2 points Blown Away (by Ophelia)

Leicester City 1 West Bromwich Albion 1 – 16 October 2017

Report by Tish Krokosz

I was looking forward to writing my inaugural report following an exciting victory – it was not to be. I was looking forward to Iborra’s first Premier League start, hoping he would have some control over the opposition midfield – it was not to be. It has been 23 years since City have beaten West Bromwich Albion at home and I hoped this would be the match to break that run, but it was not to be. I was hoping, following Shakey’s description of training ground improvements, to see a fast and flowing start from our forward line against a pedestrian, Pulis defence; yes, you’ve guessed it, it was not to be.

We came into the match sitting in the bottom 3 of the Premiership, knowing that a win would shoot us up the table. After a difficult start to the season, the timetable of “easier” opponents brought hope that we could consolidate our position higher up the table. To do this, we needed to score goals; preferably more than West Brom. Yet, most of the first half seemed to be spent passing the ball horizontally across the pitch or even backwards. Many fans were shouting that the opposition goal was in the other direction.

There was little to note about the first half and I thought this report would be the shortest on record due to lack of incident. City’s best chances seemed to come from set pieces but the packed West Brom. defence coped with them easily. The only shot of worth and on target came from Simpson in the 34th minute following a half clearance from a Fuchs long throw, but Myhill parried it to safety.

Perhaps this sparked City into thinking that it was worth trying to attack as there followed a couple of attempts at breaking the Albion massed rearguard. Vardy had a headed effort tipped over for a corner and ... oh, there wasn’t any other attempt on goal. Pulis had clearly come to take a point because his team were even less inventive and Schmeichel did not have to make a single save in the first half. In fact, it was shame that he did not see more of the ball because, with the wind behind him, this would have been a good opportunity for him to try one of his low, powerful kicks to get on to the scoresheet.

I cannot imagine that the TV audience would have been enthralled by this half. One (usually excitable fan) behind me was so bored that sitting rigid had brought on cramp in his leg. Having waited so long to see Iborra play, I could not understand his role in the side. His movement on and off the ball was very slow and several passes were wayward; but this was true of all City players going forward. Two seasons ago, we had Kante winning the ball in midfield, Okazaki offloading the loose one to Drinkwater and he could deliver the telling pass to Vardy or Mahrez to run on to and score – bang, bang, bang. We are missing someone who can provide that third bang.

And where was Iheanacho? I know he was on the teamsheet, but where was he on the field? I was surprised that he came out for the second half and that he was not substituted earlier. He did not link up with Vardy, was often too deep and did little in the way of penetrative passes. Unfortunately for him, a slow reaction from a City clearance led to a booking in the 61st minute and Albion’s goal from a Chadli free kick. Firstly, I was not convinced that West Brom. should have been given the free kick – it seemed a 50-50 ball from my angle. Secondly, from that distance, Schmeichel should not have been beaten. He did not move when the ball was kicked and I believe (storm) Ophelia assisted the speed with which the ball went into the net. This was a disaster. Going down a goal to a defensive West Brom. was not going to be easy to overcome.

Shakespeare’s answer was to make a double substitution, bringing on Chilwell and Slimani for Simpson and Iheanacho and changing the shape of the team from 4-4-1-1 to more of a 3-5-2. This should have been done a lot earlier as there was an immediate change in the balance of control in midfield with Chilwell often having acres of space. He has had success in the past when he has come on in this role of wing back on the left hand side and in this match he was prepared to go past, through or round opposition players. It was from one of his runs that, in the 80th minute, he made a telling cross which Slimani headed down to Mahrez, who had one touch past Gareth Barry and delivered the ball into the net with his right foot.

This made up for a glaring error in the 50th minute after Vardy and Albrighton had combined well on the left wing. The latter took the ball into the penalty area and made the perfect pass to an unmarked Mahrez who blasted it into the crowd with his favoured left foot. If City had taken the lead at this stage it may have ended far more happily for the team at the end of the evening. Generally, he was unimpressive most of the game. Has he lost his confidence in taken on players? I can recall only one occasion when he tried to outpace the defenders down the right wing and he was muscled out by two defenders. We used to call this a sandwich and I thought was a foul, but Mike Dean did not view it in this way and had waved play on.

The second half on the whole was a lot more active and interesting but it was disappointing that City were unable to test a goalkeeper who, five minutes into that half had clashed with Vardy just outside the penalty area and was clearly injured and unable to manoeuvre easily. He was unable to take goal-kicks and shortly after the Vardy incident Myhill just keeled over when preparing to take a kick. I did not know that Ophelia was that strong.

