Kemy Agustien is slowly growing used to deserting his slick Dutch style of football in favour of rolling up his sleeves for a good old fashioned scrap.
Like plenty of Dutchmen before him, Agustien has begun to realise that, unlike the Netherlands’ Eredivisie, players in England don’t sing off the same footballing hymn sheet.
In the lowlands you get time on the ball, plenty of space to pick out a pass and a lack of physicality.
In Blighty, and certainly the Championship, you get possession-hungry brutes snarling in your face and looking to shoulder barge you off the ball at any opportunity.
Agustien, a Tilburg-born midfielder on a season-long loan from AZ Alkmaar, now knows that you have to learn to fight if you play for a Championship scalp like Birmingham City.
“Because we are playing in the top places, I think everybody wants to beat us because it’s Birmingham,” said 22-year-old Agustien. “If we look at all of our matches, all the teams start by fighting for the ball, they don’t even want to play football, they just want to fight first.
“That is one thing that we have to prepare for. The first-half is always the most difficult half because they are fighting and they are aggressive but in the second half they get tired then it’s up to us to show our quality and play football. Most of the time that has happened but sometimes we have to fight for every minute and that can be difficult.
“From out point of view, we’ve had a difficult time over the last couple of weeks but we are still winning the games and that is the most important thing.
“I think most of the other teams can be jealous of the quality of our squad and the strikers we have.”
The Dutch top-flight is seen as a rare source of football bargains in today’s financially-inflated transfer market.
Two of Agustien’s compatriots and close friends from the Eredivisie are currently battling to keep Birmingham’s Black Country neighbours West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League.
However while the Baggies’ Ryan Donk and Gianni Zuiverloon have been handed a tough
introduction to English football, Agustien doesn’t want his experience to end anytime soon.
“I played with Donk at AZ Alkmaar and I also know him and Zuiverloon from the international team.
“They are the same age as me and I’ve played with them a lot.
“A lot of players my age choose to come here, I think it’s a good way because from my point of view I have a great opportunity here in England.
“I like it at Birmingham and everyday is good here. At the beginning it was quite difficult because everything was new for me but I want to stay here.”
Meanwhile Agustien’s manager at Birmingham, Alex McLeish, will be waiting to discover whether he his third time lucky with the Coca-Cola Championships Manager of the Month accolade tomorrow afternoon.
McLeish has been nominated twice before and this time finds himself nominated alongside Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Mick McCarthy, Preston North End’s Alan Irvine and Crystal Palace’s Neil Warnock for the November award.
Elsewhere Birmingham have attracted national attention for taking the unprecedented step of offering free admission to all season ticket holders for their FA Cup third-round home tie with Wolverhampton in January.
The announcement coincides with the launch of the club’s ‘New Year . . . New Start’ campaign in 2009, a scheme that is aiming to reward fans’ loyalty and tempt back the missing thousands of spectators in a bid to tackle the dwindling attendances at St Andrew’s this season..