Aitor Karanka’s Birmingham City tenure ended last week under a big cloud, with his departure being confirmed by everyone but the club themselves last Sunday.
It took another 48 hours for the Blues to announce that the Spaniard had been sacked, and it seems as though there is some boardroom unrest in regards to the decision.
What’s done is done though, and Birmingham must now move forward with Lee Bowyer at the helm – a man who won the League Cup with the Blues in 2011 as a player.
Bowyer got off to the perfect start with a 2-1 victory over Reading last week, but succumbed to the attacking powerhouses of Watford 3-0 at Vicarage Road at the weekend.
There’s still work to do to guarantee survival and Championship for another season, and once that is secured Bowyer can look towards shaping his squad for his first full season.
Karanka brought in nine new senior players in his first two months at St Andrew’s, something that ended up not really working.
One of the more high-profile acquisitions was Mikel San Jose, the experienced Spaniard who once played for Liverpool and more recently spent over 10 years at Athletic Bilbao.
San Jose was a regular in La Liga and in European competition over that period of time, but he fell out of favour in his final season at San Mames and decided to move back to England to play under Karanka, having been at Liverpool as a youngster for three years between 2007 and 2010.
Initial excitement over San Jose’s signing soon faded – he started well for Birmingham but performance levels soon dropped and he became a target of criticism from sections of the fanbase.
Mistakes started to creep in, like the bad backpass in the video below that let Jed Wallace score against the Blues for Millwall.
— The Own Goal Zone (@OwnGoalZone) February 19, 2021
The watershed moment came last month against Norwich – with Birmingham chasing an equaliser San Jose missed a header outside the box, which allowed the Canaries to go on the counter attack and score to make it 3-1 and secure the three points.
San Jose didn’t make it into Karanka’s squad for the next four games, but he was brought back onto the bench by Bowyer, perhaps as part of a ‘clean slate’, and was then used as a second half substitute against Watford.
For a player who will be 32 years old at the start of next season though, San Jose does not really possess the physical qualities that Bowyer will no doubt want from his team.
San Jose still has good technical ability, but with a year left on his deal there’s every chance that Spanish clubs would come in for him if he was put on the market.
And with no Karanka at the club anymore, the likelihood is that San Jose would prefer to be in his home nation rather than at the Blues – it would make sense for all parties if a transfer was sought in the summer.