City

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.

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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)

Leicester is better than Nottingham

The title says it all. Leicester is better than Nottingham and that’s all there is to it. Today, the Leicester Mercury published an opinion piece from budding journalist Catherine Hancock (who I’m sure is lovely by the way) detailing why she thought that Nottingham was the top city in the East Midlands. Of course, you can’t expect me to read that and not respond, so let’s travel through Catherine’s arguments and unhinge them bit by bit.

Like Catherine, we’ll start with sport. Leicester has a Premier League football team. Nottingham doesn’t. Those are the facts. Actually, our northern neighbours haven’t graced the top-flight since 1999, a time when S Club 7 and Steps were still dominating the charts. Forest fans, as we all know, love a good history lesson but their triumphs under Brian Clough are not really relevant now. Not only does Leicester boast a Premier League football team, we’re also the home of the Rugby Union’s most successful ever club, the Leicester Tigers, with ten Premiership titles to their name. Add the only cricket club to have won the Twenty20 Cup more than once and the country’s oldest basketball club (and current cup champions) in to the mix and you’ve got a true sporting city,unlike the underachieving Nottingham.

And if we’re simply talking sporting icons, how can you look further than England legends Gary Lineker and Peter Shilton, who both hail from the city? And who can forget the Jester from Leicester Mark Selby who won 2014’s World Snooker Championship?

When we’re talking music, Leicester once again reigns supreme. How can you argue with Showaddywaddy, Mark Morrison, Engelbert Humperdinck, X Factor champ Sam Bailey and of course, the crème de la crème; Kasabian? Are we to submit all of these music icons to that miserable Jake Bugg? I don’t think so.

Let’s not forget that Leicester was also the city that brought up the legendary Attenborough brothers – you’re welcome, Earth.

Apparently, Nottingham is also ‘the city of history’ too, because it’s the ‘home’ of Robin Hood, who could well be fictional. Leicester’s local Maryland Chicken chains have more history than that. Leicester can boast to be one of the country’s oldest settlements, as well as one of it’s most populated (more than Nottingham). It was also, the place Richard III met his maker, and was discovered some 530 years after he died – he wasn’t fictional.

Catherine also said that Quentin Tarantino chose Nottingham to be the location of one of Pulp Fiction’s premières – which I admit is quite cool. However, it doesn’t quite have the same honour as Queen Elizabeth II hand-picking Leicester as the first stop on her Diamond jubilee tour in 2012.

In fact if the cities were to go head-to-head Nottingham would be knocked out in the second round. Nottingham is the country’s singleton, bad breath and crime capital – quite a resumé, I know. We could stretch even further and call Nottingham the obese capital, if we were to include Bassetlaw in north Notts.  There’s actually such a gap in quality between the two cities that your life expectancy increases five years if you travel 30 miles south via the A46.

Let’s face it Nottingham cannot compare. How can you stand a few good ice skaters against the city responsible for Walkers crisps, the largest outdoor market in Europe, being Britain’s first environment city, the birth of local BBC radio and more importantly than anything else, the modern English language, and expect to win?

Neither are bad-looking cities by the way, not particularly beautiful but not ugly either. For me, Leicester edges that too but I’m sure others will disagree. In truth, there are several thousand reasons why Leicester is better than Nottingham, maybe the most relevant one is that nobody from Leicester would ever write in a Nottingham newspaper just about how great our city is. There you go, add humility to the list of things we do better too!

If you’re keeping score, don’t bother. It’s game, set and match to Leicester.

(P.S. – You can read Catherine’s blog at http://www.catherinescolumn.com)

Leicester City’s Greatest Goals : The Top 10

Without further ado, here are the top 10 Leicester City goals, as voted for by the Foxes faithful.

10. Andy Peake (vs. Liverpool, 1980)

Thousands crammed in to Filbert Street to see a young Leicester City side take on league champions two years running in Liverpool. Foxes manager, Jock Wallace had boasted of City’s credentials before the match and after two defeats to start the season, The Foxes ran out 2-0 winners over a side that would go on to be crowned European Champions at the end of the campaign. And, it was 18-year-old Andy Peake who set the ball rolling by blasting home from 30 yards. Interestingly enough, City went on to complete a league double over the Kopites, ending Liverpool’s 85 game unbeaten run at Anfield.

9. Keith Weller (vs. Luton Town, 1974)

Leicester City took to Kenilworth Road in 1974 to inflict a ruthless 4-0 demolition of the Hatters in the FA Cup. Leicester cruised to  a three-goal lead in front of 25,000 in Bedfordshire before the infamous tight-clad, Weller coasted past four players took the ball upon his left foot and drilled it in to the top left corner from 18 yards. City went on to the semi-finals of the competition, eventually losing out to winners, Liverpool.

8. Steve Walsh (vs. Arsenal, 1997)

I imagine this is as high as it is in the rankings due to the nature of the goal, rather than the quality of it. Leicester had maintained an impressive unbeaten record at Filbert Street and welcomed a titanous Arsenal side who took the game to city for 85 minutes by which point Dennis Bergkamp had gifted the Gunners a 2-0 lead. Heskey bumbled the ball over the line in the 84th minute to give the Foxes hope of a comeback, which was completed in the third of three allocated minutes of added time when Matt Elliott blasted home from the edge of the box. Filbert Street was rocking with delirium at the impressive comeback only for Dennis Bergkamp to break forward again and score a simply sublime goal to once again put the Gunners ahead in the 94th minute. Clearly aggrieved by the second late twist, the Foxes immediately pushed forward and forced a corner. Garry Parker delivered the ball in to the area and after a forray of headers, captain fantastic Steve Walsh nodded the ball hopelessly past David Seaman, sparking some of the wildest celebrations Filbert Street had ever seen.

