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Blues bounce back but will McLeish stay?

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Paul Fletcher | 20:45 UK time, Sunday, 3 May 2009

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.

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish and first-team coach Andy Watson

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 midfielder Lee Carsley

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.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    As a Wolves fan it has been a relief to enjoy the last day of the season (proper) without having to pace up and down, biting my nails, whilst listening to the commentary on the radio. I have great respect for Reading as a team and Steve Coppell as a coach and for his integrity. I think the Blades have excelled since Christmas to gate-crash the party at the top. However, all season, it has been the Blues who have doggedly pursued Wolves and been a real pain in the neck. Consequently, I believe today was the right result.

  • Comment number 3.

    not good enough though Mike, congratulations Wolves were worthy and deserved champions and here's hoping you fare better than last years champs, yes you know who they are, so long as it's not at our expense.

  • Comment number 4.


    Your blog is usualy so good, so why base this one on rumour and speculation? From reading the article in the People, it appears to me to be based on nothing more than an opinion in the Sunday Mercury today, about why Big Eck should leave regardless of the result. It was written by a reporter who normally covers the Vile's games.

    It is a sad reflection on how my club is generally seen by the national press that a story who's only intent was to try to destabalise the club on the day of its most important game for a while (since last week, actually) is taken with any credence. Did you really expect Gold, Sullivan and McLeish to want to talk about the future instead of celebrating a terrific result? Get real!

  • Comment number 5.

    He has handled the uncouth unprofessionalism of Karren Brady quite well, I'll definitely give him that. Birmingham hardly deserve to go anywhere with that kind of nonsense going on. I wouldn't call Alex McLeish "honourable" though. If you remember, he abandoned Scotland at the first financially lucrative opportunity, when the ink on his contract was still wet. Live by the sword, die by the sword. If Birmingham ditch him now it will be little less than he has coming.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ive always had a lot of time for McLeish and I think its a little unfair to claim, as the OP states that he "abandoned Scotland at the first financially lucrative opportunity", and thats coming from a Scotsman. I dont think money was issue, its just that the Scotland job is really not very high profile (thats why we've ended up with George Burley) and doesnt have the same day-to-day management as a club job. I think at the end of the Euro 2008 campaign he realised that he'd taken Scotland as far they could go and wanted to get back to a role where he could be on the training ground and with the players throughout the week.

    Im also a fan of another of his previous team, Hibs and he did a wonderful job with us, playing some great football aswell and despite leaving us to go to Rangers, a bit like with leaving Scotland you just have to accept that as with countless players past, present (and future) he had ambitions that we couldnt match.

    Anyway, it would be terrible if he wasnt given the chance to have a go at the Premiership but it sounds like some Birmingham fans havent really taken to him yet. He never really got a chance last season as when he took over the team were already in big trouble and I dont think you can blame him for their subsequent relegation.

    Lets hope the board back him with some cash, the fans get right behind him and he keeps them up next year.

  • Comment number 7.

    An international job is more high profile and prestigious than managing a club like Birmingham. Money and possibly work-life fulfillment are the only things that could have caused him to dishonor his contract with Scotland [at the first opportunity!].

    "he realised that he'd taken Scotland as far they could go" ... seriously? He played only half a qualifying campaign, taking Scotland from first to third.

    He started his career taking Motherwell from second best Scottish team to mid-table mediocrity, did little at Hibs, and nothing spectacular at Rangers. Got the Scotland job because of his Old Firm connections and Scotland profile, where he got the attention of the wealthy football establishment in England because of a charismatic defeat of France (which covered up the humiliating defeat to a Georgia B team that cost Scotland qualification).

    He then took a relatively strong Birmingham side to the Championship, and has only just scraped back despite having so many premiership players like Sebastian Larsson, James McFadden, Lee Carsley, and Kevin Phillips.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have to agree with noelsnovelty on this one. I think AM is a decent manager but I lost respect for him when he deserted the Scottish national team. He had definitely not taken the Scots as far as they could go and just when it looked like he was building a decent side, he jumped across the border.

