Football

The Leicester City Alternate End of Season Awards 2015–16

The Claridge Shin ‘Scenes of the Season’ Award

Oooya fuckoh… Hazard’s goal gives City the title

We’re going to kick off (pun intended) this year’s set of awards with a bit of controversy. Whilst the joyous and vociferous celebrations after Leonardo Ulloa and Nathan Dyer scored their crucial late winners against Norwich and Aston Villa, this year’s award is going to an off-the-pitch moment. The 2016 recipient is Hazard’s goal against Spurs. How could it possibly be anything else? Chisits across the globe piled in to bars and pubs to watch Spurs go toe-to-toe with the incumbent champions. After a sparkling first half from Tottenham, things looked bleak, and Chelsea look bruised…both physically and mentally. But Gary Cahill pulled one back and Eden Hazard, Leicester legend found the equaliser with a one hit wonder to make Owl City blush, sparking the wildest celebrations Leicester has ever seen.

The Dennis Wise ‘Twunt of the Year’ Award

Chat shit get banged…

So many contenders, well, there always are. This year’s winner is so deserving of this spack-olade, Jon Moss. Mr. Moss, has two choices; accept that he knows nothing about football or that he’s an attention-seeking foghead desperate for a part in Jamie Vardy’s Hollywood biopic. Of course, if he was actually given that choice it would be the wrong one. Apparently, winning the ball in a slide tackle and tangling legs with a defender merits a red card but grievous bodily harm on four counts doesn’t if you’re wearing a West Ham shirt. I will still never forgive this dumpy attention seeking moron for sending Schmeichel off at Nottingham Forest for throwing the ball back to the centre circle. Perhaps Jon Moss should take up a new career at Gringotts bank, he certainly looks the part.

The Yann Kermorgant ‘Stupid Decision of the Year’ Award

HOOOOOOOF…. Huth fires the ball in to Row Z… of the West Stand

I was going to give this award to Riyad Mahrez, for deciding to take and miss yet another penalty away at Aston Villa, which ended up costing us two points. But, then I remembered that that’s ridiculously harsh and I owe our resident Algerian some reparations for not voting for him in the actual End of Season awards. So instead, this year’s winner is letting Robert Huth take *that* free-kick. I love Robert Huth, he’s a frighteningly good centre-back who could part a tidal wave by his sheer presence but taking set pieces clearly aren’t his strong suit. In fact, the shot was so bad, it was probably closer to a Stoke corner than a Leicester goal-kick. Either way, it was good for a laugh – same old Leicester, taking the piss.

The Zoumana Bakayogo ‘Signing of the Season’ Award

This justification is somewhat of an open love letter to my favourite player, so here it goes; N’Golo Kanté is a phenomenon. No, not a phenomenal footballer, just a phenomenon. Describing him as a footballer would imply that he’s human when he clear isn’t. Golo is clearly a sentient god-like being sent to planet Earth as some sort of reward for inventing the beautiful game. There is nothing this guy cannot do. He flies from box-to-box in minute one and minute ninety three, extending his Stretch Armstrong legs to win the ball every…single…time. If you don’t love him for his alien sporting abilities alone like how cute/cool he is in the gif above. Genius.

The Alan Birchenall & Tony Currie ‘Romantic Moment of the Season’ Award

One King in Leicester…

Romantic moment of the season? I should just choose the whole sodding thing. The entire story, sub-plots included is like a literary masterpiece. A squad of rejects bound by a brotherly bond, representing a self-deprecating club that has underachieved for 130 years, in comes a man with the same history of underachievement. In a climate of uncertainty, the nearly man and the nearly club combine and this band of brothers win the league at odds of 5000/1, led by three players who were lower league nobodies just months before. What a season and story it’s been. Wes Morgan lifting that trophy was a sight I’ll never forget but the real romance was portrayed by a latter holder of the famous trophy. Seeing Andy King lift that trophy was special. He is a man who has stuck with this club at it’s lowest ebb, for his entire career and has been rewarded for his fierce loyalty in the most glorious way, in an era of football where players are so fickle. To cap it off, it was fitting to see King score on Leicester’s historic coronation, a true Filbert Way great getting his just desserts.

The Claudio Ranieri ‘Claudiism’ of the Year Award

Ranieri is a such a charismatic man. His forays in to the media’s all pervasive glare couldn’t be more different from his predecessor’s. Whilst Nigel Pearson was more adept at measured snarling, King Claudio is much more jovial, so much so that his Dilly Ding Dilly Dong outburst will long live in the memory of Leicester City folklore. It has taken on a life of it’s own, a popular slogan, a disgustingly catchy chant. Claudio has become every fan’s surrogate grandfather, a man you just cannot dislike no matter what, with a charisma so stringent he can melt the most sour-faced Foxes fan like butter. Thank you for blessing our club with your footballing prowess and charming humour, we owe you a pizza.

The Paul Gallagher ‘We Forgot That You Were Here’ Award

Spuds… Spurs bottled it

How’s the head, Tottenham Hotspur? I know crying relentlessly can be really dehydrating. So… when exactly are you coming for us? We have one game left this season and we’re ten points clear. In fact, since you started singing that, we’ve pulled further away from you. So,  are you coming to get us after you write us off as ‘nobodies’? Are you coming after your fan groups make a video on YouTube so arrogantly explaining why you’ll win the league on goal difference, despite being so far behind? Or are you coming after your entire outfield side gets suspended for kicking seven bells out of Chelsea in a futile attempt to keep your title hopes alive? By the way, are we the same ‘nobodies’ that have spent eleven times as many days top of the Premier League this season than Spurs have in their history? There’s no doubt that Spurs had a great season, they’ve been a truly exhilarating side to watch, but you didn’t finish 1st in the most important statistical ranking -so thanks for the tacit competition, you made it interesting for a few weeks but we are the champions, and your 2015/16 season will be a forgotten footnote in football history.

2015–16 Football League Predictions

Here are my pointless, largely unsubstantiated predictions for the other leagues;

Championship

Middlesbrough‘s signings will carry them to the league title complimented by the capable hands of Aitor Karanka. Derby County won’t possess quite enough to reach the top two, instead Wolves late flurry will roll in to the current term. Hull will be the best placed of the relegated sides, QPR will semi-capitulate and Brighton and Reading will join Rotherham in the bottom three.

Pos Team
1 Middlesbrough
2 Wolves
3 Derby
4 Brentford
5 Hull City
6 Ipswich
7 Cardiff
8 Burnley
9 Bristol City
10 Blackburn
11 Birmingham
12 Sheff Wed
13 Bolton
14 Fulham
15 QPR
16 Leeds
17 Nott’m Forest
18 Charlton
19 Preston
20 MK Dons
21 Huddersfield
22 Rotherham
23 Reading
24 Brighton

League One

Sheffield United will finally return to the second tier, pushed all the way by a Wigan side too good for League One. Burton and Shrewsbury will take League One by storm, with the other two promoted clubs also surviving. Colchester will finally go down to League Two.

