Last season, the Blues finished 2nd in the league, only one point off promoted Bristol City. What did fans make of this? Was the expectation to bounce straight back from relegation and get promoted again or was their an acceptance that it might not be so easy.
Craig Hadley: I think us fans were very optimistic going into the new season. It’s a tough league but we’d retained the majority of last season’s squad and added more quality. When you have such momentum it’s only natural to expect it to continue but it’s not started that way.
What do you make of your transfer business in this window? Happy with the additions, some big losses or still need to add more?
CH: Losing the experience of Harriet Scott was a tough one but we are proud of her for being able to juggle her medical career and professional football for so long. On the whole though we’ve made some great additions in both experience and potential. If anything we’ve perhaps got too many great players now.
How would you rate Birmingham’s performance so far this season? You find yourself currently in ninth but got your first win in a 3-1 away victory against Southampton at the weekend. Will this motivate the team?
CH: We’ve not clicked yet. I don't think Darren Carter knows his best team yet and it’s showed in the performances before Sunday’s win over Southampton. A win at any point can act as a catalyst for further success and I’m hopeful that will be the case.
Do you suspect anyone will have a breakout season or will you likely be relying on key players?
CH: I think there’s potential for a surprise coming of age moment for a few in this squad. Teams know the likes of Louise Quinn, Claudia Walker and Jade Pennock and what they can do. But there are a few like Katie Dungate and Libby Smith who I believe have untapped potential.
Sunderland fans will see a very familiar face in Neve Herron playing for the Blues. How has she done since joining Birmingham?
CH: Neve has looked right at home since her first game. She adds that bit of pace and ability to play out of defence that we haven’t seen at Blues since Aoife Mannion was with us.
Who would you say could be a thorn in the side for Sunderland? Who do we need to look out for?
CH: Choe Yu-Ri is our most recent signing and could be someone who can use that sense of unknown to her advantage. It will be her first time playing outside of Korea and if she is back to play this weekend could be one to be wary of. Especially after going out of the Asian Games earlier than anticipated. No doubt she’ll want to channel that anger in a positive way.
It’s always tough to give a score prediction early in the season, but how do you see this game panning out?
CH: I expect a tight game especially given Sunderland’s defensive solidity this season. A narrow 1-0 win either way.
And lastly, what are your expectations for Birmingham this season?
CH: Promotion is always the aim until it’s mathematically impossible. If they click then it’ll be a hell of a title run-in with other teams likely to take points off rivals too.