    Whether it was money or the Premiership kudos that attracted him, only he knows. We do know however, that he tossed aside his obligations to the Scottish national team very easily and would no doubt do the same again [to Birmingham] if a better offer came along.

    Obviously, I accept that career moves happen in football but moving from one league side to another is not the same as leaving YOUR OWN national team.

  • Comment number 9.

    I've been a Bimingham supporter since 1956. We have had some highs (not many admittedly)and to many lows. During all the those years I have never ever thought of changing my support to a more successful midlands teams, who remembers the great Wolves side, managed by Stan Cullis? The optimist in me says we will do okay in the premiership the realist says we will struggle. So why make it harder than it already is by getting a new manager who will have the same cash restrictions placed on him and who would they get for the money the board would pay? Mcleish was told to get the team back into the premiership, he has, even though the football was not pretty to watch, in my book he should still be the manager next season.

  • Comment number 10.

    Did someone say Carsley and Phillips are premiership players?

    Blues have a strong team that can battle, but when it comes to playing football they'll be totally battered next season.

    I'd say you'll need at least £30m to spend.

  • Comment number 11.

    "An international job is more high profile and prestigious than managing a club like Birmingham. Money and possibly work-life fulfillment are the only things that could have caused him to dishonor his contract with Scotland [at the first opportunity!]."

    I wouldn't say managing Scotland is more presitigious than a premiership club, sorry.

    ""he realised that he'd taken Scotland as far they could go" ... seriously? He played only half a qualifying campaign, taking Scotland from first to third.""

    Look at the fixtures mate

    "He started his career taking Motherwell from second best Scottish team to mid-table mediocrity, did little at Hibs, and nothing spectacular at Rangers. Got the Scotland job because of his Old Firm connections and Scotland profile, where he got the attention of the wealthy football establishment in England because of a charismatic defeat of France (which covered up the humiliating defeat to a Georgia B team that cost Scotland qualification). "

    Motherwell were nowhere near second best Scottish team, they were awful!
    A Hibernian fan on here praised his work at Hibs (Which got him the job at Rangers!)

    He then took a relatively strong Birmingham side to the Championship, and has only just scraped back despite having so many premiership players like Sebastian Larsson, James McFadden, Lee Carsley, and Kevin Phillips.

    McFadden, Carsley and Philips, all his signings! Look at all the massive and strong clubs missing out on automatic promotion, Eck's done a great job.

  • Comment number 12.

    I can't really agree with the comments that Mcleish is a great manager. Full admiration for him getting the blues promotion but you wonder with the squad he has why they had such a dip in form and it went to the last game of the season.

    Birmingham have some decent players like the ones you mention but I agree that the quality isn't currently there to survive in the premiership. You guys will have to spend a good chunk of money to boost the attack and defence next season though you'll still probably hold us in the red half of merseyside to a draw like you usually do!

    I lost a lot of respect for Mcleish for walking out on Scotland. I could understand for a top 8 club like Everton or Villa but not for a club regularly in the bottom half like Birmingham. It looked like a purely financial decision to me. What happened to the days when managing your country was the pinnacle of a managers' career?

  • Comment number 13.

    McLeish 'did little at Rangers' did he? Only manager to take them to the last 16 of the Champions league (one Kris Boyd miskick from the last 8), 2 Leagues, 2 Scottish Cups & 3 League Cups. Don't get me wrong I don't think he is the greatest manager the world will ever know, but what he achieved at Rangers was superior to anything any other manager has managed since Walter Smith's first stint as manager.
    As for his time at Birmingham I hope he does well with them in the Premiership next season. If you want to look at how hard bouncing straight back up is just check out the teams that just got relegated. One of my best mates from uni is a massive Blues fan and reckons they played nice football for about six games at the beginning of the season until they started losing their more creative players to injury, so McLeish got rather prosaic in his style and decided to grind out results. It might not be pretty, but where Burnley made the playoffs & Swansea go down as nearly men, Birmingham are already up, so credit where its due.

  • Comment number 14.

