Leicester City

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.

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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!

The Official LCFC Loyal Supporter Charter

NOTE: If you don’t understand that this is satirical then God help you.

There are way too many disloyal Leicester City fans out there, it’s time there was an official charter to sift out the true, die-hard supporters from the prawn sandwich brigade tossers.

AND IT’S LEICESTER CITY!

Firstly, if you live anywhere past Aylestone or Beaumont Leys then why are you even reading this? Go and support Anstey Nomads or Blaby & Whetstone and leave the real local supporters to it.

1. You must attend all away games, and you must travel to them on Coach One, anyone who rides on Coaches two or higher or even makes their own way via car is a disloyal twat, trains are okay for some reason – they just are. Optional: Mock a woman dubbed ‘Hagrid’ mercilessly on social media because, well you know, she’s not conventional looking and definitely deserves it.

2. Make sure your phone has Instagram, you will need it to upload as many action shots of every game as humanly possible. It is advisable to upload stadium panoramas and away day tickets to prove what a hardened sport traveller you are. If we don’t see these pictures how will we know you’re a true fan when the purging starts?

3. You most show yourself to be a friend of the players, just how Directioners think they have in-jokes with the group and affectionately call them ‘the boys’, but this is different because it’s football. We as fans must suck up to our team’s WAGs, this is crucial, you should reply to all of their tweets as if you are a long-term friend of theirs. It’s definitely a good idea to tweet youth players too. Get in there before they become the stars of the future so you can laud it over fellow fans because you saw their talent first. Man like Panayiotou etc. etc.

4. Bi-annually, you will be expected to report breaking news and insider transfer knowledge to your legion of Twitter followers. So, pretend to be an ITK, it doesn’t matter if you just know the Belvoir Drive’s lawn mower or even if you just work in Maryland Chicken, make it work. After all, people only judge you on the guesses you get right, and you may be able to force yourself in to becoming a local celebrity if you kiss the arse of Ian Stringer enough.

Now, we’ve pretty much covered how you should act as a supreme fan of Leicester City, let’s discuss how a true fan looks;

5. It’s crucial to set your display picture on every social networking site you’re on to either the badge, a player or the stadium, preferably Filbert Street because we all know it was better there. Who are these traitors who think their faces are more important than the holy fox’s head? That’s sacrilegious in my book.

6. Every away day should be spent the same, lace up your Gazelles, throw on your Stone Island jacket and remember, always hop aboard Coach 1… or a train, and blast out the most angsty monotonous Oasis track in your music library. If your taste is different then being a loyal football fan simply isn’t for you. Thankfully, as followers of Leicester, we can choose from either Oasis or Kasabian, but remember if you weren’t at that Kasabian concert last summer then your support of the football club is simply invalid.

Finally, what defines us most as die-hard Leicester City supporters is how we speak to those lesser people who think they’re fans but we all know are not.

7. No matter what the situation, whether we’re performing catastrophically, or the manager has tossed away the FA Cup like an out-of-date bag of Walkers crisps (the only crisps you can eat by the way), we have to support the team! Now, there are many ways to do that but we believe that the best way is by completely suffocating any criticism whether it be fair or otherwise. Most people think that negativity is okay as long as it isn’t voiced in the stadium but they are wrong, you must NEVER speak negatively or even think negatively, if you do you are a plastic, knee-jerk traitor – and your conscience will never be clear!

8. But we cannot stop there! It is simply not enough to be positive all the time, suffocate other opinions, exert delusions of grandeur and basically be a vacuous passive puppet, it is our duty as fans to name and shame those that dare besmirch the team in any form. The best way to go about this is to call them negative, knee-jerk, wankers, morons or disloyal twats before suggesting they move their support to Coventry or Notts Forest.

I hope that clears everything up for all you plastic arseholes out there. As for you diehards, sing it with me; WE ARE STAYING UP! SAY, WE ARE STAYING UP! And, if you don’t think so, you’re a treacherous balloon-head.

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!

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)

Pearson, Sort it Out!

Currently, there’s a widespread feeling of confusion at Filbert Way. After an impressive haul of eight points against Arsenal, Everton, Chelsea, Stoke and Manchester United, the Foxes have failed to pick up more than a solitary point against less fancied outfits Crystal Palace, Burnley, Newcastle, Swansea and West Brom – as well as high-flying Southampton. Begging the question; what on earth has happened to Leicester City?

I’m not usually a fan of phrases like “typical Leicester” or “classic City”. They’re constantly used with pessimistic connotations and are synonymous with the sort of banally arrogant fatalism that’s spouted by nearly every football fan the nation over. However, Leicester’s recent glitch does seem to resonate with our rather regrettable tradition of helping those on a bad run – be they Newcastle, Swansea or Shane Long. At least, that’s all I thought it was until one point in four became one point in five which then became one point in six.

