McLeish: 'West Ham taunts will not harm us'

City manager urges his players to ignore past owners' 'sideshow'

Alex McLeish insists his Birmingham City players will not be distracted by the "sideshow" surrounding the club's owners past and present when they take on West Ham United at Upton Park tonight.

The current City owner Carson Yeung and his aides have been involved in several verbal exchanges with their predecessors, David Gold and David Sullivan, who have now taken charge at the Hammers.

Gold said he wanted Gianfranco Zola's side to "whack" Birmingham, who have been beaten just once in 15 league games.

But McLeish's main focus is on trying to ensure Blues gain the victory that would take them to the 40-point mark, which is usually viewed as the yardstick for ensuring survival in the top-flight for another season.

He said "I understand there's a few comments flying to and fro and it is an interesting game thrown up against the old owners. They need the points more than we do. I've been told what David Gold has said and that's sent shivers down my spine!

"But, listen, the two Davids are in it for West Ham – and they have the quality in the squad, no doubt about it. They have some terrific players. The business Zola did in January looks pretty good to me. Ilan made an instant impact, Mido of course, we know him very well. He's a big, strong centre-forward and he will bring a bit of quality to them."

Commenting further on Gold's remarks, McLeish said: "Listen, there is nothing like rousing your fans for a game. I'm sure the West Ham fans will stand up to the plate when the chips are down for them. Ultimately I think they will be okay. They have got enough quality.

"But the little sideshows are irrelevant. It's what happens on the field," said McLeish. "West Ham will be up for it but we go down there with confidence after a great victory at the weekend."

The Scotsman will demand his players do not rest on their laurels even if they are virtually assured of top-flight football for a second successive season. He said: "I think we're in a good position. The three points at the weekend against Wolves were vital for us. Anyone getting to the 37 mark would virtually stay up.

"But there are 42 points to play for and we want to get as many of them as possible. To go as high up the league as we can go is the vision, the challenge to the players.

"We've got to keep going and not think 'let's down tools and take it easy'. Players have got to keep playing every single game at full tilt and defend the reputation they have now got for resilience and for never giving up. They have got to defend that reputation right to the last day of the season."

McLeish has to decide whether to give a rare start to the striker Kevin Phillips after his brace as a substitute against Wolverhampton, particularly with Christian Benitez sidelined with an ankle injury.

He said: "It's not an easy decision because Kevin's confidence will be sky-high after the weekend. But I spoke to him at the beginning of the season about his role and I felt he would be better as an impact player for us.

"When defences are getting a bit tired, and we can pin opposition back in their own box, then there's nobody better to have at your disposal than Kevin Phillips," said McLeish. "Would I be doing him a favour starting games? I would have to communicate with him about that, be adult and grown up about it, and whether I feel I'm doing him a favour starting remains to be seen.

"You never know. He might start banging in goals from the start of games as well. But my tactical brain and my experience tells me that he may be more effective using him the way we did at the weekend."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power