Brighton & Hove Albion F.C.

Head Strong: Why Mentality is The Key to Leicester City’s season

On the brink of football’s busiest time of the season, Leicester City stand on the cusp of the top two with an impressive 38 points from 19 games played, promotion form, as the pundits like to call it. However, The Foxes fans’ morale has sunken following two defeats last week to lowly Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton & Hove Albion. Ahead, of a huge week for Leicester City in which they face both of the top two as well as Premier League giants, Manchester City, this new form and indeed attitude seems like a less than desirable way to tackle it.

Crucial... The high-flying Foxes face Burnely, Man City and QPR next week.

Crucial… The high-flying Foxes face Burnely, Man City and QPR next week.

From an outside perspective, a fan seeming discontented in third place following two defeats, which haven’t proven very costly would seem absolutely laughable. And I’d tend to agree with those who take that view. The Foxes despite deserving to lose at both Hillsborough and the AMEX Stadium have put in plenty of positives prior to last week to get them in to the lofty position that they’re in. Many fans are worried that this is the start of yet another downturn in form, like the one that scuppered any chance of automatic promotion last season.  Many believe that City’s young squad lacked the mental strength to overcome adversity last season but Nigel Pearson’s squad seem suited for recovery following last season’s cruel ending at Vicarage Road.

Emulation… Leicester’s record mirrors champions, Cardiff’s.

There’s no surprise that City fans fear the worst, after last week given 2013’s downward spiral and the club’s reputation of ‘bottling’ good positions and being a ‘nearly club’. But one thing Leicester fans mustn’t forget to apply when assessing the club’s position is perspective. Leicester remain just one point of the top spot, four ahead of fourth place Derby and seven points clear of the play-off’s chasing pack. The Foxes are 5 points better off than at this stage last season and 9 better off than the 2011–12 campaign. As a matter of fact, last season’s champions, Cardiff City held the exact same record of 12–2–5 at this stage last season as the Foxes do now. As well as this, the mental strength of the squad seems to have improved with the Foxes already managing to salvage 10 points from losing positions this season. The side even managed a 3-0 thumping of Watford, at the very ground where their promotion hopes were callously dashed in May.

Support… Lessened expectation could be City’s catalyst.

In my opinion, the fans have been excellent this season, managing to support the club through numbers and noise on the road and at home. But now we’ve hit a rough patch, expectation is once again rearing it’s ugly head. We failed in 2011–12 when we all expected City to get promoted and we failed last season too. Now, Leicester are expected to go on a calamitous downturn in form that will ultimately end our season. It’s probably safe to assume that half a fanbase expecting and translating negativity will only suit to confound our recent blip, if you can even call it that. Instead of expecting us to thrash all of our opponents or slump in to mid-table obscurity, let’s support the team through adversity. We all know well enough how crazy this league and indeed supporting Leicester City is and I think we can all see that our club doesn’t thrive under pressure – let’s do our bit and hope the players and manager respond. Keep the faith and all that.

P.S. Enjoy this fanmade tribute to Anthony Knockaert and that penalty save –

2013–14 Football League Predictions

With every new seasons , comes a new found expectation. Seventy two clubs up and down England and Wales will be dreaming their club will be steeped in glory come May 2014, whether it be a thrilling chase for promotion or a nerve-racking scrap to quell relegation. Here are my thoughts on how the tables may look in nine months time.

The Championship

Bookies’ favourites for promotion: QPR, Reading, Bolton Wanderers
Bookies’ favourites for relegation: Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers, Barnsley

Promotion Contenders

Challenge… Redknapp’s talented Hoops may not be enough to mount a promotion challenge.

As always, the relegated Premier League sides are tipped for the top. Reading seem the best placed for an immediate return to the top-flight with a strong squad that excelled in the Championship two seasons ago, strengthened with new additions and led by a talented manager in Nigel Adkins. Queens Park Rangers could dominate the division but risk ‘doing a Wolves’ if the heavily priced squad fail to motivate themselves to the task. Wigan could struggle to break in to the top six with Europe a lengthy distraction next season. East Midlands ‘money-bags’, Leicester City and Nottingham Forest are among those tipped for the top. Forest appeared rejuvenated under Billy Davies and have strengthened in pre-season but the Scotsman has failed on two occasions to lead Forest back in to the top division. The Foxes have added only one player to their roster but stability may be key in their quest for promotion, motivation shouldn’t be a problem for City following their cruel play-off exit in May but frailties seen in the second half of last season will need to be rectified. Bolton too pushed for the top six at the end of last season and a replication of that in 2013–14 will see the Trotters at the right end of the table. Watford’s incessant borrowing from Udinese and Granada will too keep them in contention, providing a play-off hangover doesn’t dent their chances.

The Question Marks

Ram raid… Derby fans should be quietly optimistic for the year ahead.

Several clubs are picked as this season’s ‘dark horses’. Charlton Athletic and Ipswich Town are favoured due to their strong finishes but their late form may prove to be inconsequential in the wake of the coming season.  AFC Bournemouth are predicted by some, including the bookies to consolidate and maybe mount a promotion push but in an even more competitive league than last season, it may prove to be one step too far for the Cherries. Derby County have been quietly going about some good business in pre-season and this may finally be the season that the Rams’ long-term approach pays off. Nobody can seem to weigh up neither Brighton & Hove Albion nor Middlesbrough this season. The Seagulls odd managerial switch may stifle the progress they had made in previous years whereas Middlesbrough’s dramatically different form in either half of last season means they could be either knocking on the door of the play-offs are floating in and out of the drop zone.

The Relegation Candidates

One direction… Donny have little hope of escaping the drop.

Only two of the promoted trio are widely fancied to drop back to the third tier and rightly so. Somerset minnows, Yeovil Town will struggle but may put up more of a fight than expected with manager, Gary Johnson capable of securing the Glovers’ survival. Doncaster’s signing of pop heartthrob, Louis Tomlinson will do little to bolster a squad and manager ready for the drop.  As is customary, Barnsley will be poking around the bottom of the table, but their scrappy nature may be enough to carry them above the dreaded dotted line once more. Millwall seem a lesser threat given their end-of-season form and the transition of manager Kenny Jackett to Wolves. Blackpool are too fancied to struggle with a depleted squad and a manager in Paul Ince rumoured to be unhappy in his surroundings. Elsewhere in Lancashire, Burnley may be the surprise strugglers this season following Charlie Austin’s defect to West London – the striker secured crucial points for the Clarets last term. The blue-striped duo, Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday may have to contend with another relegation battle too.

My predicted table

1 Reading
2 Bolton Wanderers
3 Watford
4 Nottingham Forest
5 Queens Park Rangers
6 Leicester City
7 Leeds United
8 Wigan Athletic
9 Derby County
10 Brighton & Hove Albion
11 Ipswich Town
12 Charlton Athletic
13 Bournemouth
14 Blackburn Rovers
15 Birmingham City
16 Middlesbrough
17 Sheffield Wednesday
18 Barnsley
19 Huddersfield Town
20 Blackpool
21 Millwall
22 Burnley
23 Doncaster Rovers
24 Yeovil Town

League One

Bookies’ favourites for promotion: Wolves, Peterborough, Brentford
Bookies’ favourites for relegation: Coventry, Shrewsbury, Colchester, Stevenage

1 Brentford
2 Wolverhampton Wand.
3 Peterborough United
4 Sheffield United
5 Bristol City
6 Preston North End
7 Notts County
8 Milton Keynes Dons
9 Swindon Town
10 Rotherham United
11 Walsall
12 Crewe Alexandra
13 Leyton Orient
14 Crawley Town
15 Bradford City
16 Tranmere Rovers
17 Carlisle United
18 Gillingham
19 Port Vale
20 Oldham Athletic
21 Colchester United
22 Coventry City
23 Stevenage
24 Shrewsbury Town

League Two

Bookies’ favourites for promotion: Portsmouth, Fleetwood, Chesterfield, Bristol Rovers
Bookies’ favourites for relegation: Accrington Stanley, Dagenham & Redbridge

