Nice to be back at the KPS

City 1 Valencia 1
 
Report by Kate Thompson
 
City played Valencia in their only home fixture of pre-season.  Valencia finished third in La Liga last season, after the two Madrid clubs, so this would be a good test of City’s credentials.
 
The first point of interest to the watching fans was the omission of several players, including Andy King, Danny Simpson, Islam Slimani, Demerai Gray, Leonardo Ullo and Bartosz Kapustka.  Puel later said that Gray had a slight injury and it transpired that King and Simpson had played for the under-23s earlier that day. 
 
Since the game, it has been confirmed that Musa has been transferred to a club in Saudi Arabia, a sad end to what looked like an excellent signing.  With Evans injured and Maguire not back from England duty, the centre back pairing was Morgan and Benalouane; hardly the safest pair of hands but Puel had little choice.
 
Leicester opened the scoring in the 11th minute, Iheanacho picking up a loose ball after Maddison appeared to be fouled in the box and drilling it into the net.  City were not in front for long as some poor defending led to the equaliser in the 18th minute from the Valencia captain Parejo.  It was an entertaining game but I am not sure how relevant it was to the upcoming Premier League season, as Leicester will face sterner tests – starting at Manchester United in a week’s time.
 
As expected, there were a number of changes in the second half and somewhat surprisingly Puel brought on several under-23 players, none of whom disgraced themselves.  Apart from Schmeichel in goal, the player who stayed on the longest was Diabete and for me he was not up to the standard required – perhaps Puel needed him to get more game time. 
 
In the second half, Darnell Johnson – who I made man of the match against Notts County – replaced Benalouane and made a good case for partnering Morgan next Friday.  Amartey replaced Pereira at right back, Silva came on for Ndidi and Callum Elder for Iheanacho. 
 
There were further changes in the 63rd minute:  Fuchs for Chilwell, Choudhury for Iborra, Ndukwu for Albrighton, Knight for Morgan and Gordon for Maddison.    The final substitution was in the 75th minute when Thomas came on for Diabete.  Thomas has since gone on loan to Scunthorpe.
 
As ever with pre-season games, it was difficult to draw any conclusions.  The link-up play between Maddison and Iheanacho looked good and it would appear that they will start against Manchester United in the absence of Vardy. 
Pereira looked like a good buy and is almost certain to replace Simpson, and Ndidi was his usual busy self.  I remain unconvinced by Ben Chilwell and hope that Gray is fit to start instead of Diabete; I have been a critic of him but he has looked good so far, perhaps coming out of Mahrez’s shadow?
 
Two other talking points were that Maddison wore no 9 and Johnson no 15 but I’m sure we can read nothing into this!
 
 
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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Madders – View from Norwich

Following on from the Danny Ward article, today we feature the views of Robin Sainty, Chairman of the Canaries Trust, on James Maddison who we hope may be the solution to the No.10 role in our current preferred formation

“When James Maddison was signed by from Coventry in the closing minutes of the January 2016 transfer window he was a totally unknown quantity to Norwich City fans.

We soon learned that we had snatched him from under the nose of Spurs, but I think the general consensus was that he was a young kid with promise who might come good in time, and that view was reinforced when he was immediately loaned back to Coventry for the rest of the season, then to Aberdeen for the first half of the next one.

It was there that his reputation started to grow, but on his return to City he was largely ignored by Alex Neil until he was finally given a debut as a substitute in a 3-1 win at Preston, a game which also saw his maiden goal for the club.

However, with Neil sacked Maddison’s fortunes changed under the new Head Coach Daniel Farke and he was to be virtually ever present throughout the 2017/18 season as his pivotal role in Norwich’s midfield role developed.

Although it was obvious that he had massive self confidence and a mesmeric ability to keep possession under pressure I think most of us expected that his age would mean inconsistency, but in fact his performances not only increased in quality but maintained those new levels, and his ability to come up with goals both from set pieces and open play soon made him one of his goal shy team’s main attacking threats, ending the season with 15 goals.

