October 29, 2010 | In: Articles

McLeish ready for derby

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is ready for his side’s crunch clash against Aston Villa this weekend.

The Blues boss saw his team lose twice to their arch rivals in the Premier League last season and admits himself and his players ‘reacted badly’ after Villa netted a controversial penalty in the corresponding fixture last term.

Former Rangers manager McLeish understands what it is like to be on the touchline during an intense derby game, having witnessed a number of Old Firm ties during his time in Glasgow.

However, he hopes his players know the importance of keeping their cool in the heat of the battle.

He said “The derby compares absolutely favourably to the Rangers-Celtic derbies.

“I underestimated it in the beginning and the fans really love each other down here, don’t they?

“It’s a little bit similar to Glasgow. In Glasgow it divides the whole city.

“The Birmingham derby is quite tasty as well. It’s very much a derby that is up there with the best of them.

“We got a thumping in my first derby at Villa Park (5-1) a couple of years ago.

“I went a little bit bold in that game, I played too many attackers in the game. The backlash from the fans made me realise this was an enormous derby.”

McLeish continued: “It will be important to control emotions. That is so vital.

“We had a decision which went against us in the last game at Villa Park despite a marvellous performance and we reacted to that at the time. It was human emotions.

“It is difficult for anyone to say you shouldn’t do that until you’ve been in that man’s shoes.

“The players reacted badly, I reacted badly and we look back and it is something we’ve got to learn from.

“We know we’ve got to keep our emotions in check despite things that might not go for you. Again that shouldn’t take away the focus of what we are trying to do in a game.”

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