Pos Team
1 Sheff Utd
2 Wigan
3 Swindon
4 Millwall
5 Bradford
6 Burton Alb
7 Shrewsbury
8 Chesterfield
9 Peterborough
10 Gillingham
11 Bury
12 Fleetwood
13 Walsall
14 Coventry
15 Barnsley
16 Doncaster
17 Rochdale
18 Southend
19 Scunthorpe
20 Crewe
21 Colchester
22 Oldham
23 Blackpool
24 Port Vale

League Two

Notts County will lift the League Two crown  but will be pushed all the way by Oxford. Cambridge will be the season’s surprise package, whilst Bristol Rovers enjoy a happy return to the Football League and Portsmouth continue to underachieve. Hartlepool and Mansfield are the goners.

1 Notts Co
2 Oxford
3 Stevenage
4 Plymouth
5 Leyton O
6 Luton
7 Cambridge
8 Wycombe
9 Bristol R
10 Yeovil
11 Portsmouth
12 Crawley
13 Northampton
14 Exeter
15 Barnet
16 Morecambe
17 Dag & Red
18 Accrington
19 Carlisle
20 York
21 Newport
22 Wimbledon
23 Hartlepool
24 Mansfield

National League

It’s a bit of a cheat to include the National League but let’s go for it. Eastleigh’s spending power will put them on divisional parity with Pompey. Grimsby will come up frustratingly short yet again, whilst Wrexham, Chester and Lincoln improve. Tranmere will struggle to make an immediate return.

Pos Team
1 Eastleigh
2 Grimsby
3 Forest Green
4 Wrexham
5 Cheltenham
6 Woking
7 Tranmere
8 Chester
9 Lincoln
10 Dover
11 Macclesfield
12 Barrow
13 Torquay
14 Halifax
15 Gateshead
16 Braintree
17 Kidderminster
18 Bromley
19 Aldershot
20 Southport
21 Altrincham
22 Welling
23 Boreham Wood
24 Guiseley

2015-16 Premier League Predictions

Last year, my Premier League predictions weren’t that bad so I haven’t been discouraged through shame from reproducing another prediction post this time round. Here is basically my irrelevant, largely weak opinion on how it will all go.

Arsenal

Last season: 3rd
Bookies’ prediction: 3rd
Random prediction for season: Piers Morgan to call for Wenger’s sacking after a loss to Manchester United.

Contenders… Arsenal will challenge for silverware again.

It’s been a long while since Arsenal were considered genuine contenders for the Premier League title – but this could be the year they get that title back. When the Gunners are on their game, they are the best team to watch in the league, their silky fluid football is enough to beat any other side in the division, but I reiterate that’s when they’re on song. Arsene Wenger, despite popular Twitter consensus, is a very apt and capable manager and if he can iron out the creases in his side, the class of Ozil and Sanchez et al can set their sights on something more than just the FA Cup. 2nd.

Aston Villa

Last season: 17th
Bookies’ prediction: 16th
Random prediction for season: Villa to go at least four league games without scoring a goal.

Prepared…For the 2016-17 Championship season

With maybe the exception of Newcastle United, there was no worse side to visit the King Power Stadium last season than the Villans. In fact, I am genuinely perplexed as to how they managed to stay up last season and beat my team twice in the process. That being said, this Summer hasn’t been all too good for Villa, they’ve lost star men Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph and summoned up inadequate replacements as a result. Aston Villa will struggle even more than last year and I think this will finally be the season they bite the Premier League dust – which could turn out to be good news for Villa in the long run. 19th.

Bournemouth

Last season: 1st (Championship)
Bookies’ prediction: 18th
Random prediction for season: Bournemouth to beat one of the big seven at home on Monday Night Football.

Underdogs…Eddie Howe’s cherries can blossom

I hope Bompey learn the lessons of Leicester City last season and stick to their guns and play the Bournemouth way next season. The Premier League debutants may look out of sorts in the English top flight on the face of it but with one of the nation’s best young managers, a positive playing style and a contained stadium that will give the bigger clubs a scare, Bompey may be able to crawl over the dreaded dotted line of relegation – at least we all hope so. 17th.

Chelsea

Last season: 1st
Bookies’ prediction: 1st
Random prediction for season: Chelsea to pick up more away points from the big seven than any other club.

Incumbents…Chelsea can keep their trophy safe

Chelsea were by far and away the league’s best side last term and with the added fire power of Falcao, who I think will salvage his stalling career at Stamford Bridge, the Blues will retain their crown. I don’t expect it to be as easy as last term with the sides around them getting stronger, but Chelsea should have the efficiency and tactical astuteness to overcome their challengers. Let’s face it, they were the only side able to beat Leicester at the end of the season – and that’s an unbelievable feat. 1st.

Crystal Palace

Last season: 10th
Bookies’ prediction: 12th
Random prediction for season: Palace to go the entire season without a managerial change

Supportive… Selhurst Park can be a happy hunting ground for the Eagles

It’s hard not to admire Crystal Palace since their return to the Premier League, their intensity and positivity has defied popular expert consensus two years running and seen the Eagles soar to 11th and 10th respectively. With Yohan Cabaye rejoining the Premier League after a two year absence and Palace’s ability to keep hold of their key players, there seems no obvious reason why Palace won’t carry on with their overachievements. Perhaps, the biggest hindrance to the club would be the ending of Alan Pardew’s honeymoon period – time will tell on that front. 12th.

Everton

Last season: 11th
Bookies’ prediction: 7th
Random prediction for season: Everton to lose at home to Crystal Palace yet again.

Sticky… The Toffees were in a sticky situation

Everything about Everton last season was lacklustre. This year they need a really injection of vitality and talent to counteract last season’s woes. I think this side is good enough to make amends for last season’s under-performance but it won’t come without hard work. And I’m just not sure a) that Roberto Martinez is as good a tactician as widely believed and b) that Tom Cleverley is the signing that will propel them back in to Europe. 9th.

Leicester City

Last season: 14th
Bookies’ prediction: 15th
Random prediction for season: Claudio Ranieri to be the favourite for the axe at any point this season

Fortress… City’s atmosphere can provide a boost in a difficult upcoming season

I’m not really sure what to make of my team, our true quality shone through at the end of last season and while I still think we’re too good a team to go down, even without Esteban Cambiasso, I don’t think we’ll progress either. Whilst, I’m prepared to give Ranieri every chance to deliver success to Filbert Way, I don’t see him being a long-term solution or getting the Foxes in to the top half like I would have optimistically wagered Pearson would next season. I cautiously predict/hope it will be more of the same this year. 13th. 

