By Laurie Fitzgerald
Birmingham City’s quest for promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking came to a disappointing end when they were knocked out of the play-offs by Blackpool.
Despite pulling the aggregate score back from 3-0 down to trailing 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining, the Blues were unable to get the goal needed to take the tie into extra-time as Iain Holloway’s men progressed to Wembley to take on West Ham next Saturday.
However, Birmingham’s fightback was a prime example of the character and the determination to defy the odds that they have developed under manager Chris Hughton over the past 12 months.
When City were relegated on the final day of last season, it began a summer of turmoil that would see major changes from top to bottom of the club.
Owner Carson Yeung was arrested in his native Hong Kong following allegations of money laundering, and with his assets being the subject of a criminal investigation – on top of the huge loss of revenue after falling out of the Premier League – it inevitably lead to asset-stripping at St. Andrews.
Key players in their Carling Cup triumph departed, with the likes of Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Cameron Jerome, Craig Gardner, Barry Ferguson and Ben Foster all moving on to pastures new.
It was too much for manager Alex McLeish, who decided to resign from his position. To make matters worse for Blues supporters, the Scot would eventually take charge of fiercest rivals Aston Villa.
Hughton was appointed as McLeish’s replacement, left with the task of stabilising the club following a traumatic few months and having to work with a threadbare squad preparing for life in the Championship. View full article »