10 Questions: Birmingham

by Matthew Gamble

Everton welcome two former players back to Goodison Park when Birmingham visit on Sunday.

Lee Carsley and James McFadden are now plying their trade in the Midlands and their side are on a fantastic run of form.

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They haven't lost in eight games and sit in a lofty seventh place in the league. 

To find out how Everton can halt their run and to catch up on the progress of Cars and Faddy, evertonfc.com checked in with a Birmingham journalist and a die-hard fan...


Colin Tattum of the Birmingham MailBirmingham fan Anthony Gillespie
How do you assess the first few games of this?It has been better than expected, to get so many points and to reach as high as sixth, Birmingham's best position since April 2004, straight after promotion from the Championship. It's been great! We are playing some nice attacking football (a rarity down the Blues) but are still struggling to finish teams off. Our main goal has always been staying up and it seems we're well on the way to doing that already.
Who's impressed so far? Stephen Carr has got to have made the best comeback from retirement since Sinatra. His pugnacity, know-how, quality and positioning has been superb. Roger Johnson and Scott Dann have both made the step up from the Championship with aplomb.Lee Bowyer has come back into his own this season - a proper box to box player and has even found his goalscoring touch again. The key to our success though has been our defence and for that I have two words - Roger Johnson.
How are Faddy and Cars getting on?Carsley has had to be the frustrated on-looker from the substitutes’ bench. Alex McLeish has settled on Lee Bowyer-Barry Ferguson as his midfield pair and Lee’s opportunities have been scarce. McFadden is enjoying a run of games injury-free and his link play, dribbling and passing is a main part of Birmingham’s attacking thrusts. I'm a big fan of Carsley - a true grafter who never does anything silly but he has been kept out the team this season by Barry Ferguson. McFadden is a player of pure quality and fantastic ability - I just think he finds it hard to produce week in week out.
What's been the secred of the current good run? Shrewd management and signings, a terrific discipline and work rate, a pride in defending and being difficult to beat. As mentioned before, the defence. Roger Johnson and Scott Dann are an awesome combo. We look very dangerous on the attack too.
Will Alex McLeish be whipping out his cheque book in January?Alex McLeish won’t go mad. And he is finding it hard to get the top quality players he would ideally want due to inflated prices and wage demands. Also, he has spoken about getting the right characters who wouldn’t upset the dressing room.I don't think so. Our new board have promised much money but we're not lacking really in any areas. If it's not broke don't try and fix it!
Who's got something to prove in 2010?Difficult one to answer that at present as Birmingham are ticking along very nicely. Collectively, I think the members of the squad who were relegated in 2007-08 want to show they are better than that.Gary McSheffrey and Keith Fahey. Two wingers with fantastic ability who could both easily be in the first team if they can apply themselves and find the form they have shown in the past.
Your likely tactics? It won’t be anything ground-breaking or clever, just the usual kind of Birmingham line-up and mindset. Their starting XI has been unchanged for five games in a row now. Potential banana skin here for us but this crazy run has to end sometime. I think McLeish may try and swamp the midfield a little with only one striker.
Which Everton player do you fear? Louis Saha has always tended to do well against Birmingham, in previous guises. He is one to keep a very close watch on and Steven Pienaar is a tricky customer who could cause problems.Louis Saha. Bags of ability and a darn good goalscorer - I have much faith in our backline but he could be the man to do the damage.
Predicted scoreline?It would be remarkable if Birmingham made it six wins a row but my feeling is for a tight battle, a low-scoring draw.Think we'll lose 1-0.
Your predicted finish this season? Back in August, I felt Birmingham would avoid relegation and end somewhere between 14th – 17th. That still applies. Tenth to 12th. I'll be very pleased with a mid-table finish and anything higher than that is a bonus!

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