Liverpool

Last season: 6th
Bookies’ prediction: 5th
Random prediction for season: Liverpool to lose away at one of the three promoted clubs

Pressure… Coutinho must become Liverpool’s leading man

There’s something in the water of the River Mersey and it’s uninspiring mediocrity. With the exception of Firmino, who seems an intriguing purchase, Brendan Rogers has moved little to help steady his sinking Kopite ship. The Reds should a plethora of weaknesses at the end of last season and with Gerrard and Sterling gone and Benteke and Danny Ings now the stars of Anfield, another trophy-less season beckons. Of course, this is hyperbolic, they’re still Liverpool so they’ll be up around the top somehow… 7th.

Manchester City

Last season: 2nd
Bookies’ prediction: 2nd
Random prediction for season: Manchester City to rip Spurs apart at least once.

Understudies… Man City are not good enough to supplant Chelsea

Manchester City are on the decline, despite finishing as runner-ups to Chelsea last season, they hardly set the league alight. They often looked average and with others around them strengthening and their tired squad growing ever moreso, the arrival of Raheem Sterling will do little to boost waning energy or workrate levels. Manuel Pellegrini will probably face the axe at some point this season too. 2015-16 may not to be a period of adjustment and reflection for the Citizens so they can regain their lost title in the near future. 4th. 

Manchester United

Last season: 4th
Bookies’ prediction: 4th
Random prediction for season: Manchester United to lose 0-1 at home to at least one bottom half club.

Individuals… United’s keeper drama highlights the lack of synergy in the squad

Lazily assembling squads of world-renowned superstars is a tactic that often fails, and it will for United too. Whilst Louis Van Gaal’s frivolous spending on world-class midfielders will wet the appetites of Red Devils’ fans, it will do little to pave over the cracks of instability throughout the squad, and the gaping holes in a shockingly deficit in defensive talent. United will gradually continue on the way to being a genuine shout for the Premier League title, but this season will be just another stepping stone. 3rd.

Newcastle United

Last season: 15th
Bookies’ prediction: 13th
Random prediction for season: Newcastle United to do the double over Sunderland

Protestors… The Geordies will be slightly less irritable next season

Modest redemption is the trend I see sweeping up the River Tyne this Summer. With the best coach in the Premier League gone and brolly-carrying Schteve now in the dugout, the Geordies have somewhat upgraded, that coupled with the signing of Aleksandr Mitrovic, who I’m tipping to be a hit in the top-flight, Newcastle’s problems won’t be as bad as they seemed just two months ago. Of course, don’t fear Newcastle fans, you will still throw away both cup competitions so you’ll have that to complain about. 14th.

Norwich City

Last season: 3rd (Championship)
Bookies’ prediction: 19th
Random prediction for season: Norwich to play Liverpool on Super Sunday

Star turn… Redmond can lead the Canaries’ charge

Norwich already have a squad littered with Premier League quality having only experienced one year of top-flight exile. The Canaries will benefit from a bottom half of the table almost void of genuine quality and I think City can and will flourish again, perhaps the only question mark is Alex Neil’s ability to guide a football club through the more challenging rigours of the Premier League, that being said, I have faith in him being better than at least a few others at that. 15th. 

Southampton

Last season: 7th
Bookies’ prediction: 8th
Random prediction for season: Southampton to lose away at Bournemouth

Marching in… Saints will sustain their form

I really rate this Southampton side. Their performance last season was extraordinary given the turmoil they faced at the training ground and in the media. Ronald Koeman has proven to be the perfect fit for the Saints, an astute operator in the transfer market, he has consistently built on the strong base of Southampton Youth players to found a strong top-half of the table team. Even with departures this year like last, the Saints look no weaker and have only gained financial clout from it. Their Achilles heel will be managing their Europa League schedule. 8th.

Stoke City

Last season: 9th
Bookies’ prediction: 9th
Random prediction for season: Stoke to lose at home on a cold Tuesday night

Undone…Stoke’s Britannia home is no longer the fortress it once was

Stoke City will remain a quality outfit next season, they have a decent enough squad to not even be entertained as possible relegation candidates next campaign, but there isn’t a lot to suggest they’re capable of anything better than 9th place. Bojan will be the Potters’ star player next term but they need more than one tricky Spaniard in the middle of the park to lodge themselves in the top seven. 10th.

Sunderland

Last season: 16th
Bookies’ prediction: 17th
Random prediction for season: Sunderland to score fewer goals than any other side.

Doomed… I can see no escape for Sun’lun’

Sunderland’s team reeks of tedium and impending demise. The Black Cats have done well to basically replicate the exact same season for however many years running but their nine lives are up this term. There is little to suggest that the diminutive Defoe possesses the attacking impetus to fire Sunderland away from the relegation they’ve been flirting with for years. There will be no great escape this year, their biggest challenge will be to keep in touch with safety for as long as possible. 20th. 

Swansea City

Last season: 8th
Bookies’ prediction: 10th
Random prediction for season: Swansea’s away ticket initiative to be endlessly praised on social media.

Excelling.. Swansea’s rocket ship to the moon shows no sign of return

The Swans very quietly had a barnstorming season last term. Everyone was talking about Southampton, and West Ham before they went off the boil but they failed to notice just how close Swansea were to matching the Saints pound for pound. Garry Monk has done well to maintain the club’s attractive philosophy and has done even better in the transfer market, the signings of Eder and Ayew place Swansea at the top of the transfer market Premier League, and as a result, I tip them to be this year’s surprise package. 6th. 

Tottenham Hotspur

Last season: 5th
Bookies’ prediction: 6th
Random prediction for season: Spurs to crash out of the Europa League with a whimper

Meh… Spurs are Spurs.

Spurs are sort of where they are by default, I imagine Harry Kane’s form will cool off next term but given the disarray they’ve found themselves in, they should be able to keep their main challengers Liverpool at bay for another season. There’s really not a lot to comment on on the White Hart Lane front, they will do exactly what they always do, sort of achieve domestically, fail embarrassingly continentally. 5th.

Watford

Last season: 2nd (Championship)
Bookies’ prediction: 20th
Random prediction for season: The Hornets to win at least one game 4-3.

Buzzing…Watford will give survival a good stab

Watford’s unstable approach is what concerns me most. They’ve signed some real quality to compliment the existing talent in their side but they are likely to go gung-ho and do seem to employ the belief that big names equals achievement and as we’ve seen it doesn’t always. Watford will certainly be entertaining and expansive, of that I’m confident but I just don’t see them as anything other than a better Queens Park Rangers. 18th.

West Bromwich Albion

Last season: 13th
Bookies’ prediction: 14th
Random prediction for season: West Brom to avoid the bottom three all season

Hot property… Berahino and co will be in the mix for the top half

Again, there isn’t too much to say here, West Brom looked doomed for the Championship this time last year but Tony Pulis has been instrumental in gifting the club with some sturdier stuff. Albion fans shouldn’t be fearful of finishing anywhere below 15th because they are simply better than a lot of the sides at the bottom. In fact, I think there is leg room for the Baggies to climb the league ladder, but they must start beating struggling sides at home. 11th.