    From the article I was of the opinion Eck was not about to "jump ship" but more likely be pushed overboard by the Gold/Brady bunch.
    It seems odd to me to hear that 'The Championship' is a tough league just to survive in - look at the teams who have gone down; then to have people question a team and/or their manager who gained automatic promotion.
    Since England is not exactly awash with out of work managers with proven Premiership credentials, who exactly do Gold/Brady think will do a better job?

  • Comment number 15.

    Motherwell had just finished third when McLeish took over. He took us to second in hisa first season with much the same team. Problems began when he brought in his own players and allowed others to grow old under his stewardship. Relegation battles ensued...

    Great man manager. Not so great at spotting a player...

  • Comment number 16.

    Sullivan and Gold are selling up.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    im over the moon about the result yesterday, its been a real rollercoaster, however id like to see the manager situation cleared up, the rumours raging around Birmingham is that McLeish is off to Newcastle and Darren Ferguson is coming to Birmingham from Peterborough courtesy of our great relationship with Barry Fry. Id personally welcome the move as McLeish has flattered to deceive all season.

  • Comment number 19.

    The Board at BCFC are very hard nosed business people. They will be considering;
    The cost of releasing McLeish
    The recent relegation under his stewardship
    The very poor crowds
    The tedium of matches this season
    Moderate performances of the majority (Fahey an exception) of the signings
    The limited knowledge of players outside of Scotland
    Poor quality of backroom staff and cost of releasing them.
    Carelessness in successive transfer windows, in identifying the need for a new central defender and failing to acquire one e.g. reportedly only watching Mills of Doncaster two days before the window shut, leaving no scope for negotiation (presupposing the MD was prepared to enter discussions.

    A definite statement needs to be made as there are many decisions to be taken in preparation for what will inevitably be a diificult season. Procrastination would be fatal to the chances of an extended run in the Premier League.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think McLeish has been treated poorly by the board. Any comments they had about his management should have been made privately, not by snide comments to the press Ms Brady. He won't have any difficulty getting another job, he did well with Rangers and Scotland with very limited resources and got the Blues back up at the first attempt. Tell them to stick the job Alex.

  • Comment number 21.

    "Hard nosed business people" will smile at the huge financial gains to be made from TV rights by being in the Premier League. I doubt they will be concerned by "the tedium of matches this season." (Baked beans may not be glamorous but if they make money, sell baked beans.)
    If Alex McLeish has limited knowledge of players outside of Scotland then the board should employ talent scouts.
    #18 Intrigued me. Darren Ferguson? It sounds like a Paul Ince scenario, because from what I can gather this Birmingham board are not about to give any manager time to prove their worth.

  • Comment number 22.

    McLeish has done well at all of his clubs! What absolute nonsense some people write!

    He took Motherwell to second place.

    He took Hibs to promotion, took them to Scottish cup semi's, then to 3rd place and a Scottish Cup Final.

    And he won seven trophies in charge of Rangers, despite being at the helm of a club that was rapidly down-sizing.

    Allied to this, he is statistically the best ever Scotland manager!

    He left Scotland as he wanted to work on a day-to-day basis with players and his ambition was to work in the Premiership. How can anyone fault him for this?

    Aliied to all this, he's a top bloke!

  • Comment number 23.

    old_pirate - I appreciate whet you are saying and had it just been an article in a newspaper and nothing more it would not have been mentioned at length in this blog. What really got my attention was the manager's refusal to state outright that he would definitely be in charge next season. I was there as he fielded questions from the media and he was definitely skirting around the issue. It was obvious, everyone in the room realised it, and it struck me as very, very odd considering his team had just won promotion.

  • Comment number 24.

    These two-Brady and Gold, hounded Steve Bruce out and promptly when down. The two should have resigned for that daft move alone. As for that woman spouting off about the game she knows naff all about-well if I said what I really think the Beeb PC brigade would delete it-so what's the point?

  • Comment number 25.

    i am a rangers fan and im so glad to see mccleish guide birmingham to the premiership. he is a fantastic manager and doesnt get the recognition he deserves. his time at ibrox was over-looked by many as they said martin o'neil is a much better manager when actually they both won as many trophies as each other. good luck birmingham!

  • Comment number 26.

