Last Season: Promotion from Championship (2nd)
Say hello to your new teammates: Christian Benitez (record signing no less), Barry Ferguson, Lee Bowyer, Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Joe Hart + others.
Close the door on your way out: Stephen Kelly.
Predicted star: Benitez is a somewhat unknown and expensive quantity. I think that the potential defensive spine of centre-backs Johnson and Dann and goalkeeper Hart is where the potential lies. Hart in particular will be pushing for a World Cup place.
Needs a big year: Barry Ferguson gets a second chance to prove himself in the Premier League. One of the motley crew of random Birmingham strikers needs to get to double figures. It won’t be Marcus Bent though, I am sure of that.
One to watch: Dann was highly rated at Coventry and could prove to be a bargain buy. Seb Larsson was good last time Birmingham came up.
What they want to happen: Survival. A win over Aston Villa.
Nightmare scenario: Relegation after defeat to Aston Villa away three games from the season’s end.
Plan A: Keep it tight at the back, graft in midfield and hope Benitez shows why he cost the best part of £8-9m.
Plan B, just in case: Keep it tight at the back, graft in midfield and snatch a goal through someone, anyone.
Predicted finish: 18th
Why? I don’t really rate Alex McLeish as a manager at this level and looking at Birmingham’s squad, I just don’t see where the goals to keep them up are going to come from. I imagine they won’t be too bad defensively – both centre back signings are from Championship clubs but highly rated none the less. Joe Hart is a great loan signing and he’ll be highly motivated given the uncertainty regarding the England No.1 position. In midfield there is a lack of pace. The likes of Larsson, Bowyer and Ferguson are slow and not that inspiring (Larsson is quite good I suppose).
If Christian Benitez fails to adapt then who is going to score? Old man Kevin Phillips? Crap man Marcus Bent? Pacy man who can’t finish Cameron Jerome? (the most likely to be fair). McSheffrey and McFadden are relatively effective but overall I feel there won’t be enough to keep the Brummies up. It wouldn’t surprise me to see McLeish get sacked either.