Last season, Leicester were a beacon of stability. The formidable system of 4-4-2 was seldom tinkered with, and the same could be said for the personnel. Crucially, it seemed the Championship’s big-hitters of last term; Leicester, Burnley, Derby etc., all used the fewest amount of players in the league. Consistency in selection led to consistent results.

I’m sure monotony, as you may dub it, is quite in tune with City manager Nigel Pearson’s appearance. However, in recent weeks he seems to have deviated from that image. Leicester have started their last six games in no less than five different systems with the starting eleven from the previous game failing to survive intact for the next game once.

Under-pressure… Nigel Pearson’s tactics have been slated by many Leicester fans

And as much as I admire his work at the club thus far, Nigel Pearson ought to take a sizeable portion of the culpability for the recent blip. The manager’s defensive and dismissive attitude when it comes to discussing tactics with the media has been challenged lately as he’s been keener to explore different set-ups – it appears Pearson may have bought in to the anti-4-4-2 rhetoric of the Premier League’s experts. Persistent tinkering is surely counter-productive, particularly when that very tinkering has the side lining up to match West Bromwich Albion’s threat at home. Talks of a confidence crisis have been rife on City forums, and with the manager not placing ample faith in his side to undo Albion playing to their strengths there would be no surprise if there was some substance to it.

There too have been repeated calls of a reversion to Leicester’s favoured 4-4-2 system, to include more width in to the side’s play, be it tactically en vogue or not.  City’s strikers that started the most recent league outing at St. Mary’s, Leonardo Ulloa and Jamie Vardy have scored six goals between them this season, all of them, bar a penalty against Manchester United have come from wide positions. In fact, since Pearson sacrificed width for whatever he feels the side has gained since, I can barely remember the pair having a shot on target between them.

On top of this, the Foxes seem content enough to continually invite pressure on themselves away from home, looking to absorb any threat and then cannon the ball back out to the opposition – at least we appear to have learned the art of defending set pieces, not that we could score one at the other end in a month of Sundays. Simply put though, Leicester are not good enough to play the containing game away from home and consistently pick up points. Our best players are attackers, and as clichéd as it sounds, they need to be a form of defence for us away from home as much as the defenders do.

Cursed… The out-of-form Foxes have been unlucky in recent weeks

Don’t get me wrong, Nigel Pearson has been a superb manager for the club and to want his dismissal at this moment in time would be lunacy but his decisions of late have definitely raised eyebrows. His persistence with isolating previously free-scoring Leonardo Ulloa up top and his desire to transform our best striker in Jamie Vardy in to a makeshift winger have been thoroughly ineffective and ultimately a waste of time. It seems clear to everyone in the stands that Nigel needs to discover his best eleven and start playing to our strengths, home and away – like he said he was going to before the start of the current campaign.

Of course, it’s also true that this slump is not all the manager’s fault. The current Leicester team(s) haven’t really looked like scoring in their last six matches, summed up perfectly by Chris Wood’s unthinkable miss on the South Coast. On top of that, our passing game has been erratic, rushed and panicked for weeks. Leicester’s attacking and defensive strengths seem to be depreciating simultaneously but despite it not being all down to Nigel Pearson – it’s his job to fix it.

However, it’s important to remember that the sides that fought gallantly against the country’s footballing elite are all still here, they just need to be unearthed again. Maybe, it’s time to do away with what others think and go and play Leicester City’s game, and perhaps, in Football Manager terms switch the mentality from ‘contain’ back to ‘counter’ away from home– it wasn’t working too badly in August and September. I’m not having the suggestion that we aren’t good enough for this level because we are – we’ve seen it, it just needs to be reproduced again and again. But with all this being said, it’s imperative we as fans don’t lose hope and our patience with Nigel Pearson – he’ll sort it all out with time to spare, and so will the players.

FAO: Leicester City Supporters

Yesterday, top-flight football finally returned to Filbert Way. An exhilarating game ended 2-2 as a weakened Leicester side more than spurred a quality Everton outfit. An 86th minute equaliser from the Foxes was welcomed by a wall of noise that in truth encapsulated the King Power Stadium for match of the 90 minutes but for some, it still it isn’t enough.

Since the inception of ‘identikit soulless bowls’, of which we’re proud owners, home atmospheres have been routinely slated. Our home atmosphere has been steadily improving for the last few years, it’s still not as good as Filbo’s – it never will be. As a group, we’re probably a little hard on ourselves. Having followed City away for years, I can safely say we’re above average at home. Of course it fluctuates and sometimes the atmosphere is dead but such is the nature of the beast.

