The Opposition View: Birmingham

Back in August, I interviewed Dan ahead of Pompey's first away game of the season at Birmingham. Both sides were expected to struggle, but the fortunes of both teams could not be any different. Here is the view from the Brum camp:

What's going on? You were supposed to be fighting relegation with us and there you are, sitting 8th in the table and only 5 points from a Champions League place!

It's amazing isn't it. We've had consistent team selection throughout it all, and the players just seem to have clicked together. Everyone knows what they need to do and they're all doing it brilliantly at the moment.

Going back to August, you said you weren't a fan of Alex McCleish. I presume you've changed your mind now?

Yes, definitely. He's surprised just about every Blues fan with this, he was under a lot of pressure earlier in the season but he's delivered. A lot of Blues fans weren't convinced about him, but everyone is behind him now. He's very diplomatic in his interviews and comes across as a very intelligent and likeable guy. It'll also be nice to see what he can do with a bit of money to spend now, something he's not really had at Blues.

So now that avoiding relegation is almost a certainty, what's the target now?

To try and finish as high as possible I suppose! If we were to finish in the top 10 i'd be absolutely delighted. We can also focus on the cup as well, and hopefully have a bit of a run in that.

What's the secret to your success? Fourteen games unbeaten isn't something you achieve by luck, is it?

We've had a bit of luck, away at Everton springs to mind. But also had some bad luck,
Liverpool away (N'Gog dive) and Chelsea at home. It's all down to our defence really. Roger Johnson and Scott Dann are immense and haven't really had a poor game yet. Joe Hart has been in brilliant form and Stephen Carr has turned the years back and is now captain! The midfield is very solid and we've got a great desire not to be beaten.

Which players in the
Birmingham squad should Pompey fans be wary of on Saturday?

Attacking wise - Benitez and Jerome are very quick and unpredictable, and cause defences problems although they don't really score enough goals compared to the chances they get. McFadden has got the quality but sometimes he doesn't turn it on. Hopefully Saturday will be one of his days!

Defending wise - Johnson and Dann at the centre of defence, awesome.

Despite such a great run, are you at all concerned that in typical football fashion, you'll lose your unbeaten run at
Fratton Park?

Yes, I thought we'd lose to Man Utd and struggle away at Stoke, but we came through those. This was the 1 game this month i'd thought we'd win. Everything is pointing to a Blues win, so of course you'll probably win!

Predict the result.

2-1 to
Birmingham.