One Eck of a risk
Matt Le Tissier was surprised Alex McLeish got the Birmingham job, but is backing them for a draw at Spurs.
Last Updated: 02/12/07 5:52pm
Tottenham v Birmingham
3.30pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 1
To be honest, I thought it was a bit strange that Alex McLeish got the Birmingham job.
It's an appointment that seems to have come from nowhere. He did a decent job with Scotland and almost got them qualified for Euro 2008, so it seemed a strange time for him to leave them.
I suppose he has been missing day-to-day involvement with the players and the chance to manage in the Premier League was too good to turn down.
But it is a risk to give him the job and seems a bit desperate when you consider the number of managers that are out of work and have a lot more Premier League experience than McLeish.
But time will tell. You've got to give him a chance after what he did with Scotland and that has obviously impressed the Birmingham board. A lot will depend on what happens with the takeover because the team is going to need a bit of work in the January transfer window.
He's going to have to buy wisely, but has McLeish got enough pulling power to get the players in?
I suppose what he did with Scotland was so high-profile that he might be able to persuade players to come to St Andrews and he might be in a good position to keep Birmingham in the Premier League. But I'm not totally sure.
Steve Bruce will be a big loss to that club. They got relegated under him, but he got them back up and he can look back on his time there as a success. He got two promotions and was well liked by the Birmingham fans.
They've struggled this year but I don't think there was a need to change the manager. If Wigan had not been so persistent, I'm sure he wouldn't have left. Though the fact Wigan have paid a fair amount of compensation will have gone down well with the Birmingham board.
They have been struggling lately and McLeish really needs to get hold of a regular goalscorer. They've got quite a few forwards there, but none of them have taken on the mantle.
Olivier Kapo is the top scorer from midfield and Cameron Jerome and Mikael Forssell really haven't got enough goals. I've also been disappointed with Gary McSheffrey, who had a big reputation for scoring goals from wide areas, but he has struggled in the Premier League.
Of the three teams that got promoted I felt Birmingham would be the one that would do well enough to stay up and I stand by that. They've been on a sticky run, but I think they have enough good players to avoid relegation.
Spurs have also got a new manager, but Juande Ramos' start has hardly been spectacular. They were in a dodgy position when he took over and he has done ok to get them out of the relegation zone.
They drew with West Ham last weekend and I'm sure some of the decisions in that game won't have gone down too well with Mr Ramos. But he's going to have to get used to the standard of our refereeing because they do make some strange decisions over here!
Work to do
Two wins from 14 games this season isn't a great return for Spurs and he certainly has work to do, but that squad has too much quality to be in the bottom half.
I think Ramos hit the nail on the head when he said there isn't enough leadership in the team, especially at the back. The back five have not been particularly good at all this season.
Paul Robinson has made a few mistakes and his lack of confidence seems to have spread through his defenders. He's been through a dip in form, but I think he has enough about him to come out of it.
He'll have seen the new manager coming in a decided it was time for a fresh start. Hopefully he's over the worst and we'll see him back to his very best for Spurs and England.
They miss Ledley King. Without a shadow of a doubt they are a better team - and Michael Dawson is a better player - when Ledley King is in the side. Since King has been out, Dawson has looked really out of place.
It stands out a mile that they need to buy somebody in January because there is not enough cover at centre-back. Ricardo Rocha has gone in there and not looked great and Younes Kaboul has not looked that solid either. They need an old English-style big brute of a centre-back who is going to organise people.
And the striker situation remains a bit of a predicament. Ramos has shaken things up a few times, but I still think Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov are the best combination.
Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent are good players, but when Keane and Berbatov play together Spurs look more dangerous. Defoe has been linked with a move away and that will all depend on how many starts he gets under the new manager. If he's still going to be a bit-part player I can't see him sticking around for another season. If somebody comes in with enough money he might even go in January.
Le Tiss predicts
DRAW - I'm going to go for a draw. I think the Spurs forwards will cause problems because Birmingham are not particularly strong at the back. But with a new manager I can see Birmingham nicking a draw - though if they hadn't changed manager this week I would have probably gone for a Spurs win.
Matt's Main Man
DIMITAR BERBATOV - I'm hoping he hits top form again because I loved watching him play last year. He hasn't quite managed to hit those heights this time. He's got to start proving himself again under a new manager and if he wants the big move that everybody thinks he's after then he's got to pick his form up.