Alex McLeish insists words of wisdom from Stoke counterpart Tony Pulis ensure he will not get carried away with his ambitions for this season.[LNB] McLeish guided Birmingham to ninth spot in their first season back in the top flight and knows expectations are higher ahead of the opening game at Sunderland on Saturday.[LNB]But the former Scotland boss has digested the pre-season thoughts of Pulis and claims consolidation and staying up are his main aims.[LNB]McLeish said: "Thinking of consolidation and just staying up sounds negative but we have got to be realistic at the club.[LNB]"We have to realise teams have come up before from the Championship and done well in their first season and then they've had a very difficult season.[LNB]"We are not a surprise to anyone any more. There is more pressure on us this season. Teams may tactically prepare a bit more thoroughly than they did last season.[LNB]"The players are always looking for improvement. Whether they can do better than last season, that's my challenge to them.[LNB]"But staying in the league is important and I keep bringing Tony Pulis' name up.[LNB]"He is a very wise man. He has been in the Premier League now coming up for his third year and said despite spending £8million (on Kenwyne Jones) and money like that, he is still talking about making sure they stay in the league.[LNB]"He said that would be the aim for three years in a row and he would then consider Stoke a fully-fledged Premier League team.[LNB]"With Tony saying things like that, despite the spending he has done over the last three years, which is more considerable than us, who am I to say 'we are going to finish eighth, seventh, or get into Europe?'[LNB]"We are not quite ready for that but we will keep trying to achieve it. Anything better than being a Premier League team next season is a bonus."[LNB]McLeish admits Blues are currently lacking in squad depth as he maintains his efforts to strengthen before the transfer window closes.[LNB]He said: "We lacked a bit of depth last year as well if key men get injured.[LNB]"We were lucky, touch wood, and hopefully we don't get injuries this season as well. Losing key men is vital to a club like ours.[LNB]"It was vital for a club like Arsenal when they lost Van Persie. They were going great guns and when he dropped out they started to have dodgy results.[LNB]"It stands to reason if we lose a key player it could be tough. That is why we are trying to make the squad stronger in depth."[LNB]McLeish knows the importance of Blues making a positive start to the campaign.[LNB]He said: "It is a tough away game, a tough start. We are at a loss as to why six of the last seven times in the Premier League, we've had our first fixture away from home.[LNB]"I can't understand that. If that is all about the luck of the computer, then we must be one unlucky team.[LNB]"But saying that, if we can get off to a flying start away from home, that will be fantastic for confidence.[LNB]"We've got to go up there and look to perform the way we did in the second half of the last game against Sunderland."[LNB]After getting off to a bad start and conceding two early goals Birmingham improved after the break.[LNB]"If we start the way we started that game, we won't win the game. We need to go up there and be positive."