Lee Bowyer ready to inspire Birmingham City’s survival mission
LEE BOWYER never once shirked a tackle in his playing career - now he's taken on one of the biggest challenges of his managerial life at Birmingham City.
And last Wednesday the former Leeds United midfielder got off to a flyer with a crucial 2-1 win over promotion-chasing Reading to give the relegation-haunted Blues a massive lift in his first English Championship game in charge.
Sport Careers Agency client Lee decided to step down from his role in charge of League One Charlton Athletic to take over as Head Coach at a club where he once starred as a player.
Bowyer has a contract until 2023 as he sets about the task of keeping City in the Championship and he stressed: "My priority is to lift everybody. Not just the players, the staff as well. It seems like it's not been in a very good place, so I've got to lift them.
"I've got to try and implement what I want very quickly. The team will improve, I have no doubt about that as we already have a good base to work with.
"I'm just gutted the fans aren't here because of COVID-19, I know the part they would play."
That debut win over Reading helped lift the gloom of a miserable run of just three wins in 19 games that ultimately cost former boss Aitor Karanka his job.
Birmingham, though, remain a lowly 21st in the Championship just above the drop zone and although Rotherham beneath them are now six points behind they have FOUR games in hand.
Bowyer, though, retains the same steely focus that made him a top-drawer midfielder in a stellar playing career that included helping Birmingham win the League Cup under Alex McLeish a decade ago.
The immediate mission with what now amounts to nine Cup Finals remaining is to keep Birmingham in the Championship.
Lee is up for the fight and he reasoned: "It's an honour. It's a massive club and one I've got a previous relationship with.
"It was tough to leave Charlton. We've created a lot of good memories and Charlton fans hadn't had those memories for a long, long time. When I took over it was in a bad place. I was able to turn that around.
"I've done three years there and when I had the opportunity to come here, it was the right time for me to move on - a new challenge. I understand it is going to be a challenge. But that's the person I am. I love a challenge and I have to keep pushing myself.
"I feel I can help the club. I did that at Charlton - improved the place - I believe I can do the same here. If I didn't, I wouldn't be sitting here now.
"I believe I can get these players going again. When I first took over at Charlton the fans and the players had this distance - the staff and everyone was down. It's the same here.
"We have to pull together now because the run-in is tough. We have to tick one box at a time.
"I want to try and help get this club back to where it belongs. I signed the lengthy contract I did because I didn't want to just be here for a little while - I want to be part of it. I know what the possibilities are here and I want to be in charge of that.
"I've learned a lot in the three years - because I guarantee managers have not had to deal with what I have in 10 years.
It's made me stronger. I've learned a lot and I will keep learning."
By Iain King
LEE BOWYER is a long-time Sport Careers Agency client. He has sat down before with IAIN KING to look back on his tumultuous playing career and reflect on how it helped shape him as a coach. To read that story Click Here.