Sunday, 17 April 2011

Belated Conclusions from the Madejski Stadium

(HT 2-0)
Kebe 19
McAnuff 21
Hunt 67
King 79

Att: 19,199
BBC Match Report

  • A poor performance nails the coffin closed. Only a groundskeeper at the graveyard of our season wandering his cemetery on a silent evening will hear the cries for help of Leicester City fans now. We're clinging on with our last breaths to a vague hope that promotion this season is still a possibility. This commentator is a sceptic, but even the most optimistic of supporters are now waking up to the prospect of another nearly-great Championship season.
  • Defending is the problem. From Sol Bamba's insistence on calling for absent offside decisions to the worrying trend of results surrounding appearances by Jeffrey Bruma, the Foxes' back line is what seems to be most at fault. Quickly, a choice of who to play and where in a very competitive back line has boiled down to a need for consistency from the two men who have been at the club for the longest this season: Miguel Vitor and Ben Mee. It's there time to shine if the optimists' dreams are to be proven accurate.

Vitor': His introduction bolstered the Foxes' defence
Miguel Vitor
Despite making only a second half appearance, Alan Young gave the Portuguese loanee his informal man of the match award on BBC Radio Leicester. This therefore begs the question: if he doesn't start the next game alongside Ben Mee, how much are Chelsea paying us to lose our play-off place at the expense of giving Jeffrey Bruma a run-out?

Paul Gallagher
Shop windowing? Trying to persuade Sven Goran Eriksson that he must, MUST, start the next game? This was a performance indicative of one of the above, his second-half introduction changing the game in favour of Leicester and allowing a change to the short-passing game played up to that point that was clearly just not working against a pacey, determined Reading side.

Steve Howard
Gave increased focus to the attacks which lacked that earlier in the game. He acted as the target man that was needed against Reading with the Foxes playing 4-3-3, particularly after the introduction of Gallagher and his long ball deliveries. Howard had fewer scoring opportunities than Yakubu but the Leicester attack looked far more purposeful with his influence. He seemed to raise spirits within the team, too.

Andy King
Despite it being a mere consolation, Andy King's goal failed to disappoint and will be another of his many fine strikes that can be added to his end-of-season compilation video. The Welshman's goal came out of nowhere and was as crisp a-strike as you are ever likely to see, nailed straight and narrow into the bottom corner. A pity, then, that it failed to cap a wonderful victory and instead will remind us of a dismal defeat.

Sven Goran Eriksson
It is to the Swede's credit that three of the four men featured above are substitutes introduced in the second half. One could argue that those same three men should have started in place of those whom they replaced, but to do so would take away the credit of Eriksson in his attempts to alter the tempo and style of his team when they were reeling at 2-0 and 3-0 down.

Bamba: Outpaced and outclassed
Sol Bamba
Schoolboy errors abound, Bamba had a shocker. He was at fault for allowing Shane Long the space and time he needed to power to the byline and cross for Jimmy Kebe's opener - Bamba caught standing as he appealed for an offside flag that was never going to be raised. He was less to blame for Reading's second, but was at fault when Jimmy Kebe was presented with three clear chances as Reading quickly broke forward on three separate occasions, the centre-halves failing to deal with the advancing threats. Thankfully, Kebe's radar was wide of the mark on each occasion. Many more mature performances are needed from Bamba if he is to compete for his starting place.

Jeffrey Bruma
Perhaps it is harsh to pin the blame on Bruma for McAnuff's cool finish after a catalogue of errors gifted the Royals a second, however it was the Dutchman who stood off and allowed McAnuff the sight at goal. He was to blame - as was Bamba - for continually allowing Reading to break forward and challenge Chris Weale on the break. Bruma was entirely to blame for the Royals' third goal as he slipped, gifting the advancing Kebe with a choice of passes that led to Noel Hunt firing home. Whatever Bruma lacked against Reading - bravery, positioning, agility, pace - is not a good sign for a young defender hoping for starting berth at Chelsea in the future.

Failed to offer the focus that was needed in attacking a Reading side at 2-0 down and his poor finishing meant that there was little need for his appearance on the pitch. Perhaps he is already dreaming of the Premier League, which will come again next season (if it does) without his Leicester team-mates.

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