One to forget

Leicester City 0 – Manchester City 2

Report by Chris Griffin

The first half redefined the meaning of one-sided. Leicester scarcely set foot in their opponents’ half. It wasn’t long until my mobile was pinging with messages from fellow Foxes expressing frustration and disbelief at our defensive approach. One said it was like watching a snooker match where the same player makes 147 frame-after-frame-after-frame so dominant were Manchester City.

Leicester’s defensive low block certainly invited Manchester City to attack. And since it kept the visitors out for an hour it could be said to be justified. But this approach, from the perspective of many fans, might seem too cautious, especially given the team has been on such a good run and lies third in the table with a chance of finishing second. We really do want to see them give it a go.

Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause for Frank Worthington, Leicester legend from the 70s. Leicester’s line-up replaced Soyuncu, who had tested positive for covid, with Amartey.

After a quiet opening five minutes Leicester had a fortunate escape when Fernandinho drilled a low twenty-yard shot into the goal. Fortunately, Aguero was in an offside position blocking Schmeichel’s sightline so the goal was ruled out. The visitors stayed on the front foot. Rodri was a consistent threat down the left while Mahrez raided down the right.

Despite numerous Leicester attempts to play out from the back Manchester City’s press was so high and tight that Leicester had to resort to long clearances which inevitably surrendered possession. De Bruyne sent in a good cross that Castagne blocked but the ball fell to Aguero who shot over the bar. De Bruyne then shot over himself but referee Taylor brought the play back to just outside the D for a foul on de Bruyne by Ndidi. Not so much a foul as an “air foul” since contact between the players was non-existent. De Bruyne took the free kick, his shot hammering against the crossbar before rebounding to safety.

Jesus shot into the side netting after a Walker cross. Schmeichel made a good save from a fierce Aguero shot after Mahrez had put Jesus through. In a rare visit to the visitors’ half Perez was fouled by Fernandinho. Albrighton’s free kick sailed harmlessly into the arms of Ederson. Ndidi was booked for a foul on de Bruyne after a promising Leicester attack broke down in midfield. The game reverted to the same pattern of Manchester City dominance. It was hard not to wonder how 30,000 Leicester fans would have reacted to our team’s approach had they been there.

Good work by Fofana – who was having an outstanding game – tidied up a situation after Amartey had miskicked his clearance. Schmeichel blocked a Mahrez shot. De Bruyne rifled a low fast shot just wide of the post.

As the half closed Leicester at last moved upfield. Tielemans intercepted a pass in the Manchester half and swept forward only to shoot over. Perez played a smart ball through to Vardy who dribbled around Ederson and coolly put the ball in the net but the striker was offside.

There is no doubt that City had defended very well against their highly skilled opponents. They had kept them out for a half. However, doing the same for another 45 minutes seemed a tall order.

Leicester showed intent on attacking more after half time. Ederson had to be quick to clear a poor back pass before Iheanacho could reach it. Albrighton passed to Tielemans who beat Fernandinho and shot fiercely, forcing a good Ederson save. Vardy won a tackle in midfield and passed to Iheanacho who set off on a superb run before passing to Tielemans whose goal bound shot was block tackled away for a corner by Diaz.

But danger still existed at the other end. Rodri, unmarked at the far post, just failed to make good contact with a de Bruyne free kick. Fofana cleared well after Amartey had given away possession. Aguero had a shot blocked which went for a corner that was eventually cleared by Evans.

On the hour mark Manchester City took the lead. Schmeichel fisted away a fierce Mahrez shot but Rodri took possession and sent a cross to the far post. Mendy gathered and stepped inside the onrushing Albrighton before curling an accurate shot around Schmeichel into the net.

The visitors then brought on Sterling for Aguero which was hardly going to weaken them. Perez sent Iheanacho away down the left wing but his cross flew behind the goal. A good Vardy knock down gave Perez a chance to shoot but the ball did not come down quickly enough.

On the 71st minute Leicester brought on Maddison for Iheanacho and Ricardo for Albrighton. Ederson was shown a yellow card for delaying a goal kick. Perhaps we had them rattled! If so it was not for long. Almost immediately de Bruyne played a superb pass to Jesus who exchanged passes with Sterling before driving the ball past Schmeichel to make it 2-0.

The lead nearly increased when Evans was caught in possession. De Bruyne passed to Mahrez who shot wide.