West Ham United

Last season: 12th
Bookies’ prediction: 12th
Random prediction for season: West Ham to win their last match at Upton Park

Upheaval… The Hammers have a lot to deal with this term

It’s all change at Upton Park this season; a flashy new stadium, a flashy new manager, and a flashy new European competition. The Hammers though good enough to avoid the drop will need to be wary of succumbing to their end of season form, and early Europa League forays don’t look promising. The danger for United this year will be that they spread themselves too thin, if they don’t manage all of their competitions competently, they could rue the day they binned Big Sam. 16th. 

The Leicester City Alternative End of Season Awards 2014–15

The Claridge Shin ‘Scenes of the Season’ Award

Magic…Cambiasso draws City level

Until the last few weeks of the season, the winner of this award looked like it would go the distance completely unchallenged. While several contenders in our run of six wins in seven eventually received some passive contemplation, the 5-3 humbling of Manchester United could simply not be beaten. That game in September has already gone down as one of the Foxes’ most famous ever matches, coming from 3-1 down to win 5-3 against arguably the world’s biggest club in just over twenty minutes is mesmerising enough but when you list the talent the opponents had on the pitch and in the dugout; Falcao, Rooney, Van Persie, Mata, Di Maria, Van Gaal and Giggs – it’s simply spectacular. It’s hard to say whether Cambiasso’s inaugural strike or Jamie Vardy’s classy winner were better moments, but it’s not hard to say that this is the most scenic football moment I have ever witnessed.

The Dennis Wise ‘Twunt of the Year’ Award

Tw*t… Alan Hutton’s mentally deficient anger reflects the club he represents

The Dennis Wise gong really is one of great shame, while Leicester have had their share of villains throughout this season with honourable mentions to Pat Murphy for his pathetically uncomfortable lecture to Nigel Pearson that was merely a sick ploy to provoke the City boss. And, Mike Jones must receive a huge slice of disdain for his inability to differentiate between a face and a hand; robbing the Foxes of yet another scalp at Anfield. But the award goes elsewhere despite their best arsehole-esque efforts neither did enough to trump Aston Villa’s Alan Hutton. This poisonous thug is a real tosser, hacking City players like Piers Morgan does childrens’ phones – he should have seen red in all three of Leicester and Villa’s clashes. However, not everything he inflicted on Foxes fans was bad, he did give us a reason to like Paul Konchesky.

The Filbert Fox ‘Foxiest Fox Of The Year’ Award

Retention… Kaspy beats Jam-Jar to remain LCFC’s pin-up boy

I’ll be honest, I had gone off Kaspy a bit this season; and when he was out injured and last year’s runner-up Matty James got an extended run in the side, I was sincerely prepared to unseat the Great Dane in favour of Filbert Way’s resident Lancashire lothario, then this picture happened and Kasper did what he does best – pulled off an unlikely save.

The Frank Sinclair ‘Comedy Goal of the Year’ Award

Head’s gone… Morgan gives Cambiasso the indignity of a Foxes own-goal

Last year, I had the pleasure of giving this award for a goal that counted in our favour, this year I can do no such thing. Despite his usual wizardry, Estebae was on the end of a pretty diabolical own-goal at home to West Brom. The Argentine raced back in to the box to help clear a cross from the Baggies but Wes Morgan got there first, nodding the ball on to the obscenely muscular thighs of Cambiasso and in to the back of the net. Thankfully, City would have the last laugh at the Baggies’ expense a few months later.

The Yann Kermorgant ‘Stupid Decision of the Year’ Award

Embarrassment… City were dumped out by a poor Villa side that reached the final

While we could focus on individual errors such as Schmeichel decided to award Ross Wallace with roughly 30 miles worth of empty net to aim at in stoppage time against Burnley or Paul Konchesky’s inadvertently superb assist to Andy Carroll against West Ham. However we’re not going to – meaning this award goes to a man who has by all means been forgiven for his mid-season shortcomings but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been forgotten. Pearson’s tactics in the cup at Villa scoop the dong. City, away at Aston Villa in the FA Cup, the giants all dropping like flies and a real chance for the Foxes to really go for the trophy that has so famously eluded them. But Big Nige opted to line the Foxes up in an unfamiliar 5-4-1 formation…in a cup match…a local derby… away at a side who had scored 0.5 goals all season. Not only that but with the Foxes being obviously outplayed and trailing the hapless Villans, Nige decided to use just one of our three available substitutes – erm why?!

The Neil Danns ‘Fraud of the Year’ Award

Brute…You put your Big Pole in…

This award is not for the Dan Turner school of frauds but rather an affectionate look at one of our own’s ability to get away with (attempted) murder. The debut recipient of this award is terrace hero Marcin Wasilewski. I commented during pre-season in The Observer that Wasyl’s elbows would be no match for a pacier defender – but I never should have underestimated his multi-purpose arm-joints, the fact Wasilewski has never been sent off for Leicester City means he’s thoroughly earned it – keep the unsporting subterfuge up, Was!

The Zoumana Bakayogo ‘Signing of the Season’ Award

Saviours… Cambiasso and Huth are City’s key players

This is the toughest call of them all… by far. While, I have to give the optimum credit to Robert Huth, whose loan signing has transformed both Leicester’s defensive capabilites and in my opinion, fate at the bottom of the table, I simply can’t not give this award to the legendary Esteban Cambiasso. From the moment he took to the field at the Britannia in mid-August, Estebae has been the puppet-master in the midfield for the Foxes and as the season, and with it his fitness, has progressed he has become more and more mesmerising. I genuinely feel fortunate to have seen this man play for and care so much about my club and I pray Estebae (and Robert Huth) for that matter stay with us for next season – we rely on them more than they know.

The Alan Birchenall & Tony Currie ‘Romantic Moment of the Season’ Award

Shithouse… Vardy nabs City a crucial breakaway winner

In a season where City fans have been able to cherish their Premier League status, a nostalgic throwback to the Championship anguish that preceded it scoops this year’s romantic moment award. In the middle of Leicester’s remarkable surge to survival, the Foxes notched up a 1-0 win away at Burnley, replicating an immediate response to avoiding conceding a penalty going up the other end and scoring the winner seconds later, as we saw at Watford. We also left the bitter and frankly deluded Sean Dyche with no doubts as to who the better side were, even without the ‘many, many pound notes’ he thinks we’ve flashed – the result effectively relegated Burnley and put the Clarets in their place.

The Nigel Pearson ‘Pearson-ism of the Year’ Award

Boss… He can handle himself, you know?

