The boys have always responded well to defeat this season, I don’t think we’ve lost two on the bounce at any stage, so I have every confidence they’ll show the right reaction again on Saturday in Birmingham. Hull are a good side, I was quite impressed with them last week. Yes we were a bit off the pace which was disappointing at home, but it’s gone now. The thing with the Championship, like I’ve said time and time again, is that the games come thick and fast. We need to try and get another win in the bag and go on another unbeaten run to push ourselves back up the table.
They boys have shown character before, so now it’s just about achieving that consistency, something that’s so important in this division. That’s what we have to do to get to where we want to be, either second or winning the Championship, which would see this group of players go down in history. It’s also important that we have a Plan B; if things aren’t going right in the game, how do we change it, who can we bring off the bench? It’s not just 11 players, it’s a squad, and I feel our squad is one of the strongest in the league. Looking back at past years, we don’t usually have this many points at this stage of the season. We usually kick into gear around Christmas, so I’m hoping it’s a similar scenario in that there’s still a lot more to come from this team.
A few tipped Birmingham City to struggle this season, but they’ve actually been very solid, especially at home. I like what Birmingham are doing. They haven’t got a massive budget so they bring a lot of young players through. There’s a lot of young talent in the Birmingham area and obviously it’s well documented that Jude Bellingham is doing very well for them, getting a lot of minutes, and he’s only 16.
It’s a tough place to go, although I do have fond memories of St Andrew’s. I remember going there with Fulham for Jean Tigana’s second game, winning 3-1 and scoring a cheeky free-kick. It was a great result because they were considered one of the favourites for promotion at the time. We were outstanding, we came out the blocks so fast. John Collins scored really early, Louis Saha anticipated a sideways pass and went through and scored, and then I managed to get one just before half-time. When you’re going to places like Birmingham you want to start the game well because you don’t want them to get their crowd behind them, and that’s exactly what we did that day.
From past experience, you definitely don’t want to head into an international break having lost a couple. You won’t be getting any time off! Instead you’ll be running your arse off and working relentlessly to put things right. A lot of players go away on international duty which means there isn’t loads a manager can do with those who remain, so it’s basically a case of work as hard as you can. That’s the downfall of the international break, but if you get a win then it sets everyone off in a good mood.
Aleksandar Mitrović has had a decent week so far, winning two Player of the Month awards. He’s a fantastic striker, I love what he brings to the team. He gives that fight, he’s a character. It’s well deserved and he’ll be happy on a personal note, but I’m sure he’d rather the team had picked up a few more points. Ideal situation is he’s scoring the goals that are winning us football matches, and I’m sure there’s a lot of that to come this season.
I was trying to think if I played with anyone similar to Mitro, but he’s quite a unique forward. I suppose strength-wise he’s a bit like Barry Hayles. Barry was a little bit more athletic, running down the channels and dribbling a bit more, but Mitro’s physical presence does remind me of him.