The West Brom. team made full use of his disability to kick the ball by wasting time at every opportunity. This did not please the crowd and we did not understand why he was not substituted. Was the addition of 5 minutes at the end of the half enough to make up for the blatant time wasting? I would also question why Shakespeare decided to bring King on for Iborra during this period when City were definitely in the ascendancy? Crosses were coming into the Baggies’ penalty area from Chilwell and Fuchs on the left and they were accurate. It just needed one more knock down from Slimani for City to get the winner.

I have never seen City beat West Brom. and recently, I have not seen a West Brom. worthy of beating City. They always seem to bring a burly, defensive set up and with the height of Ndidi and Iborra I thought we were able to match them physically. The first half was mainly played in a 20 yard block in the middle of the park. After City’s substitutions, the game became a lot more open and I feel City showed more promise and intention to move forward. But we badly need a midfielder who is creative and can control the direction of the game.

West Bromwich Albion came for a point and showed no intention of trying for more. They duly got their result. City needed 3 points and could have obtained them with more resolve because the opposition was not great, but in the end had to settle for 1 point – definitely a case of 2 points lost.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson (Chilwell 74), Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Iborra (King 90+4), Ndidi, Albrighton, Iheanacho (Slimani 74), Vardy. Subs not used: Hamer, Gray, Amartey, Okazaki

West Bromwich Albion: Myhill, Dawson, Evans, Hegazi, Gibbs, Livermore, Rodriguez (McClean 84), Krychowiak, Barry, Chadli (McCauley 84), Rondon. Subs not used: Palmer, Nyom, Yacob, Phillips, Brunt

Referee: Mike Dean                           Attendance: 30,203

This match report was written prior to the announcement of Craig Shakespeare’s departure

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

(more…)

Board Profile – Sarah Hubbard

A bit about you:

Name: Sarah Hubbard

Current home town: Leicester

Birth place: Leicester

When did you first support LCFC: I went to my first match in 1970 after losing the "69" cup final and receiving a "city" scarf as a Christmas present

When did you first join the Trust Board: I joined the Trust board in May 2016 as a co-opted member as I felt it was important to have the view of more than 1 female.

If you were to say one thing about why you feel other supporters should join the Trust:  As a passionate, like minded group of supporters, we the Trust have the opportunity to meet face to face with Susan Whelan to express any concerns we have about the club, and make suggestions for improvement.

 

Overview of LCFC

Favourite thing about the ground: Hearing The Post Horn Gallop being played as it is a sign the match will soon be underway.

Favourite view and/or where do you sit: East stand block J.on the halfway line opposite the tunnel

Favourite match & why: i don't have a 1 favourite match...several were memorable for various reasons!

Favourite player of all time who played for our club: Am I allowed 2? Gary Lineker and Muzzy Izzett

 

Our 15/16 Season

At what stage did you think we would win the league: Probably with about 6 games to go. 

Where were you when the  final whistle went at the Chelsea v Spurs game and how did you feel: In a pub in town. I felt lost for words and privileged to be a LEICESTER CITY fan.

Where were you when we were presented with the trophy and how did you feel: At the ground in my usual seat. I felt in a dream...I never thought I would see "MY" team win the premier league.

How has Leicester winning the league changed the perception of the club: I'm not sure if people think we are no longer a small club, but it has made other smaller clubs believe that they too COULD win the title. 

Has it made a difference to you personally: I had the privilege of meeting Riyad Mahrez when he brought the trophy to a school I work in. It is a day I will NEVER forget.

Any other comments in relation to that incredible season: It more than made up for all the years of disappointment and heartache of being a LEICESTER CITY FAN.

(more…)

Board Profile – Colin Murrant

A bit about you:

Name: Colin Murrant

Current home town: Desborough

Birthplace: Long Itchington, Nr Leamington Spa, (could have been a Sky Blue)

When did you first support LCFC? 1964, first game v Stoke City and Stanley Matthews. There was no family history of being supporters, so I was in my teens when I first went to Filbert Street. Last season my 2 sons, 2 granddaughters and 2 grandsons attended a match at the KP together for the first time so the Dynasty is established.

When did you first join on the Trust Board? Co-opted in 2016 but elected in 2017

Why did you join? I have done many various things in local football but, apart from supporting the City, nothing of note at the senior level of the game. Semi-retirement has given me more time to devote to new activities, and having the opportunity to discuss issues that affect City and the game at National and local levels appealed to me. We all have our opinions on what is good and bad about the game and how we would like to see it be improved. To be able to participate in discussion of these issues in a formal way seems to me to be more meaningful.

