Birmingham City’s vice-chairman has been forced to backtrack his comments over manager Alex McLeish. Peter Pannu, Birmingham City’s vice-chairman, was forced into an embarrassing climbdown today when he claimed that he enjoyed a “phenomenal” relationship with Alex McLeish, 24 hours after accusing the club’s manager of making unreasonable contract demands and “not being totally tried and tested yet”.

Pannu, who had also suggested in his earlier remarks that McLeish was “no [José] Mourinho”, said that he had never intended to criticise the Scot and went on to claim that the two parties were close to agreeing a new contract that could be in place by next week. That stance contrasted sharply with the picture that Pannu had painted beforehand, when he claimed McLeish was “asking for a very large amount of money which I was not prepared to meet”.

McLeish, who led Birmingham to their highest top-flight finish in 51 years last season, when the club secured ninth place in the Premier League after winning promotion 12 months earlier, was disappointed with Pannu’s initial comments and it remains to be seen whether there is any lasting damage to their relationship. Pannu was understandably keen to stress that was not the case today as he tried to pick up the pieces from an embarrassing episode.