7. Steve Howard (vs. Leeds United, 2009)

Again, in terms of quality there are many more goals that could have and should have been ranked ahead of this one. But for the momentous occasion and goal it was, it is worthy of its place. Leicester City had been partaking in their first ever season in the third tier of English football, and had been doing exceptionally well. The Foxes led the table since November and with four games to go, were in poll position for an immediate return to the second tier. Backed by a crowd of 27,000 in front of Sky’s cameras, Steve Howard wrote the history in a rugged, even affair between the two clubs heading home from a corner in the very last minute, sending Leicester City back to the Championship and on their way to their first domestic league title since 1980.

6. Joey Gudjonsson (vs. Hull City, 2006)

Not many would have envisaged a player from the 2005-08 era scoring one of the Foxes greatest goals but it would be hard to ignore Joey Gudjonsson’s claim to the title. In a mid-table Championship clash between the Foxes and the Tigers, the latter managed by City villiain, Peter Taylor, Leicester ran out 3-2 winners at the then Walkers Stadium. Leicester had taken the lead in the first half through Iain Hume, only for Hull to equalise 5 minutes later, leaving the score level at the break. The Foxes pressured in the second half and were rewarded when the Icelandic Gudjonsson spotted Boaz Myhill off his line and launched a shot from the half-way line that expertly flew in to the back of the net. Hull had the cheek to level the tie ten minutes later only for Gudjonsson to win the tie with another strike; this one a tap-in from 25 yards.

5. Muzzy Izzet (vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 1998)

Fear was rife at Filbert Street with the national media reporting that club legend, Martin O’Neill was being swayed to take a job at Leeds United, whom the Foxes had beaten two weeks earlier. Local paper, the Leicester Mercury had organised the ‘Don’t Go Martin’ campaign, by making signs for fans to hold up for the Premier League game between City and Spurs. The fans took part wholeheartedly and City went on to win the game, coming from behind to win 2-1, courtesy of an 85th minute wonder-volley from Turkish international, Muzzy Izzet. Martin O’Neill decided to stay and the rest is history.

4. Anthony Knockaert (vs. Nottingham Forest, 2013)

May 4th 2013 was the stuff of dreams for the Foxes faithful. A run of mixed form had seen the Blues surrender a top six place, leaving them to battle Bolton in 6th and hosts Forest in 7th for the last spot on the final day of the season. Bolton were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Blackpool, in a shock result, meaning the winner of the East Midlands derby at the City Ground would reach the top 6. Simon Cox fired the Reds ahead inside three minutes before Leicester hit back with goals from Matty James and Andy King. The Foxes were poised for the top 6 at the break but Forest levelled the tie on 50 minutes through Elliott Ward. It was a tense affair from then on with both sides knowing one goal would be enough. In the 92nd minute the ball landed at the feet of Jeff Schlupp who picked out a pass to Anthony Knockaert, a one-two with Chris Wood ended with the Frenchman side-footing home ten yards in front of the cut allocation of away fans. The City faithful in the ground and around the country went ballistic as The Foxes recorded their first league win at the City Ground since 1972 to slide in to the top six. It was made even sweeter by the fact it was at the expense of bitter rivals Nottingham Forest.

3. Lilian Nalis (vs. Leeds United, 2003)

Leicester picked up their first league win of the 2003-04 season at home to Leeds United in September 2003 and in fine fashion indeed. Some ten years ago, Leeds were considered a genuine force in English football and for Leicester to thrash them 4-0 at home was quite a result. Sky cameras caught the demolition on camera, in a night that would be game remembered for hilarious Fanzone commentary, a marker for what City hoped to achieve in the top-flight that season and more importantly that goal from Lilian Nalis.

2. Steve Claridge (vs. Crystal Palace, 1996)

Journeyman Steve Claridge comes in as runner-up with this shinned effort at Wembley in 1996. Leicester City had embarked on a remarkable up-turn in form under Martin O’Neill to navigate in to the play-offs and through them to reach the final. But things weren’t going well for the Foxes on the day, falling behind to a 14th minute goal from Crystal Palace’s Andy Roberts. Leicester rallied in the second half and forced a penalty that granted them an equaliser in the 76th minute. The Foxes and the Eagles couldn’t be separated for the next fourteen minutes of normal time and indeed the thirty minutes of extra time. With seconds to go, Martin O’Neill substituted goalkeeper, Kevin Poole for Željko Kalac, who was considered to stand a better chance of saving penalties in the impending shoot-out. Following the switch, a Leicester free-kick was only partially cleared, leaving Steve Claridge to swing his leg and see the ball fly off his shin in to the net in front of a stunned and then suddenly rapturous, Leicester crowd. Having experienced plenty of play-off heartbreak in the 1990s, Leicester City got a phenomenal reward that started them on the path of a wondrous Premier League adventure.

