Cavaleiro gives City cause for concern

 Wolves 1 City 0

Report by Colin Hall

A 25-yard strike by Wolves' Ivan Cavaleiro, just before the hour mark, proved enough to condemn Leicester City to their second defeat of the 2017-18 pre-season.

The win was no more than the Championship side deserved, Looking sharper and hungrier than their visitors throughout the game, they created enough chances to have won the game by a more convincing margin.

Many of the 1700-strong Leicester contingent were disappointed by both the performance and the result. With a virtually full-strength side on display, the general lethargy and lack of cohesion should worry Craig Shakespeare, with less than a fortnight before the season-opener at Arsenal.

City were greeted on arrival by a familiar adversary. Home boss Nuno Espirito Santo was in charge at Porto during their Champions League clashes with the Foxes last season. Why he chose to forsake the scenic delights of northern Portugal for the rather less obvious attractions of the English Black Country is a question only he (and perhaps his bank manager) can answer.

Yet, despite the expensive, extensive revamping of the Wolves squad during the close season, they were the first to settle here. Home winger Jota, on loan from Atletico Madrid, tested Kasper Schmeichel with a drive from distance which took a heavy deflection.

City were stung into a response – and should have gone ahead after 10 minutes when Danny Drinkwater sent Jamie Vardy clear on goal. However, after rounding home goalkeeper Ruddy, the striker slightly underhit his shot, allowing Coady to recover and clear off the line.

That proved to be the most clear-cut chance that City would create all afternoon. With the home side dominant in midfield, the rest of the half saw a string of shots rain in on Schmeichel, but none were quite able to find their target.

The visitors suffered a blow after 34 minutes when Islam Slimani was forced off with a gashed leg following a heavy challenge. His replacement, Shinji Okazaki, was as industrious as ever but proved unable to make any significant impact on the game.

Wolves, meanwhile, continued to press after the break, with Jota again forcing Schmeichel into action, and Doherty firing wide after the City defence had failed to deal with a cross by Cavaleiro.

The home breakthrough finally arrived after 59 minutes, when a wayward Marc Albrighton cross sparked a swift counter-attack which ended with Jota playing in Cavaleiro for a curling drive leaving Schmeichel helpless.

City continued to look to their wide men to fashion a reply, but neither Albrighton or an out-of-sorts Riyad Mahrez were able to raise themselves to the task. Even a string of home substitutions in the closing minutes failed to provide a lifeline to the visitors.

After Ronan and Zyro had wasted chances to seal the home victory, Drinkwater came close to snatching a leveller at the death, but he saw his 20-yard drive fly over when he really should have forced Ruddy into a save at the least.

In truth, though, a draw would not have been enough to paper over the cracks of a dispiriting, disjointed City performance, Of those who appeared at Molineux, only Schmeichel, skipper Wes Morgan and new signing Harry Maguire can take any comfort from their afternoon's work.

On this evidence, many Foxes will hope that the drawn-out Kelechi Iheanacho transfer saga can be brought to a swift and positive conclusion, and that a way can be found, involving a change of formation if need be, to accommodate Vincente Iborra into the starting line-up.

A drastic improvement is needed in the next two games to build up rhythm and confidence before the serious business begins.

City (4-4-2): Schmeichel: Simpson, Morgan (c), Maguire, Fuchs: Albrighton, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Mahrez: Slimani (Okazaki 34), Vardy.

Attendance: 11953 

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

 

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What a disappointment

MK Dons 0 City 0

Report by Kate Thompson

In his interview after the Luton game, Michael Appleton said the team would start scoring goals soon.  Instead they failed to score at all for the first time this pre-season.  The 11 who started contained one or two who might hope to feature in the first Premier League match alongside some fringe players, but it gave them an opportunity to show why they should be higher up the pecking order.  There were only four substitutes, none of whom was needed.

On a filthy night in Milton Keynes we settled down in the above-average seats and, as my sister noted, very few City fans were standing up.  Would that it were always so at away games! 

Sadly, the football did not match the excellent view of the game.  There were some slick passing moves on a tricky pitch but very little to get the pulses racing; the best one can say is that the players did a full 90 minutes which would have improved their fitness.  MK Dons gave them a much sterner test than Luton had, and Hamer in goal had to make some good saves.

