McLeish: Form exceeds expectations

BY foxsports • December 22, 2009

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish admits Blues' current form has exceeded the expectations of new club owner Carson Yeung.

But the former Scotland boss is adamant he will only strengthen the squad if he can find "the right sort of characters" when the January transfer window opens.

Birmingham will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to 10 games when they face leaders Chelsea at St Andrew's on Boxing Day.

McLeish said: "I have spoken to Carson and the other people at the club and they are delighted.

"They couldn't have foreseen us getting such a return of points (28) in their short tenure so far.

"I think we have exceeded their expectations.

"We know you're just around the corner from getting a kick where it hurts in this game and we've just got to challenge ourselves to prevent that happening.

"The level of individual performance has been high and, if the players keep providing the application you are seeing, then I will be delighted.

"Sometimes you get a bit of bad luck and you may not win a game. It doesn't mean the players have performed badly. It could be a stroke of luck goes against you or a decision from a referee.

"But the one thing they can always guarantee me is their application."

McLeish confirmed: "We will try and enhance the quality. For me, getting the quality on the pitch, getting the quality in reserve, is vital for us.

"But it's about bringing the right characters in, to keep the momentum going, to try and keep the club building towards the future."

McLeish's trust in his players is such that he is giving them Christmas Day off. He is to excuse them training on Friday to enable them to spend it with their families.

He said: "I've never brought the players in for training on Christmas Day if we can help it, although we did have to travel last Christmas night to Ipswich.

"But we give the players the goodwill because we trust them and it is a day for the players to spend with their family.

"They know in the modern day game that you can't go crazy on Christmas Day in terms of your intake of food or even risking a glass of champagne.

"We like to give them the goodwill and hopefully get the rewards the next day.

"It has worked nine days out of 10, even during my days as a manager in Scotland, and I hope the players can put on a show against Chelsea."

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