It’s been three months since new owners Shelby Companies Ltd completed their takeover of the club, and have since laid out their intentions of establishing a new identity for the Blues, made clear from the get-go via an impressive summer transfer window. Funds were built early with the sales of Tahith Chong and Jobe Bellingham, and an impressive number of smart signings were brought in which have undeniably contributed to Birmingham’s impressive start to the season, spearheaded by manager John Eustace. So when the news broke on the 9th of October that the club had parted ways with their head coach, the footballing world was left baffled.
What was the reasoning behind this decision? Purely for the sake of bringing in a big name? It feels to me an extremely harsh sacking of a manager who seemed to be taking the club in the right direction, leading them to a 17th place finish last season when the rest of the EFL had the Blues nailed on for relegation. Meanwhile Wayne Rooney was relegated with Derby County the season before, with a win rate of 28.2% across his 2 seasons at the club. Some will argue the transfer embargo and point deductions he faced were partially to blame, but Rooney still has nothing impressive to show for his managerial record, struggling just as much at his following club, D.C. United.
An air of concern has fallen over the fanbase, now, which prior carried a resounding confidence in this new era for the club. Blues fans are comparing the move to the sacking of beloved Gary Rowett in 2016, and the tragic 24 games that followed under Gianfranco Zola. Eustace has clearly made quite an impression in his 15 months spent at St. Andrew's, with fans feeling they had developed a real connection with him. He had established a winning mentality at the club, fostered a group of players who were willing to fight for each other, and won the hearts of the fans, who will undoubtedly feel betrayed by their new owners with this decision. Whether Wayne Rooney succeeds or not at Birmingham City, the fans will forever be left to wonder what could have been of John Eustace’s blue army.