McLeish calls for 'wall of noise' to frighten Villa

It is billed as the biggest Second City derby since Birmingham beat Aston Villa in the third Football League Cup final 47 years ago. But with his focus on reaching the Carling Cup semi-finals tonight against City's fiercest rivals – especially with their nemesis Gabriel Agbonlahor fit to return – any sepia-tinted sub-text was lost on Alex McLeish.

Asked if there had been much talk around the club about the two-leg affair in 1963 which brought Birmingham what remains their only major national honour, their manager replied: "What happened then? I'm not aware of the history. Shame on me. I'll probably get chastised for that."

McLeish was in short pants at the time and now he is concerned with weightier matters – such as the recovery of the new, bulkier Agbonlahor, who has scored Villa's winner in the dying minutes of each of the past two St Andrew's clashes. This time Birmingham are arguably favourites. They are one place higher in the Premier League and face an under-strength Villa on home turf.

Agbonlahor's comeback will fire the visitors' optimism, although the striker is cutting a different figure these days. "When you build up too much it affects your joints and muscle," said the Villa manager Gérard Houllier of his striker's changing shape. "The fact is, I think he should stop – he's too stocky. The Gabby I saw when I was watching TV in France was different to what I see here. He was thinner, more wiry and, wow, quick. I've told him to lay off the weights. Sometimes they do too much."

The Frenchman has reason to remember this competition fondly, having been Liverpool manager when they beat Birmingham in the 2001 final, the first of three prizes they collected that spring. McLeish hopes for an occasion and a result to match the 2002 tussle when a scouting mission as the Rangers manager led him to watch City win 3-0 in a match famous for a howler by the Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckelman. "There was a wall of noise from start to finish," the Scot said. "I could understand the Villa players being nervous that night, and let's hope our fans can do that again. We want Villa to be apprehensive."

Reminded that recent meetings have been marked by violence outside the grounds, and with West Midlands Police appealing for a trouble-free night, McLeish added: "The bitterness that exists in derbies is something no one likes to see. We'd like the banter and the friendly rivalry."

History favours Villa. They had won the previous six derbies in the League before this season, while in 11 cup ties, City's first-leg success in 1963 remains their only win. McLeish, however, has only one player out, Alexander Hleb, whereas Houllier may have as many as eight first-teamers missing injured.

Birmingham City (possible, 4-4-2) Foster; Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell; Larsson, Ferguson, Bowyer, Fahey; Zigic, Jerome.

Aston Villa (possible, 4-4-2) Friedel; L Young, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; A Young, Bannan, Clark, Downing; Agbonlahor, Carew.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine