Whether or not Alex McLeish finds October’s Coca-Cola Championship Manager of the Month award on his desk today, it will in no way sooth the hangover of two consecutive defeats.
The Birmingham manager has been nominated for the accolade alongside his peers at Cardiff City, Barnsley and Derby County.
However, even if the temporary distinction is bestowed on those in charge at Ninian Park, Oakwell or Pride Park when it is announced this lunchtime, McLeish would merely shrug his shoulders as even the shiniest of trophies wouldn’t lift his mood at the moment.
The only honour McLeish wants to lay his hands on isn’t announced until May next year and that comes complete with a ticket to the Premier League.
Two straight losses for the first time this season have put a slight dent in Birmingham’s chances of finding themselves with a reason to cheer when they cross the finishing line in six months’ time.
It may be a marathon not a sprint but McLeish is eager to not make that a third successive reverse at Nottingham Forest on Saturday and see his team slip further behind Wolverhampton Wanderers at the top of the Championship.
Blessed with a wealth of talent and Premier League experience throughout their squad, some would see Birmingham as having a right to win football matches in this division.
However that’s an idea that McLeish has wanted to nip in the bud all season, even more urgently after 1-0 defeats to Queens Park Rangers and Coventry City.
“We’ve had two consecutive 1-0 defeats but that doesn’t mean to say that we will now automatically win our match at Nottingham Forest,” said McLeish. “We’ve got to treat it with the seriousness of a team that wants to go back to the Premier League.
“It’s a test for the players, a character test for us to pick up a couple of decent results. We’ve simply got to go to Forest and get back on track in a winning sense.”
Saturday’s opponents Nottingham Forest lie second from bottom in the table but will welcome Birmingham in buoyant mood following a long-awaited win and a draw in their last two matches.
Colin Calderwood’s team have even managed to score more goals, three to none, in those last two fixtures compared to promotion hungry Birmingham.
Since the loss of Garry O’Connor to a torn groin nine days ago, the goals have tried up for McLeish’s squad.
However the manager was able to salvage some positives from the defeat to Coventry at St Andrew’s on Tuesday night, most notably the performance of his compatriot James McFadden, who has so far managed to score just one goal in 14 Championship matches this season.
“It’s not just about attacking players, it’s about getting the service to them and getting the right delivery.
“OK, you’re looking for an attacking player to sometimes make a difference and inspire with some of the skills that these guys possess and we were a little bit unlucky against Coventry.
“James McFadden was looking much sharper for us and I know there’s more to come from him, there were plus points from that match.”
McLeish will sooner settle for three, rather than plus, points come 5pm at the City Ground on Saturday afternoon.