‘He says what he wants, he says what he wants! You’re an ostrich, so f**k off and die!’ *chokes player*. Relaying that chant is the best way of detailing all of the nominations for this new award. What was best? Well, choke-gate was odd and not really funny, ‘f**k off and die!’ was funny and probably deserved but given how left-field Pearson’s ostrich quip was, there was no way it would be beaten. Having just lost 3-1 at home to champs Chelsea, Leicester fans online were reflecting and speculating what else needed to be done to secure survival when news that Pearson had compared a journalist to a flightless bird with his head in the sand – he later apologised but the worldwide social media reaction has cemented it in Foxes folklore. Come on you Foxstritches!

Dear, Football

Dear players and staff of *club name*,

My name is Chris Whiting; I’m a 19 year old lifelong football fan. Ever since, I was very young, I have loved football. I’m a passionate, dedicated, loyal and hopefully knowledgeable Leicester City fan. And I am gay.

I have been gay for as long as I have been a football fan and personally, my sexuality has never caused me any internal anguish. But, for many fans it does, and still in 2015 they are unable to marry these two qualities.  Football has always been viewed as fair game for banter, or what could be better termed as vitriol. Racism, sexism and homophobia have always been rife in the stands but the latter two are fading gradually with higher visibility of ethnic minorities and women in the sport.

We haven’t even begun to go down that road with homosexuality.  Of course, being gay is something you can hide in football and until that changes it will always be viewed as a weakness.

Every Saturday, I get angry when the linesman misses a blatant offside, I taunt the opposing fans when their star striker blasts wide from six yards, and I flail my limbs like a lunatic when we grab a vital goal. I do these things just like every other football fan in the country. So, why is the thought of homosexuals being involved in football still such a stigma?

Like I’ve already said, I’m a normal football fan and I’m gay. Statistically, at least one of your squad is too. I don’t wish to force anybody ‘out of the closet’, but in honour of LGBT+ history month, I wanted to try and encourage somebody to take that brave step on their own.  Or at least, encourage anyone to whom this doesn’t personally apply to be allies. ‘Coming out’ is a personal journey but the inability of football to address this affects everyone.

Society has made massive strides in terms of accepting gay people. I’m pretty much considered normal in every other part of my life. One day, I hope to feel the same at 3pm every Saturday.

Football isn’t ready, and it never will be until we make it get ready. It’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Whiting

From Great Expectations to Great Escape

I was planning to write a lengthy coherent  piece of prose about the quagmire Leicester City’s season finds itself in but I have just finished an arduous 2000 word essay for my university course so don’t get your hopes up. Sunday was the last straw for me. I am no longer a Pearson advocate, I’m not anti-Pearson either; I’m in a Pearson purgatory. On Sunday, I was angry and here is why;

  • What on earth was going on at Villa Park on Sunday? An FA Cup quarter final up for grabs, a pressure free game away at a league rival who, to fit the famous chant, couldn’t score in a brothel and there we are lining up in a 5-4-1 formation. Five defenders, at Villa Park. We still conceded twice and allowed the ball in the net on two other occasions despite Matt Upson’s insistence that we ‘reduced their opportunities’.
  • The real smack in the face was Pearson’s stubbornness. 1-0 down in the FA Cup with 25 minutes to go and the best he can do is using one of three available substitutes and a switch to the neutral 4-4-2 formation? Not an all-out attack on the Villa goal? It was an FA Cup suicide by Nigel Pearson and nothing else.
  • Let’s be clear, the players were also crap, bar two glimpses of quality from Matty James and Andrej Kramaric, we looked like a side ready for the drop in to League One. Wes Morgan moved around the pitch like a computer glitch and our off-the-ball movement continued to be horrendous. At times, it looked like a game of stuck in the mud.

This season has been a disaster pretty much from the 22nd September onwards. In fact, why are we doing so badly? Well, we’ve abandoned our playing style in an attempt to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League, Burnley didn’t and they have managed to bridge a considerable gap between us and them and have become a better side than the Foxes this campaign. So have Queens Park Rangers for that matter. Jesus.  Our team selections have been unsettled nearly every week of this season; do the backroom staff know our best XI?

Most of us thought home matches this season would be crucial in our survival campaign but goodness have they been embarrassing. Burnley, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Stoke are among the lesser sides to visit Filbert Way so far this season. A whopping five points have been taken from those games, including one win and just three goals. A truly atrocious record I’m sure you’ll agree. Our ‘easy’ run-in which includes home matches against better sides such as Newcastle, Southampton, Swansea and West Ham is suddenly looking a lot less prosperous than in June.

Why do we even bother taking corners? I’m at a loss. Have there been any effective set pieces from us this season? They are just truly woeful, how do we continue to decline in this area, it really is appalling.

Of course, the Foxes have been on the end of some horrendous luck and even more horrendous refereeing decisions this season, that’s certainly true. But, you cannot be consistently unlucky – if we are, we’re doing something wrong. Nigel Pearson can bemoan fine margins in games where “we’ve played well” but if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net and stop it going in at the other end then you don’t get any points – and if you don’t perform in those key areas, can you even say you’ve played well?

This season has been a major disappointment. With the exception of Mahrez, Wasilewski and Schlupp, last season’s heroes have all regressed this year. In fact, I would contend we’ve become a worse team than last term which is absolutely criminal in my book.

We’re on course to become the first side promoted to the top flight with 100+ points to go straight back down the season. I wore that stat out at the start of the season, confident we could consolidate ourselves, and I truly believe we should have. This season has been a disaster, Nigel Pearson has been a masterful manager for much of his reign at the King Power Stadium but for fans who stuck by him through a dire season, choking opposition players and telling fans to die were repaid on Sunday by an FA Cup forfeit.

I will always be a big fan of Nigel Pearson but something needs to change at Leicester City – if Nigel is the man to find the formula then fantastic but I am rapidly losing faith in this man’s ability, a man who seems incapable of coping with the grander spectacle of the Premier League. We have two choices, in my opinion; accept relegation, go down with Nigel Pearson and let him lead another promotion push next season. Or, we roll the dice and change the manager – I honestly don’t know which I would do but something must change and now.

Fellow Foxes, Are you Mad?!

Leicester City surprised everyone on Saturday by coming from behind to dump Spurs out of the FA Cup at White Hart Lane. As a result, the Foxes find themselves in the last sixteen of the competition whilst, languishing at the bottom of the Premier League. Now, many are opening the debate as to whether City would rather finish 17th in the Premier League or win the FA Cup.

As a fanbase, we know the club have spent years and years pining for a return to England’s top-flight. And, having experienced just over half a season back in the Premier League, I can see the perks of being here. It’s a badge of nobility to be in the top-flight, to be acknowledged, to be famous. Winning just feels that little bit better with that proud, navy lion slapped on the side of your arm. It also feels better having the £90 million windfall that comes with being in the illustrious top division. However, finishing 17th in the league ladder isn’t a trophy; it won’t go down in footballing history. It will just be another placing at the end of another league season.