Maddison was relishing his return and having plenty of touches. Walker welcomed him to the game with a late challenge and was shown a yellow card. A good move between Vardy and Tielemans gave Maddison a shooting chance but he shot over. Next Vardy, Castagne, and Ricardo combined brilliantly to give Maddison another chance but he scuffed his shot and Ederson gathered.

Tempers frayed in the last few minutes, especially following an Amartey challenge on de Bruyne. Rodri was shown yellow for a foul on Tielemans. The game ended: Leicester’s seventh home defeat.

Brendan Rodgers appeared philosophical in his post-match interview. He acknowledged the better team won. He thought we were not as good on the ball as we had been and linked that to fatigue following the internationals. He acknowledged how well Fofana had played.

Next up is West Ham away. Let’s hope the players can recuperate during the coming week and go to London with the confidence and self-belief they’ve been justified in showing for most of the season and gain a win.

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Amartey, Fofana, Evans, Castagne, Albrighton, Ndidi, Tielemans, Perez, Iheanacho, Vardy.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Rubin Diaz, Laporte, Mendy, Rodri, Fernandinho, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Aguero.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

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

Important national survey of fans on VAR

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) has launched a national survey of all fans to get their opinions on the use and implementation of VAR.

At last year’s FSA AGM, a motion was passed to create a fan-led FSA VAR Working Group (WG) which Foxes Trust’s Steve Moulds is a member of – this has been done and as part of its work, the WG has created a survey which has now been launched. The aim is to gather fans’ views on how VAR is working and where it can be improved, particularly with regard to use in stadiums. The survey builds on Foxes Trust’s own survey carried out last summer.

FSA will report the findings to the Premier League, PGMOL and the media, with a view to giving fans a voice on how VAR may be improved from their perspective. With that in mind, we encourage FT members to complete the survey and ask for your support in sharing the link with other City fans in order to maximise the response and the strength of the data collected. The survey is open now and over Easter weekend (closing date TBC).

The link to the survey is here and it would be brilliant if you can share it via Twitter (here) or other social media.

Foxes Trust AGM with Wes & Walshie

Having been one of the last Trusts to hold a physical AGM meeting prior to the pandemic, the Foxes Trust recently held this year’s AGM via Zoom and while this unfortunately meant that a number of members who usually attend the meeting did not have access, it did provide the opportunity for many foxiled members to attend for the first time.

The evening commenced with the formal proceeds of approving the previous years AGM minutes, reviewing the annual accounts in some depth and announcing that Alan Digby, Stuart Dawkins and Steve Moulds who had all stood down by rotation had all been duly re-elected to the board.

Dave Statham reported on the exercise that the Trust board members carried out during the early stages of the pandemic, contacting all members to check they were ok. (Dave has since contacted all who attended the AGM to gain feedback for planning future AGM’s)

Steve gave a comprehensive overview of the national picture covering the last year in the following areas:

  • Broadcasting – ensuring all games were covered and the reversal of Pay Per View
  • Football governance reviews
  • European competition reform
  • Return of Fans – protocols
  • VAR – FSA Working Group
  • Combating social media abuse

During the year Steve was elected as one of three FSA Premier League Network representatives to the National Council. Steve is also a member of the VAR Working Group and is part of the group monitoring and advising the Network on European competition developments.

The second half of the evening featured a Q & A session with current City captain Wes Morgan who answered many members questions before City legend Steve Walsh joined in with Wes, providing an interesting comparison when answering the same questions looking at the game, contrasting the different eras in terms of both on the pitch experiences and off the pitch training regimes.

The Trust board would like to thank all members who attended and LCFC Communications Director. Anthony Herlihy for arranging our Q & A guests.

Frank Worthington 1948 to 2021 – Party Like a Rockstar.

‘Hello, hello; Frankie Wortho’

It seems that every few days a footballing legend is leaving us, today we learnt of the sad passing of a City legend, the one and only Frank Worthington. Frank came to Leicester City in the 70’s and soon became a City fan’s favourite with his rock-star looks and his amazing football skills. Jimmy Bloomfield brought Frank to Filbert Street in 1972 to be a member of the side that played what the media dubbed ‘champagne football’: in a team full of characters like Birch and Weller; Frank was the most charismatic of them all.

