McLeish proud of Blues achievement
irmingham manager Alex McLeish rates his success in the Premier League this season as comparable to his SPL-title winning season at Rangers. On the eve of Sunday's final match of the campaign at Bolton, Birmingham are ninth and on course for their highest finish in 51 years. The achievement has not been lost on McLeish, who is well aware his side were tipped to be relegation candidates on their return to the top flight. The former Scotland boss said: "It is probably an achievement that we will look back in years to come and feel it was better than we thought at the time. "We have been up there for so long and at times it bothered me that we were not getting any higher. "I did say that Everton, Sunderland, Stoke and Blackburn would come through on the rails. "But when I look at Birmingham being above those teams I have to pinch myself. "Our success is due to having a group of players with great mentalities as we did have long spells of players appearing every week. "There were some niggles in that period but they were cleared up quickly. "It was really down to the confidence aspect. "On a personal note it is all relative. Harry Redknapp's great achievement this season is getting into the Champions League. Our Champions League is staying in the Premier League. "It compares to my spell at Rangers and winning the league. We were not fancied at the start of the season but we changed people's opinions. "We have made Birmingham fans happy which is a big part of the job. "We realise that we have created a lot of history with our unbeaten run and obtaining a record number of points. "When you are in the middle of something like that I do not get too worked up about it. "No doubt in a few years time I will look back and say what a great achievement it was. "Currently I've forgotten about it and I'm already thinking about next season. "My mission is that in 12 months time I want to be talking about having had another good season in the Premiership." To make sure Birmingham build on their current success, McLeish knows that will mean moving into the transfer market to strengthen his squad. He has been assured by the club's owner, Carson Yeung, there will be money to spend and added: "The board was delighted in reaching the 50 points mark. "Carson Yeung has been very supportive and I'm sure the Blackberry will be very busy! "We are looking to recruit new players which is not easy when you are looking for the right characters, the right type at the right resources for a club of our size. "This is going to be difficult. I could easily take in five or six players right away but I need to be careful of the character I bring in. "Hopefully we can make the right choices because you can never guarantee anything." While keen to bring players in, McLeish also has to decide if he wants to ship any out. Chief among his thoughts is the on-loan Ecuadorian international striker Christian Benitez. Birmingham have an option to make his move from the Mexican side Santos Laguna permanent. The option runs out on May 25 and McLeish, who has previously hinted Birmingham could seek to re-negotiate the fee of around £7million, is continuing to keep his cards close to his chest. Benitez only scored his first goal at St Andrew's last weekend against Burnley and McLeish said: "There are still a few days before we make a decision. "I've tried to keep the players going right until the very end of the season. "Some of the players wanted to know earlier about their future but my overall concern was the club and the team."
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