Foster's focus back on relegation battle
League Cup hero Ben Foster has stressed the need for Birmingham to guarantee their Premier League status in the aftermath of their shock win over Arsenal in the final at Wembley. Foster followed up his man-of-the-match performance for Manchester United in the win over Tottenham two years ago by collecting the same award for his showing against the Gunners.
The England keeper pulled off a string of fine saves before Obafemi Martins grabbed a last-gasp winner to earn Blues only the second major trophy in their history. Victory has also clinched a place in Europe for City who are also still in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup where they will entertain Bolton. But Foster knows any euphoria will quickly disappear if Alex McLeish's side fail to cling onto their top-flight status.
Significantly, Birmingham have delayed any parading of the cup to their fans until next Sunday - the day after a vital meeting with fellow strugglers West Brom at St Andrew's. Foster said: "To win a cup in my first season here is amazing. We are also in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup; it is a tough match (against Bolton), and we'd love to come back to Wembley again. But we need to take this win, and the confidence that comes with it, into the remaining Premier League fixtures.
"We can't be playing in Europe next season but also the Championship. It is kind of unthinkable. We've been in fairly good form recently and we just need to carry that on and get a few more wins under our belts. Every game is a must-win game. We've played a lot of the big teams already and the run-in we've got is advantageous with a lot of teams in and around us.
"The league at the moment is very topsy-turvy. You win one or two and you are out of danger and you lose one or two and you are back in it. You put a little run together and you are out of it. That's what we need to do. The 40 points isn't going to be the magic mark for safety it normally is. I think it is going to be more than that."
Foster was also Manchester United's hero in the League Cup final win over Tottenham in 2009 but admits the success against the Gunners was more satisfying. He believes Birmingham's never-say-die spirit was a key factor in their triumph against the odds. Foster said: "Going into cup finals and big games with United, you are expected to win trophies and matches. With a team like Birmingham, it is against all odds and we are not expected to win.
"It was a great achievement to get to the final but to win the trophy against a team like Arsenal is amazing. Arsenal can have all the quality players they've got but when you come up against the team spirit we've got, it counts for a lot. You saw it in the semi-final against West Ham when we were 3-1 down on aggregate.
"It was pretty much 'game over' to be fair but we showed that spirit and togetherness, we just kept going and going and it was the same in the final Everyone was saying all week that it's a 'gimme' that Arsenal are going to win the trophy. We kind of ignored all that. We knew we had a chance. It was just 90 minutes of football and we had to perform like we do - and we did."
Foster's performances for Blues this season has justified his decision to quit the Red Devils last summer. He said: "When I signed on, I was just relieved to be playing first-team football. That was my main focus. I wasn't thinking about the team I was leaving or anything like that. It has gone from strength to strength for me. It has worked out really well."