What is your main role? I have no specific role but have attended meetings at the Club and National level representing the FT. I have also produced a format for assessing clubs impact in their local Community. I also regularly write Trust match reports on away matches.

If you were to say one thing about why you feel other supporters should join the Trust, what would it be? Probably the same reasons as I mentioned as to why I joined. I would like to see younger people be proactive in the FT as I think that each generation has its own opinions on what is important to them. I have sons and grandchildren who attend matches when they can and I like to take their viewpoints into consideration when forming my opinions. So, the one thing I would say is join and express your views

Overview of LCFC:

Favourite thing about the ground: Somethings that are not by definition tangible, the memories of the last two seasons that I doubt will ever be surpassed. The mantle of home has not yet fully passed for me from Filbert Street to the King Power, but it is has its own part in my heart.

Favourite view and/or where you sit: I sit in A1 on the angle, I suffer from neck problems and it suits me best sitting there, not having to move my head too much.

Favourite match & why: Unquestionably Manchester City away on 6 February 2016. We dominated the match from kick off to final whistle with the Mahrez goal being the cherry on the icing of the cake. It was the day most of us really started to believe we could win the Title. The applause from the Mancs was moving, it also heralded the world-wide love-in with The Foxes

Favourite player of all time who played for our club: Gary Lineker, probably because he was a local lad and Leicester fan. His prime time at Leicester was also when I started to take my sons to the games and he was there hero: he seemed to score in every game. It is great to see he has not lost his love for Leicester having played for bigger clubs.

Our 15/16 Season:

At what stage did you think we would win the league? The week before we had been to Crystal Palace and won 1-0 when the fans stayed behind for 20 minutes singing 'We're gonna win the League'. I remember coming out of the Southampton home game on April 3rd and the Sahara sand got in my eyes. I kept saying to my friend, we are going to do this, we are really going to do it. That was the moment, I had no doubts after that.

Where were you when the final whistle went at the Chelsea v Spurs game and how did you feel? At home. I couldn't bear to watch to be honest. Then I learnt we were losing 2-0 so I thought ‘what the hell’ and watched the remainder of the match. Hazard 83 min 28 secs ingrained in my memory.

Where were you when we were presented with the trophy and how did you feel? In the ground and the whole thing was totally surreal and emotional. I don't think any supporters experienced what we did that day and Andreas Bocelli added to that. The match itself was a sideshow and had no meaning other than that we won the League by 10 points. The thought was that I had supported city for 50 years and this had happened in my life time: My two grandsons (5 and 7) think City winning the league is the norm.

How has Leicester winning the league changed the perception of the club? Incredibly, everywhere you go home and abroad people recognise the badge or learn where you come from and want to talk about the Team. It has put Leicester on the match. Unfortunately, the ill-informed pundits and bad press around Claudio's sacking dented this love for Leicester but not killed it off.

Has it made a difference to you personally? Just that uplifting feeling that you have witnessed something special, even unique that can never been taken away from you. I feel very privileged to have been a part of it.

Any other comments in relation to that incredible season? I went to every away game, Victoria Park, Kasabian at the KP. It was the greatest party ever. The starters were the end of the previous season, the dessert the Champions League but the 15/16 season the main course. I am ready to dine again!

(more…)

Supporter groups say NO to Christmas Eve football

Football supporters know all too well the impact that changes to the fixture schedule can have. Plans are rearranged and often expense incurred when a match is moved to accommodate cup football or TV scheduling. We have very little, if any, say, despite being the most put on stakeholders in the game. 

Representatives from the Premier League Fans Group have recently started to meet with Sky Sports and BT Sport to put forward supporter views on such changes, and to look at ways we can mitigate this impact.

However the news that has broken this week that Sky plan to fill their ‘Super Sunday’ TV slots as usual, despite it falling on Christmas Eve, is hugely disappointing and frustrating for supporters. The discussion has been dominated by the likelihood of an Arsenal v Liverpool fixture on 24 December, but choices have not yet been finalised and any club is still available to be chosen for a televised game.**

This is wrong and no fixtures should be scheduled for this day. Supporters will be faced with the unenviable task of deciding between family, friends and loved ones and any pre-existing plans for this time of year and continuing their loyalty and support for their club.

Club staff would also face similar difficulties. Public transport shuts down early on Christmas Eve and travel may be at a greater expense. Made to work, their plans and priorities will challenged in pursuit of a TV programme. These staff aren’t the well paid millionaires, but the catering, hospitality, stewarding and security personnel required to fulfil a fixture. This extends further to police, local authorities and others who will have to work to facilitate such a change. 