1 Chesterfield
2 Portsmouth
3 Oxford United
4 Bristol Rovers
5 Fleetwood Town
6 Cheltenham Town
7 Scunthorpe United
8 Burton Albion
9 York City
10 Northampton Town
11 Bury
12 Hartlepool United
13 Southend United
14 Plymouth Argyle
15 Exeter City
16 Mansfield Town
17 Newport County
18 Wycombe Wanderers
19 AFC Wimbledon
20 Rochdale
21 Accrington Stanley
22 Torquay United
23 Dagenham & Redbridge
24 Morecambe

2012-13 Football Rivalry Survey Results

The survey was carried out between August 2012 and February 2013 and was answered by just under 2,100 football fans.

Rivalry… English football’s hate stakes revealed

Headline statistics

  • 17 clubs’ main rivals have changed since 2003.
  • Leeds United  have the most teams considering them as main rivals with four. Manchester United and Nottingham Forest are joint second with three each.
  • Gillingham  have the fewest rivals, appearing in no club’s top three rivalries.
  • 52.2% of fans believe that geographical proximity is the cause of their main rivalry. 34.7% blame it on history whereas 8.2% think it’s down to league position.
  • 73.9% of football fans claim they would miss their rivals if they ceased to exist.

Changing rivalries

Since 2003, 17 club’s main rivals have changed. They are as follows;

Team Old Rival New Rival
AFC Bournemouth Reading Southampton
Arsenal Manchester United Tottenham Hotspur
Bolton Wanderers Manchester United Wigan Athletic
Brentford Queens Park Rangers Fulham
Carlisle United Middlesbrough Preston North End
Chelsea Arsenal Tottenham Hotspur
Colchester United Wycombe Wanderers Southend United
Coventry City Aston Villa Leicester City
Crewe Alexandra Stoke City Port Vale
Doncaster Rovers Rotherham United Leeds United
Fulham Chelsea Queens Park Rangers
Huddersfield Town Bradford City Leeds United
Oldham Athletic Manchester City Rochdale
Reading Swindon Town Aldershot Town
Torquay United Exeter City Plymouth Argyle
Tranmere Rovers Bolton Wanderers Oldham Athletic

Clubs with the most rivals

With 3 points allocated for having one main rival and two for having a secondary rival etc., here is a ranking of clubs with the most rivals in the Football League.

Rank Club Points
1 Leeds 25
2 Chelsea 15
Manchester United 15
4 Bolton 14
Swindon 14
Wolves 14
7 Burnley 12
Millwall 12
Sheff Wed 12
10 Crystal Palace 11
Leicester 11
MK Dons 11
13 Aston Villa 10
Blackburn 10
Brighton 10
16 Bristol Rovers 9
Liverpool 9
Nott’m Forest 9
Oxford 9
Reading 9
West Brom 9
West Ham 9
23 Arsenal 8
Preston 8
Tottenham Hotspur 8
26 Birmingham 7
Bristol City 7
Cardiff 7
Colchester 7
Derby 7
Exeter 7
Port Vale 7
Sheff Utd 7
Southampton 7
35 Huddersfield 6
Hull 6
Morecambe 6
Newcastle 6
Peterborough 6
Plymouth 6
Portsmouth 6
Southend 6
Stoke 6
45 Accrington 5
AFC Wimbledon 5
Barnet 5
Barnsley 5
Chesterfield 5
Dag & Red 5
Fulham 5
Middlesbrough 5
Northampton 5
Oldham 5
Rochdale 5
Sunderland 5
Wigan 5
58 Blackpool 4
Bradford 4
Brentford 4
Charlton 4
Doncaster 4
Everton 4
Ipswich 4
Leyton Orient 4
Torquay 4
67 Aldershot 3
Bury 3
Carlisle 3
Manchester City 3
Norwich 3
Rotherham 3
Stevenage 3
Swansea 3
Walsall 3
Wycombe 3
77 Crewe 2
Hartlepool 2
Shrewsbury 2
80 Bournemouth 1
Coventry 1
Crawley 1
Notts County 1
Scunthorpe 1
Yeovil 1
86 Burton 0
Cheltenham 0
Fleetwood 0
Gillingham 0
Tranmere 0
Watford 0
York 0

Rivalries – Who are they?

