Birmingham City do not need to turn to ugly football if they are to regain their Premier League status, former Blues star Graham Hyde has said.
The 37-year-old, who made over 50 appearances for Blues between 1999 and 2002, now works for Blues’ community coaching scheme but he knows what the cut and thrust of a Championship promotion push is all about from his playing days.
Now he is backing Alex McLeish’s side to be able to bounce back after the disappointment of relegation last year and still be able to entertain the disillusioned elements of the St Andrew’s crowd in the process.
“It is a tough league now and it will be difficult,” Hyde said after coaching youngsters for three hours on Saturday at the Grass Roots football exhibition at the NEC.
“There are no certainties that they will bounce straight back up, although there will be expectation from the fans that they do. This is a big club and they have been in the Premier League before, and it is where everyone wants to be.
“It will be a tough season but I am sure they will do it. You play against different styles of football in the Championship but whether Blues change their style will be down to the manager.
“Teams like West Bromwich Albion have shown you can get the ball down and play football to get out of the divisions. I think you can still play football and be successful.”
The style of football Blues adopt next season will depend on the type of players McLeish is able to attract during the summer and top of his list will be a striker after the departure of Mikael Forssell last week.
McLeish paid homage to the service of the Finland international, who rejected a new deal to stay at Blues and opted to join Hannover of the German Bundesliga.
“I’ve spoken with Mikael to wish him all the best for the future,” McLeish said. “He has been an excellent servant to Birmingham City and he goes with my highest regards, and I’m sure the best wishes of everyone else connected with the club too.
“Mikael has chosen to go to Hannover and take up the next chapter of his career there. He was a great asset to this club and I know how much he loved his time in Birmingham.
“He is a top professional and a very good player - very much in the mould of the type I’m looking to bring into the club to strengthen the squad.”
McLeish may not have wanted to lose Forssell but a fresh start may be in the best interests of both the player and Blues. Now Forssell will cast his net wide in a bid to find a top striker who can offer more mobility to Blues’ attack.
McLeish has been linked to several potential targets, most notably two defenders of contrasting age and experience. Manchester United’s young defender Jonny Evans and Rangers’ veteran centre back David Weir are both said to be on McLeish’s radar.
Twenty-year-old Evans has yet to feature for United but has impressed during two loan spells with Sunderland, while Weir has played over 500 games for Everton, Falkirk and Hearts.
The fact Weir has just turned 38 has not put off other clubs from showing an interest, including Stoke City, but McLeish’s spell as manager of Scotland would stand him in good stead to entice Weir should he decide he needs more experience at the heart of his defence.
Meanwhile, the season has been extended for two of Blues’ brightest young prospects. Defender Krystian Pearce is a member of the England squad that has qualified for next month’s under-19s European Championships in the Czech Republic following their 0-0 draw against Belarus at the weekend, while striker Semih Aydilek was part of the German side which has also qualified.