Some would say that Birmingham over-achieved last season, but Alex McLeish will be looking to take the club even further in 2010/2011.
Position Last Season: 9th
Transfers In: Enric Valles, Ben Foster, Nikola Zigic
Transfers Out: Gary McSheffrey, Gregory Vignal, , Jared Wilson, Lee Carsley, Artur Krysiak, Frank Queudrue, Christian Benitez
Alex McLeish faces a tough task this season, after guiding Birmingham City to a top-half finish in 2009/2010. Many had expected the team to be involved in a relegation battle, but a twelve match unbeaten run secured their Premier League status.
After high profile signings Ben Foster and Nikola Zigic, club owner Carson Yeung is clearly optimistic for the campaign ahead. “Last season, you have to respect what we did,” said Yeung in a recent interview. “But in the coming season, we want to be doing even better.”
Has McLeish set the bar too high? The club will definitely need to make a few more quality signings in order to meet Yeung’s expectations, but it remains to be seen whether they will be able to attract the really big names. European qualification may well be a target if McLeish is to invest in his midfield and a suitable partner for Zigic. Despite their solid finishing position, Birmingham struggled for goals last season, and this is a problem that will need to be addressed.
The solid centre-back partnership of Scott Dann and Roger Johnson proved a revelation last term, and new signing Ben Foster is a fantastic replacement for Joe Hart, but there is still the feeling that the side is crying out for a bit more creativity and class. Midfielder Barry Ferguson will continue in his influential midfield role, and veteran’s Lee Bowyer and Stephen Carr will be looking to continue last season’s good form, but the introduction of some exciting younger players could be what the club needs to move forward.
Caughtoffside prediction: With the addition of a few more quality players, there is no reason why the side cannot repeat last year’s top half finish. There is no danger of a relegation battle, but with the high expectations of the club’s owner, McLeish has a tough task on his hands.