    #7 noelsnovelty

    To say he did nothing at Hibs completely undermines your point. He took over when we were basically already relegated. Then in Division 1 we won the championship in the first season with a massive points total and played some great football. He then got us 3rd place, a Scottish Cup Semi Final, Scottish Cup Final and brought in 2 of the most talented players Ive ever seen play for Hibs - Frank Sauzee and Russel Latapy. Cant fault anything he did at Hibs, except for leaving us of course but I learned to accept a long time ago thats football.

  • Comment number 27.

    I would imagine that about 90% of the anti-McCleish sentiment comes from the old Steve Bruce fans - who needed a scapegoat for his jumping ship for a higher wage at the big Wigan. After all,when you get jilted it's best to find someone to blame. If Wenger or Ferguson had come slumming, these Brucie-Groupies would still have found something wrong with them.

    The other 10% of the anti-McCleish crowd are probably Villa supporters with the wheels rapidly falling off their hyper-cart where can they vent their spleen ?

    McCleish has done well, with a team composed of 75% relegated Bruce players, and a minute budget - he has done exceedingly well using desperate loans, £100 a week players and a few unearthed nuggets from distant leagues.All on a pittance.

    And we still have the bulk of Bruce's players knocking the wage bill upto £20 million a year !

    £20 million is insane in the Championship - probably insane anyway - but as the owners have intimated, they have funded that wage bill, and it'll be clawback time now.

    Bluenoses are used to people raining on our parades, infrequent as they are :-) - but to hang your blog on a repeated story that was originated from a disgruntled villa-loving journalist (read by about 100 people worldwide) seems to me to be a bit desperate, or even lazy.

    Much better to have pointed the finger at real ignorance, Ms Gossip Columnist of the Year Brady, rather than perpetuate discontented villa fan ramblings.

  • Comment number 28.

    Letsby Avenue I must be an exception to the rule being a Liverpool fan who's anti-Mcleish.

    He has got some great achievements to his name I'll grant you but from my perspective he's disloyal in the manner in which he left Scotland and he took Rangers backwards towards the end of his time there.

    He does make a decent signing now and then (Latapy at Hibs, Boyd at Rangers and Carsley at Brum) but for every one of those he makes at least 2 shoddy ones (Murphy and Bent at Brum for example).

    I say stick with him though for next season providing you spend a good 15m at least. I can't see any other available manager who could replace him.

  • Comment number 29.

    "...did little at Hibs, and nothing spectacular at Rangers."
    WHAT? - Big Eck, by my recollection, did three spectacular things at Rangers: he won Rangers their 50th and 51st league titles against probably the best Celtic team of the last 40yrs, he also made Rangers the first Scottish team to get out of the Champions League group stages and into the last 16, and all this with a shoe string budget, mediocre players and a club £80 million in debt and selling its best players in EVERY transfer window.

  • Comment number 30.

    lglater - I don't think McLeish was particularly disloyal to Scotland at all. He would have stayed had we qualified for the Euros. Having failed to do so, is it fair to ask a relatively young manager to stay in an international job for the next four years? He persistently said that he missed day-to-day management, so would we really be better off playing under a manager who didn't want to be there? The man obviously had ambitions of managing in the Premiership and the opportunity to keep Birmingham there was obviously appealing.

    I do, however, agree on his signing policy. As a Rangers fan, I suffered the likes of Capucho, Emerson and Ostenstad on our books and he is prone to signing players that are past their best. Like you said, though, he does produce some gems. In the case of Murphy, he was a cracking player at Hibs, so I don't know why the move hasn't worked out for him.

    But he certainly did not "take Rangers backwards" at the end of his reign. McLeish was always up against it with us. Advocaat and Murray's mismanagement of funds left him with a huge rebuilding exercise and it is quite remarkable that he managed to win a single title with the players he had at his disposal in comparison to Celtic. In his final season, Strachan came in at the other end of the city and gave Celtic a new lease of life, so we didn't go backwards; we were chasing Celtic's tail, and again that's not his fault. He didn't have the cash to challenge for the title.

    Anyway, I hope he stays on and proves a few people wrong.

  • Comment number 31.

