quite the way they had planned.
Replacing John Eustace was definitely a head scratcher at the time, and now after a run of results that have seen The Blues slip down to 18th in the Championship, it seems even more baffling. It is surely a matter of time before a win comes, after five games under the former Manchester United great, they have only gained one point.
Now, after that series of results, a former manager who knows a thing or two about life in the hotseat, has come out with some sage advice. In fact he has even hinted at someone like himself could lend a hand as an assistant.
Alan Curbishley, as reported by BirminghamLive, suggested that having a veteran working under Rooney, could be just the thing to help solve the current issues that have stopped the Blues progress this season. Now 66, the former West Ham United boss said. “I don’t know who his staff is, but I’m saying he could benefit from someone like me – I’m not advocating myself – but someone around him who’s senior that’s been through it and that saying, ‘What you’re doing on the pitch is good and that will see you through, don’t start worrying about things you can’t do anything about.’”
Curbishley has been out of work since 2015 and had a feeling that anyone coming into a job where a predecessor had done well, was always going to be a tall order. Especially for a high profile appointment like Rooney. “New owners went into Birmingham, they’ve put their money in there and they’ve made the decision. I don’t think it was overly favourable, because of what John had done.
“I think it’s put Wayne under a bit of pressure. Perhaps it still has. He’s got to win through now. When the fans realise a manager is going to get let go, they’re ready for it. I think this was a bit of a shock – most of the Birmingham fans were expecting the new owners to start backing John Eustace.
“So, I thought Wayne would have understood that ‘Oh I’m coming into a club where I’m not being that welcomed… I’ve got to win them over’. And that’s what he’s got to do.”
Wayne Rooney had to hit the ground running to please the fans and keep momentum. That hasn’t happened, and the subsequent slide down the table has been alarming. It is not too late though. Rooney has a set of staff that may be too green for the Championship, Ashley Cole and John O’Shea are amongst them and are cutting their teeth in coaching.
So with this in mind Curbishley’s words are not far off. Having a suitable assistant that has vast knowledge of the EFL would help. You can have the best tactical mind, but having the nous of how to switch those to fit the circumstances is also needed. Rooney will have to adapt, and quickly. If he doesn’t then this could be a very short tenure at St. Andrews.