None of these people, like supporters, shares in the Premier League riches or has Premier League lifestyles and wages. If this happens, it would be more take, with little given back.

This must not be allowed to happen, not this season and not in future seasons. We are more than willing to work with the broadcasters and the Premier League to avoid such pitfalls for the benefit of all. We don’t want this to be the ghost of Christmas future.

Now though, the decision makers must show this is indeed the season of goodwill. Sky, the Premier League and clubs have to recognise that yes there is a TV slot available, but football on Christmas Eve is unacceptable and a step too far.

Supporters should be included in any decision-making process when such drastic changes are to be made. This is not something we are taking lightly. We have already successfully campaigned for cheaper away tickets and will continue our work to ensure match-going fans are treated as fairly as possible.

Supported by:

Spirit Of Shankly, Liverpool Supporters’ Trust

Spion Kop 1906

Arsenal Supporters Trust

Foxes Trust

Chelsea Supporters Trust

Manchester United Supporters Trust

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust

Black Scarf Movement

Watford Supporters Trust

Burnley FC Supporters Groups

Swans Trust

Newcastle United Supporters Trust

Huddersfield Town Supporters Association

Stand Up For Town

Stoke City Supporters Council

Cherries Trust

West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association

Clarets Trust 

North West Sussex Seagulls 

 

Manchester City SC (1949)

 

The Blue Union (Everton)

 

Everton Supporters' Trust

** The Leicester City vs Manchester United fixture cannot be moved to Christmas Eve as Leicester Tigers play Saracens at 3pm on that day and the safety authorities will not permit both clubs having a fixture on the same day

(more…)

Whatever happened to all those heroes?

AFC Bournemouth 0 Leicester City 0 - 30th September 2017

Report by Colin Murrant

Whatever happened to all those heroes? All the Shakespearoes?...... the Strangler’s 1977 classic goes.

For most of the season so far, we have been lacking heroes, the team continues to be looking weak in midfield, unadventurous, and lacking in passion and quality in some areas. The Shakespearo in question is increasingly criticised by fans and, with Nigel Pearson back in the owner’s eyes at OH Leuven, there are few fans that doubt a change in the managerial hot seat is in the offing.

The Vitality Stadium is situated in King’s Park, a proper suburban park approximately 2 miles from the town centre, a 25-minute walk from the Railway Station. I only give that fact to underline that yesterday I walked from the station and 20 minutes had passed before I saw any home shirts or scarves. Bournemouth is not a football hot-bed for sure, the ground holds 11,464 maximum spectators, yet once the whistle blows, the Cherries set off at a tempo as impressive as any Premier League team.

City started with the usual line up with the exception of Riyad Mahrez who was on the bench. Demari Gray replaced Mahrez and had his opportunity to impress not only the City fans but also the Bournemouth management team who had allegedly bid £25m for him during the transfer window. The anticipated start of Vicente Iborra did not materialise although CS had gone public in saying he was now ready to play. The normal 4-4-2 formation was in evidence although Vardy seemed so isolated at times that one wonders if he should be given a lone-worker device.

The first 20 minutes was all the home side and they could have, and should have been out of sight.

They had two wonderful opportunities in the first 3 minutes, the first fell to Defoe as his close-range shot rattled against the crossbar from Josh King’s cross. Pugh’s resultant shot was deflected wide by Simpson with the home players baying for a penalty. My immediate thought was no penalty as it was a fierce shot from close range, the referee either thought the same or did not have a clear view. 9000 home fans shouting does not impose the same pressure on the officials as 72000 at Old Trafford.

5 minutes gone and Stanislas put a ball through the centre of the park that left City split wide open and Defoe one-on-one with Morgan, Morgan did well to hold up play just inside the penalty area and Defoe had to lay the ball back to Pugh who screwed his shot hopelessly wide.  

Bournemouth remained in the ascendancy and King met Pugh’s pull back but he likewise screwed the ball wide of the goal. Then, with half time beckoning, Pugh had another chance but again blazed over with the goal at his mercy, the ball coming to him after an interception of a cross by Morgan.

Somehow City reached half-time level but with no shots to their credit: to be fair the last 25 minutes of the half had been more even but, if Bournemouth are relegated, it appears on this performance, that it will be their lack of a cutting edge that will be their problem.

The midfield being overrun could not continue and so Craig Shakespeare brought on Vicente Iborra in place of Andy King at half time. Almost immediately Fuchs laid a short pass into Iborra, the city substitute was robbed in central midfield which allowed Bournemouth to break. The ball was eventually worked into the box and Iborra made an excellent tackle to recover the situation at the expense of a corner. This highlighted two things, one Iborra needs to adapt to the speed of the Premier League (will he adapt like Cambiasso or not be able to like Inler?), but also, that he has great positional sense and determination.  I am sure he will be a major player for Leicester if he stays fit.

