I missed Gary Rowetts return to St Andrews last season, I was up in Edinburgh watching Hearts. Since his shock dismissal and Gianfranco Zola’s lightning appointment, things have not gone well, to state the blindingly obvious. It means that the supporters who were more than happy to put up with mind numbing, predictable counter attacking, (Long ball) dare I say it, football, to be near the top of the league, have not been able to let go. Every defeat is met with the same mantra, “Wouldn’t have happened with Rowett”. It doesn’t help with Derby being second in the league. Before I go on a full on rant about the bloke, I’ll carry on. I’m not far off having to break up furniture to set fire to, to keep warm, whilst roasting a dead rat on a spit, for something to eat. Pay day just can’t come quick enough. With the usual home game pub route ditched, for just a couple of pints in the Spotted Dog, I hit town late. Walking down New Street, I was clocked by Badger coming the other way. If you don’t mind a liberal sprinkling of expletives, then I recommend you take a gawp at “I am a Bluenose” on YouTube. He’d text me with the lyrics on Boxing day, but not the tune to sing them. Last Sunday, he’d text me to say it was on YouTube. I couldn’t have searched for it any quicker if I’d tried. I don’t know what the clientele in The Salopian thought I was laughing at and I didn’t care, the clip was/is brilliant. The guy’s a talented genius. I got in the Spotted Dog. Pint of Amarillo, from Fixed Wheel. With only a couple of pints to play with, I was always going to choose a brewery you can rely on for great taste. So that’s recommendation number two in this post. Whilst I was getting served, I overheard Andy say that he and Moz were staying in Blackpool before the Preston game. I told him about the rail replacement bus between Preston and Blackpool. He wasn’t aware of it. I was sorry to give him the bad news but at least it won’t come as a horrible little surprise when they get up there. I found a table outside and waiting for the rest to descend. Russell was first. He told me that in just a week, Badgers clip had got over five thousand views. Nick was next to join us. Not Russell’s mate Nick but Nick of the Nick and Mick duo. I hadn’t seen him for a couple of months at least, so it was good catching up. He’s got a similar football ethos to me. Like me, he was impressed with how quickly and how well, Rowett had got Blues organised and disciplined originally. He, like me, had got bored of only one way of playing. Cotterill is slowly getting the team to play the same way. The thing is with Worzel, is he might be Rowett like, in the way he wants his teams to play, but his press conferences are Lee Clark but with a different accent. They’re excruciatingly embarrassing. The bloke can contradict himself in the same sentence. The Gloucestershire accent doesn’t help matters. The rest descended. J.K., Darrell, Jinksy (Who was back on the beer, dry January lasting less than a fortnight. Why you’d even attempt abstaining for a whole month, is beyond me.) Steve and Paul turned up, as did Aida, who went on to tell us about his upcoming operation on his ankle. They’re opening it up and using an angle grinder to sand the bone down basically. (Hope you weren’t eating when you read that) We talked about Huddersfield away in the cup, Dewsbury looks like it’s getting invaded for that one. Spoons finally made an appearance. I didn’t even find out what had kept him or where he’d been. He’s like the rest of us with home games, does something different, every now and again. Especially with the Anchor being a waste of time now.
I would have willingly taken a draw for this one but secretly, this one, was the game I wanted to win most. (After Villa, of course. That should’ve gone without saying, but just in case. . .) I don’t dislike Rowett. I hate the way his teams play football, but I don’t hate him. I’m just fed up to the back teeth of hearing how stupid the club was for getting rid of him, everywhere I go. Whether that’s Blues fans who think he was going to take us up, if he’d have stayed, or fans of other clubs that observed it from the outside and didn’t have to put up with the football we did, week in, week out, week in, week out, week in, week out. . . . . . We started brightly. So much so, that we hit the post. It was definitely better than what we produced in the first half against Burton in the cup. Then the sucker punch. Derby scored with a deflected shot. Football can be a game of narrow margins. Maybe had Donaldson not scored the last minute winner v Watford in Rowetts first home game. Had Brighton not scored a last minute winner in Zola’s first game, who knows where we’d be now. 1:0 up, the Derby fans bounced. I can’t say, I wasn’t impressed. It’s part of football fan culture, I love. Stick your clappers, your half and half scarfs, your mascots and your line up, hand shaking. Steph loves smoke bombs, I love a whole stand bouncing up and down. Half time 0:1. On the way to the toilet, I bumped into Shane. It had been a few games since I’d seen him. He told me he’d seen Badger. It was Badgers first home game for at least four years. He hadn’t missed much. As I was talking to Shane, I said a quick hello to Dave Moyna and then Worcester Pete. When I did finally get to go to the toilet, two lads came out of the cubicle I went in. Next time lads, can you make sure you sniff all your coke up? Remember there’s kids around. The last thing their parents need, is for their kids thinking they can go steaming into the away end, single handed.