There were 24 Clubs that Wortho played for making 828 appearances and scoring 260 goals, 210 of those appearances and 72 of the goals were for City, more than for any other Club. Whether he could have achieved more in his career is a moot point, his only honour a second division winners medal with his beloved Huddersfield, he most certainly deserved more. Above all Frank was an entertainer, a showman, a player who loved the footballing lifestyle, he seemed to love the rapport he had with the fans who idolised him. His reputation with the ladies, the booze, the cars, and the clothes were testament to how he loved and lived his life away from football: the title of his autobiography ‘One Hump or Two’ supports that view. He simply lived life to the full.

Those older fans will remember that Baileys Nightclub had a hospitality box at Leicester when the boxes sat above the Filbert Street stand. There were occasions that celebrities appearing at Baileys would attend the match and I remember the Three Degrees appearing on the pitch before kick-off. In those days there were no pre-match organised drills on the pitch before the match, teams ran-out 2 or 3 minutes before kick-off and players did their own warm-ups. On this occasion, Wortho seemed more interested in talking to the pop-star trio than doing his stretches.

Before signing for City from Huddersfield Town, Wortho was due to sign for Liverpool, at that time managed by the legendary Bill Shankly. Wortho failed the medical because of high blood pressure it was reported. Shankly, in his determination to sign the forward, sent him on a week’s holiday to Majorca to relax. Apparently, on his return Frank undertook a second medical, his blood pressure had risen higher, apparently, he had not taken the opportunity to relax but had indulged in more of his favoured lifestyle activities; and so, the transfer fell through: that was to be City’s gain.

To my mind Wortho’s best match for City was on 19 January 1974, a Saturday evening fixture due to the Three-Day-Week when electricity supply was limited to specific areas on specific days. That evening Wortho scored a hat-trick against Ipswich Town. On 22 May that year, I was at Wembley to see Frank line up with his City colleagues Shilton and Weller playing for England against Argentina, Frank scored his first international goal in a 2-2 draw. What a team England put out that night, with Emlyn Hughes captaining the likes of Keegan, Bell, Todd and Brooking. This team was under the caretaker management of Joe Mercer and was full of flair. Don Revie had left the England manager job and his squads, full of yes men and robots, overlooked the likes of Worthington; his total of 8 caps for his country was a travesty given his talents.

When Frank turned up for his first U23 squad, he did so in cowboy boots, red silk shirt and lime green velvet jacket: Alf Ramsey was not impressed as suit or tracksuit were the order of the day.

In the 1980’s I happened to be working in Brighouse, I was taken out by a client to a local pub. We were the only one in the hostelry, when the door opened and in walked a glamourous lady followed by Frank. I had a programme with me for a Charity match I was arranging at Gretton with Birch’s Leicester City All Stars: I had a long chat with the legend and he signed the programme, which I still have. I also have two other mementos: One is a T Shirt I bought about twenty years ago – Party Like a Rock Star; the second a framed signed print my son bought me only last year.

Frank ‘Elvis’ Worthington, thanks for the memories, a true showman. Rest in Peace my hero, may you now meet Elvis and Party Like a Rockstar for evermore.

Article written by Colin Murrant

Today social media has seen numerous posts from fellow City fans equally declaring the hero status for Frank and the inspiration of many from that era to become life long City fans

On Our Way to Wembley

Leicester City 3 Manchester United 1

Report by Tish Krokosz

The first match in which I showed any interest in City was their FA Cup Final against Man. Utd at Wembley in 1963. I was still at junior school, had three (old) pence a week for pocket money and had to follow the game as best as I could by going from shop front to shop front in the city centre where they were showing off their latest TV models. The pundits gave us a good chance of lifting the trophy but it was not to be.

The omens were not good for this quarter final game against the same opposition. They were ahead of us in the table (just). It was 30 matches since United had lost away against English opposition. City had not made it to the semi-finals since 1982. United’s record against City was superior, especially in recent seasons. Yet I felt that it was a good time to play them. They had travelled to Milan for their Europa League match on Thursday and Solskjaer had picked a team for this match that gave several key players a rest.

United started the match with more intent and were knocking the ball around more confidently than City but without any purpose. City weathered the first five minutes and then began to take control, especially in midfield where Ndidi and Tielemans were much stronger and effective than their counterparts, Matic and Fred.

The half chances were coming City’s way but none was conclusive until Fred gifted the ball to Iheanacho in the 25th minute. The on-form striker did not hesitate to move into the box, round the keeper and place the ball into an empty net.

This gave City more confidence and, five minutes later, a long ball down the right found Iheanacho again and he took it towards the penalty area. The only way Maguire could stop him was by fouling him just outside the area. Maguire received a yellow card for this and the ensuing free kick came to nothing.

