Betfair blogger Gareth Freeman feels that Alex McLeish deserves a bit of respect for his achievements at Birmingham City.
With none of the ‘top four’ really setting the world alight so far I’m going to suggest that Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish has been manager of the season so far. Despite being unable to prevent the Blues being relegated in 2008 the previous owners of Birmingham kept with McLeish and so far it is working out for the St Andrews’ club.
At the start of the season many were questioning just where Birmingham’s goals were going to come from. Granted, those questions technically still remain as they’ve managed just 20 goals in as many games but the key point is they’re just not conceding. With 32 points on the board and at seventh in the table with a goal difference of just plus two they’re a very economical side – a testament to the Scotsman’s tactics. I appreciate they have been slightly fortuitous of late, the performance against Stoke perhaps only merited a draw in all fairness and Chelsea could well have beaten them had it not been for Joe Hart’s heroics but even the best teams ride their luck occasionally.
January should be a massive month for the Midlands side. With all the extra funds available I’m sure McLeish will be adding to his squad with a few big names and some other not so big names. A few names in the frame so far are Wigan’s Charles N’Zogbia (who has said he doesn’t want to leave the Latics), German striker Kevin Kuranyi, Schalke’s Georgian midfielder Levan Kenia and Liverpool’s Ryan Babel. A permanent move for Hart could also be on the cards and so far the Manchester City loan boy has proved a massive success at St Andrews’ (what a performance against Chelsea, perhaps the number one spot in South Africa?). The likes of ‘Chucho’ Benitez, Roger Johnson and Scott Dann have proved fantastic signings and I’m sure McLeish will continue his successful transfer dealings based on past acquisitions.
Of all the names being linked with the Blues at the moment I reckon I’d like to see Kuranyi make the move the most. He has a pretty decent goal scoring record at international level with a ratio of around a goal every two and a half games and has the attributes to make it in England (I wonder if he’s still got that dodgy goatee – could inspire a few comedy songs on the stands as well). Either way, the Blues and McLeish have done enough to warrant plenty of respect so far and if they manage to bring in some quality in January they could be a decent outside bet for a European spot.