Blues bounce back but will McLeish stay?
At the Madejski Stadium.
Before the season started Birmingham City chairman David Gold told Alex McLeish that he did not care how the manager did it but he wanted him to win promotion straight back to the Premier League.
McLeish delivered on Sunday as his team cast aside their patchy form to defeat promotion rivals Reading on a tense afternoon at the Madejski Stadium, thus securing the second promotion spot.
But the unbridled joy among the Blues supporters at the final whistle could soon be tempered by uncertainty over the future of their manager.
A newspaper story on Sunday claimed the 50-year-old would walk away from the club at the end of the campaign, promotion or not.
And McLeish was asked time and again after the game whether he would be in charge next season, only to respond with answers which were hardly emphatic.
The Scot said that it was time to celebrate, not discuss next season. He insisted reports that he would walk away were wide of the mark but said: "Let's see what the next few days bring.
"As far as I know I'll be here, but you'll have to ask the board."
With a smile on his face, when asked how long he would be at Birmingham, he replied: "I will stay as manager for the next 24 hours." He was clearly was not prepared to have the joy of winning promotion soured by the questions put his way but it was what he didn't say that spoke loudest.
Earlier, as McLeish and Gold were interviewed live on radio, I saw Blues managing director Karren Brady blow kisses in their direction. It was a show of unity and celebration - but it was Brady who used her column in a national newspaper to direct harsh words at McLeish during the course of the season.
Back in March she said: "I think we have entered Phil Scolari territory - our team is much inferior to the sum of talent at our disposal."
Nothing seems to be straightforward at Birmingham, who did not fall lower than third throughout the entire season but often disappointed with lacklustre, defensive performances.
They could have clinched promotion last week in their final home game but let a lead slip against Preston and conceded a last-minute goal that put them on the wrong end of a 2-1 defeat.
McLeish admitted that even though he had been involved in relegation battles previously in his career this season has nonetheless been one of the toughest he has endured. "You feel the expectation of being at this club," he said.
The Scot strikes me as a dignified and honourable man. He said that he had beaten himself up wondering if he had done anything wrong against Preston. However, he always insisted that he and his players would respond against Reading - and they most certainly did.
There is no doubt the Blues deserved their 2-1 victory, though the final 30 minutes might have been considerably easier on the nerves had they not conceded a minute after the evergreen Kevin Phillips appeared to have scored a decisive second with an ice-cool finish.
Birmingham skipper Lee Carsley, a life-long supporter of the club, told me afterwards that when Phillips scored he was thinking "flip flops, chill out and catch a few rays".
But he added: "If there's a difficult way then we seem to do it like that. It has been the story of our season."
Carsley had received 25 text messages wishing him luck on the coach journey to the ground and sank to the floor at the final whistle with a tear in his eye.
The midfielder will soon be in Las Vegas with Thomas Gravesen, his former Everton team-mate, who is heading to Nevada for what Carsley described as Gravesen's "retirement do". But on Sunday it was strictly business for Carsley, who was desperate to ensure Blues got over the line.
"We have been grinding away constantly - to let promotion slip would have been a disaster," he told me.
"A lot of people were waiting for us and the manager to fail but he has kept his opinions to himself and been fantastic."
Gold, sporting a remarkable light blue blazer, also had generous words for McLeish, insisting that the manager had rallied the troops during a "tough season". Do you spot a theme emerging here?
The chairman, who said champagne was on the evening agenda and thus would not be flying home to his Surrey mansion, headed over to the Blues fans after the game and something of a mutual admiration society took place.
The relationship between boardroom and supporters appeared to be seriously fractured at the end of last season but Gold said: "I have always had a particularly good relationship with the fans. It has kept me going at times during my 12 years as chairman."
Now the Blues have achieved their goal of bouncing straight back it will be fascinating to see what happens at the club over the next few weeks but there is still plenty of life left in this Championship season.
Reading boss Steve Coppell said after Sunday's game that he did not really expect his team to win promotion against Birmingham but, with Sheffield United failing to beat Crystal Palace, the Royals would have snatched second place on goal difference if they had defeated the Blues.
Home form has painfully deserted Reading, whose last win at the Madejski Stadium came against Wolves in late January thanks to an own goal from Neil Collins. The Royals play Burnley in the play-offs and when asked if he would rather play the away leg second instead of first Coppell quipped that he would rather play both at Turf Moor.
The other play-off tie sees the Blades take on Preston, who snatched sixth spot from Cardiff in the most dramatic of circumstances imaginable.
North End, with a late winner and injury-time goal-line clearances, beat QPR 2-1 while Cardiff lost at Sheffield Wednesday. Preston and the Bluebirds finished on the same points with the same goal difference but PNE scored one more goal over the 46 game season to claim sixth by the most paper thin of margins.
Preston have won their last four games, including a remarkable 6-0 victory over Cardiff that ultimately proved crucial.
It goes to show that you should never ever give up in football but spectacular as Sunday was for Alan Irvine and his Preston team, Birmingham were the biggest winners as the Championship regular season drew to a close.