In contrast, this club loves the FA Cup – it seems illogical but it’s true. I can’t think of a club in English football that loves this competition as much despite being treated so cruelly by it in the past. In recent seasons, we’ve seen 8000 of the blue army at Nottingham Forest, 6000 at Chelsea, 4000 at Stoke, even 4000 troughed up to Huddersfield on a cold January afternoon, engrossed by the meagre whiff of cup glory. There is nothing like winning a major trophy, and being the biggest bridesmaids in football, you would think our fans would know that – is there a bigger club to have never won this competition than us? In four finals, we’ve suffered four defeats, a soul-crushing record.

So, my question to those who would prefer to finish 17th over winning the FA Cup this season is; are you mad?! We have spent half of our history in the top flight but we’ve never won this tournament, the greatest domestic cup competition in the entire world. Sure, away games next season at The Valley and Ewood Park would be a big come down from this season’s league outings but winning the cup could mean an overdue shot at revenge against Atletico – well, that particular scenario is a long shot but we will be back in Europe nonetheless.

Now the competition has been blown wide open with the eliminations of Chelsea, Manchester City and of course, Tottenham Hotspur, we would be senseless not to go all out to win it. Of course, the prevailing point is; we don’t actually have to choose, we could achieve both objectives and that’s exactly what we should try to do. Neither are a distraction, neither are hindrances to the other. Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth aren’t where they are now because they won the FA Cup that’s for certain.

But if I had to choose I would say; let’s stop being a nearly club and win the FA cup, we’ve come as close as you can to the country’s two biggest honours – and now’s the time to be opportunistic. Memories of avoiding relegation will eventually dwindle in to obscurity, especially given how many relegation skirmishes we have endured as a club, but silverware on the other hand lasts eternally. So, if you really still think 17th is of greater prestige then I’m thoroughly mystified. Come on Leicester; we’re staying up and we’ll win the cup!

The Beautiful Game of Ugly Morality

Ched Evans has failed yet again to gain a contract at one of England’s Football League clubs. Oldham Athletic’s board today backed out of negotiations, presumably due to pressure from sponsors and fans – it seems clear to me that this is the right decision for football but what isn’t clear is why there is so much support for Ched Evans to return to the ‘beautiful game’.

Of course, there is a band of loyal Ched Evans fans who like himself protest his innocence at every opportunity, and to an extent it’s perfectly fine to hold that opinion. But when, it comes to making decisions about his future, it simply isn’t. If Ched Evans is innocent then he can appeal to the courts and amend it legally, but for now he is a convicted rapist. He was found to be guilty by a jury of people with far more knowledge of the case than the vast majority of us, so really we are powerless to submit to their superior knowledge on the matter – let’s face it, a conspiracy theory can be floated about literally anything. It’s for this reason that this post will continue to consider Ched Evans a rapist until it is proven otherwise.

Then there are those who dispute the classification of rape. For reasons I’ve already explained, I won’t delve too far in to the intricacies of the case but sex with someone who doesn’t consent is rape, not just somebody who says ‘no’. Some people have even cited instances of other convicted footballers returning to their playing careers, like Lee Hughes, as reasons for Ched Evans to do the same. Does that really make it right? Just because someone has made an error in judgement previously we should do the same again? That is no sort of logic, it’s immature and puerile.

Other myths surrounding Evans’ case have too arisen as attempts to ‘debunk’ those fighting against his return to football are coming under fire online.  Ched Evans has not completed his punishment, his five-year sentence is only half-way complete, meaning currently he’s on license. He is out of prison but he doesn’t currently have the freedoms of the average Briton and won’t do for some time either.

It’s important to make this clear too; Ched Evans should be rehabilitated. But our definitions of restorative justice need to be defied. Rehabilitation does not mean picking up where you left off. Rape is a callous, corrupting and serious crime, and for that reason an offender cannot presume to strut back in to a comfortable existence once released from prison – his victim has been afforded no such scenario and she is the victim of this crime, not Ched Evans. He hasn’t had to move homes and change identities five times because he was deemed to have been sexually attacked. Why we’re on this subject, should Ian Watkins be handed a record deal when he leaves prison? Should we grant Rolf Harris his own talk show on release? Ched should be able to resume his life but not from the lofty heights from which he fell, there’s a ladder to climb, and like offenders from every areas of work, he has to start at the bottom.

Rape is not a crime that should ever be curtailed. Regardless of what we, as outsiders to the trial have surmised, he was found guilty of rape. That is the simple fact. Now, having been freed from prison having served half of his short sentence, he should be able to go about his life. But that does not entitle him to a career in football. People are grumbling about the alleged ‘bias’ against Ched Evans because he’s a footballer but that’s actually the opposite of what is being displayed. Any other position in the country that commands that wage, influence or effect on children would not be left vacant for a convicted criminal of such a revolting crime – in fact even football stewards wouldn’t be allowed by law to return to their job if found guilty of rape, why should footballers? Ched Evans has no lawful nor ethical right to waltz back in to a cushy lifestyle. In the eyes of jury, he forfeited that when he was adjudicated to have violated another person against their will. In truth, this is indicative of a larger problem in football where there are no holds barred. For some, homophobia, racism, sexism and now rape are acceptable in the morally bankrupt world of football. Maybe our game isn’t so ‘beautiful’ after all.

Leicester City’s Top 10 Greatest Managers

It’s one of the classic debates had between fans of every football club the nation over. Yes, we all know who’s going to win this ranking but let’s at least revel in his nine runners-up before we once again bask in the greatness of City’s greatest ever manger as chosen by the fans.

 10. David Halliday

Average rating: 5.21/10
Win rate: 64-27-54 (44.14%)
Tenure: 1955–8

Accolades: 1956–7 Second Division Champions

In truth, Halliday’s reign at Leicester City wasn’t too eventful. Whilst he did guide the Foxes to their fourth of a record seven second tier titles in 1957 following a successful spell as manager of Aberdeen. During his stint at Filbert Street, Halliday got the Foxes firing presiding over the career of legend Arthur Rowley in a championship winning season that saw the Foxes set a club record 109 goals. But perhaps, despite a solid but unremarkable record at the Foxes, his lasting legacy will be laying the foundations for what would be Leicester’s longest stint in the top-flight. In fact, Filbert Street would be Halliday’s final footballing destination. Following his exit from the manager’s role in 1958, he retired from football management and passed away some twelve years later.

 9. Frank O’Farrell

Average rating: 5.9/10
Win rate: 51-28-35 (44.74%)
Tenure: 1968–71

Accolades: 1970–71 Second Division Champions, 1969 FA Cup finalists

Frank O’Farrell’s tenure was all too typical of Leicester City’s history overall. Under the Irishmen’s tutelage, City experienced relegation, winning the second tier and of course FA Cup final defeat. Of course, those three eventualities seem to define City’s existence but O’Farrell can take great pleasure in being the only manager to lead the Foxes to all three before swanning off to emerging European giants Manchester United in 1972.

