McLeish hails ‘awesome achievement’
Alex McLeish hailed Birmingham’s “awesome achievement” after their
win at Stoke, while Tony Pulis was left to bemoan a rejected
Not since 1908 have Birmingham enjoyed an 11-game stretch in
the top flight without defeat, yet 101 years on that is the mark
the current Blues side have achieved.
Cameron Jerome’s bundled 50th-minute effort was enough for a
1-0 win over Stoke at a bitterly cold Britannia Stadium, aided by
two stunning saves from Joe Hart. “With every week, every victory,
every good performance, then the expectations rise, and the players
have met them head on,” said McLeish.
“There’s a big danger the players will become tired if I keep
naming an unchanged side (now eight games in a row).
“You do worry about players’ fatigue, but when the
psychological side of things is as powerful as it is in our
dressing room at the moment, you don’t feel tiredness.
“I was amazed at the way they knocked it about, their
mobility was excellent, and they didn’t look tired just 48 hours
after playing against the league leaders (Chelsea, which ended
“The run we’re on at the moment is an awesome achievement
from the players, and they were certainly that again today.
“When we finally managed to get the breakthrough, funnily
enough it was from a set-piece after withstanding a barrage of long
throws, corners and free-kicks from Stoke, but again the boys rose
to the challenge.
“Joe, when he was called upon, made a couple of cracking
saves. I don’t think he had much to do before that thanks to the
four in front of him, and the organisation of the midfield.”
The Blues are now riding high in seventh with 32 points from
their 20 games, and it is almost certain that unlike the Blues team
of 1908 that went 11 unbeaten yet were relegated, such a fate will
not befall this side.
The magical 40-point barrier, however, is still the target
for McLeish, who added: “The sooner we get around about there then
“It’s a cut-off point in terms of relegation, but you never
know in this league which is so competitive. I think Colin Todd,
when he was at Bolton, went down with 39 points one year.
“We’re obviously talking about better things, but we still
want to ensure our Premier League security, and we’ve gathered
ourselves the most fantastic chance to achieve that.”
Pulis, meanwhile, could not understand why his side were not
awarded a second-half penalty when Robert Huth was clearly tugged
to the ground by Stephen Carr. He said: “Martin (Atkinson) is
looking at it, and I just don’t know why he doesn’t give it.
“We’ve a problem here. There’s a preconceived idea that the
crowd is so fanatical, and so much behind the team.
“They (referees) almost come in with a point to prove, that
they won’t be swayed by the crowd.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened at this football club
where we haven’t got what we deserved.
“I think referees are coming here to prove they are strong
enough not to react to the crowd.
“But you look at it. It’s as blatant a penalty as you will
see, and he is five yards away from it.”
Stoke have lost their last three games and four of the last
five but Pulis believes they should easily have won this latest
one. He added: “We’re disappointed, I think we’d have been
disappointed if we’d have drawn the game.
“I think Birmingham have defended ever so well again and the
keeper’s made three inspirational saves.
“But that’s the way it’s going for us, we’ve played very well
lately, just haven’t had the breaks.
“I’ve been in management quite a few years and I’ve had a few
runs like this where it doesn’t happen for you but the good thing
is, is that the players are really, really still having a go and
sticking at it and we need that, we need to continue.”