McLeish content after bore of attrition

Birmingham City 0 Stoke City 0

There must be better ways, even in Premier League football, to spend £81.5m. Carson Yeung may be on the point of sealing his protracted takeover of Birmingham City but it is not very clear what he has bought.

Four points from three games – one of which was at Manchester United – is not a bad return but if the man from Hong Kong has intentions of using St Andrew's as a base to entertain business contacts, he might consider taking them to the pictures.

Birmingham City, especially when faced with the resolve and ruggedness of Stoke, are about establishing themselves in the Premier League rather than offering up entertainment. The fact remains, however, that their only goal has come courtesy of a rush of blood from David James that earned them victory over Portsmouth, who seem likely to become this season's Newcastle.

And as if proof were needed that at this level of football, only results matter, Alex McLeish's side was applauded off. "I don't think we are too disappointed," the Birmingham manager said. "We were troubled by their long balls before the break but in the second half we made some changes that took the game to Stoke, we took control in the midfield and might have won. We will need some inspiration in the last third to get the goals that will keep us in the Premier League. Today was total stalemate apart from one moment of brilliance."

That was a full-stretch save from the Stoke goalkeeper, Thomas Sorensen, as Sebastian Larsson's first touch of the ball – a free-kick – was met by Garry O'Connor's head. It was the kind of save Peter Reid, who is on the point of being appointed Tony Pulis's assistant at Stoke, would have remembered from his time managing the Dane at Sunderland. Pulis said the deal to bring in Reid was not yet done and depended on obtaining clearance from the Thai FA, with whom Reid is contracted. Pulis added that one of Reid's chief attractions was that he was "a true football man and a typical, bubbly Scouser. We could do with a bit of bubbliness in the dressing-room." Actually, they could have done with some on the pitch.

The first draw of the new Premier League season was not a thing of beauty and few expected this match to be anything other than an attritional slog. Stoke's task was complicated by the loss of James Beattie with a knee injury when the game was barely a dozen minutes old.

Thereafter, their chief threat rested with Ricardo Fuller, who was given two opportunities but used his hand to put one cross over the line and then, after O'Connor had headed Matthew Etherington's ball across his own area, found the top of Joe Hart's net.

Birmingham had prepared for Stoke's arrival by employing their reserve keeper, Maik Taylor, to punt long balls towards their defenders in training, in an attempt to mimic Rory Delap's long-throws. Given the panicky way McLeish's back-four dealt with the first five, there was a bit of work still to do when kick-off arrived.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there