Relegated Birmingham to keep Alex McLeish as boss

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish
Birmingham want McLeish to get them back in the top flight

Birmingham have told boss Alex McLeish he will keep his job after the club's relegation from the Premier League.

But McLeish is under pressure to secure an immediate return to the top flight.

"The club can confirm that manager Alex McLeish's job is safe but the board expect him to lead the side back to the Premier League in the 2011-12 season," said acting Blues chairman Peter Pannu.

Striker Kevin Phillips told BBC Radio 5 live that the club could lose up to 11 players during the summer.

"I'm pretty sure there will be players leaving and there are quite a few players out of contract," he said.

"Part of me fears for Birmingham over the summer because if we lose 10 or 11 players, it's extremely hard to replace them with the same quality."

Birmingham won the Carling Cup by beating Arsenal in February but ended the season with a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham, which meant they dropped into the bottom three on a dramatic final day in the Premier League on Sunday.

Pannu added: "The board will take stock of what went wrong this season despite Carson Yeung's promised injection of £40m in funds - not £80m as the media wrongly assumed - and will closely discuss and implement appropriate procedures to ensure a speedy return to the top flight.

"Finally, a word for our terrific supporters, who are no doubt feeling the pain like everyone else connected with the club.

"We thank you for your tremendous backing - something we are confident we will still have moving forward as we embark on looking to make an immediate return to the Premier League."

McLeish admitted he was "devastated" by Birmingham's relegation but spoke about having to move on to "another challenge" of regaining their top-flight status and meet a target he has previously achieved.

The Scot took over at St Andrews in November 2007 and narrowly failed to save the club from the drop as the endured another final day of heartache as they missed out on survival by a point.

But he led Blues straight back up the following season and, after their spell in the Premier League ended after two seasons, that is the task McLeish faces once again.

Phillips is one of the Birmingham players out of contract this summer and the 37-year-old expects he will be leaving St Andrews before the start of next season.

"I spoke to the manager today and nothing was mentioned about a new contract so I'm taking it that I will have to look for another club," said the former Sunderland player.

"There are a couple of offers on the table from clubs, but I'm not in a rush into anything, if something takes my fancy then I will take a look at it."

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