Harlee Dean has a nice analogy to describe his eventful time in Birmingham, in which five permanent managers have come and gone.
“We’ve run managers like you through a pack of cookies,” the Blues skipper said as he contemplated the arrival of Lee Bowyer, the newest man on the hot seat.
Dean was signed during the Harry Redknapp era in August 2017 and has also played for Steve Cotterill, Garry Monk, Pep Clotet and Aitor Karanka. What is beyond question, however, is Dean’s hunger to ensure a sweet end to the season at St Andrew’s.
Birmingham skipper Harlee Dean has seen five permanent managers come and go at the club
Lee Bowyer is the last boss on the hotseat after Aitor Karanka left
These are the first days in Bowyer’s administration, but Charlton’s former boss has already shaken off some of the gloom of Karanka’s eight months at the helm. They approach Friday’s meeting with Swansea – another team that is flying high – with a lot of optimism as they try to keep their place in the championship.
“He’s been very clear about what he wants to do,” Dean said Sportsmail‘We worked a lot more on form in sessions, which we had not done so often before.
‘We were much more concerned about ourselves than the other team. Previously, we changed to fit in with other teams and choke them instead of doing what we think would be right for us.
‘We have worked with Lee Bowyer on set pieces more than before. Everyone feels a little bit happier and more galvanized. Before entering there was a strange atmosphere which is a shame.
Karanka meant well, but we just needed something different and the club realized that. Hopefully it will serve us well and we will stay up.
‘In our situation you need simplicity and direction. For example, the new manager has said to our wingers, “I don’t want you to do step-overs and chop, chop, chop. I want you to take it off your feet and deliver it.” It sounds simple, but that’s where our first goal against Reading came from. ‘
These are early days in Bowyer’s reign, but he’s already shaken off some of the gloom
Dean scored the winner in that 2-1 victory, before a 3-0 defeat at Watford which, despite the result, made Bowyer happy with what his team could achieve.
That late header against the Royals could still be decisive in Birmingham’s struggle for survival, but at the time it was more remarkable for the celebration than for its importance to the season.
After running, Dean stopped and shrugged repeatedly – mimicking a classic Karanka gesture that enraged supporters as the results worsened.
“It was a joke,” explains the former Brentford man. ‘Someone told me before the game that if I scored, I should do it, but I hardly ever score.
‘When I did, it must have been in my head – but it was just a joke. I am quite an open disposition and I am not worried about saying or doing things.
“Karanka meant well, but we just needed something else,” Dean said Sportsmail
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Competition 1
- A competition
- The competition
“I’m sure if Aitor had seen it, he probably would have laughed. It was not intended to be construed as an excavation. It was just a little bit of humor. ‘
Dean has a wealth of experience in the game. He started life in Dagenham and had loan spells with non-league clubs Redbridge, Bishop’s Stortford, Thurrock, Braintree and Grays.
A move to Southampton in 2010 did not go as planned, but Dean’s career took off during his five-year stint with Brentford, which he helped bring to the championship in 2014. 2 million deal.
Dean, a natural leader, dealt with communications between the squad and the board last spring when players with £ 6,000 a week or more were asked to take a 50 percent temporary pay cut to mitigate the effect of Covid-19 on the balance sheet. To soften blues. The 29-year-old did not hesitate to accept the cut.
“If you can do something nice, why not?” Dean said. ‘Some people lost their jobs during this period. My aunt has four children, she was locked up with them all, without a job.
If you’re lucky enough to sacrifice 50 percent of your pay and still be comfortable, that’s a good idea. For some reason, soccer players have been affected and people are very negative about the lifestyle.
‘We are lucky to do what we do, but there are sacrifices: miss Christmas, children’s birthdays, children born. Unless you’ve had those experiences, you don’t understand what it’s like. ‘
Once matches resumed at St Andrew’s, Dean has gone out of his way to ensure that an atmosphere is created even without fans in the ground. “Don’t let it get quiet,” he added. ‘The staff and the invaders must be the supporters.
‘When it goes flat, the other team notices and benefits. Make sure you talk, even if you just talk nonsense. It tells people that you have invested and you want to win. ‘
Dean scored the winner at Reading and will lead the team against Swansea on Friday evening