McLeish proud of buoyant Birmingham

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The Independent Football

Alex McLeish believes Birmingham "have proved a lot of people wrong" after victory over Blackburn at St Andrew's lifted them into the top six of the Barclays Premier League.

Cameron Jerome's brace earned Blues a 2-1 success and set a new club record of five successive Premier League wins.

City were written off as candidates to make an instant return to the Coca-Cola Championship in pre-season, particularly as McLeish did not have large amounts of money to spend.

But they have taken 20 points from an eight-game unbeaten run and a mixture of youth and experience, a never-say-die team spirit and moments of quality are doing the trick.

McLeish said: "I am proud of the players and I think the fans should be proud of them as well.

"They have shown a fantastic appetite since day one in this Premier League and they have also shown they can rise to the challenge of expectation levels.

"When you see the league table, it is a great sight but I've been there before with some of the clubs I've managed, Motherwell and Hibs and even higher.

"It has been a big part of my life, being in successful positions in the league but, from where we started at the beginning of the season, we have proved a lot of people wrong.

"We don't set out to do that but there is a lot of good stuff about the team in the media and the players should embrace that and not be intimidated by that and make sure they keep challenging themselves to not to be in a comfort zone.

"With each game that they have won, people are asking for more, and asking for other things like (qualification for) Europe. We are keeping our feet on the ground and making sure we are in the Premier League - that is our main aim.

"We have given ourselves a very good chance to be part of this strongest league in the world."

McLeish praised the contribution of Jerome whose tireless work-rate finally received some tangible reward with his second and third goals of the campaign.

The former Scotland boss said: "Cameron was excellent. I've kept saying Cameron is a work in progress in terms of the Premier League.

"He has been there before and I challenged him at the start of the season to improve and show he could really cause defences problems and against Blackburn he was a fantastic centre-forward in the Premier League."

Blackburn have now conceded 23 goals away from Ewood Park this season and manager Sam Allardyce was unhappy with his side's defending last night.

He said: "You can't give away two silly goals like we did, especially the first one.

"We expected Birmingham to come out all guns blazing and put us under the cosh but we controlled the first 10 minutes and looked nice and comfortable and were probing away.

"We gave them the first corner and then we decide to give them a goal and in the mood they are in, and with the confidence they have got, it is always going to be difficult to come back from that.

"We've killed ourselves in the space of a few seconds and the rest of it in between, in terms of who is the better side, is down to the toss of a coin."