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SULLY IS UP FOR THE CUP; Blues co-owner has Wembley dream.

Byline: ANDY WALKER

DAVID Sullivan wants Blues to go one step better than Premier League survival - by winning the FA Cup.

The co-owner is one of several members of the Blues hierarchy who have been working hard in recent weeks in order to build a Blues squad capable of staying in the top flight.

The club's transfer record was broken on Wednesday with the signing of Ecuadorian striker Christian Benitez, rightback Stephen Carr was snapped up before that and more are set to follow.

Premier League survival, or, as Alex McLeish has put it, "finishing in the top 17", is Blues' top priority when the football season resumes in August.

However Sullivan has revealed his romantic side by admitting that he's dreaming of seeing his boys take a trip down Wembley Way. The Essex-based businessman would love to see the current Blues crop emulate the class of 1955/56, who finished sixth in the top flight and reached the FA Cup final.

The millionaire accepts that, in this day and age, reaching the lofty heights of sixth-place again would be a longterm plan, but Sullivan is hopeful of gaining a slice of luck next season that will allow his Blues to follow Portsmouth by becoming the next club outside of the elite four to lift the FA Cup.

He said: "The aim is still to be in the top six or seven and qualify for Europe.

We've said, myself, David Gold and Ralph Gold, that we would like to do something that nobody has ever done at Birmingham," said Sullivan.

"The highest the club has ever finished is sixth and we would like to finish sixth or higher. We'd also like to win the FA Cup.

Important "Small teams used to win the FA Cup.

Now even that and the Carling Cup seems to be the same four or five teams.

"The one exception was when Barnsley knocked out Liverpool and Chelsea and Portsmouth beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.

"You have to have massive luck in the draw and hope the big teams play each other and knock each other out.

"I know the FA Cup is a big important thing to Birmingham

City supporters and we've underperformed in it ever since we've been at the club. I'd love to be in the cup final and survive - that would be wonderful.

"It's incredible that it's the same four or five clubs every season but you start the season thinking if everyone gets behind us then maybe it will be our year." As many as ten new faces could come through the St Andrew's gates this summer, with all areas of the team needing to be strengthened.

The Blues board members showed last week that they are prepared to splash the cash to a certain degree this summer.

Sullivan insists that, along with McLeish, they are trying to build an entertaining team to be proud of but, as expected, they aren't prepared to break the bank to do that.

"We want to strengthen the team in every department, subject to the financial restraints that we've got," added Sullivan.

"We will push things to the boundary of what we can do and what the club can afford. We hope to have a team out there on August 15 that will compete, not just to keep us in the Premier League, but to turn over some big clubs.

"We feel we have to strengthen the defence and we have to strengthen the forward line to score more goals. That is what we are concentrating on doing, we want to bring in a few players that will excite the supporters.

"Statistically things are tough for promoted sides, but we've been there five seasons. We stayed up in three of the five. It's a tall order and I would tell everyone to be patient with the team because when you bring in a lot of new players sometimes they take time to settle." andy.walker@sundaymercury.net

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FIRST OF MANY: Blues' record signing Christian Benitez
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 7, 2009
Words:673
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