McLeish managing Hleb expectations

22 September 2010 09:30
Alex McLeish admits he has to manage expectations slightly when it comes to Alexander Hleb as the midfielder adjusts to life at Birmingham.[LNB] Hleb, a deadline-day signing from Barcelona on a season-long loan, cut an impressive figure as he made his home debut for Blues in their 3-1 Carling Cup third-round triumph over MK Dons.[LNB]The Belarus international broke the deadlock with a sweet strike midway through the first half before seeing two quickfire goals from Nikola Zigic and Craig Gardner all but wrap up the tie.[LNB]Hleb is still getting crucial match practice under his belt and becoming orientated with his new surroundings and team-mates.[LNB]McLeish insists he has settled well having been used to training with the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi at the Nou Camp.[LNB]But while the Blues boss admits his side can hold their own when it comes to the passing game, he acknowledges they are no match for the European giants.[LNB]Asked whether he has to manage expectations when bringing in players of Hleb's calibre, the Scot replied: "I suppose we do.[LNB]"Alex will be used to ball-playing centre-halves and maybe the possession game, but we play the possession game fairly well.[LNB]"We stopped doing it at the weekend after we lost two gifts of goals against West Brom.[LNB]"But we realise on the training ground that we've got a lot of good players who can pass the ball.[LNB]"There are some things that he'll have to realise, and he will realise, and he does realise, that we're not Barcelona."[LNB]McLeish also believes it is only normal for a player of Hleb's quality to have to accept responsibility to step up to the plate having made such a switch.[LNB]"Any top player who plays in any game, that is the extra challenge to them," he added.[LNB]"They're seen as top players so if they don't perform they're the first ones the press pick on.[LNB]"He's fitted in well, there's no airs and graces about him, he's actually quite a character and the players have taken to him."[LNB]MK Dons put in a battling display at St Andrew's despite the crushing four-minute spell that settled the encounter.[LNB]The League One side played some good football and got their just rewards for plenty of endeavour when substitute Aaron Wilbraham grabbed an 80th-minute consolation.[LNB]And manager Karl Robinson felt the difference in predatory finishing was a the key factor when it came to the gulf in class.[LNB]"That's why they're in the Premier League," he said.[LNB]"We had a chance with Lewis Guy - very similar to Hleb's one - and two headers from Dean Lewington in probably a six, seven, eight-minute spell and we never took ours.[LNB]"I thought their finishing was phenomenal and they play in the Premier League because there's very few opportunities created at that level.[LNB]"And when they do come along, you've got to make sure you've got enough quality to take them."

Source: Team_Talk