Birmingham boss Alex McLeish must have felt like a jilted man as deadline day approached having being on the verge of a deal for Wigan’s French star Charles N’Zogbia, only to see it break down at the last minute – but the deals he completed with only hours of the window remaining may be a vindication that the club should not have bowed to N’Zogbia’s demands.
Tireless work from the St Andrews boss and the board which up until now had only fashioned frustration finally paid dividends as Blues bolstered their squad with Czech defender Martin Jiranek, Chilean star Jean Beausejour and one major coup in Barcelona’s Alexander Hleb on a season long loan.
The latter of which is particularly pleasing, and the Belarusian’s claims he rejected Liverpool and Tottenham to sign for them will only help endear himself to the supporters following the N’Zogbia debacle. Hleb said: “I had a few options – Liverpool, Tottenham and Benfica, but Birmingham clearly wanted to do the deal more than the others, which is why I made my choice” – Such refreshing comments from the former Arsenal man go a long way to nullify the greed that was laid bare by Birmingham’s refusal to submit to N’Zogbia’s wage demands.
It is also feasible that they are getting a better deal and a better player in Hleb who made 89 appearances during his time at the Emirates before his £14million to the Nou Camp and his arrival will help alleviate the anxious faces worn by fans’ after the latest dose of last gasp transfer heartache at St Andrews. He may well lavish quality upon Blues’ midfield and the fact he simply wants to get on and play for love of the game will fit perfectly into the ethos with which McLeish has orchestrated their recent successes.
The Scot seems to have conducted some shrewd late business which may aid his unenviable attempts to emulate Blues’ record-breaking season last term and he was naturally delighted with all three of his signings. He described Hleb as “a top quality player – one who at one stage we’d only actually dreamed about” whilst lauding Jiranek’s “tremendous experience on club, European and international fronts.”
Late deals are often agreed with naïve haste in a frantic attempt to strengthen the squad, with managers knowing unless they do so they may struggle until January when the opportunity again arises to buy players but I believe one of the busiest transfer destinations in a compelling deadline day has seen some astute arrivals and Birmingham’s second season in the Premier League will no doubt benefit from this.