McLeish’s half-time

rally cry answered


Staff writer

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish was delighted to see his side rise to the challenge that he laid down at half time against Charlton Athletic on Saturday.

Trailing 2-1 and with their confidence sapped, it was no surprise that Birmingham attracted a chorus of jeers when they trundled off the St Andrew’s pitch at the interval.

McLeish admitted that he questioned his side’s belief during the 15-minute break in a bid to fire up his troops for the second half.

The Scot’s rally cry worked because, within the space of ten minutes, Birmingham were back in front and clung on to win 3-2.

The result was vital for Birmingham as they managed to match their promotion rivals’ victories elsewhere to remain in the Championship’s automatic promotion spots.

“The win was hugely important when you see other results, Reading had a good win as did Wolves,” McLeish said.

“They’re both in good form although we are still ahead of Reading, there’s a lot of doom and gloom and I think people forget that we are still a point ahead of Reading.

“We have got to play better and eliminate the mistakes and show the spirit and togetherness that we showed in that second half.

“There was a real togetherness, I said last week that I didn’t think that we were playing together as a team especially when we don’t have the ball. Today they were all together in the second half especially, the shape and the compactness was much, much better. The commitment and will to go and press the ball was better.

“We started quite brightly in the second half, Kevin Phillips had a wee chance then at the other end they could have made it 3-1 which would have made it extremely difficult.

“But we challenged them at half time and asked them if they thought that they could still win and everyone of them said yes.”

Evergreen Phillips was celebrating his 500th career appearance and in characteristic fashion he sparked his side’s second-half fightback with a typical poacher’s goal following a fumble by Charlton goalkeeper Nicky Weaver.

“He’s got a desire to score goals,” added McLeish when quizzed about Phillips’ milestone.

“He gets into the correct positions and he is a shining light for every other striker in the game who wants to score goals.

“If you don’t go in there you won’t capitalise, it looked as though it was an easy catch for Nicky Weaver but you tell strikers to follow in anyway just in case but some players get paralysed and think ‘I’m not going in’.

“Kevin is there right on the spot and he’s made an absolute living out of that and he deserves a goal in his 500th game.”