Some things hadn’t changed; Gray, in his first pre-season match, flattered to deceive again.  He got forward well, on a couple of occasions racing to catch a ball that looked as if it were going out for a throw-in, but he continued his habit of shooting from range and way off target.  Ben Chilwell is better going forward than defending, which demonstrates that Fuchs is unlikely to lose his place for now.

I was particularly pleased to see Matty James back to his imperious best and hope he can maintain these high standards.  Iborra looked very assured and was involved in one or two clever moves in the second half.  I wouldn’t be surprised if these two were the first-choice midfield pairing, along with either Drinkwater or Ndidi.  Andy King, a player I have a lot of time, was captain on the night but we only saw the occasional glimpse of the player he can be.

The outstanding player for me was Tom Lawrence, someone who has had his ups and downs with the club and who looked to be on his way out a couple of seasons ago.  There are rumours that Brighton have bid £8m for him but I really hope Leicester don’t let him go.

The biggest disappointment for me, Gray apart, was Ulloa – another player I like and who was apparently signed because the defenders at the time said he was the hardest player they had faced.  Clearly being the lone striker doesn’t suit him and apart from one effort that cleared the bar very early one, he was largely anonymous. 

Amartey, playing as a central defender as he does for Ghana, looked assured and Benalouane did not create any heart-stopping moments.  The youngster Johnson at right back made one or two errors but he can be reasonably pleased with his performance.

So hopefully the management team have learnt some valuable lessons but I hope the match against Wolves, presumably with most of the starting 11, is more exciting.

Line up here https://twitter.com/LCFC/status/890991509356527616/photo/1

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

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A proper pre-season

Luton Town 0 v 1 Leicester City

Match Report by Stuart Dawkins

Whilst the Asia Trophy had proved, rather unexpectedly, to be a decent competition with some entertaining matches, this was back to a proper, old-fashioned pre-season schedule for City.

Kenilworth Road is a throw-back to a different footballing century.  The Away end is entered through a row of terraced houses, the view is obscured by all manner of steel girders, the bar was not open, the catering sold out of everything but sausage rolls well before the match, and the pitch begins about 10 feet from the supporters.  One City fan asking a steward “can we sit anywhere” was greeted with the response “wherever you like mate, they’re all crap”.

The game itself provided reasonable entertainment for the 4,000+ crowd.  Luton made a match of it, despite having very little of the ball.  City, in each of the varied formations they tried, looked the better team throughout without really threatening to overwhelm the lower-league opposition.

It would be unwise to draw too many conclusions from a game with 20 City players involved, played against League Two opposition.  However, here are a few thoughts, based on what we saw:

Iborra is huge and looked classy.  Whenever he had the ball he looked to have so much time – although Luton in a friendly is clearly not the same as a Premier League match – it was a solid half of football from that newcomer.  I hope, too, that the newly-minted chant sticks too: “He came from sunny Spain to live on Saffron Lane” deserves its place amongst the City classics!

Mahrez was … Mahrez.  At times, he was a completely different class to everyone else on the pitch, and then a couple of times he would attempt the impossible and miss the productive, easy choice.  To be fair to him, he put a lot of effort in – both going forward and chasing back.  This performance, together with those in the Asia Cup, has seen him play at a level he did not reach even towards the end of last season.

Callum Elder looked very steady and confident at left back.  It was interesting to get my first ‘live’ sighting of Johnson, who came on as right back.  Again, he looked confident and assured – and huge!  He had played well for the England Under 19 team at centre back, and deserved his run out at Luton.

The standout player was Musa.  He was the only City outfield player to play for the whole 90 minutes, mostly wide on the left, but with freedom to roam depending on exactly who was on the pitch for Leicester at the time.  He still does not look confident in front of goal, but a few performances like this in ‘proper’ games would go a long way to winning over round City fans. 

He set up the only goal, which occurred five minutes from the end when a goal-less draw looked the most likely result despite City’s dominance which had included hitting the bar after 25 seconds.  Slimani played a loved through ball, Musa again chose to cut back rather than shoot, but this time the cut-back found a City player – Mahrez – whose shot from short range had too much power, despite Luton’s keeper getting a lot of hand on it.

