Testing times for Fryatt and Hume
Tradition suggests that the latest reunion of former Leicester City strike partners and firm friends Matty Fryatt and Iain Hume should be taking place this Saturday at Oakwell when Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men travel to face Barnsley.
Instead, it has already happened. Hume is on loan at Preston, who suffered defeat yesterday at the Walkers Stadium.
Oakwell would be the more obvious venue given that solitary goals by Fryatt and Hume have decided two of the last three games between Barnsley and Leicester in favour of the visitors and Hume has since swapped the Midlands for South Yorkshire.
But the Canadian now finds himself shipped out to Lancashire on a temporary basis and, although Fryatt’s Leicester appear to be on the up, both men are at a crossroads in their respective careers. And, in an odd coincidence, both are in this position due to blows to the head which have set them back months.
It is all a far cry from the situation four years ago when Fryatt and Hume were an impressive forward pairing whose qualities complemented each other well. Fryatt’s close control, dribbling skills and trademark calm side-footed finishes found a good match in the limitless energy and enthusiasm of Hume. Playing in a poor Leicester side, the duo still managed to score goals.
Hume left Leicester for Barnsley in the summer of 2008 after they were relegated to League One and his fortunes could barely have been any different to those of Fryatt, who stayed at Leicester and scored 32 goals to fire his side back into the second tier at the first time of asking.
Chris Morgan’s elbow changed everything for the Tykes’ new recruit. Not as much as it could have done, admittedly. But Morgan’s thuggish assault on Hume threatened to jeopardise his career at the very least.
Thankfully, Hume has long since been back playing regularly without major concern. In truth, his primary concern at the moment must be the folly of his most recent role. Playing as a lone striker against his former employers, Hume was his usual energetic self but posed no threat to an increasingly confident Leicester back line.
The main support he received was from the lauded Preston youngster Adam Barton. However, Barton’s role as a withdrawn attacker playing far behind Hume bore little end product and he was also withdrawn from the action before the final whistle.
Preston manager Darren Ferguson was quick to hide behind the loss of Jon Parkin to suspension and Chris Brown to injury for the trip down the M6 but his side’s tactics were still questionable and there should be able backup for such important players.
Leicester played well and a new-look back four performed to a very high standard. However, one shot on target should never be seen as acceptable by any set of supporters and the travelling Preston fans were certainly within their rights to feel short-changed.
At the other end of the pitch, Fryatt fared little better than Hume. Up against his own doppelganger, the Republic of Ireland cap Sean St Ledger, Fryatt again struggled to make his mark on a game that his side dominated. It was an poorly-timed poor performance. Eriksson is still identifying areas of his new squad that need improving and the centre-forward role seems to be next on his agenda.
Darius Vassell has already arrived at the club, missing out on his debut against Preston due to a continuing lack of match fitness following months out of action after his ill-fated spell in Turkey. Martyn Waghorn has been a first choice forward under Eriksson, due in part to his recently-acquired multi-million pound price tag. With Steve Howard benched, it was Fryatt’s primary opportunity to impress. Mission failed.
Ups and downs
This may not be the end. Fryatt has become well accustomed in the last four years to the effects of Milan Mandaric’s revolving door and has responded before. A key player under Rob Kelly, he was then ditched by Kelly’s permanent replacement Martin Allen. That apparent permanency did not last long and Fryatt soon found himself back in favour under Gary Megson.
But Megson soon took flight to Bolton and Ian Holloway often preferred to pair Howard with DJ Campbell in attack. Leicester were relegated and it was only then that Fryatt produced his best form with the club. Following over forty goals in less than eighteen months under the astute management of Nigel Pearson, Fryatt suffered a broken jaw in a collision with Doncaster Rovers midfielder Brian Stock and was ruled out for three months.
A well-taken play-off semi-final goal in May on his first start since injury offered hope of a return to his previous form but Fryatt looked unhappy with Paulo Sousa in charge and Eriksson’s impending spending spree cannot provide solace.
To those Leicester fans that look back on Fryatt and Hume’s modestly successful strike partnership with fondness, their current predicaments are a shame. Back then, sections of the support sought desperately to name even a single player worthy of a place in the Premier League as Leicester lurched towards a seemingly inevitable first relegation out of the top two divisions in the club’s history. Fryatt and Hume were prime candidates. How times change.