Lee Bowyer’s “challenging” season as Birmingham City manager has taken another twist after he claimed the club’s owners are no longer answering his calls.
Bowyer says he wants to discuss the future after keeping Birmingham in the Championship under difficult circumstances but has so far had no response from those above him.
The 45-year-old, who took over in March, 2021 and has one year left on his contract, also claims he has been let down by a number of broken promises around recruitment and team-building this season.
In a tense press conference today following a 6-1 defeat by Blackpool on Monday, Bowyer said:
- He was promised money to spend in the transfer market and told he could bring in his own staff
- That he has yet to learn of the club’s plans for the 2022-23 season
- That potential summer transfers are already favoring other clubs
- The club’s owners have not been in touch recently or responded to his calls
- “I didn’t come here for my career to slide down – no way!”
What did Bowyer say about the club’s owners?
Bowyer usually reports to the club’s chairman, Wenqing Zhao. But the club’s complex ownership structure means fans do not know much about those in charge.
When asked if the owners had been in touch, he said no, before adding: “I asked to have a conversation. There was no response. I just want to know what the plan is going forward.
“I have another year. I want to know what the plan is in the summer. How are we trying to avoid relegation?
“Are we just going to accept that as a football club or are we going to try to do something to make it go forward? I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m doing some of the crazy things I’ve had to do all season.
“I want to be at a club that wants to be successful. That does the right thing and moves forward. I have a career as well. I didn’t come here for my career to go from where it was to slide down. No way.
“I’m ambitious and I’m a winner. I don’t want to be left in the lurch and hung out to dry. Not lucky.
“I think I have the right to know what we are doing going forward. I’ve just given 18 months of hard work to keep this club in the division.”
Does he think it is unusual for owners to not respond to the manager?
“It’s not usual, is it?” he said.
“Last season when the owners wanted to speak to me then I was there, and now, it’s the other way around.
“I would rather had the conversation yesterday. What are we going to do? Let the season drag out?
“Every other club in this division — I know for a fact — are speaking to players and lining up players and planning for months. It’s not happening here.
“If they (the owners) say there is no money, you have to bring in free players again and loans, then it is what it is. But give us the time now to try and get in front.
“The best free transfers are probably gone already. I know one off the top of my head. A centre-half who is a free transfer, done. They’re all going to go, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.”
What has he said about staying in charge next season?
He added: “For as long as I am here I will keep trying to do the right things, keep pushing the players the best I can, keep getting everything I can out of them as a group. I am not in control of decisions that are made upstairs but whatever happens, when it happens, I will keep doing the right thing.
“When that day comes I will know I have done everything that I said I would do from day one and I have stuck by my words and that’s important to me.
“I care about the club, that’s the reason I came. I care and I wanted to help and I have done that. I made us safe last year and we are safe again this year. Young players and the senior players are improving. So I would never say it was a mistake because I care about the club.”
How challenging has he found the experience?
“It’s been challenging,” he said.
“Did I think it was going to be this challenging when I arrived? No.
“I arrived and was told that if you keep us up there will be money to spend, you’ll have backing and you can bring in your own staff and this, that and the other. The world was promised to me. Now it’s the complete opposite and it was the complete opposite in the summer.
“I see Chris Wilder going into Middlesbrough in January and they go bump, bump, bump with signings.
“I see other clubs signing players in January when they needed a boost.
“Maybe I’m gullible, but the reason I say when I leave this club, whenever I leave this club, is that I know I have done everything I said I would do.
“I can honestly say I have done that.”
(Photo: Getty Images)