Slimani continues to give his all, but still has not got his goal touch.

Maguire is a big, confident and cultured-looking player.  He looks a good signing, although did have just a couple of ‘John Stone’ moments when his very apparent ease on the ball led to over-complication and City losing the ball in potentially dangerous positions.

Jakupovic had nothing of note to do all match, Luton Threatened so little.  The most worrying aspect, of a largely un-worrisome evening, was that Luton did get two free headers from corners.  Neither of them came close to scoring, but it was two too many for confidence leading into a Premier League Campaign.

Of the various midfield combinations on show, that of Iborra and Ndidi looked the most impressive.

Tom Lawrence was fairly quiet, although his acknowledged eye for goal included a firm shot on target with his first meaningful touch of the ball.

The final mention should go to the Luton Town keeper, Shea.  He made a number of fine saves, almost stopped the goal, was named man of the match by the sponsors and handled with a nice, humorous touch the stick being given to him – in good humour also – by City fans standing no more than 10 feet behind him.

In two weeks’ time it will be off to the Emirates – quite a contrast to Kenilworth Road in so many ways!

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

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Board Profile – Di Statham

A bit about you:

Name:   Di Statham

 

Current home town:  Leicester

 

Birthplace:  Leicester

 

When did you first support LCFC? 1968

 

When did you first join on the Trust Board? September 2009

 

Why did you join? I was invited to join and felt that I would like to get more involved with the work of the Trust

 

What is your main role? Trust Treasurer - dealing with the day to day financial affairs of the Trust

 

If you were to say one thing about why you feel other supporters should join the Trust, what would it be? We have the opportunity to speak directly to the Club about matters which affect our members. The more members we have the higher the importance  & significance of the Trust will appear. We are not just there to support the club in difficult times (ie administration) we are there all of the time.

 

Overview of LCFC:

Favourite thing about the ground:  The good views all around the ground with no obstructions by pillars

 

Favourite view and/or where you sit:  I sit in the Fosse Seating Area in the West Stand (alongside the Directors Box)

 

Favourite match & why:  City V Tranmere in League Cup Final in 2000. I was there with my dad and it was the first time we had seen the City win a Cup Final at Wembley. He had attended all of the 4 Leicester City Cup Finals since 1949 and also the League Cup Final V Middlesbrough which we drew and then won at Hillsborough. The look on his face when City actually lifted the Trophy at Wembley will live with me for ever.

 

Favourite player of all time who played for our club:  Steve Claridge

 

Our 15/16 Season:

At what stage did you think we would win the league? The game at Manchester City gave a good hint but to be honest I did not really believe we would until Spurs failed to be Chelsea

 

Where were you when the final whistle went at the Chelsea v Spurs game and how did you feel? I was at Nottingham Greyhound Stadium with some friends watching the Greyhound Racing. We watched the last few minutes of the game on the tv screens in the stadium. I just could not believe what had actually happened.

 

Where were you when we were presented with the trophy and how did you feel? I was in my seat at the ground. The whole day was just a dream - it was hard to believe that the trophy being presented was actually the PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP. I think I just stood there in amazement even though I had had nearly a week to get used to fact we were champions.

 

How has Leicester winning the league changed the perception of the club?  The name is now recognised all over the world (even in Countries that do not really follow football). During our holidays last summer we have been approached by people of all nationalities wanting to talk about the Club because we were wearing clothes with LCFC logo on them.  Even Americans and Canadians know all about what Leicester City had done. 

 

Has it made a difference to you personally? YES,  I have had the opportunity to do a number of TV interviews & filming which has been really interesting. But I also feel really proud to tell people that I am a Leicester City fan.

 

Any other comments in relation to that incredible season? It is still hard to believe that we actually won the Premier League Championship no matter how many times you see that presentation or hear it said.  It was an amazing 12 month period which I will never forget. It has also provided a fantastic opportunity to go and watch MY team play in the Champions League, something I never believed would ever happen.

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Board Profile – Ian Bason

A bit about you:

 

Name:  Ian Bason

 

Current home town:  Leicester

 

Birthplace:  Leicester

 

When did you first support LCFC?  Well my first game was in the Double Decker prior to being born in 1960 (don’t know the score, or who we were playing as it wasn’t a good view).

