McLeish vows not to break bank despite Blues' £40m transfer kitty
Alex McLeish, armed with a £40m transfer kitty, last night pledged not to bankrupt Birmingham City by reckless use of the funds provided by new owner Carson Yeung.
The manager, who became accustomed to frugal housekeeping in previous posts with Hibernian, Motherwell and even Rangers, is close to making Sporting Gijon's £3m-rated Spanish midfielder Michel his first capture since Yeung took over from David Sullivan and David Gold in October.
McLeish believes that 6ft Michel (24) could be signed by early next week, though he would be ineligible to play in Tuesday's FA Cup replay against Nottingham Forest.
Birmingham have also had an offer for Celtic's Aiden McGeady turned down. "We were told he is not for sale," said McLeish. "The situation won't change until someone says he is up for sale."
He has also enquired about strikers Kenwyne Jones of Sunderland and Liverpool's Ryan Babel, who are thought to be available for £11m and £10.5m respectively.
However, his approach will be informed by an awareness of the damage exorbitant fees and wages inflicted on Leeds United during the Peter Ridsdale-David O'Leary era, and the crisis currently besetting Portsmouth.
"It's my duty to be responsible for what happens next at this club," McLeish said. "That's why I'm loath to triple wages and bring in £10m to £15m players, because it might be too big a step too soon.
"The fans have to trust me. I want to do it for the good of Birmingham. I want this club to be around in the next 100 years. I don't want it to be the case in the next few years of the media writing about Birmingham's financial troubles, about us needing to have a fire sale because there are too many players on too high wages and players we can't get rid of because we've paid too much for them."
Birmingham, who host Manchester United tomorrow, are unbeaten in 11 Premier League games. While keen to exploit his new purchasing power, McLeish is also aware of the potential pitfalls of introducing expensive new players. "I know the players would appreciate some help," he said. "And I know one or two players they would accept in the dressing-room.
"But I want to maintain the spirit. It's a strong dressing-room. There's big-time experience in there that wouldn't let prima donnas or Billy Big-Times take over. We have fantastic camaraderie." (© Independent News Service)