Birmingham City made a controversial decision early in the season to relieve John Eustace of his post as a manager. That, along with the hiring of his successor, continues to perplex and frustrate fans. At the time Birmingham City sacked Eustace, the Blues sat sixth in the Championship table. That would be good for a spot in the promotion playoffs and the club’s best finish since finishing fourth in the 2011/12 season, the club’s first in the Championship since relegation the year prior.

However, since appointing Wayne Rooney from DC United and taking “the ‘no fear’ playing style that all Birmingham City teams will adopt and embrace,” Birmingham City has delivered nothing but sorrow to its supporters. Wayne Rooney’s record with Birmingham City started with three straight losses. In his nine games at the helm at St Andrew’s, Birmingham City has a mere five points. The club sits 17th in the Championship table and just four points above the drop zone.

This is the same team that John Eustace had in the promotion hunt. The contrast in form is remarkable, though. Eustace earned 18 points out of a possible 33 games in the current BCFC campaign. Rooney is on pace for a third of that many points from the same number of games.

Birmingham City supporters have vented their frustration to the club on social media each time Rooney shows up on their feed. Fans are asking the club to make another managerial change. At the same time, they still question the ownership of the club for making a change in the first place.

Explaining Birmingham City and its contrasting form under a new manager

Under John Eustace, Birmingham City was not a flashy team. It kept games low scoring and the defense conceded multiple goals twice in those 11 games. In nine games under Rooney, the defense has capitulated. Birmingham City has conceded multiple goals in six of the nine games under the Manchester United icon. While it would not be a disaster if Birmingham City were scoring in bunches too, the goals for have been unchanged for the most part. Eustace had the club at 1.4 goals per game. Rooney’s offense is at eight goals in nine games.

To be fair to Rooney, his schedule has not been easy by Championship standards. Six of the nine games Rooney has been in charge of BCFC came against teams in the top half of the table. For example, Birmingham City managed a draw against second-place Ipswich Town. Still, the results against teams that are in the bottom half have not been adequate for a team that was, at one point, in the playoff race.

A draw at home against Rotherham at the bottom of the league preceded a convincing road loss against Coventry. At the time, Coventry was beneath Birmingham City in the Championship table.

In interviews, Rooney clearly looks frustrated that his tactics are falling on deaf ears among the players. Certainly, it takes time for a manager to make a philosophical change in a club. Eustace developed a team that did not rely on possession, instead hitting quickly on the counter-attack. On the other hand, Rooney’s proclivity for possession in his squad may leave his side exposed defensively. The positional fluidity Rooney wants in his players, particularly out wide, can be a challenge to bring to a team that was not fluid.

January is pivotal for the Blues and Rooney

As fans continue to roll their eyes about Rooney, the club has the final say as to his future with the side. In January, Rooney will have the opportunity to bring in players that better suit his style. Signings in the winter transfer window can turn a club’s fortunes. Likewise, they can break up any pre-existing chemistry to spell struggle for the club.

The club has the opportunity to back Rooney to bring in the players he wants. On the other hand, it can look to the success Eustace was having earlier in the campaign and stick with the current squad.