1. Muzzy Izzet (vs. Grimsby Town, 2002)

It wasn’t even close. Leicester City legend, Muzzy Izzet has won all the plaudits for his wonder strike at Blundell Park all those years ago and rightly so! The Foxes were in the midst of a mammoth push for a return to the top-flight when they met the Mariners on Humberside. James Scowcroft gave the Foxes the lead, only for Grimsby to level in the 54th minute. Leicester, who were down to ten men then broke down the wing, with Andy Impey charging past a full-back and expertly crafting a precise cross in to the area for Muzzy Izzet to fly backwards in to the air and scissor kick the ball past the Grimsby keeper, in front of the travelling supporters. Who would have thought that City’s best goal would come in such an unglamorous, non-spectacle of a game like a Tuesday night Division One game at Blundell Park but it did and it was a peach and then some. Leicester fans will tell you that Izzet’s miracle strike was better than the similar effort scored by Wayne Rooney against Manchester City… and they’re probably right.

English Football’s Biggest Clubs : REVEALED!

It’s probably the biggest argument among football fans today; who is bigger than who? Rival clubs across the country will claim to be a greater presence in the game than their mortal enemies but who really stands above the rest? Southampton or Portsmouth? Newcastle or Sunderland? Liverpool or Manchester United?

The rankings below are determined by points allocated based on historical success and support – the two main contributors to a club’s stature.

Point system

Bridesmaids… Yo-yo clubs, Leicester and Birmingham are rewarded for their near misses and consistency in league position.

  • Seasons – 4 points for top flight season, 3 points for 2nd tier season, 1 point for 3rd tier season, 0 points for 4th tier or lower, 4 additional points for Champion’s League season and 3 additional points for Europa League season.
  • Trophies – 10 points for top flight championship, 6 points for FA Cup win, 4 points for League Cup win, 12 points for Champion’s League win, 7 points for Europa League win, 4 points for 2nd tier title, 1 point for lower league title.
  • “Nearlies” – 4 points for FA Cup final appearance, 2 points for FA Cup semi-final appearance, 2 points for League Cup final appearance, 1 point for League Cup semi-final appearance, 7 points for Champion’s League second place.
  • Fanbase- Average home attendances had been taken for every club since their inception. A combined attendance has been found to which each club’s record has been converted to a percentage. However, several people have complained that past attendances are now irrelevant and the only accurate measure of fanbase is current home attendance. As such the same method has been used but with average home attendances from the 2014–15 season. To ensure that history and support were measured equally; each club was allocated their percentage of 23,574 points (the total number of success points of all clubs).

Non-league clubs are not included in the ranking.

Rankings

*all data correct as of 20th June 2016

 

Rank Change from 2015 Club Pts
1 Manchester United 2506
2 Arsenal 2057
3 Liverpool 1950
4 +1 Manchester City 1669
5 +1 Newcastle United 1551
6 -2 Chelsea 1492
7 Everton 1466
8 Aston Villa 1436
9 +1 Sunderland 1370
10 -1 Tottenham Hotspur 1308
11 +1 Leicester City 1074
12 +1 Derby County 1066
13 -2 West Bromwich Albion 1043
14 West Ham United 1038
15 Wolverhampton Wand. 957
16 +1 Sheffield Wednesday 951
17 +1 Leeds United 912
18 -2 Nottingham Forest 910
19 Stoke City 906
20 Southampton 902
21 +4 Middlesbrough 865
22 -1 Blackburn Rovers 849
23 -1 Sheffield United 834
24 +2 Birmingham City 786
25 -2 Bolton Wanderers 778
26 +1 Norwich City 765
27 -3 Burnley 753
28 Preston North End 697
29 Crystal Palace 685
30 Ipswich Town 641
31 +3 Portsmouth 632
32 Fulham 627
33 +2 Brighton & Hove Alb. 612
34 +2 Huddersfield Town 573
35 +6 Watford 569
36 +1 Charlton Athletic 564
37 +2 Swansea City 560
38 -5 Cardiff City 554
39 -8 Hull City 540
40 -2 Queens Park Rangers 539
41 +1 Bristol City 524
42 +4 Bradford City 518
43 +2 Coventry City 493
44 -1 Reading 462
45 -5 Blackpool 445
46 -2 Barnsley 439
47 Luton Town 401
48 Notts County 391
49 Millwall 350
50 Bury 330
51 n/a Grimsby Town 326
52 -1 Rotherham United 324
53 +2 Plymouth Argyle 323
54 -2 Brentford 309
55 -1 Oldham Athletic 298
56 +1 AFC Bournemouth 297
57 -1 Swindon Town 273
58 +1 Leyton Orient 267
59 +2 Bristol Rovers 266
60 -2 Port Vale 262
61 -8 Wigan Athletic 258
62 -2 Chesterfield 254
63 +4 MK Dons 248
64 -1 Oxford United 226
65 -1 Walsall 217
66 -4 Doncaster Rovers 211
67 -2 Southend United 208
68 -2 Gillingham 190
69 -1 Carlisle United 181
70 Shrewsbury Town 168
71 AFC Wimbledon 163
72 -3 Crewe Alexandra 162
73 Northampton Town 159
74 -2 Peterborough United 138
75 -1 Cambridge United 129
76 Scunthorpe United 122
77 -2 Exeter City 120
78 -1 Colchester United 118
79 Hartlepool United 113
80 +2 Mansfield Town 108
81 -1 Rochdale 102
82 -1 Newport County 94
83 +1 Wycombe Wanderers 87
84 -1 Yeovil Town 83
85 +3 Burton Albion 78
86 Accrington Stanley 65
87 Stevenage 63
88 -3 Fleetwood Town 62
89 n/a Cheltenham Town 58
90 -1 Crawley Town 46
91 Barnet 43
92 -1 Morecambe 28

