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McLeish pledges to rebuild Birmingham City if relegated

SoccerNews in English Premier League 11 May 2008


Alex McLeish has made it clear he will not be looking for an exit route out of Birmingham City if they are relegated on Sunday and he firmly believes that if he gets the right kind of support he can build a new dynasty at St Andrews – even if he has to start in the Championship.

The former Scotland manager knows victory for Birmingham City over Blackburn Rovers at St Andrews is imperative, but will still not be enough to prevent a second relegation in three seasons, if either Reading, or Fulham win their final game of the season.

McLeish has already stated that relegation will not mean that he will be looking for employment away from St Andrews, less than 12 months after replacing Steve Bruce and turning his back on a new contract offer from the Scottish Football Association.

His commitment to the club remains as strong as ever and he is hoping that the same applies to owners David Gold and David Sullivan as they brace themselves for the financial hit of being outside the top flight once again.

“It's not overnight that you build a team. I don't think five months is a chance to build your own team and if we are relegated I want to be around to build mine,” said McLeish.

“Hopefully these lads who are going into battle on Sunday can come on the next part of the journey and we can add more players to the squad.

“We can progress if we can stay in the Premier League and regardless of what happens on Sunday, we have still got to be ambitious.

“I have got a vision for the club and I think that David Sullivan, David and Ralph Gold and Karren Brady have got the power to inspire the fans and inspire Birmingham City. I am sure they want to be successful too.

“I am confident in my ability, and the people around me, to help establish us at this level, with them sharing that same vision. We can be negative, or we can do something about it and come back even stronger.”

McLeish will at least have his strongest line-up to choose from and much will hinge on the performances of Scotland international James McFadden and French striker Oliver Kapo, but they face a Blackburn side looking to upset both sets of supporters in England's second city.

Victory for Blackburn would relegate Birmingham for certain and could also see them pip Aston Villa for the Premier League InterToto cup spot, if Martin O'Neill's side slip up at West Ham United.

Manager Mark Hughes said: “We are going to have to upset both Birmingham clubs if we are to get into Europe, but if that's how it must be, then so be it.

“If we walk off the pitch at Birmingham having failed to do our job and then hear that Villa have lost, it will be really hard to take. So we have to ensure that we do what we have to do and get the victory that gives us a chance.

“I was in the Chelsea team that relegated Bolton on the final day of the 1997-98 season, but when you face a team in that situation, you just have to be very professional and go full out for the win.

“If you look at the league table, then we should go to Birmingham and win tomorrow and that's the task we have set ourselves, but football doesn't always go the way it should and so much can happen on the final day of the season.

“That's why the Premier League is compelling because no team ever gives up, no matter what situation they are in.”


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