The Opposition View: Birmingham City

Last updated : 18 August 2009 By Jim Bonner
The second installment of "The Opposition View" is an interview with Birmingham City fan Dan Anderson ahead of this early season six-pointer.

What are your hopes and expectations for the season? Would you take 17th place if it was offered to you right now?

This season is all about survival so I'd take 17th like a shot. McLeish was under pressure last season to get us straight up and I think that affected how we played, so it'd be nice to see if he can make his own mark on the side and see us playing a bit better football. At the end of the day it's all about staying up though, however we do it.

Have you been impressed with your summer transfer dealings so far?

So far yes, although we do need a few more signings. Joe Hart is a good capture in goal, Roger Johnson and Scott Dann are in-experienced at this level, but I'm pleased with them. We've added a lot of experience to the midfield, Lee Bowyer who was very good last season for us and Barry Ferguson.

Up front we've got Benitez, who could potentially cost a lot of money so he's a gamble which needs to pay off. Overall i'm pretty pleased, we still need another defender, Sol Campbell has been strongly linked, and a playmaker/attacking midfielder, Michel from Sporting Gijon is who we're after but money is tight now.

Alex McCleish doesn't seem to be the most popular figure amongst
Birmingham fans despite your promotion last year. How do you feel about the job he is doing and will rumoured rifts between the board and manager hinder your season?

I'm not a great fan of him really, last season was pretty poor, the football on display was awful and some of the performances were among the worst i've seen as a fan. He did have a tough job though, expected to go straight back up so he couldn't build for the future, he had to make signings to get us straight up. Mick McCarthy, for example, had a number of years building his squad and moulding them into a team whereas McLeish had a few months. As far as I know the boardroom problems with him are over. Hopefully this season they'll keep their mouths quiet if there are any problems though.

Do you think
Carson Yeung is going to take over the club and if he does, will it take as long as Sulaiman Al-Fahim's takeover of Pompey (providing it still goes through of course!)?

It sounds as if it's a real possibility this time, it's unknown how much wealth he actually has, but allegedly has 2 wealthy Chinese backers behind him, so he shouldn't have a problem with the funds this time. It's a worry considering the problems he caused last time, especially if it drags on like your takeover has. Apparently there is a real chance of it happening, possibly by the end of October, according to a reliable local journalist.

Having Pompey as your first home game has to be a bonus given our current problems, right?

You'd think so, but you never know. It's a game at home, against a side that will probably be in the relegation mix towards the end of the season, so it's a game we'd be hoping to get 3 points from anyway, without the problems off the field. I think some fans are thinking of it as a game where we'll pick up 3 points easily, forgetting about some the good players you still have.

What are the strongest areas of your team? Are there any players Pompey will have to be wary of this Wednesday?

We've got two good keepers in Joe Hart and Maik Taylor, aside from that I think we've got some pretty decent attacking players. Christian Benitez looked lively against Man Utd but I'm not sure how fit he is at the moment, so he might only feature from the bench. Keith Fahey is a midfielder we signed from St. Pats in Ireland last season, who really impressed. He's very neat and tidy on the ball and works hard too. James McFadden is another very good player who will be vital for us this season.

Gregory Vignal is possibly the worst left back I have ever seen at Pompey but what are the other weaknesses of your team that Pompey may be able to exploit?

Our defence in general at the moment, we've got so many injuries at the back it's ridiculous. Franck Queudrue will be playing at centre-back and he struggles against anyone with any amount of pace, so that's a worry. Stephen Carr at right-back was fantastic for us last season, but i'm not sure if him and Queudrue are up to playing 2 games within such a short space of time.

Are there any Pompey players that the home fans will be worried about?

Kranjcar is the one standout player from Pompey's side for me. He also scored a brilliant goal against us two seasons ago which I remember. Aside from him, any attacker with pace will be a big worry to the Blues fans. The midfield and defence also looks quite physical with Diop, Distin etc in there, so it'll be interesting to see how some of our more lightweight players, like Fahey and McFadden deal with them.

What sort of game are you expecting and what will the result be?

I'm expecting quite a tight game, as the home team we'll be expected to go for the win but I've got a feeling we might play a similar system to the one we played at Old Trafford, 4-5-1/4-3-3. One of the worst performances I remember from our relegation season in 07/08 was the game at home to Pompey, where we were beaten 2-0, so everyone will be hoping that we don't have a repeat of that. I'm going to be optimistic after an encouraging display at Old Trafford and say a 2-1 victory for Birmingham.