Anyway, getting to the point, yesterday’s atmosphere was raucous. Our supporters have received acclaim from other football fans, press, pundits etc. but in turn we’ve also received criticism (mostly from Everton fans).

Firstly for the goal music. Okay, no one wants goal music but this isn’t something we as fans control, like having ‘Hey Jude’ played instead of ‘When You’re Smiling’ and Lee Jobber’s irritating drum. It’s not like our goal music is loud either. I cannot count how many times fans have left the ground asking “did we not play goal music today? I didn’t hear it”. It’s certainly not even close to the deafening sounds of Chelsea Dagger that literally mute the Forest fans at the City Ground.

However, the major complaint was ‘the poznan’. Okay, it’s not ours. It’s not Man City’s either and while we’re on the subject, Crystal Palace did not start the ‘We Love You’ chant they just popularised it here in England. We’ve done that with chants too you know, without being uppity about it. The celebration was only adopted to parody the Citizens during an FA Cup tie three years ago and it probably should have died a death when they showed us how to perform it during last season’s League Cup meeting – but it didn’t.

For the record, I don’t like it. Having watched the poznan on Saturday instead of doing it, I realised it looks a bit naff when the whole ground isn’t joining in but suggestions that it needs to be ‘binned’ or ‘axed’ or ‘banned’ are a bit over the top. You can’t ban a celebration -we would all be moaning more if the celebrations were muted and nobody did anything following a goal. Actually, why are those partaking in it more at fault than those that aren’t? Wouldn’t it be ‘amazing’ if the whole stadium did it?

What’s really embarrassing, is that fans only seem to want to lead a charge against the poznan now because we’re in the Premier League and other fans are criticising our support. Who cares what they think? We should have some self respect and ignore their opinions. It’s great that people are currently so enthusiastic about improving (or maintaining) yesterday’s atmosphere but maybe just sign up and follow the activities of Filbo Spirit rather than attacking fans who are trying to support the team.

 

Leicester’s Thai Owners are NOT Vincent Tan

One of the things that annoys me more than most things is not receiving credit for the good work you do. This summer, I, among many other fans, have been eagerly anticipating Leicester City’s first match back in the top-flight of English football. Having stormed the Championship last season racking up a monumental 31 wins and 102 points.

Despite, last season’s dominance, Leicester, as well as being plugged as potential dark horses for next season have been slated for an immediate return to the second tier too. I would be lying if it didn’t irritate me that my team has been written off by some (mostly Forest fans) before they’ve even really been assessed.

It’s fair to say that the Premier League can be a self-appreciating, internal, self-obsessed division. Fans of the division may not know an awful not about a rejuvenated, well-prepared Leicester side that is entering the division with a century of points, a circumstance that has never ended in immediate relegation. That’s probably why, when asked why many think Leicester will go down they can’t really give a reason – I’m certainly yet to hear or read a compelling one.

It baffles me that pre-season predictions have seen us placed below both Burnley and Queens Park Rangers who failed catastrophically to keep pace with City last season – nine and twenty-two points below respectively. I could forgive this view point, if either club had blown the division out of the water with their transfer dealings but you would be hard-pressed to argue that was the case. These people have written us off simply because we’ve just come up, and even we don’t have the spending power of the hooped West Londoners (even though it hasn’t helped them much thus far). Our dominance last season makes it much less likely that we’ll go down next season, statistically at least. But many fans choose to overlook that.

However, the most annoying critique of City heading in to the 2014-15 campaign has got to be the comparisons of owners Vichai and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha with Cardiff City’s egomaniac boss Vincent Tan. Simply put they’re nothing alike. Leicester manager Nigel Pearson has been awarded with great leniency and faith from his Thai bosses during the Foxes horrendous slump in the 2012-13 season despite intense media pressure to give him the axe. Vincent Tan changes managers more than he changes his clothes. Too, the owners of Leicester City have invested in every aspect of the club, they don’t spend frivolously now like the did in Sven’s era, despite the media’s best attempts to paint Vichai’s comments to suggest such at a press conference in May. More importantly, the Foxes chairman and vice-chairman respect the culture of the club, vowing never to change the club’s crest, colours or identity unlike Mr. Tan who seems more interested in goading his club’s fans in to fisticuffs than rewarding their support like the Srivaddhanaprabhas.

This may simply sound like the bitter ramblings of a big-headed fan of a newly-promoted Premier League side but it shouldn’t be perceived as such. In spite of my staunch belief that Leicester will offer more than survival next season, I concede that there is a chance we could go down and people thinking it is not ludicrous at all. However, all I ask is, if you want to write us off – at least have a bloody good reason.