Statistics

  • Liverpool just pip Manchester United to the title of ‘most successful club’ in English football, accumulating 1165 points, five more than United.
  • The least successful club in the Football League is Morecambe who didn’t tally a single success point.
  • Everton have spent more time in the top flight than any other club – 111 seasons.
  • Eight clubs have never fallen out of the top two tiers of English football; Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
  • The biggest club to have never won the top flight was Leicester City but is now West Ham United.
  • The biggest club to have dropped as low as the third tier is Aston Villa.
  • The biggest club to have never won the FA Cup is Leicester City.
  • The best supported club in England based on average attendance is Manchester United.
  • Rotherham United are the biggest club to have never graced the top flight.
  • Whereas, Exeter City are the biggest club to not have played in either of the top two divisions.
  • The biggest clubs in each of the top four divisions are Manchester United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Portsmouth.
  • The smallest are Bournemouth, Burton Albion, Fleetwood Town and Morecambe respectively.
  • The biggest English club to have never won the Champion’s League or European cup is Arsenal. The smallest club to do so is Nottingham Forest.
  • The biggest underachievers in the Football League currently are Portsmouth who are two divisions below their ‘natural level’.
  • The biggest overachievers are Burton Albion and Bournemouth who are competing two divisions above their ‘natural level’.

Leicester: England’s Forgotten City

I’m weirdly proud of my city. Most people up and down the British Isles don’t hold that strong a sense of local pride. Of course you hear people from places like Liverpool, Cornwall and Essex exerting their local pride but a proud ‘chisit’ is a rare sight to behold. Leicester often goes unnoticed on a national scale despite being one of the largest settlements in the United Kingdom. Many just see Leicester as a big town stuck between Birmingham and Nottingham, but it is so much more than that.

History… Leicester’s Roman remains

People had lived in the area for thousands of years, but Leicester began as a late Iron Age settlement set up by people from the Corieltauvi tribe. After the Romans fled British shores, the town’s urban function ceased to exist. Although listed as a city in medieval times, Leicester lost its city status for 800 years until 1919. Despite being one of Britain’s most important places for wealth, religion and trade, Leicester remained a borough. In spite of it’s lack of coal and iron, Leicester began it’s expansion and industrialisation in the 1700s.

Nowadays, Leicester is a superb example of a cross-cultural city owing to it’s large South Asian population. Despite this mix of ethnicity, culture and religion, little tension is experienced within the city between different groups. The city benefits from this influx of Asian culture in many ways such as; the locally known Golden mile on Belgrave Road, which provides some of the best curries in the country. Believe it or not, this obscure Midlands city boasts a lot of historical and social relevance. Leicester is home to the National Space Centre, one of the UK’s leading tourist attraction – I even know a family from San Diego who holidayed in Leicester for a week… really.

Picturesque… Bradgate Park in Summer.

Leicester is a massive sporting city too, being home to the biggest rugby union club in the country in Leicester Tigers, the oldest British basketball club in Leicester Riders, multiple time 20/20 champions in Leicestershire CCC and of course the mighty foxes, Leicester City.

The surrounding areas in Leicester are also stunning too, when you take in to account the charming county of Rutland, which if we’re honest is Leicestershire in all but name. The Charnwood area of the county is home to some of the best woodland areas for miles and home to the infamous Bradgate Park where the 9-day-Queen, Lady Jane Grey once lived.

National Treasure… Sir David Attenborough grew up in the city.

Leicester has actually been the home to many well-known names over the years. Famous ‘chisits’ include spud-flogger and England legend, Gary Lineker, as well as former City and England keeper, Peter Shilton. Successful band, Kasabian (who grew up a mile from my house), fashion expert Gok Wan (whose parents own my local chippy and Chinese takeaway). Engelbert Humperdinck, the Elephant man, Joseph Merrick, the world’s fattest man, Daniel Lambert and of course the legendary Attenborough brothers; David and Richard. You can even thank the city for the timeless classic that is ‘Return of the Mack’. Leicester is also famous for being the home of Walker’s crisps but many people are unaware that most of Britain’s beloved snacks are produced in the city or county, including Galaxy, Mars and Snickers in Ashby de la Zouch – you’re welcome.

The city also has its ties to the British monarchy due to the well publicised finding of Richard III’s body in late 2012. He was found buried in the Grey Friars area of the city following his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 – the last King to die in battle. The Queen also personally chose Leicester as the first stop on her 2012 Diamond Jubilee tour and thanked the city for exceeding her expectations in welcoming her. The visit made such an impression on the locals that the council plans on opening a new complex called ‘Jubilee Square’ in the coming years.

To be clear, I’m under no disillusions. I realise Leicester will never be an iconic city of the world like Paris or New York but as far as Britain goes, Leicester, in my opinion is one of the best cities there is. Ask my Granddad – he’s compiled a comprehensive argument on why Leicester should actually be the country’s capital but that’s a different story altogether.

Interesting facts about Leicester

Rejuvenated… The city of Leicester.

