Having already snapped up Ben Foster from Manchester United and Nikola Zigic from Valencia, McLeish seems determined to land his targets early to avoid missing out. After enjoying such a successful season last term, McLeish will be eager to avoid any ‘second season syndrome’, determined to invest in quality that will help the club to maintain their standards.
Next in his sights is the Celtic winger Aiden McGeady, the 24-year-old Republic of Ireland international and one of the better players in the Scottish Premier League over the last few years. The 2007/08 season was particularly memorable for the Irishman as he picked up the SPFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards, after contributing 8 goals and 24 assists throughout the season. McGeady is an exciting player, known for his pace, trickery and persistent work rate for the team, able to play on both wings and as a striker.
The last couple of seasons have not been quite as successful for McGeady, due to injury, management fall-outs and problems with the team’s form. He continues however, to be one of the biggest contributors to the Celtic team, finishing last season with 7 goals and 14 assists in 35 league appearances. Alex McLeish will certainly know more than most of his talents after his period in charge of Old Firm rivals Rangers. McGeady’s career has appeared to stall over the last couple of years, seemingly blessed with great natural ability but unable to improve as many expected. After finishing runners-up in the SPL the last two seasons and with the problems encountered, McGeady may feel a new challenge is needed outside of the SPL to reinvigorate his career. Birmingham would be a good move for him, playing under a manager who knows him well and respects his talents in a league that will test his quality.
The Irishman’s ability to play on the left-hand side as well as the right is a huge attraction to teams wishing to secure his signature, with the shortage of natural left-sided players in the Premier League having been well documented, as has McLeish’s search for new wingers.
Ryan Babel at Liverpool and Charles N’Zogbia have both been tracked in recent months, with bids having been lodged for both. Birmingham’s success of last season was, on the whole, based on the team’s defensive strength, particularly at home. McLeish now needs to add to the attacking department to ensure the team’s ability to pick up points does not rest solely on their ability to keep a clean sheet. The amount of goals within the team certainly needs to be looked at as a way to improve. Aiden McGeady’s strength of, not only, being able to score but assist in goals could be a great weapon for Birmingham, if he is able to make the step up into the Premier League.
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