Here is a complete list of the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs’ top three rivalries;

Team Main rivals Second rivals Third rivals
Accrington Stanley Morecambe Blackburn Rovers Burnley
AFC Bournemouth Southampton Reading Brighton & Hove Albion
AFC Wimbledon Milton Keynes Dons Crystal Palace Crawley Town
Aldershot Town Reading Woking Swindon Town
Arsenal Tottenham Hotspur Chelsea Manchester United
Aston Villa Birmingham City West Bromwich Albion Wolves
Barnet Stevenage Dagenham & Redbridge Northampton Town / Carlisle United
Barnsley Sheffield Wednesday Sheffield United Leeds United / Huddersfield Town
Birmingham City Aston Villa Wolves West Bromwich Albion
Blackburn Rovers Burnley Bolton Wanderers Manchester United
Blackpool Preston North End Bolton Wanderers Burnley
Bolton Wanderers Wigan Athletic Burnley Blackburn Rovers
Bradford City Huddersfield Town Leeds United Rotherham United
Brentford Fulham Queens Park Rangers Chelsea
Brighton & Hove Albion Crystal Palace Portsmouth Southampton
Bristol City Bristol Rovers Cardiff City Swindon Town
Bristol Rovers Bristol City Swindon Town Cardiff City
Burnley Blackburn Rovers Bolton Wanderers Blackpool / Preston North End
Burton Albion Chesterfield Derby County Notts County
Bury Bolton Wanderers Rochdale Oldham Athletic
Cardiff City Swansea City Bristol City Leeds United
Carlisle United Preston North End Hartlepool United Middlesbrough
Charlton Athletic Crystal Palace Millwall West Ham United
Chelsea Tottenham Hotspur Arsenal Manchester United
Cheltenham Town Swindon Town Oxford United Shrewsbury Town / Kidderminster Harriers
Chesterfield Mansfield Town Rotherham United Sheffield Wednesday
Colchester United Southend United Wycombe Wanderers Ipswich Town
Coventry City Leicester City Aston Villa Birmingham City
Crawley Town AFC Wimbledon Brighton & Hove Albion Swindon Town
Crewe Alexandra Port Vale Stoke City
Crystal Palace Brighton & Hove Albion Millwall Charlton Athletic
Dagenham & Redbridge Barnet Leyton Orient Brentford
Derby County Nottingham Forest Leeds United Leicester City
Doncaster Rovers Leeds United Barnsley Sheffield United / Sheffield Wednesday
Everton Liverpool Manchester United Manchester City
Exeter City Plymouth Argyle Torquay United Bristol Rovers / Yeovil Town
Fleetwood Town Morecambe Accrington Stanley Barrow
Fulham Queens Park Rangers Chelsea Brentford
Gillingham Millwall Charlton Athletic Swindon Town
Hartlepool United Darlington Carlisle United Sheffield Wednesday
Huddersfield Town Leeds United Bradford City Sheffield Wednesday
Hull City Leeds United Leicester City Scunthorpe United / Grimsby Town
Ipswich Town Norwich City West Ham United Colchester United
Leeds United Manchester United Chelsea Huddersfield Town / Millwall
Leicester City Nottingham Forest Derby County Coventry City
Leyton Orient Southend United Brentford Dagenham & Redbridge / West Ham United
Liverpool Manchester United Everton Chelsea
Manchester City Manchester United Liverpool Everton
Manchester United Liverpool Manchester City Chelsea
Middlesbrough Newcastle United Sunderland Leeds United
Millwall West Ham United Crystal Palace Charlton Athletic
Milton Keynes Dons Peterborough United AFC Wimbledon Northampton Town
Morecambe Accrington Stanley Burnley Bradford City
Newcastle United Sunderland Middlesbrough Manchester United
Northampton Town Peterborough United Milton Keynes Dons Leicester City / Oxford United
Norwich City Ipswich Town Wolves Leeds United
Nottingham Forest Derby County Leicester City Sheffield United
Notts County Nottingham Forest Mansfield Town Chesterfield
Oldham Athletic Rochdale Wigan Athletic Huddersfield Town
Oxford United Swindon Town Reading Wycombe Wanderers
Peterborough United Northampton Town Cambridge United Leicester City / Milton Keynes Dons
Plymouth Argyle Exeter City Torquay United Portsmouth
Port Vale Stoke City Crewe Alexandra Shrewsbury Town
Portsmouth Southampton Brighton & Hove Albion Millwall / Leicester City
Preston North End Blackpool Blackburn Rovers Burnley
Queens Park Rangers Chelsea Fulham Cardiff City / Stoke City
Reading Aldershot Town Swindon Town Oxford United
Rochdale Bury Burnley Oldham Athletic
Rotherham United Doncaster Rovers Sheffield Wednesday Chesterfield
Scunthorpe United Hull City Grimsby Town Doncaster Rovers
Sheffield United Sheffield Wednesday Leeds United Barnsley / West Ham United
Sheffield Wednesday Sheffield United Barnsley Leeds United
Shrewsbury Town Walsall Wolves Port Vale
Southampton Portsmouth Brighton & Hove Albion Bournemouth
Southend United Colchester United Leyton Orient Dagenham & Redbridge
Stevenage Milton Keynes Dons Barnet Dagenham & Redbridge
Stoke City Port Vale West Bromwich Albion Wolves
Sunderland Newcastle United Middlesbrough Leeds United
Swansea City Cardiff City Reading Bristol City
Swindon Town Oxford United Reading Bristol City / Bristol Rovers
Torquay United Plymouth Argyle Exeter City Bristol Rovers
Tottenham Hotspur Arsenal Chelsea West Ham United
Tranmere Rovers Oldham Athletic Bolton Wanderers Everton / Liverpool
Walsall Wolves Aston Villa West Bromwich Albion
Watford Luton Town Leeds United Crystal Palace / Queens Park Rangers
West Bromwich Albion Wolves Aston Villa Birmingham City
West Ham United Millwall Tottenham Hotspur Arsenal / Chelsea
Wigan Athletic Bolton Wanderers Blackburn Rovers Preston North End
Wolves West Bromwich Albion Birmingham City Aston Villa
Wycombe Wanderers Colchester United Milton Keynes Dons Oxford United
Yeovil Town Bristol Rovers Exeter City
York City Hull City Leeds United Bradford City