  • Leicester is home to the biggest outdoor, covered market in Europe.
  • The city lies on the River Soar and on the edge of the National Forest.
  • With a total population of 329,600 Leicester is the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom.
  • As one of the oldest cities in England, with a history going back at least 2,000 years – Leicester appears in the Doomsday Book as “Ledecestre”.
  • BBC Radio Leicester was the first local BBC radio station.
  • Leicester has the largest economy in the East Midlands and one of the largest in the country.
  • Leicester hosts the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India, the largest comedy festival in the UK as well as annual Pride and Caribbean events.
  • Leicester was Britain’s first ‘Environment City’ and was singled out for special praise at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
  • The name for a person from Leicester is a ‘Leicesterian’ or ‘chisit’, the latter deriving from the locals of Skegness (a popular holiday destination for Leicesterians), who noticed that the phrase ‘how much is it?’ sounds like ‘I’m a chisit’ in a Leicester accent.
  • Leicester was the first place outside of London to have traffic lights and Tesco.
  • Experts have determined that Leicester is the birthplace of modern standard English.

The Price of Success

In every popular sport in the world, there are heroes and villains. Those the crowd love and those they hate. Typically, the athletes or teams the spectator takes a disliking to share one trait; success.

Prime examples of the unfavoured, are sports’ elite competitors; Manchester United, Leicester Tigers, the New York Yankees etc.. Many people would put this dislike down to an admiration for the underdog, the romance of the unworthy pretender emerging in glorious victory. But why?

Brand… The Yankees are well-known and disliked in the sport

I was actually inspired to write this article based on a Ladies’ 4th Round match at the recent Wimbledon Championships between Serena Williams and Sabine Lisicki. Taking place in Old Blighty, neither’s home nation, you would probably expect a neutral crowd or one that’s slightly swayed toward the plucky underdog in Lisicki or another edging on the side of a respected veteran in Williams. That wasn’t the case. The raucous Centre Court crowd were overtly biased toward Lisicki, cheering her on to every point and greeting Williams’ successes with groans of disappointment. Lisicki’s support rivalled that of the home talents, Andy Murray and Laura Robson and it even continued through the next rounds when her more arrogant nature came to prominence.

In Serena’s case, she is partially disliked for her intense competitive nature. Understandably, most perceive a dislike of losing as a negative trait but it really isn’t as bad or counteractive as it seems. In reality, a hatred for defeat is the very thing that breeds the successful sports stars that are loved the world over. Serena is often levelled with criticism about her image too, with many labelling her as a ‘man’, usually the same people who detest the shameful body image tabloids pressure women to obtain, while mocking a woman making a positive contribution through sport. Actually, you could argue that Williams is simply ostracised because of her race or gender. It would be untrue to say stars like Nadal, Djokovic and veteran, John McEnroe are dealt the same backlash. They remain popular despite exhibiting very similar behaviour.

Of course, there is less opportunity for vocal bias in neutral grounds in football but that doesn’t stop Manchester United being targeted for abuse from supposedly apathetic fans. In contrast, local rivals, Manchester City have become many fans’ ‘second team’. Back in May 2012, when City pulled off a remarkable title theft from United, fans of other clubs publicly celebrated the failure of the Red Devils despite their club having no links to them themselves. In the Etihad, QPR fans (the visitors on the day), even publicly celebrated a goal being scored against them, because it was at Manchester United’s expense. Seriously.



(around the 1:45 mark)

Legend… Serena’s success breeds more resentment than admiration.

Ultimately, it comes down to jealousy. No matter that Serena Williams’ success story in particular comes from hard graft and determination and Manchester United didn’t necessarily employ the bank-rolling tactics of their cross-city rivals to start their route to success, they are still loathed by sports fans alike. It’s the same jealousy that sparks the Scotland or British debate among Andy Murray’s fans. Some Scots are keen to claim Murray as just theirs so they can exclusively identify his success. However, Englishmen are less likely to do the same because as a nation, they’re more successful. As with football, the neutral supporters identified with Man City’s title triumph as a victory for every other club against Manchester United… for some reason.

I’ve never bought in to the establishment of disliking the successful stars of sport. I can see why people do, but I don’t share their feelings. Being prosperous is an adaptive characteristic that biologically, every human is attracted to. When I think of the aim of sport, I think of every team or competitior striving to be the best and I cannot see any rationalisation for hating that. After all, being victorious is the reason we love sport, if you’re not trying to win then what would be the point?

Obscure Football Rivalries

Every football fan relishes the appearance of a local derby on the fixture list. It makes the game just that more exciting. But, locality is not the only reason that rivalry erupts in the beautiful game. Below are just seven examples of when feuds have spilled over between two seemingly unrelated clubs.

Sheffield United vs. West Ham United
Distance: 177.4 miles

Dodgy… Carlos Tevez’ goal consigned The Blades to relegation

The rivalry between the two Uniteds erupted back in 2007. The Blades had won an unexpected promotion to the top flight and were battling out with three other clubs for survival, including the Hammers. Sheffield United lost narrowly at home to Wigan Athletic, who leapfrogged them in to 17th. However, had West Ham lost, the Blades would have been saved.  However, West Ham won at newly-crowned champions, Manchester United by the virtue of a Carlos Tevez goal. This might sound like sour grapes from the Blades’ fans for holding a grudge over a relegation scrap, but the signing of Tevez and in fact Javier Mascherano were illegal, meaning had a point deduction been dished out, the Sheffield outfit may be two divisions higher than they are now. The Blades have yet to receive the opportunity to exact revenge on the East London club but it promises to be a fiery affair.

