McLeish laments ‘blame culture’

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish believes football’s ‘blame culture’ cost Roberto Di Matteo his job as West Brom.

The Blues are looking to avoid a Carling Cup final hangover on Saturday when they welcome West Brom to St Andrews, with Roy Hodgson now at the helm of the fellow relegation battlers.

Di Matteo’s dismissal in early February came as a shock to many, including McLeish, who said it was a knee-jerk reaction by the Baggies to get rid of the Italian.

“I’m disappointed for Roberto; it looked like he was doing a decent job,” McLeish said.

“It’s a hard league, I don’t think the quality in the league has ever been better in terms of the teams in the lower half of the table.”

“Nothing surprises you in the game these days. We live a knee-jerk blame culture where results are huge and the stakes are immense.”

“It’s difficult for managers these days – if Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were starting out now to build a team, would they get the same time?”

Birmingham have 28 points, and sit just two above the relegation zone with two games in hand over most of the other teams lingering in the bottom half of the table.

But McLeish said he was not setting a points target for his side, preferring to focus on winning each match in order to stay up.

“The goal is just to make sure that you stay up, that is what everyone is striving for,” McLeish said.

“Whether it’s 30 something or 40 something (points) or goal difference it doesn’t really matter.”

“I don’t really like to speculate on these things, I jut know we have to concentrate on winning. The players have to keep challenging themselves. The mental toughness they have shown over the last couple weeks has been fantastic and they have to build on that.”

With the recent addition of Cup final hero Obafemi Martins, McLeish has strikers at his disposal that are more than capable of firing his team up the league.

“We have some options up there, Kevin (Phillips), Cameron Jerome, Matt Derbyshire and (Nikola) Zigic – so great competition,” he said.

“In the first half of the season we were searching for the right formula and there’s a great opportunity in the last 14 games.”

“These kind of games can define you and you can really make your mark as a Barclays Premier League footballer.”

Midfielder Barry Ferguson is a doubt for the Midlands derby after playing for more than an hour in the Carling Cup final with a broken rib, while fellow midfielder Craig Gardner is also looks likely to miss out with a thigh injury picked up against Arsenal.