Birmingham news

Relegated Blues stick with McLeish

May 23, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Birmingham City have announced that manager Alex McLeish will keep his job - but he must lead the club to an immediate Premier League return next term.

Alex McLeish
PA PhotosAlex McLeish was expected to remain in charge of Birmingham in the Championship

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McLeish has performed wonders in his three full seasons at Birmingham and guided the club to Carling Cup victory earlier this season. However, the drop into the Championship inevitably cast a cloud over his future St Andrew's.

But after a meeting between Blues owner Carson Yeung and chairman Peter Pannu to discuss necessary changes at the club following relegation, the latter announced McLeish's job was "safe".

Pannu told the slub's website: "The board regrets yesterday's result and subsequent relegation and feels that supporters, who have continued to back us magnificently, have been let down.

"The club can confirm that manager Alex McLeish's job is safe but that the board will expect him to lead the side back to the Premier League in the 2011-12 season.''

Pannu added: "The board will take stock of what went wrong this season despite Carson Yeung's promised injection of £40 million in funds - not £80 million as the media wrongly assumed.

"The board will closely discuss and implement appropriate procedures to ensure a speedy return to the top flight.

"Finally a word for our terrific supporters, who are no doubt feeling the pain today like everyone else connected with the club.

"We thank you for your tremendous backing - something we are confident we will still have moving forward as we embark on looking to make an immediate return to the Premier League.''

Following Sunday's disappointing 2-1 defeat against Tottenham McLeish reiterated his desire to stay at Blues. He said: "I've got a good contract with the club.

"It's tough on us to be relegated but we don't lie down and bury our heads in the sand. We've got to get on with the next challenge. We've got to show leadership.

"Will I still be here next year? I've got a contract that says that. Until I'm told differently, that will be the case.''

McLeish led City to promotion in his first full season and their ninth-place finish in 2009-2010 was their highest in the top flight.

The Scot was back at the club's training ground on Monday morning to sort out the future of several players.

Sebastian Larsson, Lee Bowyer and Martin Jiranek are all out of contract while Obafemi Martins, Matt Derbyshire, David Bentley and Alexander Hleb have come to the end of their loan spells.

The likes of Ben Foster, Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Cameron Jerome and Nikola Zigic are also likely to be targets for Premier League clubs.