Norwich City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Distance: 171.8 miles

Lonely… The Canaries see Wolves as the best alternative to Ipswich

The rivalry between the Canaries and Wolves came about over a bad tackle. Seriously, that’s it. In fairness to Norwich City, there aren’t many clubs in their neck of the woods to pick a fight with. Even their famous ‘Old Farm’ derby against Ipswich Town features a round trip of over 100 miles for away fans, so it’s no surprise when games against the Tractor Boys are in short supply that the Canaries have to look elsewhere for a bit of spice. The tackle that started it off was one by Kevin Muscat that led to Craig Bellamy breaking his leg, a free-for-all ensued and the animosity carried through to their succeeding play-off games. It’s safe to say, most Wolves fans are over this run-in but the Canaries are still chirping on.

Coventry City vs. Sunderland
Distance: 200.3 miles

Grudge… Sunderland savoured Cov’s relegation 35 years after theirs.

Okay, okay, I know it’s hard to believe but Coventry City were actually involved in a rivalry with a notable club many moons ago. This one occurred due to yet another relegation battle. Coventry, Bristol City and Sunderland had been battling to avoid relegation on the last day. Coventry and Bristol City had been playing each other when news broke that Sunderland had lost, subsequently they seemed to resign the game to a draw and allow the Black Cats to finish the 1976-77 season in the bottom three. However, the Mackems had their revenge as they flocked to the Sky Blues Talk forum at the end of 2011-12 season to mock Coventry’s descent to the third tier.

Huddersfield Town vs. Peterborough United
Distance: 124.0 miles

Drama… Posh and Huddersfield have been thorns in eachother’s sides for the past 3 seasons.

West Yorkshire met East Anglia in the 2010-11 League One play-off final at Old Trafford. Town fans had outnumbered the Posh army by 2:1 but a 7-minute goal fest stunned the favourites as United ran out 3-o victors. Huddersfield achieved promotion the season after setting up a showdown in the 2012-13 season. Huddersfield’s revenge was put on hold as Posh took four points from their league meetings but The Terriers had the last laugh as Posh fell to a 3-2 defeat at Selhurst Park on the final day. Huddersfield and Barnsley played out a 2-2 draw to keep them both in the division as Peterborough were relegated. Reports broke on Twitter that Huddersfield and Barnsley had emulated Coventry and Bristol City of 1977 and purposely kept the score level to ensure Posh’s relegation. There are still legs in this one.

Boston United vs. Dagenham & Redbridge
Distance: 124.7 miles

Robbed… Boston stole promotion but the Daggers had the last laugh.

In terms of footballing quality, this one is far from comparable with El Clasico but there is a genuine ill-feeling between to the two lower-league clubs. Boston and the Daggers led the Conference Premier back in 2001/02. United clinched the title in controversial fashion as they were accused of making illegal payments to players and as a result Dagenham finished second on goal difference, condemning them to the play-offs. Had the FA gone through with a points deduction that season, United would have swapped positions with the Daggers but they didn’t. They instead incurred a 4 point deduction the season after. Of course, had Dag & Red won the play-offs this would be a forgotten issue but that honour fell to Yeovil Town. Although, the Daggers never got to enact their redemption themselves, they can now sleep smugly knowing that they reside in the Football League while Boston United are consigned to Conference North relegation battles.

Colchester United vs. Wycombe Wanderers
Distance: 98.3 miles

Odd… Few understand this sometimes farcical rivalry.

The closest pair of rivals of this list are Colchester and Wycombe. This is another rivalry that was intensified by a close run Conference Premier title race however, it originated at a feisty 1985 FA Cup tie marred by crowd trouble. Six years later, the duo were over 20 points clear of the rest of the challenging clubs but Colchester nicked the title on goal difference and thus, won automatic promotion. Wandererers’ fans seemed to take particular offence to a defeat to Col U that involved conceding a goal direct from a goal kick. Either way, any animosity would be avoided if Wycombe won the play-offs. Of course, they didn’t.

Chelsea vs. Leicester City
Distance: 102.1 miles

Bloody… Chelsea and Leicester have a violent vendetta.

The battle in blue is an old rivalry back from the 1970s and 1980s. In a season where Chelsea were leading the charge for promotion to the top flight, the Blues travelled to Filbert Street backed by 10,000 raucous supporters. However, the Foxes rained on their parade with a 1-o win, in a match that featured a whole host of missed penalties from Chelsea. This resulted in outbreaks of violence in the stands. Leicester went on to win the league whilst Chelsea remained in the second tier. In fact, the club’s firms; the Head Hunters and The Baby Squad would have several run-ins in the years that followed. On occasion the firms would travel down to each other’s stomping yards even when the clubs weren’t playing, to scrap. Today, while it sounds a particularly ferocious fixture, most fans of both clubs are unaware or unaffected by the rivalry. However, some keep the fire burning in the terraces. Leicester’s ‘Hark Now Hear’ chant features Chelsea while the Blues started the ‘Over land and sea! AND LEICESTER!’ trend. In fact, in a recent FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge in 2012, City fans were turned away from certain pubs being told “You don’t want to go in there. You have no idea how much they hate you.”

2013–14 Football League Championship Fans’ Preview (Part 2)

With little time left before the clubs of the 2nd tier return to their hallowed turf. The fans of all 24 clubs have a chance to voice their dreams, opinions and concerns for the 10-month battle that lies ahead.

Ipswich Town
@S_BaileyITFC

False dawns… Ipswich have remained in the Championship for 12 consecutive seasons.

