x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Alex McLeish: I still need results to secure job

The Birmingham City manager admits his position is "not invulnerable" despite seeing his side reach their first major cup final for 55 years.

BIRMINGHAM // Alex McLeish, the Birmingham City manager, admits his position is "not invulnerable" despite seeing his side reach their first major cup final for 55 years.

Blues staged a remarkable recovery from 3-1 down on aggregate to defeat West Ham 4-3 over the two semi-final legs and seal a Carling Cup final date with Arsenal on February 27.

It was the latest chapter of success at Blues for McLeish after leading them to promotion two years ago and a best ever finish of ninth in the Premier League last season.

But McLeish was the subject of comments from Peter Pannu, the acting chairman, at the weekend regarding the value of some of his signings and has been frustrated at a lack of new blood in January.

The former Rangers and Scotland boss knows his position ultimately depends on results.

When asked about whether his job was now more secure, McLeish said: "I don't want to talk about or answer that type of question. I'll just keep working to the best of my ability and whatever happens, happens.

"I'm not invulnerable if results don't go our way. We are in the results business and that is football and I accept I've got to get results.

"I've got a good one and maybe I will be here for a few more days yet."

McLeish could not conceal his pride at the way his players responded to conceding Carlton Cole's first-half goal, having lost the first leg 2-1 at Upton Park.

His decision to bring on Nikola Zigic, the Serbian striker, had a major impact on the game as goals from Lee Bowyer, Roger Johnson and, in extra time, Craig Gardner, turned the tie around.

"It was a really exciting moment for me when I heard the final whistle and realised what this team and my staff and everyone has achieved," McLeish said:.

"The fans were magnificent for us in the second half. We needed that support and to walk a team out at Wembley will be one of the proudest moments of my career.

"I've done quite a lot up in Scotland but we (Scots) always want to try and achieve something with a big chip on our shoulder down in England so we can live with you guys down here.

"At half-time I thought we were out of the cup, We had to change tactics and approach, and I said 'if you get chance to cross the ball, cross it' and Zigic had his best game for the club.

"He was much more aggressive and the big fellow realises what it takes to succeed in England and that is the best I have seen him. In everything he did he was almost unplayable. He was verging on that."

Hammers boss Avram Grant felt his side paid the penalty for not defending well at set pieces.

"I felt we played really well in the first half," he said. "We dominated the game. We controlled the game. We scored one goal, we could have scored more.

"We hit the post and then in the second half, Birmingham scored from two corners and we didn't deal with them well. It is disappointing.

"I am not happy we are not in the final. I think we did well in the Carling Cup.

"We won a lot of games and even this game in the first half we played well but unfortunately we are not at Wembley, I am not happy about this."