Leicester’s need for the permanent

Posted by on Apr 17, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Sven-Göran Eriksson’s Leicester project is a medium term one and, on the evidence of Saturday’s visit to the Madejski Stadium, the initial mortar is in place. A style blueprint has been laid – a muscular defence, a midfield under strict instructions to be patient whilst keeping the ball on the turf, and a zesty forward line that feeds on the quick break.

Regular watchers of the Foxes over the next couple of seasons will get used to the format, although the personnel will have to change of course. For starters, the squad is still peppered with loan items – luxury ones in the main, and not all of these will be available for permanent transfer.

The midfield is the area that will be most familiar: English trio Richie Wellens, Andy King and Matt Oakley were at the heart of all that was good about this performance and Eriksson, slavishly devoted to 4-4-2 in his time at the England helm, appears to now favour a 4-3-3. King was yet again Leicester’s most authoritative player, drumming in a late consolation – and if Oakley doesn’t quite live up to The Observer’s description of him as the Championship Xavi, he does a passable Gareth Barry impersonation.

But temporary recruits do not cohesion create and a show pony forward three of Yakubu, Darius Vassell and Diomansy Kamara failed to live up to their reputations. For the former, it was mainly the case of an off day – he was a handful but stout defending from Zurab Khizanishvili and Matt Mills generally denied him. Kamara waxed and waned in his day-glo boots and Vassell seemed to hide on the right flank, recalling the shy figure he presented when blogging from Ankara.

In the aftermath of the game, David Bevan of The Seventy Two tweeted that Ben Mee and Miguel Vitor are City’s most convincing defenders and the Portuguese looked unhurried in possession when he replaced Sol Bamba at half time. Not that the Ivorian man mountain was unimpressive – he looked a beast of a player to pitch against Reading’s thus nicknamed lower league bargain Mathieu Manset. Both Patrick van Aanholt and Kyle Naughton enjoy the array of “modern full back” talents to participate in the pleasing passathon, but the weak link today was Chelsea youngster Jeffrey Bruma – constantly unable to cope with the physicality and pace of Shane Long and the g force of Jimmy Kébé; his was an appalling afternoon. Behind, Chris Weale has presence between the sticks.

Latter era Eriksson teams haven’t lasted the pace of course – the Swede too often distracted by alternative financial offers elsewhere. A tad unlucky to lose his job at Manchester City, Notts County and Mexico were disasters and the Ivory Coast was the kind of phoned in, listless job that his detractors accuse him of. At Leicester, his intention to stay seems more evident, although two wins in ten will unnerve some. But the Foxes played well here and with King signing a new contract, the priority will be to bring in some solid permanent signings to suit a blend that has the potential to bear fruit.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham (pen name: Lanterne Rouge) is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 47 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Football Attic, The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

2 Comments

  1. Ryan
    April 17, 2011

    Well I worry about how stubborn Sven is. He wants his own 11 and whilst I understand that, you shouldn’t drop Vitor just because you didn’t sign him. Bamba has been found out, the defence don’t trust either of our suspect keepers and we lack passion elsewhere on the pitch. The loans look very impressive on paper, but not so impressive in mid table. Svens sideways passing is ludicrous in this league, it doesn’t work and it certainly doesn’t get you promoted. This is where I feel he just doesn’t get this standard of football. Us fans know it better than him. Don’t get me wrong he has done well in his time here but I honestly don’t believe that you can pass or buy your way out of this league. Come the summer we’ll have to build a whole new team. I personally would get Hobbs back, sign Chris Morgan from the blades and go real ugly, that’s how to get out, look at QPR. Sven will carry on to do what he is doing and obviously I hope it works, but if it didn’t work for his England sides and the best players our country had at that time, why would it work in the second tier?

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  2. Lanterne Rouge
    April 17, 2011

    Thanks for the comment Ryan – so many of the players are on loan so the team is still only half built. I just listened to David Bevan on the Gib Football Show from last week and he also bemoaned the departure of Hobbs – claiming correctly that none of the loan replacements have been any better.

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