Home ground: Portman Road (Capacity: 30,309)
Nickname: The Tractor Boys
Rivals: Norwich City, Colchester United
Last season: 14th
Odds: 22/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Greatest hope would have to be going up as Champions. Other than that, just promotion!

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Another mediocre season. Things finally seem on the up for us and it would be typical Ipswich if we had another boring, average season.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need a couple of wingers, a goalkeeper and a centre back.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
All 23 teams. Twice, haha. QPR maybe. It would be nice to finally see us win at the City Ground, I suppose.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Aaron Cresswell, promising left back with Premier League teams sniffing around. Tommy Smith, young international centre back. Frank Nouble,striker. Has been around the block for someone so young but can really push on next season and will hopefully score a shed load.

6. Who will win the league?
QPR, if they can hold on to a few of their top players and manage to bond as a team they should be unstoppable.

7. Who will go down?
As always, a tough one to call. Yeovil will be on everyone’s list but promoted teams usually surprise. I’ll go with Barnsley, Huddersfield and Millwall.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
It’s the Championship, Yeovil could win the league and QPR could go down. I think Bournemouth might surprise a few people. Maybe a top ten finish.

9. Where will you finish?
Top 6, hopefully. Although we’ve said that for the last 12 years.

 

Leeds United
@AlexMetcalfLUFC

Sleeping giant… Investment will be key for Leeds United

Home ground: Elland Road (Capacity: 39,460)
Nickname: The Lilywhites
Rivals: Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sheffield Wednesday
Last season: 13th
Odds: 18/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
The dream would be automatic promotion obviously, would settle for playoffs.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Being the same old Leeds, selling best talent and being in a relegation battle.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We’re desperate for wingers, and a creative presence in midfield.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Always nice to beat Yorkshire rivals like Wednesday and Huddersfield, would be nice to beat Reading for Brian.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Sam Byram, best young defender in the league. Chris Dawson is a young lad with a lot of potential if he gets game time. Matt Smith could surprise a few people too.

6. Who will win the league?
I fancy QPR if they keep the majority of their squad.

7. Who will go down?
Barnsley, Yeovil & Huddersfield or Millwall.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Bournemouth will do better than most people fancy I think. Also think Bolton could do quite well.

9. Where will you finish?
10th without a whole lot of investment. 5/6th if we get a couple of decent signings.

Leicester City

@BertLCFC

Vengeful… The Foxes are ready to swat the Hornets.

Home ground: King Power Stadium (Capacity: 32,262)
Nickname: The Foxes
Rivals: Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Coventry City
Last season: 6th
Odds: 11/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
That we get promotion! It’s been too long.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
That our Thai owners pull out. Don’t want us going the same way as Portsmouth.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
I’d say in the midfield area the most, although we need a new centre back to partner big Wes Morgan.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
That’s easy, Watford.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Obviously I’d say Anthony Knockaert, he’ll have a better seen than the last. Matty James & Chris Wood as well.

6. Who will win the league?
A toss-up between Reading and QPR, I’d say Reading. Decent squad for this league and a manager that knows how to get out of the league.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Barnsley And Doncaster. Other than Yeovil it was a tough call.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Ipswich. Finished very strong towards the end of the season and have a good manager.

9. Where will you finish?
Somewhere in the top six, but I’m hoping in the top two.

Middlesbrough
@JackWithoutJill

Bottle… Boro fan Jack Harris fears the Smoggies may be in trouble.

Home ground: Riverside Stadium (Capacity: 34,988)
Nickname: Boro
Rivals: Newcastle United, Sunderland, Leeds United
Last season: 16th
Odds: 33/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Looking back at least season, I’d be happy to get a top half finish. I think it’s going to be difficult for us to stay afloat this year.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation. We aren’t a team that can bounce straight back, if e go down, we will stay down for a long time.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need a good centre back. A proper captain. Someone who can lead a team week in, week out. A proven goal scorer is always nice though.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Everyone hates Leeds, right? I always love it when we beat them, especially at their place.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
If we keep him and he’s fit, Muzzy Carayol. One of the few players who can actually run at a defender and isn’t scared of a 1-on-1.

6. Who will win the league?
I think it will be between Bolton and Reading. Bolton finished strong last year and Reading just seem to be making the right signings.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Doncaster and Barnsley. Maybe us depending on the first half of the season.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I think Bournemouth may cause a few upsets.

9. Where will you finish?
18th.

Millwall
@AlfieIrving

Sustainable… Jackett-less Millwall hope they can challenge.

Home ground: The Den (Capacity: 20,146)
Nickname: The Lions
Rivals: West Ham United, Crystal Palace, Charlton Athletic
Last season: 20th
Odds: 80/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To comfortably avoid relegation, and make it in to the top half of the table. As well as finishing above Charlton!

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Fans abusing Lomas, atmosphere turns sour, results begin to go against us and we end up on a manager merry-go-round with no stability.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Striker, strikers and more strikers. Serious lack of goals in 2013, from 5th to 20th, almost relegated.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Got to be Charlton, definitely.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Andy Keogh and Liam Trotter. Both had poor seasons last time round, but I believe Lomas can get the best out of them!

6. Who will win the league?
For me, QPR. Very strong squad, lots of depth and a great manager. Twitch.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Doncaster and Huddersfield.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Ipswich Town.

9. Where will you finish?
13th-15th.

Nottingham Forest
@Harry_Martin_14

Fearful… Forest are wary of their East Midlands rivals.