    Right, thoughts from a (still) elated Birmingham fan;

    McLeish has done a very good job since taking over from Bruce. Even last season, we may have been relegated but the damage was done by Bruce (will go down in history - rightly - as one of our greatest ever managers, just had taken us as far as he could) and Eck had us playing some very nice football and we were unlucky to go down.

    This season, he did exactly what he needed to do. We have been promoted, all other points are left null and void.

    I very much doubt he'll be going anywhere.

    Just to add, the Golds, Sullivan and Brady have all done incredible jobs, let's just remember the situation we were in before they came in and took over.

  • Comment number 32.

    A nice try, but another national journo only scratches the surface. Eck has done a fine job getting Birmingham up with everything that he has had to deal with. The biggest problem at the club, and the cause of all the discontent, anger and apathy is the board. We are all fed up with them. They are interested in profit and dish out spin by the bucket full whenever there's a national audience, and their words are faithfully lapped up by reporters. As for the above post, that was 16 years ago! Yes, the saved the club, but they are not prepared to move it on and want out. For a more in the know view of what is happening at the Blues I recommend this blog and site.

  • Comment number 33.

    I have always given them the credit they deserve and without them we would not have the modern stadium we now enjoy....The Main Stand redevelopment or rather lack of it was largely down to red tape and politics and no fault of theirs in all fairness.
    They have kept the club profitable and during the first 4 Premiership years of the Bruce reign , they did cough up significant amounts of cash but as soon as the club found itself struggling for results again that cash quickly dried up.
    David Gold is a top bloke, a fine ambassador and speaks well, unfortunately the same can not be said of his colleague Mr Sullivan who has launched into tirade after tirade at players, managers and fans alike time and time again, the most recent one where remarks were aimed at a defender who went on to have the season of his life, thanks mainly to the new manager's willingness to give players a 2nd chance.....and there's also been unwarranted comments made about supporters staying away in numbers even through hard economic times throughout the whole region itself with unemployment at peak levels.
    Many die-hard loyal Blues fans though, some 15,000 of them will spend their last pennies on fuel for their cars, bus and train fares to SA yet at the same time Mr Sullivan himself complains about long commutes from his Essex base on a cold October evening....The club sometimes unfortunately has lacked a little tact to say the least.
    The timing of these comments have been embarrassingly wayward and Ms Brady's comments in a national tabloid just 2 months ago did the club no positive good at all especially at a time when the team itself were finally gaining momentum for a solid automatic promotion push.
    And let's not forget there is another issue out there that cannot discussed on here for reasons of slander and legality.
    And then there was the disastrous Carson Yeung affair which split the club down the middle for a good 6 month period and at a vulnerable time again when we had only just returned to the top flight and the planned move to a fine 50,000 capacity state of the art stadium at Wheels Park which most of us all know could still become a reality but now seems dead in the water once more.....Some folks feel the new stadium will never materialise while Sullivan is owner as too many bridges have been burned between Mr Sullivan and the City Council.....Where the problem lies here I honestly do not know but if we cannot even get approval from a Council with whose city name we have the honour to share to even put up an illuminated sign how will we get a world class stadium built that we can all be proud of ?.....Manchester did it no problem, many other clubs with smaller fanbases than us have moved to brand new arenas.....But at BCFC it seems there's always a hidden problem.
    There are thousands of Blues fans who are actually staying away from SA because of this very board mainly over the issues of season ticket hikes and match day tickets coupled with investment both on the playing side during 5 previous PL seasons and St Andrews itself where undersoil pitch heating and large screens have still not even arrived as yet.
    As I said, they are the finest businessmen around and have managed to take the club forward again but let's not forget 2 relegations in as many years is hardly leaps and bounds.
    The crucial thing and perhaps the biggest factor of all here is that they wish to sell .......It has not been public pressure or local media demanding they resign with the exception of the hostility shown towards them after the Blackburn game last season .....They all wanted OUT and had done since even before that sad day for Blues last May where protests had reached very vocal levels for the first time in many years.
    Sorry but for me Birmingham City FC desperately needs new ideas and new leadership if we are to consolidate with the Big Boys again.
    It's been a roller coaster ride but at least we haven't done a Leeds, Southampton or Charlton as the current board had assured us .....But we need to get the missing thousands back to SA and I'm sorry with them still in power at St Andrews, I for one cannot see it happening soon.
    However having said all that, if, and it's a big IF, the current board are realistically prepared to dig deep into their own personal respective wealth to provide whatever manager they appoint or see fit with a huge transfer kitty that will make a difference as far as challenging for Europe and domestic trophies goes then 'Yes' they would truly deserve our continued support

  • Comment number 34.