Neutral opinion

The 20 most offensive clubs to the neutral football fan;

  1. Manchester United

    Hated… Manchester United are the most disliked English football club

  2. Liverpool
  3. Leeds United
  4. Chelsea
  5. West Ham United
  6. Stoke City
  7. Millwall
  8. Milton Keynes Dons
  9. Cardiff City
  10. Queens Park Rangers
  11. Manchester City
  12. Arsenal
  13. Tottenham Hotspur
  14. Crawley Town
  15. Birmingham City
  16. Aston Villa
  17. Hull City
  18. Nottingham Forest
  19. Reading
  20. Portsmouth

The 20 least offensive clubs to the neutral football fan were;

  1. Brentford

    Buzzing… The Bees are the Football League’s least offensive club

  2. Aldershot Town
  3. Burton Albion
  4. Bury
  5. Yeovil Town
  6. Cheltenham Town
  7. Dagenham & Redbridge
  8. Exeter City
  9. Torquay United
  10. Fulham
  11. Bournemouth
  12. Colchester United
  13. Leyton Orient
  14. Rochdale
  15. York City
  16. Carlisle United
  17. Crewe Alexandra
  18. Hartlepool United
  19. Tranmere Rovers
  20. Accrington Stanley

All stats compared with 2003 Football Fans Census : Rivalry Uncovered. However, this survey is not affiliated with the Football Fans Survey.