Leicester

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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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.

Make Britain Tolerant: Leicester Is British

What exactly is British? Winston Churchill? Cups of tea? Rain?

‘British’ means anything you want it to. I had hoped that too would be the message of Channel 4’s Make Leicester British documentary which aired on Monday night – yet it wasn’t to be.

From the introductory seconds, the programme started on with the anti-immigration attitude I quietly dreaded. Several clips positioned at the front of the documentary insinuated that Leicester had been conquered by settlers, that ‘British’ identity was being vanquished in the city and that Britons, white, black and Asian alike were all amalgamated in their derision of the new economic and crime scapegoats; the Eastern Europeans.

It appeared that the documentary was loaded from the start, with the ostensibly biased casting including an unemployed Somalian Muslim on benefits, a Polish woman whose very slight toil with the English language was opportunistically latched upon by the sensationalist eagles at Channel 4, and of course, two sympathetic White Britons who were not once publicised in a damaging light, unlike the other six participants. The programme went on to explore how these people could co-exist together, continually emphasising Leicester’s afflicted obligation to verify that multiculturalism is a feasible reality in modern Britain. The viewer was afforded a few moments of modest redemption in which the participants from diverse cultures were able to enrich the lives of the others with their alternative lifestyle. However, those peeps in to multiculturalism at work were habitually misplace in between the near single-mindedness on division, in which the documentary was even left on the note of two women of differing religions re-entering in to an irreconcilable conflict.

The researchers led the spectator to believe that Leicester is a city of tribal conflict, that citizens from every sub-culture were left fighting a silent war of acrimony on the city’s very streets. However, the real experiences of the people of Leicester generally rejected that opinion. In a small poll I ran on my social media page, 78% felt the show misrepresented the city and only 29% of Leicesterians felt there was any sort of ethnic tensions in the city whatsoever. In truth, growing up and living in Leicester is for many people a very heartening experience. It’s a city where Christmas and Diwali hold similar status in the eyes of the council and the locals alike. Growing up in the city’s suburbs, I was educated on the city’s varied population and given the opportunity to visit Gurdwaras, Hindu Temples, Churches, Synagogues and Mosques, all of which were hospitable, enlightening and crucially, integrated.

Regrettably, the tone of the piece is very much indicative of the climate of xenophobia that has spread across the country. As mentioned, the documentary was profoundly dependent on migrant typecasts such as immigrants being benefit thieves when in fact research shows the contrary. Immigrants are 45% less likely to claim benefits and recent settlers have made a net contribution of £25bn to the national tax fund; £8.8bn more than they withdrew, 26% of NHS doctors are foreign-born. The programme demonstrated an impassioned row with plenty of xenophobic rhetoric was – it seems the recipe for media viewership at the minute is to villainise and segregate the ‘other’. Yes, experiences within the city will fluctuate but any difficulties are few and far between.  The programme’s subservience to the far-right tabloid agenda was incredibly disheartening and particularly insulting to the wonderfully harmonious city that I call home.

It is thoroughly inappropriate for Channel 4 to stir the pot of neophobia with loaded titles that intimate a city is not authentically ‘British’. ‘British’ to me means tolerance, respect, diversity and equality. In those terms, Leicester is as prototypically ‘British’ as you can get. The same cannot be said for the British media, works like Make Leicester British continue to fail and insult the British public.

It always puzzles me as to what people’s issues are with immigrants. I want to close this post with what’s hopefully a sobering thought; your hometown, no matter where you live, is full of strangers. Why does it matter what ethnicity those strangers are?

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)

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 –

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.

My Story as a Football Fan

I didn’t always like football. Actually, when I was little I didn’t see the point. As a seven-year-old boy, I didn’t understand why kicking a sphere of air in to a net brought such joy to people – I was really all about Star Wars. One day circa 2002, my sister was playing football outside with my Dad while me and my two cousins re-enacted Yoda and Count Dooku’s lightsaber duel with my Lego… I know. They soon got bored and went outside to join them, apparently people don’t appreciate being told that they’re not recreating an intricate fight scene with toys correctly. I didn’t want to be a loner so I went outside and played too and I loved it. I never expected to but I really did. From that point on, I was a football fan. I didn’t know anything about the English game, except that my family’s club, Leicester City were on the brink of relegation from the Premiership; a concept I simply didn’t understand.

Glorious… Filbert Street’s infamous double decker stand.

Something, I’ve never tweeted nor mentioned in any blog is that initially, I was Manchester United fan. Truthfully, they were the only team other than Leicester that I knew and I think I thought Leicester ceased to exist whilst they weren’t in the Premier League.  My ‘support’ of Man U didn’t last long. I soon decided to support my local club (still Leicester) and it came about in a very special way. The 2001–02 season marked Leicester’s last in the Premiership and their last at their historic home, Filbert Street.  On the day prior to its demolition, the ground was open to fans to have a kick about. Me and my family went down and had a game and I ended up scoring the winning goal against my Uncle Paul. To our knowledge, the ground closed when we left, meaning we were the last people to play a game of football on that historic pitch. I was the last person to score a ‘goal’ at Filbert Street, as the family legend goes. Not a bad way to start off your following of a club, eh?

From then on, my support for the Foxes ebbed and flowed, I went to my first game in 2002/03 after I won a pair of tickets from a football course at my primary school. We drew 1–1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday. The next season, following our promotion back to the top-flight my Dad caught the City bug again and bought us season tickets. Sometimes, me and my sister and my cousins who also went loved it and sometimes we didn’t. We used to take a small ball and play downstairs on the concourse. I still remember every result from that season and most from every one that has followed. We’ve renewed our season tickets every season since but I truly fell in love with Leicester again in 2008, after years of mediocrity, our club had been relegated to its lowest ever position – the third tier of English football. From then on, I’ve been hooked, resonating City’s triumphs with my own and their defeats likewise. I’ve always been proud of my hometown. In fact, I was always infamous at school for being from Leicester, because I never stopped banging on about it.

As you can tell if you follow me on Twitter, I’m very much infatuated with Leicester City Football Club. Which is weird when you really think about it, especially when you know how skeptical and cynical I am about these sorts of things. Being a Leicester fan and a football fan unites my family and my community. Some of my best memories are from football. We all want to feel apart of something bigger than ourselves and football offers us that. That’s why we refer to our favourite team as ‘we’ when we have nothing to do with the actual playing of the game. To be honest, I don’t know why I’m writing this. I was inspired by Kyle Andrews’ post on Charlton Athletic and MK Dons which I’ll link at the bottom of this post. He talked about feeling a sense of belonging around his club and although, we admire the fans of Germany, Spain, South America etc., following a club is a unique experience in this country. Where else do you see 7,000 fans in the fifth tier of the domestic league turning up every game like they do at Kenilworth Road for Luton Town and better yet, where else do 1,500 fans pile in on a cold Tuesday night to back Darlington 1883 in the 8th tier? This dedication, to me explains why English football fans nearly always put club before country. Football is our game, it’s part of our culture and we don’t like to share it. We’re more bothered about being the best on these shores than globally because our clubs have a real sense of belonging. It sounds corny, I’m sure I’ll read this back and cringe myself but it’s true as far as I can see. You often see people refute claims that football is ‘just a game’. But it is. Football is merely a game, nothing more, nothing less. The problem is, the people that chose what was allowed to encompass a ‘game’. Passion, drive, community, dictation of mood, anything you want can be part of this game. But really, football is just a game. It’s also just a very special one.