    Oh and by the way, Ken Wheldon, the former Walsall FC owner and local businessman was the first man to save Birmingham City Football Club from extinction.
    Without him the club would have been liquidated and folded up back in 1985/86 .....we were minutes away from that fate before Ken stepped in with a financial rescue package and 3 year plan.
    He stripped the assets of the club but then again he had no choice.
    Crying shame because at that time in Ron Saunders, we possessed one of the best managers and coaches the club ever had.
    Saunders was never given money and he had to sell the best players at the club to survive, notably Harford and Clarke and also top keepers Seaman and Coton.
    But Wheldon deserves credit he never gets......the rest as they say is 'History'

    Keep Right On

  • Comment number 35.

    McLeish has done a good job this season with a tired old team that he hasn't had the opportunity to add to properly, albeit loan signings. The Birmingham City fans haven't made it easy for him, I think a lot of us have been overly critical of him, taking our frustration with the board out on him. We haven't played attractive football but we have been hard to beat, but the last few performances have been better (the last 20 minutes against preston aside). I think Bowyers made a difference in the last third of the season, we have a bit more urgency in midfield. Lets hope Mcleish stays next season (I think he will) and gets the backing he deserves from both board and fans.

  • Comment number 36.

    Once again this is typical media rubbish that surrounds Birmingham City Football Club. It happened with Steve Bruce several times! Why can't you guys back off & if & when there is a change in Management at St Andrews then I'm sure you'll be one of the first to be told. In many cases changes are as a direct result of media pressure & scrutiny, it is no secret that much of the media have it in for Birmingham City because of David Sullivan's involvement with the club & I hope that Mcleish stays at St Andrews even if it is just to p**s the media off with their usual antics.

  • Comment number 37.

    JasperParrott, your comments are somewhat confusing... it is unclear as to whether you are for the current board or against. However, the board want out because they are sick of the lack of support from an increasing number of so called Birmingham City supporters. Yes I agree David Sullivan can sometimes be outspoken & not think before he speaks & he has admitted that himself before now. Is that not a successful businessman demanding the best of their ability from players... after all he pays them a good wage to kick a football around for 90 minutes... on average...once a week. Would your boss not come down on you like a ton of bricks if you underperformed at work consistently? As I said, I agree there are ways of going about it & publicly is not the best way but just gave an example where that did the trick, lol.

    You refer to 2 relegations... that isn't down to the board, I have yet to see shirts with Sullivan or Gold or Brady for that matter running around the St Andrews pitch on a Saturday afternoon. The players are responsible for what goes on, on the pitch. Managers have had money, the board have consistently shown their unanimous support for any Manager that has come in to St Andrews & they have trusted the managers judgment in whom comes in to the club & subsequently plays for Birmingham City... if those are the wrong choices they are the managers fault not the board.

    No matter what the board do it will never be enough for some so called supporters and as long as they voice their unhelpful opinions the board will always want away from St Andrews and be open to the farcical events of the Carson Yeung interest.

  • Comment number 38.

    matkinson64 - rest assured I don't have it in for Birmingham at all. I travelled to Reading on Sunday hoping that I would be able to write a piece about a club securing promotion. The content of the article would be determined by what happened on the day. As it turned out, I felt that I could not ignore what happened when McLeish talked to the media. I hadn't seen the article and it was certainly news to me. I expected the manager to emphatically brush it away but, as mentioned in the above piece, he didn't. I was surprised and felt it had to feature.

    How do you - or indeed anyone reading this - think Blues will do next season? Do they need to bring many players in or is the quality already there? When you have a look at their squad there seems to be more talent than performances sometimes suggested during the season (though I realise I am starting to sound like Karren Brady now).

