Monday 11 December 2017

McLeish seeks fine-tuning to keep Birmingham running

McFadden 45 pen

David Instone

HAVING barely tapped into the mindblowing reservoir with which Birmingham City’s owner Carson Yeung promised to flood St Andrew’s, Alex McLeish is as interested in the odd £100,000 for existing players as the £80m earmarked for new ones.

Scarcely had the final whistle blown on the victory that will guarantee Premier League survival for his club than the manager was looking beyond next Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final assignment at Portsmouth.

“I’ll sit down with the board and ask about the infrastructure and improving facilities,” he said. “I’ve kept an article about Wayne Rooney talking about the fitness guys at Manchester United. He’s already fit and powerful but individuals work in different ways to get the best out of him with speed training and weight programmes.

“If players are stronger, they don’t get injured as much. If you bring in a scientist and some equipment that costs you £100,000, everyone benefits.”

Now unbeaten in 11 home games, Birmingham have prospered protecting 1-0 leads, this one given them by James McFadden’s penalty. Scott Dann was outstanding and Liam Ridgewell is cheerfully suggesting he might follow Joe Hart into England’s squad.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Hart; Carr (Gardner, 84), Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell; Larsson, Bowyer, Ferguson, Fahey; Jerome (Michel, 90), McFadden (Phillips, 64). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Benitez, Parnaby, Vignal.

Wigan Athletic (4-1-4-1): Kirkland; Melchiot, Caldwell, Bramble, Figueroa; Diame; N’Zogbia (Moses, h-t), Thomas, Scharner (Scotland, h-t), McCarthy (Gomez, 84); Rodallega. Substitutes not used: Stojkovic (gk), Sinclair, Boyce, Moreno.

Referee: A Taylor (Cheshire).

Booked: Birmingham Ridgewell; Wigan Caldwell,

N’Zogbia, Rodallega.

Man of the match: Dann.

Attendance: 25,921.

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