Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish has said he will build a squad that will be ready for any eventuality in the Championship this coming season, a side that can swap tackles and technical football with the opposition in equal measure.
The general consensus of opinion is that teams must play a certain way to have success in a division widely regarded as the toughest league in the world.
With the exception of West Bromwich Albion last season and Reading three campaigns ago, sides that have been successful in the Championship have been fit, well organised and physical outfits that play percentage football, like Stoke City and Watford.
However, McLeish said he will have a foot in each camp and will not throw all his eggs into one particular footballing basket.
His determination to keep talented and intelligent players such as James McFadden and Sebastian Larsson, and the sale of Fabrice Muamba to Bolton Wanderers to free funds to recruit a ball-playing midfield player indicates that McLeish will certainly want his side to play attractive, attacking football this season.
However, the attempt to sign giant striker Jan Koller reveals that McLeish realises Blues need more of a physical presence.
The 6ft 7in Czech Republic centre forward would certainly have given Blues significant muscle and the ability to take a more direct route to goal when the need arises.
The 35-year-old eventually turned down a move to St Andrew’s in favour of a £40,000 a week pay offer from Russian club Krylya Sovetov Samara, but the Blues bid proves McLeish isn’t afraid to try and bring big names to the club.
McLeish had said he was after a more mobile forward to add to his current strike force of McFadden, Cameron Jerome and Garry O’Connor, so the move for Koller may have surprised some but the Blues boss explained he was keen to equip his squad with a full armoury.
“You have to go with your gut rather than have real football philosophies because I may say that we are going to play total football, take the Championship apart and play the beautiful game and then, after the second game, I may decide to change it,” McLeish said.
“I have to work with the players we have got but we know the type of players we want and the type of football we want to play, but we also have to have the balance. Ideally we would like the balance and the ability to adjust with different formations and different personnel.
“We did try for Jan Koller, we showed our ambition and intention there, but he chose a massive offer in Russia, which we couldn’t compete with.
“We know that O’Connor is a big presence but he’s slightly different, quite a technical player. He’s good with both feet and half-decent in the air. Koller maybe would have allowed us to get up the pitch and support, and caused a lot of trouble with his size and physique.”