  • Comment number 39.

    Appreciate your response Paul. How do I think Blues will do? Well we need new players that is for sure... the squad certainly isn't good enough for the Premiership & as pointed out during Sundays TV Commentary there are many players over the age of 30.... in fact I think over half the team is the wrong side of 30. Whilst I do think that some of them can still do a job for Blues I think it would be crazy to think that they could help Blues push on through a long season in the Premier League week in, week out. Defensively I think we need players in abundance both for the first team and as cover as the existing defense is somewhat aging to say the least. Midfield wise I don't think we are too bad maybe one for the left side. Upfront is where we have always struggled. We have had players who were supposed proven goal scorers but as soon as they get to Blues they can't fight their way out of a paper bag. We do create quite a few chances of recent seasons so that has nothing to do with it. How many times have we seen a ball in to the box just crying out for somewhat on the end of it to plant it in the back of the net. Cameron Jerome is improving all the time & scoring some important goals... Mcfadden, Philips, Bent all are either past it or simply not good enough. We need at least 2 or 3 decent quality strikers... without them, we are heading for one hell of a speedy return to the Championship.

  • Comment number 40.

    Well done to the Blues I do have a soft spot for brummy clubs for some strange reason so congratulations I hope you don't lose Alex because he is a decent manager

  • Comment number 41.

    In response to Paul Fletcher, I think we'll stay up mate.

    Very physically strong team peppered with a dash of skill in important places. We need a couple of central defenders and a central attacking midfielder wouldn't go amiss, but to be honest, I wouldn't have put it past the squad we have now to stay up if we'd have scrapped it last season.

    I certainly think we have a much better chance than Wolves, who I think will fall into the Baggies trap of attempting to play pretty football for not much gain.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think we will stop up with a combination of physical play and a bit of skill. If we could tempt Mauro Zarate back I would be happier. He seemed to enjoy his spell at Blues and is suited to the Premiership

  • Comment number 43.

    Why would Mcliesh be leaving? If he was going to leave surely it would have been ,post relegation, not post promotion back to the premiership. Lots of top players / managers play their cards close to their chest when it comes to their careers, i dont think Blues fans should start to worry about loosing their manager just yet.

  • Comment number 44.

    I hear a lot on hear about how AM "abandoned Scotland"...stuck with George Burley etc. but given his old firm "connections" is it any suprise given the tenious and volitile nature of recent old firm connectinos and the National side (a few names come to mind, Boyd, Ferguson, MacGregor) perhaps AM's departure was mearly the beginning of a greater underlying issue within the SFA and between it and the SPL and Rangers. Just an idea. Anyhow considering those names are so fresh - it's no shocker given the very public bumbling use authority the SFA just exuded in dealing with the later two that AM might have identified this "issue" and walked as soon as he saw the proverbial nature of the beast that is the SFA.

    Who I'm really happy for is Lee Carsley, I've always had respect for the man being a Toffee and am glad so see him achieve something he set out to do so late in his career. People either like or dislike him vehmentley and his style of matter which way you slice it the man is a honest footballer and I for one say congratulations.

    An aside is that I'm also looking forward to Brummy Derbys again.

  • Comment number 45.

    Mauro Zarate going back to Blues?!

    Oh dear, I've heard it all now.

    I'll make it simple.

    You have no chance in hell.

    I can't see the Blues board spending more than £10m.

  • Comment number 46.

    As a dons fan AM will always be a top guy but criticism of him leaving Scotland job is rot. Much as I was disappointed you can understand why.

    Any of us given the chance to treble our earnings would change employer.

  • Comment number 47.

    McLeish realised that if he was ever going to manage a top club in England then he couldn't afford to spend the next two to four years managing Scotland. What was the best he was going to achieve...qualification or more probably glorious failure. I wouldn't be supprised if that was the advice he received from his mentor Sir Alex Ferguson.

    AM needed to raise his profile south of the Border and the Birmingham post has acheived that for him. Winning promotion from a very difficult and competitive league at the first time of asking will now get him noticed and he will be a serious contender if a vacancy arises with a top Premiership club.