At this time the game was still flowing towards the City goal and Stanislas shot from outside the area that Schmeichel got down well to hold although, to many of the city fans, the ball appeared for a second or two to be beyond him.
 
Right on the hour came Leicester’s and the matches best chance. Albrighton crossed from the right wing and, in the box, Vardy was able to back heel to Okazaki who somehow managed to fire wide from ten yards. An awful miss with City fans taking a second to register that it was not the net that the ball had bounced back from but the advertising hoardings.

The game was much more open now with city having a further chance when Gray latched onto a clearance from Fuchs. Begovic punched the ball away and it eventually fell to Ndidi who volleyed from the edge of the penalty area, his shot deflecting over the bar off Ake’s head.

 
The late introduction of Mahrez brought some life into Leicester and one mazy dribble in particular caught the eye but came to nothing.

A strange incident occurred when Fraser pushed over Gray in full view of the referee and next to the linesman. It wasn’t violent but, as the official strolled over to Fraser, a red card seemed likely. In the end a quick word was given but no card shown, probably what the incident called for but not in the strict interpretation of the rules today.

In the end it was a well-earned point but one which left City just outside, and Bournemouth in the relegation zone. Whilst some sympathy can be given Shakespeare with the early season injuries to Iheanacho, Iborra, James and the ongoing Silva saga; it is difficult to understand putting a team out with just two central midfielders that cannot cope. Add to that the inexplicable recent matches substitution of Albrighton who, although not on his top form, always puts a shift in; which is not true of his colleagues on the other wing.

Vardy is lacking in support with his tireless running and winning balls in the air, often resulting in nothing as there is no-one near him to lay off to or to win the second ball. Movement is poor and Iborra stopped and held up his arms in frustration on one occasion when lack of movement prevented him passing the ball. Also, recently City have started at a slow tempo with the onus on defending, this needs to change into a more positive attitude.

Finally, two positives and two negatives:

Two Positives

Schmeichel was magnificent yesterday and looked to be back to his best after a couple of recent goals had been scored against him that you imagined he would do better with. He is very imposing figure at his best and, in the white kit, all very reminiscent of Shilton.

Ndidi has far too much workload for a young player, he is the kingpin of the midfield and has had little support. Young players who come into a team often have a period when they need a rest to recover their form and recharge their batteries. Wilfred has not had this luxury and has been virtually ever present since his debut in January. Ndidi has all the attributes to be a top-class midfielder but he needs help before he gets worn out.

Two Negatives

Andy King is a player you know has served the club well, quite a few fans will not criticise him for this fact alone. He is however a player that cannot really add much at this level of the game; if the midfield is playing well he can play a part in breaking forward into the box and will score the odd goal. He cannot play the position he is being asked to play now in a centre midfield of two. He does not demand the ball, does not win the ball very often, and is not your centre midfield player that demands possession. He is not a leader.

Gray is an enigma, he has undoubted talent but it is seen only fleetingly. His failure to take the correct option of shooting or passing to a forward in a better position is well documented. What is more worrying for a wide player, he seems to have no concept of when to come short, run into space: he also seems to tread water on occasions when running back on his defensive duties. He certainly did not take his chance and personally I have no idea why we are offering him improved contract terms until he sorts these issues out. He missed his chance to impress and must work harder and cleverer if he is to become the player the fans want him to be.

No one expected City to win the title again but most saw it a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise the Club’s status and establish them in the top 6 to 10. That they have so far failed to do this is a mammoth disappointment; whatever happened to our heroes?

And so, we go forward to meet WBA, a team we have not beaten at home for some time. I think a must win to save Shakey and, as The Stranglers song continues:

…..They watched their Rome burn, Whatever happened to the heroes?, Whatever happened to the heroes? No more Heroes anymore, No more Heroes anymore

Please Thai owners, don’t let our Rome burn

Bournemouth: Begovic, Smith, Francis, Ake, Daniels, Stanislas (Fraser 88), Cook L, Surman, Pugh (Ibe 69), King, Defoe (Afobe 82). Subs not used: Boruc, Cook S, Gosling, Mousset

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Albrighton (Mahrez 75), King (Iborra 45), Ndidi, Gray, Okazaki (Iheanacho 69), Vardy. Subs not used: Hamer, Chilwell, Amartey, Slimani

Referee: Graham Scott                 Attendance; 10,444

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

(more…)