It was obvious that he was destined for great things on the pitch, and an England Under 21 cap soon followed, but his off-field activities produced a bond with City fans which will never be broken, and which goes a long way to explain the universal outpouring of affection when he left.

James was always happy to donate to good causes or help to publicise them, but his nature was best exemplified when a long-standing City fan passed away and a minute’s applause was arranged during a home game. Not only did James contact and offer help to the bereaved’s family, but also joined in the applause during a break in play.

It will be interesting to see how he adapts to life in the Premier League where he is likely to get more time on the ball, but will not, at least initially, be the dominant personality he was at Norwich. One thing I can be sure of is that it won’t phase him in the slightest.”

To read the latest from the Canaries Trust, follow this link http://canariestrust.org/

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Danny Ward – View from Huddersfield

Using the Trust network, today we get the view of Steve Downes from the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association on recent signing Danny Ward who played a key role in the season that promotion to the Premier League was achieved….

 

Danny Ward has just moved to Leicester City for a reported fee of £10m, an amount of money no Town fan thought would be possible for the keeper.

Ward spent a whole season on loan at Huddersfield Town two years ago, and he became the main number one goalkeeper for the Terriers in a season that no Town fan will forget. As ever with the football industry it’s a who knows who game. Town head coach David Wagner is big mates with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, and Wagner asked his good friend and old teammate if we could borrow Ward for the 2016/17 campaign.

Klopp agreed and Ward came to West Yorkshire with a good reputation, a keeper who was big, strong and had good hands but most importantly could play with his feet. Town fans instantly took a liking to the Welshman who they had seen play in the 2016 European Championships.

The 25 year old had been on loan at Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen where he made a number of key appearances for the club becoming a fan's favorite. His loan in Scotland was cut short by Liverpool in 2016 and he ended his time at Aberdeen keeping 13 clean sheets.

Town fans had heard good things about Ward and were looking forward to seeing what he was like in pre-season. Those friendly games came and went, and now it was down to the real test starting in August and the Championship season.

No one expected Huddersfield Town to be potential promotion contenders in August, and so with all the other Town players Ward ran out on the first day of the season against Brentford at home Town won the game 2-1, and Ward made a couple of terrific saves in the game to help the Terriers off to a good start.

Ward kept having good games, and to be honest the only real blot on his copybook in the first part of the season was the game away at Brighton where Town would have been on for a good draw, until Ward conceded a poor goal. A slow shot came in from a Brighton attacker which slipped through Wards hands. He wasn’t necessarily blamed for the defeat, but it certainly didn’t help his confidence. Another mistake was made just a few weeks later away at Reading, again another 1-0 defeat.

As the team's confidence started to pick up so did Ward’s, he made a string of good performances, and his confidence again shot up.

However Ward was about to find out the way usual Town campaigns go with a mid-season blip in October and November. A 5-0 defeat to Fulham didn’t help the Welshmans ratings amongst Town fans and the proceeding results in both those months were not great either.

However Town restored their form and push for the playoffs and Ward’s form improved, he became a vital part of the team especially in some matches that were too close to call. Ward had the ability to make vital saves at vital times, and whilst he wasn’t the best at distribution of the ball his all round play was certainly better than some of the goalkeepers we had seen at the club at that time.

Town reached the playoffs, and Ward’s legendary status would be sealed forever in just three games. It had been 45 years since Town had the chance to play in the top flight of English football. The Terriers went into a two legged affair against Sheffield Wednesday. Whilst the first leg at the John Smiths Stadium was nothing to shout about, Ward still had to be on hand to pull off at least one fine save.

The second leg in Sheffield was a lot more interesting as both teams pushed to go for the win to get to Wembley and the playoff final. Ward produced a number of good saves throughout the match including extra time.

