When Garry O’Connor scored the winner in the third minute of added time against Crystal Palace at St Andrew’s on Tuesday night, he sent Birmingham City back to the top of the Coca-Cola Championship and confirmed Blues’ best ever start to a season
Ominously for their rivals, Blues manager Alex McLeish believes his side can get even better.
Blues may not have played thrilling football consistently this season but they certainly haven’t received the plaudits their impressive start deserves. Not that McLeish is too bothered as long as his side continue with another victory over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday at St Andrew’s.
McLeish knows recording their best-ever start to a season will mean nothing if Blues miss out on promotion at the end of the season. “I hope it is the best finish ever as well, which would be even more important for us,” he said.
“We certainly haven’t done ourselves too much harm. We have been quite solid, if unspectacular. There has been one or two games where I think we have played some really attractive football, but I know there is room for improvement, which augurs well.
“I just look at the next game and what is happening now but I suppose it is a nice statistic for the fans. It doesn’t guarantee anything and we have to keep moving forward and to avoid complacency. We need to keep the resilience and determination the players have shown so far.
“The important thing is we try to nail three points against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. If we play great, then that is a bonus but if we stumble to a 1-0 victory again, I will take it.
“We certainly deserve some plaudits for doing what we have done so far and the fact that I feel there is room for improvement is a confidence boost for the players.
“We have gained some draws and wins this season when we haven’t been convincing, I would admit that, but we have shown resilience and the defenders have shown concentration when things haven’t been as we would like and that is credit to them.
“The other night [against Palace] the first half was fantastic, we were just missing a couple of goals. The movement was good, the passing, the energy and the dynamic of the team was all of a good standard.
“There was a big-game atmosphere, with scoring the winner so late on. It was almost like one of the top games I have been involved in and that is how much it means to me and the players. When you saw the reaction of the fans, you knew how much it meant to them too.”
James McFadden is fit again and Quincy could also be available, but McLeish said he is unlikely to make too many changes. “I have been loyal to the players who have started the last three games, starting with the Queens Park Rangers game,” he said.
“The same team deserved to start against Burnley. They didn’t do so well in that game but I am not going to start dropping players if they play one good game and then a bad one because they will start playing with too much pressure. We showed faith in them the other night and we got our rewards.”
Stuart Parnaby picked up a knock against Palace but should also be fit but David Murphy, Radhi Jaidi and Gary McSheffrey are all still injured.
Nigel Quashie could also be involved after coming off the bench on Tuesday to make his Blues debut having completed his loan move from West Ham United.
n George Edwards, who played 97 games for Birmingham City from 1944-48, has died at the age of 87. The outside-left scored nine goals for Blues and was part of the side that won promotion back to the top flight in the 1947/48 season
He also played for Coventry City, Swansea City and Cardiff City and won 12 caps for Wales. He was also a member of the board of directors at Cardiff for almost 30 years