Alex McLeish’s tacit admission that Birmingham will struggle to replicate the form shown this season in the subsequent campaign will – or at least should – resonate with the St.Andrew’s faithful. McLeish, who has overseen a concerted effort of excellence from Birmingham’s players this season, said in a press conference earlier this week: “In many ways we’ve probably done too well. The owners will expect us to get higher than that next season but if we want to get into the top seven, we need a massive amount of money. Next season will be harder because teams will be better prepared and will be ready for us.” Whilst pragmatically this assessment is completely reasonable and realistic, it will be difficult to repeat such a season.
McLeish’s reticence to heighten expectations for next year is a shrewd decision as it will act as a device to temper fans hopes for the upcoming season. Of course, this season is not over and attention should still be paid to the current campaign but it appears McLeish is looking forward. To speak of next season could be perceived in two ways – on the one hand, it is a good thing as it shows the success of Birmingham’s season that they can already look forward to another term in the Premier League in early April. On the flipside, it may intimate that Birmingham’s concentration is slipping slightly, something that is backed up by recent defeats.
It would be foolish for McLeish to allow his players to – excuse the clich