“What d’yer think we should do Lee?” “Don’t know Steve, you’re the boss”
Second half and Derby sat back even further. The old Rowett, what we have, we hold, way of doing things. Their second was route one. Wimbledon style for anyone old enough to remember when Dave Bassett was manager. It was sickening. 0:2. We hit the post again. Narrow margins. It was after another Blues attack had floundered on the two banks of Derby’s defense, that Justin’s Brother exclaimed that “Rowett was the best manager Blues have ever had”. No, no he’s not. Rowett gets teams organised, instills a team spirit and demands game plan discipline. That will get you to a level. A level where against better managers, it comes unstuck. He got Burton to the playoffs twice running, the second of which, they dropped into the playoffs. In his first transfer window at Blues, he brought in Diego Fabbrini and Robert Tesche on loan. They were the perfect foil for each other. We were moving forward and playing football. Neither was made permanent. Fabbrini was bought for £1.5m, the following January. Without Tesche, he looked a shadow of the player we’d had on loan. Coupled with the £500,000 he’d spent on Nicolai Brock Madsen at the start of the season, Rowetts judgment in the transfer market was starting to look shaky. (Money spent that Lee Clark never had) Our season, which showed real promise of a playoff place, petered out. On to his second full season and Tesche was added, as was Che Adams for around £1.6m and the much hyped Scot, Greg Stewart for around £500,000. We now had attack minded players. Rowett never played Fabbrini and Tesche together, never gave Stewart more than cameo substitutions, and didn’t know how to play Che Adams. We ground out results. Smash and grab away wins. Before we lost at home to Barnsley and then produced such an unambitious performance that you’ll ever likely to see at Newcastle, we were in the playoff positions. Would we have climbed back into the top six? I personally don’t think so. Would I have trusted him with anymore money? No. On to Derby. Derby had a good squad before he got there. He got rid of the two most creative players in the club. Watching the rest here, was so like watching Blues of old. Derby time wasted and fouled (Including a full on rugby tackle on Maghoma by Johnny Russell. Watch it on the highlights, if you don’t believe me) their way to a third. I took this as my cue to leave. I just couldn’t face walking through the jubilant Derby fans after the final whistle. In my humble opinion, if that’s the way you like your football, then I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you’re the same sort of person who used to steal from your Mother’s purse as a kid and wouldn’t give up your seat for a heavily pregnant woman. Chris Hughton, came in to major squad overhaul, got us to playoffs, despite us playing eight extra games in Europe. Better manager. Lee Clark, worked with the second smallest playing budget in the division (Only Yeovil had a smaller one). No doubt whatsoever that Rowett benefited from the austerity measures that Clark had to put up with and also Clark’s player recruitment (For instance, Donaldson was offered six thousand a week more by Sheffield Wednesday, but chose Blues). Would Rowett have been able to cope with what Clark had to? Well he didn’t get Burton up with a similar budget. Rowett flatters to deceive. I could go further back, pointing out managers of Blues, who were better than Rowett. Listing their achievements and circumstances that made the achievements greater, but I won’t. It’s all in the past and so’s Rowett. It’s time to move on. I have. I moved on, the day he was sacked. Once I’d stopped doing cartwheels round the warehouse, when I got told of the news, that is.