8. Jock Wallace

Average rating: 6.46/10
Win rate: 69-51-69 (36.51%)
Tenure: 1978–82

Accolades: 1979–80 Second Division Champions

Whilst widely regarded as one of Rangers’ best ever managers, Wallace’s City career was slightly less glamorous. The Scot was famous for the brutal, in your face style of management he employed, scaring the wits out of Gary Lineker during his tenure. Wallace led City to yet another second tier title and a famous double over European Champions Liverpool, who had gone 85 games unbeaten at Anfield at the time, despite this feat City were relegated that season but not without pulling off what would be the biggest transfer in the club’s history; an audacious bid for Johan Cryuff.

7. Brian Little

Average rating: 6.51/10
Win rate: 76-58-54 (42.70%)
Tenure: 1991–94

Accolades: Promotion to the Premier League 1993–94

Brian Little never brought any real hardware to Filbert Way. But he did set up the Leicester City pitch at Wembley that would last throughout the 1990s, meaning only England played at the famous ground more in that decade. Little transformed the hapless Foxes from a side waiting for their first relegation to the third tier in to play-off finalists three years running. The memories of heartbreaking near misses against Blackburn Rovers and Swindon Town were all made worth it, when Brian Little’s side silenced the Rams in 1994, giving Leicester their first ever promotion to the newly found Premier League.

6. Peter Hodge

Average rating: 6.69/10
Win rate: 159-110-141 (38.78%)
Tenure: 1919–26, 1932–34

Accolades: 1924–25 Second Division Champions

It seems fitting that City’s first ever manager go down as one of their best. Back in their early years, the Foxes were a club slapped with a small-time label; low attendances, struggling in the second tier, occasional applications for re-election and so forth. When money worries hit the club, Leicester did away with the use of footballing boards and secretaries in managing the team appointing Hodge as their first ever leader. During a difficult socio-economic period, Hodge brought stability to the club and team. In his first stint, Hodge led the Foxes to their first ever promotion, first ever league title and trebled home attendances. When he rejoined Leicester from Manchester City in 1932, he took the club to their first ever FA Cup final before taking ill over one Summer. He died 18 days after relinquishing the manager’s post.

5. Willie Orr

Average rating: 7.1/10
Win rate: 131-78-126 (39.10%)
Tenure: 1926–32
Accolades: 1928–29 First Division Runners-up

Willie Orr was the manager bookended by Peter Hodge. In his first three seasons at the club, City set a new highest ever league finish, going from 7th in the top flight to 3rd to runners-up in 1929, a record that remains intact today. Orr built on the work started by Peter Hodge and managed the side to a close second to then-named the Wednesday, in true Leicester fashion, they were on course to win the title for much of the season but didn’t quite make it. Form didn’t stay with the Foxes though and Willie Orr bowed out allowing Peter Hodge to return and pick up where he left off.

4. Nigel Pearson

Average rating: 7.72/10
Win rate: 130-64-73 (48.69%)
Tenure: 2008–10, 2011–
Accolades: 2008–09 Football League One Champions, 2013–14 Football League Championship Champions

Current leader Nigel Pearson is one of the best. Before the Foxes, Pearson’s experience as manager was minimal but he was still able to guide the declining Foxes out of the painfully unfamiliar third tier and in style, before guiding the Foxes to the record-breaking seventh second tier title in his second stint. In fact, breaking records was a real feat for Leicester last season when the Foxes smashed points totals, winning runs, consecutive away wins records among many others. In fact, in all of Pearson’s full seasons so far, the Foxes have claimed a top six finish, although we can all agree we won’t achieve that this season, having  finally landed back in the top-flight. As being responsible for a quarter of the club’s league titles, Pearson also boasts the highest win rate of any of the club’s longest serving manager too. And if you can’t appreciate these achievements you can “f**k off and die!”

3. Jimmy Bloomfield

Average rating: 7.74/10
Win rate: 85-104-96 (29.82%)
Tenure: 1971–7

The fact Jimmy Bloomfield has reached the top three is remarkable given his distinct lack of accolades, however this is a strong case to place him in the bronze medal position. During the early 1970s, Bloomfield was able to fashion a Leicester side renowned for flair, skill and free-flowing football, whilst running the team on a shoestring budget. Legends like Frank Worthington, Lenny Glover and Keith Weller were all apart of the side that dazzled the top flight for six years. If there was any doubts about the substance to Bloomfield’s attractive side then note that Leicester were relegated as the bottom club the season after his departure.

2. Matt Gillies

Average rating: 7.77/10
Win rate: 201-123-184 (39.57%)
Tenure: 1958–68
Accolades: 1964 League Cup winners, 1965 League Cup runners-up, 1961 FA Cup runners-up, 1963 FA Cup runners-up

The best of the rest is Leicester’s longest serving manager, Matt Gillies. The savvy Scot led to Leicester to more cup finals than any other manager in history, winning admiration from esteemed contemporaries like Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly in the process. In fact, had City not been cursed by being a nearly club, the Foxes may have had three more major trophies to boast about today. In fact, had Gillies been able to carry Leicester over the line, he may have been a place better off. But still, Gillies’ reign was filled with successes, he was the first manager to lead the Foxes in to Europe, where typically they were unstuck by the pesky Atletico Madrid. If all of this wasn’t enough, when Gillies walked out on the Foxes after a dispute with the board, he went up the A46 and relegated Nottingham Forest. Happy days.

 

1. Martin O’Neill

Average rating: 9.09/10
Win rate: 85-68-70 (38.12%)
Tenure: 1995–2000
Accolades: 1997 League Cup winners, 2000 League Cup winners, 1999 League Cup runners-up

Shock horror! From “O’Neill out” to “Don’t Go Martin”. O’Neill’s stewardship at Leicester City is considered something of a fairytale on Filbert Way some twenty years on. Having fashioned an unlucky winning run that took City towards the most valuable shin in football and a place in the Premier League, it was only up from there. The Foxes would go on to rock the Premier League, picking up memorable wins such as the 5–2 thrashing of Sunderland, the 4–0 away romp at Pride Park and the infamous 3–3 at home to Arsenal. O’Neill’s efficient side practically established a monopoly over the League Cup, reaching three finals in five years, and winning two of them. Martin O’Neill was simply never going to be beaten in this race, having been responsible for the most enjoyable period of the Foxes’ recent history and two of the club’s three major trophies, he is rightfully considered Leicester City’s greatest ever manager.