However the game went to penalties and the time to become a hero at Huddersfield Town football club had come for Danny Ward. Having made a save in the shootout already when he saved Sam Hutchinson's penalty, it all came down to the last kick. Wednesday had saved arguably their best player until last to score the penalty to keep the Owls in the shootout.

Fernando Forestieri had become a pain in the backside of Town for some time due to the goals he had scored against us in previous years. It was appropriate that it fell to him to score against Ward to keep Wednesday’s hopes alive. Fortunately for Town he missed the spot kick, and Ward was able to get a glove to the ball to save it from hitting the net.

Town fans knew instantly that they would be going to the final, but there is a great camera shot of Ward stood their not realising he had just saved the final penalty It takes a second for him to realise what he had just done, and then he bolted down the other end of the field to celebrate in front of the Town faithful.

It then came to the playoff final, possibly the biggest game of Ward’s career so far, whilst the game again was nothing to shout about, Ward did make one or two good saves during the match. It once again came down to penalties.

Ward saved a vital penalty in the shoutout and the outfield players did the rest, the Welshman was secured in his legendary status at the club for life. To be apart of a Huddersfield Town team that got to the top league in English football is special.

Town fans were wondering if Ward would return for the first season in the Premier League in 45 years, but it wasn’t meant to be as Klopp wanted to keep him as a third choice keeper at Liverpool.

Town moved on and now have a great keeper in Jonas Lossl, however Huddersfield fans memories of Ward are fond. Leicester City have certainly got a good keeper on their hands, and whilst Ward can make mistakes which keeper doesn’t.

Hopefully one of Ward’s mistakes will come against Huddersfield this coming season in the Premier League.

To read the latest from the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association, follow this link https://htsa-web.com/

 

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Playing guess the player!

Notts County 1  City 4
 
Report by Kate Thompson
 
Along with a large contingent of fellow City fans, I was interested to see how some of the new boys fared, albeit against league 2 opposition.  Ten players who were involved in the World Cup were still absent, so the 20 players used in this game were a mix of regulars from last season, those who had gone on loan and academy players.  All eyes were on James Maddison and Johnny Evans, as the other two signings have not yet joined their team mates.
 
For some reason Notts County played in blue, rather than their normal black and white stripes, which meant City wore their second strip.  Many fans were sporting the same colours, which divide opinions.  Personally I think it is awful, but others like it.
 
City had a warning as early as the 3rd minute when a rasping shot from David Vaughan fortunately hit the post, but in the 20th minute the defence went to sleep and Alessandra scored the easiest goal ever, only having to tap in. 
 
However, it wasn’t long before City asserted their apparent superiority with a well taken goal by captain Wes Morgan, from a corner nodded on by the impeccable Darnell Johnson.  Maddison took all the corners and free kicks, to some effect. 
 
Just three minutes later and City were in front, after some good pressing which gave Choudhury a run on goal; despite Gray calling for the ball, Hamza took it himself and scored an excellent goal.
 
I was really impressed by Johnson; I gather Radio Leicester made him man of the match and I would agree with this.  Just before half time he blocked the ball twice in front of goal, followed by a third clearance, which stopped an almost certain equaliser.  Apparently his future is unclear but on this performance he needs to be signed to a new contract as soon as possible.
 
After half time City added a third from Gray, who wriggled his way into the box to score another excellent goal.  For once he had an end product and it is to be hoped that the departure of Mahrez helps him to become the player we all expected but have rarely seen. 
 
The game was wrapped up in the 76th minute by Slimani, another player whose future is uncertain but who looks unlikely to remain at Leicester.
 
 
For the record, of the 11 who started only Japupovic and Johnson played the full 90 minutes.  There were three substitutes at the beginning of the second half:  Chilwell for Fuchs, Iborra for Mendy and King for Choudhury. 
 
In the 62nd minute there were six more substitutions:  Josh Knight for Morgan, Amartey for Evans, Layton Ndukwu for Callum Elder, Ulloa for Gray, Slimani for Diabate and Kapustka for Maddison.
 
