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Blues boss delighted with season
Published : 16 May 2010 22:46:00Rss feed
Alex McLeish has said that Birmingham's season was all the more sweet because of the disappointment they suffered a couple of years previously. The Blues were relegated from the top flight at the end of the 2007-08 campaign but after winning promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt, they enjoyed an excellent first year back in the big time, surpassing all expectations to finish 9th. "What we did was absolutely amazing," McLeish told Goals on Sunday. "I've had a lot of highs in the game, more highs than lows, but that is football, the extremes are so devastating and what a difference a year makes. That was a fantastic moment as well when we managed to get back to the Premier League and this season has been a fairytale." City registered a club record 12-game Premier League unbeaten streak between October and January, a run that began with a 2-1 home win over Sunderland and McLeish says that match against Steve Bruce's side was the defining moment in their season. "There have been many great moments. Keeping with the top clubs was terrific but probably the turning point for us was the Sunderland game at home. We started the season well, there was some good football but we did lose a few games and it was one of these situations where you could see us fighting in the lower half of the table at the end of the season. "But in the Sunderland game we got a 2-1 victory and it really gave the players that belief and we went on that fantastic, incredible run." Cameron Jerome played a major part in the Blues' top-half finish, netting 10 times to top City's goal-scoring chart and McLeish believes the ex-Cardiff striker can get even better. "Cameron's now an experienced Premier League player. He's instinctive, he's so powerful, so quick and if we can hone the technical side of his game, then Cameron can be a threat in the Premier League for years to come. "When I first came to the club, I thought he was going to be more of an impact player because he's a sprinter so he uses a lot of energy up, he wasn't lasting the whole game. "But now he's fit and can still make intense runs in the last five minutes of a game which is brilliant for him." McLeish also saw fit to praise another of his side's front men, veteran Kevin Phillips, who is close to agreeing a new one-year contract at St Andrews. "We've not quite signed him yet but we are speaking to Kevin and his advisors in terms of another year," McLeish told GoS. "The man's class. If we can put people under the cosh at St Andrews, then Kevin Phillips can play a key role. He's a fantastic finisher and if we can get the service to him, he'll score. "I think he would have stayed at West Brom but they only offered him one year and we stepped in and I was quite happy to give Kevin the two seasons and now he's amazingly getting another one. He's a fit guy a dedicated professional, he likes his game of golf every now and again and I've got to try and curb that at times. But he's a fantastic guy and a role model for any young professional aspiring to get somewhere in the game. Phillips' starting days are few and far between now but McLeish still thinks the 36-year-old can play a valuable role. "A couple of times during the season, I could see the body language of Kevin and he thought: 'Maybe I should be playing.' He wasn't as sprightly on the training ground and I had a word with him about his role and all of a sudden he was back to the bubbly Kevin that I expect. "He's not the sort of guy that rattles your door every other day but he's a great professional and I think he understands the role now. I've said to him next season it will be similar, so make sure your experience rubs off on these young lads - these young 32 year-olds like (Barry) Ferguson!"