January Sales: Leicester’s Rumoured Targets

I have spent much of the last three months grimacing, cringing and evading any conversation about my pre-season appraisal of Leicester City. Having, in retrospect, naively assumed that stats alone would be enough to see the Foxes in to the 2015–16 Premier League season, it seems I forgot to account for what is now clear, our distinct lack of quality. With the Foxes languishing unthinkably at the bottom of the table, and some FIVE points behind Burnley in 17th, the January transfer window will be simply crucial.

Defence 

SD Eibar’s Raul Albentosa

City’s kamikaze defending since September has largely been the reason for dropped points. Individual catastrophes made from both full backs and centre backs have led to the Foxes conceding soft goals and leaving matches with less than they ‘deserved’. Fans have called out for strengthening in both areas of defence. Tottenham Hotspur’s Kyle Naughton is said to be out of favour, and has thus been linked with a return to the City. However, with two right backs in Ritchie De Laet and Danny Simpson tied up for the long-term, signing another player in this position is unlikely to be a priority. Fellow former loanee Curtis Davies is too being banded about as a potential signing, but given his position as Hull City’s captain is extremely unlikely to replicate Nigel Pearson’s team switching. Elsewhere, lesser known centre backs in Bournemouth’s Steve Cook and SD Eibar’s Raul Albentosa are apparently on City’s wishlist. The Cherries are flying high at the top of the Championship, so tempting him away from the South Coast may be tricky. Albentosa currently plies his trade with La Liga minnows, Eibar and has impressed in their bid to avoid the seemingly unavoidable drop. Both defenders have different strengths, Cook’s attributes are mostly suited to intercepting on the ground and playing out from defence, a weakness of Albentosa’s game, who may be better suited to winning aerial defensive battles, and helping City cope better with set pieces. It’s vital that Leicester bolster at the back, a mobile centre-half such as Curtis Davies would be ideal but we have to acknowledge how unlikely that is to happen. Steve Cook may be a decent replacement in that respect. Reports linking us to Naugthon and Eboue seem lazy and contrived, City are more in need of a left-back given Schlupp’s impending departure to the AFCON and Konchesky’s underperformance. Danny Simpson has coped defensively in place of Ritchie de Laet. 

WhoScored.Com ranks the players’ performances so far this season;
Curtis Davies (7.36), Steve Cook (7.23), Raul Albentosa (7.17), Kyle Naughton (6.57)

Midfield

Besiktas’ Veli Kavlak

Now, midfield is currently where you will find the most of Leicester City’s limited supply of Premier League quality. In central midfield, Argentinian legend Esteban Cambiasso seems to be a step ahead of the rest of the side on many ocassions and could benefit from others with greater vision. Last season’s player of the season Danny Drinkwater is struggling to attain a place in the Starting XI, jostling it out with James, King and Powell for a spot. Riyad Mahrez continues to excite on the wings, as Anthony Knockaert could if he were afforded the chance. Despite protestations from the terraces that the Foxes boast ‘the best midfield in the world’, City have come under criticism for failing to control games from the middle of the park. Tough tackling Austrian midfielder Veli Kavlak has received attention from the Foxes but will have to fight off supposed interest from Everton and Southampton. Current starting wide men, Riyad Mahrez and Jeff Schlupp are set to be called off to the African Cup of Nations in January so City will need to bolster the flanks. A whole host of names have been floated, Manchester City’s Scott Sinclair is rumoured but could demand a wage packet out of the reach of the Foxes. Too, a loan deal for Arsenal’s World Cup star Joel Campbell has also been reported. It’s vital that City get a bit more bite in midfield, Kavlak could be the answer and a real coup given the interest he’s attracting, down the wing, one replacement should be enough with Albrighton and Knockaert fully able to step in to Mahrez’ and Schlupp’s boots in their absence. Sinclair has become a bit of a question mark but may be worth a punt given Arsenal’s likely reluctance to let Campbell go anyway on a permanent basis.

WhoScored.Com ranks the players’ performances so far this season;
Veli Kavlak (6.94), Joel Campbell (6.46), Scott Sinclair (n/a)

 Attack

Milan’s Fernando Torres

Despite the goal scoring exploits of newboy Leonardo Ulloa, the Foxes’ strikers have been largely unimpressive with the three other strikers, Chris Wood, David Nugent and Jamie Vardy scoring just once each. Unsurprisingly, strikers are the many focal point for City’s transfer speculation. There’s nothing to say here in great deal, except that City need a proven goal scorer. Having failed to capture either of Sporting’s Islam Slimani and Watford’s Troy Deeney. However, The Foxes may not have the luxury of attracting a tried and tested formula, despite tenous links with Everton’s Arouna Koné, Chelsea’s Fernando Torres and Toronto’s Jermain Defoe, who seems likely to head to Loftus Road, Leicester may need to take a punt on a wonderkid. Links have been made with Alexsandar Mitrovic of Anderlecht, whose goal scoring exploits this term would command a high fee. Luciano Vietto is said to be on Newcastle’s radar, putting City in the weaker bargaining position. Leicester are too reported to have had a £7.9m bid rejected for Andrej Kramaric, who is too high on league leaders Chelsea’s list. If the Foxes were to buy domestically then raids of Ipswich Town and Crystal Palace have been suggested with a resurgence of links to the Tractor Boys’s striker David McGoldrick, who has netted six goals in the second tier this season. Elsewhere, the Eagles’ back-up striker Dwight Gayle has recently been touted and may find more favour at the King Power Stadium than at Selhurst Park. In my view, strikers like McGoldrick and Gayle, who have failed to stand out in even the second tier of English football, are the strikers we should be avoiding. Admittedly, it will be a lot harder to attract a Jermain Defoe, that still has a lot to offer to a struggling top-flight side, or a wonder-kid like Vietto or Mitrovic but these are the players City should prefer, on the premise they are confident of being able to do a deal.

WhoScored.Com ranks the players’ performances so far this season;
Andrej Kramaric (7.44), Troy Deeney (7.24), David McGoldrick (7.11), Luciano Vietto (7.05), Islam Slimani (6.93), Jermain Defoe (6.92), Aleksandar Mitrovic (6.91), Arouna Kone (6.58), Fernando Torres (6.54), Dwight Gayle (6.26)

What the Bookies think

Here are the bookies odds on some players joining Leicester City in the next Transfer window;
Aaron Lennon – 20/1 (BetVictor)
Danny Ings – 33/1 (BetVictor)
Fabian Delph – 20/1 (BetVictor)
Gary Hooper – 33/1 (BetVictor)
Glen Johnson – 20/1 (Betfair)
Jermain Defoe – Evens (Sky Bet & Bet Victor), 11/8 (Betfair)
Joel Campbell – 16/1 (BetVictor)
Kris Commons – 4/1 (BetVictor)
Moussa Dembele – 20/1 (BetVictor)
Ravel Morrison – 13/2 (Paddy Power)
Scott Sinclair – 12/1 (Sky Bet)
Tyrone Mings – 20/1 (Sky Bet)