So what does the future hold for some of these fringe players?  I would like to see Mendy, King and Kapustka given further opportunities but I can see no future at Leicester for Slimani or Ulloa; it is with a heavy heart that I say that about Ulloa, but sadly he no longer fits the mould of the type of game we seem to be playing. 
 
I watched some of the under-23 games online last season and it gives me considerable pleasure to see some of these players on the fringe of the first team.  None of them disgraced themselves and Johnson in particular stood out.
 
We have yet to see other prospects such as George Thomas, Sam Hughes and Josh Gordon.  So, to quote a certain ad, ‘the future’s bright, the future’s orange’! – although I am told the flashes are old gold, not orange!
 
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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Can’t Buy That Feeling – Inside Leicester City

Twenty-nine years ago, The FOX landed its first ever interview, with Youth team player, Ian Baraclough. Over the three decades since then, we’ve racked up 130 interviews with players past and present, with managers, coaches, board members, famous fans, the son of a manager and the daughter of a chairman.

We’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country in search of our quarry. Muzzy Izzet was to be found just a mile down the road at his football academy in Whetstone, but awaydays have carried us as far afield as Torquay down south (home of former boss Frank O’Farrell) and Chester-le-Street up north (to visit Steve Howard). A prestigious international fixture had to be arranged to take on Paddy Byrne with notebook and pint of Guinness.


We’ve sat in the manager’s office at Belvoir Drive faced with ten different City managers, and have stuck a dictaphone next to many a player having their lunch in the canteen after training.   


We’ve found a quiet corner in a huge variety of locations over the years, from the Filbert Street dugout with Iwan Roberts to Gary Lineker’s dressing room at the old BBC TV Centre in White City. A squash club on Frog Island (Paul Ramsey), a Pride Park executive box (Roger Davies), the bench at Burton Albion (Mike Whitlow) and Matt Elliott’s open-topped car have all served a purpose.

The more recently retired or those still involved in the game or media tend to prefer to meet in hotels: Gary McAllister, Steve Claridge, Alan Smith, David Nugent, Ian Marshall. Whereas the older chaps are happy to entertain you at home: Davie Gibson, Bobby Roberts, Jon Sammels, Andy Lochhead, Gordon Milne, Jimmy Walsh.


While all were perfect hosts, Mark Wallington went beyond the call of duty, taking us to his local and insisting on buying us dinner. “Your money’s no good in Lincolnshire!”

Not surprisingly, the pub can produce a convivial atmosphere for an interview, and we met Carl Muggleton, Steve Walsh and Lenny Glover in the boozer for a pint or two – or, in Len’s case, his pre-arranged ‘fee’ of a bottle of bubbly. 
Having finally decided to collect all these interviews together, we read back through what is now a huge body of work and were struck by the way they form a giant tapestry of first-hand experiences of Leicester City over a period spanning 60 years. This is the inside story of the club from the late ’50s, when a young Gordon Banks first arrived at Filbert Street, right through to the present day and the Premier League title era. 

What also hit us was the poignancy of the passing of time. When we think of our heroes, we imagine them as athletic young men in their prime, in royal blue shirts with the fox on their chests. And yet we were often talking to old boys in their 70s or even 80s, and not always in the best of health. But, irrespective of age, every one of our interviewees was happy to recall stories of their glory days – reliving the whole corresponding range of emotions – and we were thrilled to listen

We hope you enjoy this journey through the history of Leicester City in the company of the men who made it.

You can buy the book via the following link http://https://www.conkereditions.co.uk/product/cant-buy-that-feeling-inside-leicester-city-the-best-of-the-fox-interviews/

The Foxes Trust has published a column in the Fox since our launch back in 2002 and we feel it’s a valuable way for the Trust to regularly communicate with fans. Purchasing this book will aid the funding of the Fox for the coming season

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