Leicester in Play Off Bid
Back in the bright days of August, I cited momentum as a reason why I thought Leicester City would make a play-off spot come the end of the campaign, and lo and behold, there they stand – in a vertiginous sixth spot. Am I feeling smug? Well no – and not just because I failed to follow through my punditry with a trip to Betfair or Paddy Power. Last night provided me with the opportunity to assess the Foxes in the flesh (should that be fur?) and I’m afraid that I wasn’t altogether impressed with what I saw.
The 1-0 win over a wasteful Reading side was a satisfying outcome and Adam Federici denied a couple of one on ones that might have afforded Leicester with a greater margin of victory, but overall, the football from the East Midlands side was lumpen indeed. This is epitomized by ex-Tiger (Hull football; not Leicester rugby), Wayne Brown, a purveyor of the agricultural challenge if ever there was one. Eleven years separate Brown from his co-centre back Jack Hobbs in age, but the twenty one year old former Liverpool man is equally as old fashioned in his approach to the game. At full back, Robbie Neilson and young Man City starlet Ryan McGivern had torrid evenings. This quartet relied heavily on the sound goalkeeping of Chris Weale to keep a clean sheet.
In central midfield, a resurgent Marek Matějovský appeared all too fleet footed for Richie Wellens and Maidenhead born Andy King, and Paul Gallagher was his usual diffident self: a huge talent; an iota more effort and the man could be a top flight performer – but we have been waiting for many a year now. It was left to the industrious Matt Oakley, now in the twilight of his career to provide Foxes with the drive they needed to get forward at all.
Matty Fryatt is a rare survivor from the last occasion the two sides met and always looked dangerous; his partnership with the effervescent goalscorer Martyn Waghorn displayed a new edge to Leicester’s play – the introduction of Steve Howard, a poor man’s Jon Parkin and the scurrying ex-Yeadingite DJ Campbell achieved little beyond providing the first choice pairing with a rest. Nigel Pearson has been gracious in victory and is benefitting from an extended spell of experience gained on benches up and down the land. Leicester look prosaic, but we said that about Stoke a couple of seasons ago.