Alex McLeish’s revamped Blues have a lot to live up to

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The Blues get there season under way this Saturday with an away trip to the Stadium of Light to meet former boss Steve Bruce’s Sunderland.

City’s ninth place finish last season surprised many considering it was Birmingham’s first campaign back in the Premier League following promotion via their second place finish in the championship.

With new faces like Ben Foster, Enric Valles and Nikola Zigic already in and more set to follow, Alex McLeish has improved the squad but is hoping to avoid a damaging dose of second season syndrome.

Maybe a finish higher than ninth is unrealistic given the teams above and the money they have spent, but surely the Blues boss will be hoping that a good cup run or a place in the top seven is within the squad’s capabilities.

After two third round cup exit’s last season, the Blues’ bosses will expect a better return from the squad with the extra season’s experience at the top level. Barry Ferguson looked solid in midfield last season after his first Premier League experience turned sour with Blackburn, and with Joe Hart being replaced with Ben Foster, the reliability between the sticks has been maintained.

Roger Johnson also impressed in his first Premier League season after his switch from Cardiff, and alongside the evergreen Liam Ridgewell at the heart of the defence it looks like it could be another tough season for strikers at St. Andrews.

Cameron Jerome also got better and better as last season went on, finishing with 11 Premier League goals and now seems to have settled into life as a Premier League striker.

With new signing Zigic and back up option Gary O’Connor, City may be looking to bring in another striker to compensate for the long term injury to Kevin Phillips although James McFadden can play up front.

McLeish is still looking to add to his squad before the transfer window shuts, with the likes of Italy legends Mauro Camoranesi and Fabio Grosso linked and a move for AZ winger Moussa Dembele looking close to completion.

All in all it’s a season of optimism for the Birmingham faithful, with Carson Yeung backing the manager and McLeish making some more shrewd signings. It all points to another season of mid-table stability with one eye fixed on a sneaky European place.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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