Birmingham keep McLeish, but say promotion next season is a must

Alex McLeish has kept his job at St. Andrew’s, despite Birmingham’s last-day relegation to the Championship, but has been told by the board that he must lead the side back to the Premiership.

The Blues went down, due to a defeat against Tottenham at White Hart Lane and other results not going their way, and there were rumours that Birmingham City owner Carson Yueng would sack the Scotsman. However, a club statement issued by acting Blues chairman Peter Pannu has quashed rumours of Alex McLeish’s exit, as long as he leads the Midlands outfit back to the Premier League.

In response to the criticism that owner Carson Yueng did not give ‘Big Eck’ enough backing in the transfer market to improve the squad, Pannu said:

The board will take stock of what went wrong this season despite Carson Yeung’s promised injection of £40m in funds – not £80m as the media wrongly assumed – and will closely discuss and implement appropriate procedures to ensure a speedy return to the top flight.

A lack of top quality players seemed to be the big issue for Alex McLeish’s side this season, with the biggest signing coming from goalkeeper Ben Foster to bolster a strong defence. When Scott Dann picked up a hamstring injury in the League Cup triumph in January, McLeish’s defence buckled without the solid central defensive partnership of Dann and Roger Johnson and their decline ensued, slipping down the table and into the relegation battle where they remained.

McLeish staying at the club will offer a huge boost to the Blues fans, who will wonder what new players will be brought in to the club and who will exit. There are a number of players whose contracts are expiring, midfielders Lee Bowyer and Seb Larsson and defender Stephen Carr included, who will surely leave St. Andrew’s for pastures new and there is rumoured interest from Liverpool in central defender Scott Dann.

Yueng has to give McLeish transfer funds and trust the manager with the decisions and not get involved in the dealings within the squad, because McLeish is a good tactical manager and given a correct transfer budget and the ability to bring in some better quality of players, Birmingham City will be a top flight club sooner rather than later.

In 2007, Birmingham City went down to the Championship and McLeish proved his managerial qualities by bouncing them back up to the top flight in the following season, so the credentials are there for the owners and the fans to trust in the 52 year old Scotsman’s ability.

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