    If you are going to accuse somebody of walking out on Scotland it should be his predecessor in the job Walter Smith not Alex. Walter walked out when the was job half done Alex at least had the decency to quit between qualifying campaigns.

    In regard to the Birmingham post it may suit AM now more than the Board if there was now a parting of the ways hence his not entirely convincing responses to whether he would still be managing the club in August.

    Unless a significant investment in players is made the statistics indicate that Birmingham will almost certainly be relegated again next season and Alex certainly would not want to be stll in post then.

  • Comment number 48.

    Hmm, interesting comments all round. Just my two pennies worth as neither a bruce hater nor a mccliesh hater:

    The reasons i think some fans haven't taken to McLiesh are down to some very poor and at times baffling performances. Now some people say we got relegated last year due to Bruce, pointing correctly to the fact that he got less points per game than McCliesh. How-ever that is a little decieving because Bruce beat the teams around us in the relegation fight (wigan, bolton, derby etc) McCliesh however not only lost to teams like Wigan, fulham et all but did so in such a bad way...against fulham we managed, i think, 1 shot on goal in the entire match. This in a big 6 pointer. So although he got more points per game he did nothing in a single 6 pointer, even failing to beat the worst ever premiership team in history at home (1-1 with derby). There was hardly any fight in those games and yet against the big four we looked superb.

    Also many fans are upset and angry at having been thrashed by our local rivals 5-1. In football fans live for trophies, but most teams dont get many so they survive on local derbies. Losing 5-1 and being utterly outclassed is something that is very hard to take.

    However i think it is fair to say both Bruce and McCliesh have suffered due to the board in recent years. Yes they saved the club and invested well and heavily for some time but then they lost interest and starting mouthing off against the fans, bad move. It helped create a bad atmosphere which i think has taken a toll on the players and the managers alike, both have spoken of the great expectations upon this club too.

    Would Bruce have saved us? Who knows..Would McCliesh have saved us if given a full season? Who knows. Lets forget the past and try to enjoy the upcoming season, hopefully the premiership will be as even as it has been this season.

  • Comment number 49.

    Here Paul Fletcher,

    Was your Da a prison warder in Porridge? Seems like that is where you got your brains from. What part of NO do you not understand?

    Mr McLeish is staying.

    The board are committed and staying.

    The Blues are staying in the premiership.

    It is a little bit Alex (mischievous) of you to start the mind games already ... Nice to see the Villa rattled before the season has ended. What with the Wolves and Blues up there you will have not so far to travel this year ... but what are you going to have to listen to?

    Keep right on ...

  • Comment number 50.

    as a birmingham fan alex mcleish has done a awfull job this year and only scraped promotion GET MCLEISH OUT

  • Comment number 51.

    How anyone can call promotion a failure is beyond me.
    Look at the comment in No. 50. Pathetic response from someone who knows or cares less about our club.
    Well done Big Eck, and thanks.
    The next 'mission' is staying in the Premiership next season and building.
    Remember the other Alex (Ferguson) had a shaky start to his reign at Man Utd but they stuck by him.
    Thankfully our board are not the sacking kind.
    Give him time to build his own team and we will flourish.

  • Comment number 52.

    "did little at Hibs"

    Being a hibs fan im not the greatest fan of Mcleish with him having left us for Rangers then again leaving Scotland for Birmingham. However that comment is complete and utter rubbish. When Mcleish took us over we where doomed from the spl thanks to Jim Duffy. Mcleish cleared the dead wood and brought in players like Sauzee and Latapy. Two players I will never forget as long as I live. Also was responsible for giving likes of O'Connor his debut and he went on to be an important player for us and obviously now as hooked up with McLeish Again at Birmingham. He got us instant promotion and I think it was done with the highest Ever points total a First Division winner has acheived. He consolidated us to the SPL. Got us to our last Scottish Cup Final and a 3rd place finish. In his time at Rangers he did pretty well under a very modest budget. Especially modest when you compare it with what Martin O'Neil had at Celtic. Also did okay in charge of Scotland.

    He is a pretty successful manager if you ask me. I think he is capable of keeping Birmingham up next year if given the chance.


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