January 24, 2011 1 Comment
At the start of the season, with their team languishing bottom of the Championship most, if not all, Leicester City fans would not have predicted the situation they find themselves in now. They are currently residing tenth in the league, just four points of the play-offs, managerial magpie Sven-Goran Eriksson is at the helm and they have a strike partnership of Yakubu and Darius Vassell. Perhaps this was not entirely out of the blue though. At the beginning of the season Leicester were brought by a Thai consortium led by 25-year-old Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn, who have since invested money into the club, bringing in new players and the new manager.
That being said, Leicester have not just gone on a spending spree and chucked money around. They have improved the squad where it was needed, and have showed integrity in how they have spent their money. This will be reassuring to fans, especially considering the controversy surrounding the takeover of the club. The owners had to undergo the new ‘fit and proper persons’ test, before they were able to complete their takeover of the club. The test was introduced to combat situations, that clubs such as Portsmouth have found themselves over the past couple of years.
Leicester’s turnaround started when, after winning only one of his first nine games, manager Paulo Sousa was sacked, and the Swede, Sven-Goran Eriksson was brought in. Since then, Leicester have been unbeaten at the Walkers Stadium, most recently with a 4 – 2 win over Millwall. This home record is something they will look to continue, and will be of paramount importance to their hopes of a play-off place. Because of the nature of the Championship playing away from home is always very difficult, and most teams that have made the play-offs in the past, have always had an impressive home record.
Eriksson has brought much needed stability to all parts of the team. The defence has been bolstered by loan signings Kyle Naughton, from Spurs, and Ben Mee from Man City, who have both shown early promise for Leicester. While Sol Bamba, who signed on a permanent deal from Hibernian, for an undisclosed fee, has proved his worth with solid defending, and three goals. The towering Ivorian obviously impressed during Eriksson’s stint as manager of the Ivory Coast, where he was part of the team that took part in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Vassell and Yakubu seemed to me an unlikely couple of players to bring in, but both have experience at a high level, and I think City can expect goals from each of them, throughout the next half of the season. I think that by bringing in players of this standing shows that City are ultimately serious about contending for a place in the Premiership. Not only that, but it should also be beneficial to the progress of the younger players at the club, such as Martyn Waghorn.
Not only has Eriksson brought in new signings, but he also looks to continue the development of the squad that he inherited as manager. Captain Andy King has continued to show his worth for City, with stand out performances from midfield, he is also top scorer so far this season with 10 goals. Players such as Lloyd Dyer and Paul Gallagher are doing just as well. It will be interesting to see how many of these players are kept at the heart of the team, while Eriksson is bringing in new players. It can be very easy for a teams identity and ethic to alter, for the worse, after a change of ownership and manager.
The signs, for the moment at Leicester, are definitely positive but as Eriksson has said “We have eighteen games left to play and much can happen between now and the end of the season.” His comments since taking over at the club have been very reserved, he is aware that the poor start to the season under Sousa has left them with a lot of work to do. But I feel as long as the team, and the club around it, continues along their current trend, they could be in line for a play-off place at the end of the season.