John Ruddy reveals Birmingham City 'delusion' and 'disconnect' in relegation battle

John Ruddy of Birmingham City pictured during the Sky Bet Championship match between Coventry City and Birmingham City
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

John Ruddy has spoken of what he considered to be a 'delusion' within Birmingham City towards the end of their 2023-24 season which ended in relegation from the Championship. Blues are preparing for life in League One after a tumultuous season in which they had four separate managerial regimes following the summer previous, in which Knighthead's takeover spread excitement about what the long-term future holds.

Veteran Ruddy, whose contract with Blues expires this summer, spent two years at St Andrew's and made 89 appearances, and despite having suffered relegation from the Premier League with Norwich City previously, he considers last season - in which Blues finished 22nd with 50 points - to be among the hardest he's experienced in his extensive playing career.

The former Wolves stopper, speaking to Ben Foster's Fozcast, reflected in depth on Blues' campaign, in which they paid the price for inconsistency and managerial upheaval - some of which the hierarchy was responsible for itself, while some - namely the circumstances surrounding Tony Mowbray stepping away - was clearly misfortune for all concerned.

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Ruddy considers relegation to be 'failing in the profession' but he shared his concerns developed throughout the season that there wasn't necessarily urgency considering the club's on-field situation and that the separate departments of the club - playing and otherwise - were pulling in different directions.

“Still very raw. It's a horrible feeling. I've been relegated before but, without sounding big headed, from the Premier League," he said. "You sort of know you've got half a chance of then getting back to there. To then get relegated from the Championship was a big blow. We did what we needed to do effectively on the last day, but then three other teams did the same thing as well.

"I think you could probably replay that day four or five times and it wouldn't happen again. The damage was done before that game. That game was gonna take care of itself. Unfortunately, we didn't do enough over the course of the 46 games to make sure we stayed in the league. It's horrible. You're failing at your profession, that's the way I look at it.

"I'm not saying anything that I hadn't said in the changing room - there was a lot of delusion. Not just in the changing room, throughout the club, about where people see themselves. We played Millwall away, we lost 1-0 and conceded in the last minute. I said in the changing room after that game, 'you need to realise, or we need to realise as a group, the situation we're in'.

"I think at the time we maybe had eight games left. This was just before Gary came in. I said, 'We need to realise as a group where we are. You do not want a relegation on the CV. My career is almost done, I've got a couple of years left, hopefully, but I don't want a relegation on the CV because I've got personal, professional pride'.

"Some of the people in the changing room didn't understand that we were that close from being relegated, and it probably wasn't until you go into the last game needing to win that people go, 'actually, we're in the s***'. This had been coming. A lot of people could see this coming a long way off, and that shift of going 'no, we'll be all right, we'll be all right'.

"No we won't be, because we've got eight games left and I'm telling you we are in the s***. People still aren't realising that until it's too late. You don't want to be part of that team that gets that club relegated, because it's a massive club. This season was a real stepping stone in terms of the ownership shift, the change in mentality of them bringing in the ideas and the vision that they've got for the club and the city as a whole. It was a massive year for us.

"To be associated with that...honestly, it hurts me still. It's from a pride point of view more than anything. This season has been one of the most difficult for me as a professional.”

For Ruddy, Blues last season wasn't a club which was unified within.

“I felt at the club there was quite a disconnect between a lot of departments," he added. "We had us, at the training ground. We were all working for one goal, one common goal, three points on a Saturday or Tuesday, whenever. That was our goal at the training ground. You go to St. Andrews and you've got probably three or four different departments who are trying to do what's best for them without thinking about that ultimate goal is three points.”

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