Saturday, 18 June 2011

2010/11 Analysed: Player-by-Player (Part One)

Given that these not-so-sunny late Spring days have yet to yield the glut of signings anticipated by many Foxes, it seems fitting to fill this void not with rampant speculation about imminent appointments (it's David Nugent tomorrow, apparently) but with a player-by-player look back at a turbulent season past down Filbert Way and view forward to what we all hope will be a successful 2011/12 campaign.

Permanent Squad
1. Chris Weale
It was a season of mixed emotion for Weale, whose goalkeeping suffered in confidence as his position remained unsecure throughout the season. Latterly, Ricardo made a number of appearances in goal as Sven Goran Eriksson favoured him to the Bristolian who will be hoping that a new goalkeeper is not one of the Swede's priorities for the summer transfer window if he is to re-stake his claim to the number one jersey.

2. Robbie Neilson
The Scottish defender made few appearances over the course of the season and failed to establish himself as the favoured right-back after successive loan players made the position their own. Neilson grabbed his first - and only - goal in royal blue in the League Cup against Macclesfield Town, but poor performances led to his being told to find a new club at the end of the year.

3. Aleksandar Tunchev
The popular Bulgarian received a rapturous ovation as he made his first appearance in nearly eighteen months against Watford in April, before successfully completing an hour in the Foxes final game of the season, against Ipswich Town. Tunchev will hope that he remains fit enough to be a part of Eriksson's plans for 2011/12, with fans wishing once more to see him back on form as he was before his knee injury struck in January 2009.

6. Moreno Teixeira
Signed by Paulo Sousa in August last year, Moreno hoped to become a regular in the Portuguese manager's new vision in the East Midlands, but only made three appearances in a season where he became largely forgotten. In signing a three-year contract he remains on the club's books and, who knows, he may yet become a first-team regular as he was in Portugal this time last year. That, however, looks doubtful.

7. Paul Gallagher
Consolidating a great first season with the Foxes, Gallagher became the club's best-scoring striker with his reliable penalty-taking and impressive free-kick abilities. The Scot - still only 26 - will be a lynch pin of Eriksson's play-off ambitions (the Swede has likened his ability to that of David Beckham) and with a new four-year contract signed he is in for the long-haul.

8. Matt Oakley
Oakley received much criticism from the Foxes' faithful throughout the 2010/11 campaign, with many arguing that his selection was a bizarre choice given the quality of other players in the squad. Oakley, however, hit back with impressive performances towards the end of the season and - despite having retired the captaincy - remains an important presence in the dressing room, as he will do into next season and beyond.

9. Steve Howard
The likeable Scot remained in and around the Foxes' camp all season despite his being linked with a number of loan deals and performed a valuable role in using his aerial ability and strength to cause numerous problems for defenders. Howard has been again linked with moves away from the Walkers Stadium, with Sheffield Wednesday supposedly interested. Should Howard leave, he will be remembered warmly by Leicester fans.

10. Andy King
Captain Fantastic struck more goals than any other player to take the club's golden boot and yet some fans were still critical of his apparently 'anonymous' performances. King had his off days - as every team member does from time to time - but overall this was season where the young Welshman came of age. Regularly scoring, leading from the front and establishing himself at international level last year, the only way now is up.

11. Lloyd Dyer
A faltering year for the fast-paced winger who saw competition for his place from the likes of Darius Vassell. He contributed fewer goals than in the past two seasons, netting just three times in the league, but made valuable contributions in the FA and League Cups. Dyer's future remains in the East Midlands but his position as first in line to the left wing slot remains under threat.
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