United’s forays into the City half were generally tame until the 38th minute when Pogba turned Fofana a little too easily and crossed from the left bye-line. Van De Beek ran for the ball but dummied and this allowed Greenwood to follow up behind him and slot the ball past Schmeichel with his left foot. This was United’s first meaningful attack and they were level at half-time despite City being the better team by far.

We found out at the break that one of these teams would be playing Southampton in the semi-final at Wembley.

I was surprised to see that there were no changes in the United line-up for the second half. Their midfield had given the ball away on too many occasions to count, yet Solskjaer was confident that they would prevail. What a mistake! The second period was not very old when Tielemans played a crisp one-two with Iheanacho just past the half-way line. No United player challenged him as he moved forward with the ball and Vardy’s run to the right created a space for Tielemans to shoot into the left-hand corner of the goal giving Henderson no chance.

City should have sealed the tie five minutes later when Vardy made one of his incisive runs into the area slipping the ball past a bemused Maguire leaving a one-on-one against the goalkeeper. During his good run last season, he would have smashed this past Henderson, yet he somehow managed to miss. City were carving through the United midfield with ease and after sixty minutes Solskjaer had seen enough and brought on the cavalry. The fourth official was working overtime as Matic, Van de Beek, Telles and Pogba made way for McTominay, Cavani, Fernandes and Shaw.

This did give United a little more control in midfield and for the next fifteen minutes United had the upper hand going forward with more purpose and effectiveness. City’s three-man defence suddenly became a lot busier but dealt with all the United threats with ease.

Praet came on for Perez in the 72nd minute. The latter had played a reasonable game but the change was instrumental in the next goal. Praet won an innocuous free-kick by the corner flag five minutes after his arrival. The ball was sent over to the far post where an unmarked Iheanacho gratefully headed the ball with power past Henderson’s grasping left hand. Two goals in this quarter-final following his hat-trick last weekend meant that he was rapidly becoming the centre-forward of the moment.

I am always nervous when City are only one goal up, especially against such opposition. The two-goal cushion was still only light relief and continuous checking of the clock did not help matters. City still had to maintain their composure and concentration for another ten minutes plus four minutes of time added on.

With 87 minutes on the clock, United won a free kick after a clumsy challenge by Choudhury, who had replaced Vardy five minutes earlier, on Maguire just outside the penalty area. This was ideal territory for Bruno Fernandes who had been quiet since his introduction. His free-kick was superb and was heading for the top left-hand corner of the goal when Schmeichel made a leap to push the ball out for a corner. This was United’s last meaningful attempt on goal and City saw out the remaining time.

So, another game goes by without a Vardy goal. It is a shame he did not put away his chance in the 58th minute. This would have been a fitting tribute following the announcement in the local press that the scout, Garth Butler, who had spotted Jamie in non-league football and recommended him to City, had died recently. What a find and what a fine run of form by our talisman.

Yet, is there a new kid on the block? I have to admit that in past seasons, I have been a critic of Iheanacho. He did not seem to understand the offside rule. He was clumsy. His positioning was inept. What has Brendan Rodgers done to him to bring him into a position where he is winning man-of-the-match regularly? Is it perseverance? Is it the help of team members? Is it the man himself gaining confidence through regular game time, and, more importantly, regular goals? Whatever it is, bring it on and let him please be injury free.

So, City have finally made it to a FA Cup semi-final. I did wonder whether Brandan Rodgers would put out a slightly weaker team to start the game, but, with a whole week’s rest prior to the game and an international break afterwards, it seemed correct to put out a full strength eleven at the beginning. It clearly paid off. Statistically, the draw has been kind to us, but Southampton cannot be treated as a walkover. It is a pity, though, that the fans will not be able to make the journey to Wembley on this occasion after such a long wait.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Fofana, Evans, Söyüncü, Castaigne, Ndidi, Tielemans, Albrighton, Perez (Praet 73), Iheanacho, Vardy (Choudhury 83). Subs not used: Ward, Mendy, Amartey, Fuchs, Thomas, Leshabela, Daley-Campbell.

Manchester United:  Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles (Shaw 64), Fred (Diallo 84), Matic (McTominay 64), Greenwood, Van de Beek (Bruno Fernandes 64), Pogba (Cavani 64), Martial.  Subs not used: De Gea, James, Williams, Tuanzebe,

Referee: A. Mariner                           Attendance: Around 300

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