 

When did you first join the Foxes Trust Board? I served on the Working Party when the Trust was set up in 2002, so I have been on the board since the first election

 

Why did you join? The initial aim of the Trust being set up was to combine small shareholder votes to call an EGM to find out the financial state of the club, that quickly changed to help save the club once it went into administration, however the key was that a Trust doesn’t just donate money, but invest it to ensure the Trust was represented at the highest level of the club (we attended every board meeting until Milan Mandaric took over the club)

 

What is your main role? Chairman, encouraging fellow board members who donate their time and energy for free into Trust work, so as a board we can handle any situation that arises. Up until the 15/16 season I mainly handled all the radio & TV media, however with the level of demand that season, nearly all the board members are experienced now.

 

If you were to say one thing about why you feel other supporters should join the Trust, what would it be? While we hope our current owners are around for a long time, we have experienced so many different situations since forming that you have to be prepared for every eventuality and the Trust is. However the Trust is also active at national level, joining campaigns for reduced ticket prices and greater consideration for match attending fans from TV re-arranged games, so we are looking after the interests of LCFC fans.

 

Overview of LCFC:

Favourite thing about the ground:  Although I still have a nostalgic allegiance to Filbert Street, there really isn’t a bad seat in our stadium and in recent seasons we seemed to have generated the atmosphere missing from many new grounds

 

Favourite view and/or where you sit: I’ve always liked to be fairly close to the pitch, I sat in a few different places at Filbert Street, but have been in the same seat towards the centre of the East Stand since the stadium opened. I always think you get a good view of both ends sitting centrally

 

Favourite match & why:  Strangely it has to be the Swindon play- off final we lost, as it feels like it sums up being a Leicester fan all in one game (well until season 15/16). Obviously the euphoria of last season tops it, but prior to that, the greatest feeling of elation was when we pulled it back to 3 – 3.

 

Favourite player of all time who played for our club:  I think the choice of fans is often in your younger years, and mine would be Frank Worthington, I can remember ensuring I got to my position before the warm up commenced to watch him do his range of tricks was worth the entrance fee alone.

 

Our 15/16 Season:

At what stage did you think we would win the league? I wouldn’t let myself believe it until it was sealed. The Man City away result made me think we had an excellent chance and I kept saying to work colleagues, that we would never get a better opportunity, but I didn’t expect the London clubs to all get the jitters.

 

Where were you when the final whistle went at the Chelsea v Spurs game and how did you feel? Having tuned into two previous games of other title contenders and on both occasions the results turn against us as soon as I listened, I decided to watch a drama featuring Anna Friel instead and found out the result at 10pm. Obviously elated once I knew and quickly celebrated before 5 Live range me up for an instant reaction.

 

Where were you when we were presented with the trophy and how did you feel? Watching from my position in the East Stand, as Birch walked out with the trophy I thought back to 2002 and the meeting in the Great Hall when over 700 fans gathered all wanting to help save the club and Birch was leaning against a wall throughout proceedings and offering his help. It gave me an extra sense of pride and elation, that the hours spent over a 12 month period helping to secure the clubs future, which stabilised the club and built the foundations until the shareholders took the very difficult decision to sell the club to Milan Mandaric, who in turn sold to our current owners had eventually led to a moment in football history that no one present in 2002 would have ever dreamed of becoming reality.

 

How has Leicester winning the league changed the perception of the club?

Has it made a difference to you personally? We became everyone’s favourite club around the world that season and the level of attention from the world media was incredible and it was pleasing that we managed to build a team of 20 members who were willing to talk to the media, either in written form or in live interviews (radio & TV) and it gave me an extra sense of achievement that the Trust was able to respond positively to every media request received

 

Any other comments in relation to that incredible season? Even now I’m still not sure it has completely sunk in that we won the Premier League, it must be time to watch the DVD.

 

We now have to move on and from many conversations with fellow fans, the main ambition is to get our hands on the illusive FA Cup, that message has been fed back to the club, so I hope we field our strongest side to achieve it (I’m sure our League position in early January will determine if that will be the case)

 

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