Home ground: City Ground (Capacity: 30,576)
Nickname: The Reds, The Tricky Trees
Rivals: Derby County, Leicester City, Sheffield United, Notts County
Last season: 8th
Odds: 12/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Obviously, like any other fan; promotion.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Derby doing well, as I can see that happening.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
A new striker for sure, a couple of wingers and a goal keeper.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
LEICESTER!

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Henri Lansbury, Adlene Guedioura, Simon Cox, Greg Halford and Karl Darlow.

6. Who will win the league?
In my opinion, you can’t predict anything in this league.

7. Who will go down?
Like I said, I have no clue.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Charlton & Ipswich.

9. Where will you finish?
1st.

Queens Park Rangers

@Adz_Graham

Favourites… QPR fans are cautiously optimistic

Home ground: Loftus Road (Capacity: 18,360)
Nickname: The Hoops
Rivals: Chelsea, Fulham
Last season: 20th (Premier League)
Odds: 6/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To contend for a top 6 finish giving us a slight hope of promotion.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Biggest fear has to be doing a Wolverhampton.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Midfield.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Leeds United for ruining our last day of the season promotion party!

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Depending on who stays… Taraabt, Andy Johnson.

6. Who will win the league?
I believe this season may be Watford’s.

7. Who will go down?
Bournemouth, Yeovil and Millwall.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Once again Watford may be not expected to win the title.

9. Where will you finish?
5th.

Reading
@AdamTucker_

Fancied… The Royals are predicted success.

Home ground: Madejski Stadium (Capacity: 24,224)
Nickname: The Royals
Rivals: Swindon Town, Oxford United, Aldershot Town
Last season: 19th (Premier League)
Odds: 11/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Winning the league title and returning to the Premier League.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Replicating Wolves and suffering successive relegations.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
The midfield, last season in the premier league the service to the frontmen was below par.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Probably Leeds, due to Brian Mcdermott!

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Adam Le Fondre and Hal Robson Kanu, both stand out players last season.

6. Who will win the league?
Nottingham Forest or Reading.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Huddersfield and Doncaster

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Derby or Ipswich.

9. Where will you finish?
1st/2nd.

Sheffield Wednesday
@AlexandraSWFC

Safety… The Owls have survival on their minds.

Home ground: Hillsborough (Capacity: 39,812)
Nickname: The Owls
Rivals: Sheffield United, Barnsley, Leeds United
Last season: 18th
Odds: 66/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To have a fresh start, get some creativity into the team, cement our place in the league.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
A relegation scrap again, but it’s likely.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Going forward definitely. A prolific goal scorer is needed. Then perhaps a centre back.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Leeds or Barnsley.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Michail Antonio, Lewis Buxton.

6. Who will win the league?
Forest or Wigan.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Huddersfield, and either Bournemouth or Millwall.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Ipswich.

9. Where will you finish?
Hopefully around 14th-17th.

Watford
@david_wfc

Borrowers… Watford will be impacted by new loan rules.

Home ground: Vicarage Road (Capacity: 17,477)
Nickname: The Hornets
Rivals: Luton Town, QPR, Crystal Palace
Last season: 3rd
Odds: 14/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
That we can get promoted.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Not retaining key players such as Abdi.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need a CB , CM and ST as an option.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
QPR , Leeds , Blackpool.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Forestieri and Battocchio.

6. Who will win the league?
Hmm… Reading?

7. Who will go down?
Sheff Wed , Yeovil , Doncaster.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
AFC Bournemouth.

9. Where will you finish?
I hate this question… 9th?

Wigan Athletic
@CharleyH91

Distracted… The Latics’ European venture could hinder them

Home ground: DW Stadium (Capacity: 25,133)
Nickname: The Latics
Rivals: Bolton Wanderers
Last season: 18th (Premier League)
Odds: 12/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To go straight back up, or another miracle cup run.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
To take a double drop and get relegated again.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
This is a difficult one because we have a much changed squad but we could definitely use a better defensive record.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Bolton.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman. If we can keep hold of that pairing then I’m confident we’ll do well in this league.

6. Who will win the league?
It’s been quite a few years since I last followed the championship closely and it’s a very competitive and unpredictable league so I really couldn’t say. There’s no stand out teams for me.

7. Who will go down?
Same as above.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I can see Bournemouth surprising a few people and doing quite well this season.

9. Where will you finish?
This could go either way, dependent on the new manager and which players we keep/sign… anywhere in the top half.

Yeovil Town
@DazRTaylor

Underdogs… The Glovers are desperate to disprove their doubters.

Home ground: Huish Park (Capacity: 9,565)
Nickname: The Glovers
Rivals: Weymouth, Bournemouth
Last season: 4th (League One)
Odds: 250/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Survival! We are being written off already, just like we were for our eight seasons in League One.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation. The club have worked so hard to get where we are, I would like a few years at this level.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
I would say centre back especially. We lost Dan Burn back to his parent club and that is a big hole to fill.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
QPR. Last season, our playing budget for the entire season was £950,000. They have players who earn that in ten weeks.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Marek Stech in goal. Czech Under 21 international and will play in the top flight one day. Paddy Madden up front. Ed Upson in midfield.

6. Who will win the league?
It *should* be QPR, but I think they will crash & burn. So I will go for Leicester City.

7. Who will go down?
Barnsley, Doncaster & Bournemouth.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Ipswich Town. Mick McCarthy has done it all before.

9. Where will you finish?
20th.