Sunday, 31 July 2011

Roaring the Foxes to victory: Reflections on pre-season

Despite the fact that Leicester City have created a new bar at which to aim in terms of Championship signings, Los Blancos remain the richest and most powerful football club on Earth, on a par with those at the very top of world football. The Foxes, remember, are still a second-tier outfit.

Yet the might of Real Madrid failed to embarrass Sven Goran Eriksson’s Foxes: that will be something the Swede should find cheering.

This friendly fixture highlighted just how far the football club has come since they won just one of their first nine games last term. Gaining just five points in the first two months of the season, Leicester sat bottom of the league and Paulo Sousa was sacked to make way for Eriksson and what has become a Thai revolution.

Canny loan signings by Eriksson saw him build a team capable of reaching the play-offs, only to miss-out following a poor run of form towards the end of the season. Loan signings returning to their parent clubs left Eriksson with a weak squad and he has done fantastically well, working with Chairman Vichai and Vice-Chairman Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn to tempt Premier League stars to the East Midlands.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Galacticos beat Foxes in front of record crowd

If any pre-season friendly was to be the subject of excessive hype, it would be the visit of Jose Mourinho's Galacticos to the King Power Stadium.

As it was, that build-up failed to disappoint, with a record crowd of 32,188 treated to a 'Fan Village' before kick-off, featuring real-life table football, live music and a Q&A with city legends past.

Crowd: A record 31,188 saw the Foxes take on Madrid
Unfortunately a game that promised so much failed to deliver on that expectation early on, failing to come alive until nearly twenty minutes was gone, a one-two with Sami Khedira falling for Karim Benzema, the French international firing just wide of Kasper Schmeichel's post. The Danish keeper was forced to show his best minutes later when he stifled a chance from Fabio Coentrao, saving superbly at the feet of the Portuguese international.

Matthew Mills was in the wars at both ends and required treatment when Madrid keeper Antonio Adan caught the former Reading man as he saved from a Paul Gallagher free kick. Mills was then at fault for Madrid's opener, back-pedalling away from a chipped pass by Marcelo. He is easily beaten to the ball by Benzema, who skilfully rounds Schmeichel and leaves for Callejon to tap home.

That was the last action for Mills, succumbing to his head injury, and he was replaced by Sean St Ledger who performed admirably for the remainder of the game.

With Los Blancos in the ascendancy, half-time came at an opportune moment for the home side who had hardly been outplayed but were beginning to suffer from their opponents' pure class.

Madrid came out late for the second period but resumed where they had left-off, pressuring City in their own half. Only the combined efforts of Sol Bamba and Schmeichel denied the visitors the chance to widen the gap,  something they eventually achieved after a quick break forward.

The ball fell to a sprinting Xabi Alonso who slid in Benzema, the Frenchman in turn passing to Coentrao. His deft flick gave Marcelo shooting space and, despite the efforts of St Ledger to close him down, he managed a shot on goal that rebounded off the post and fortuitously fell for Benzema who could not miss.

An array of changes from both managers took pace out of the game and the Foxes were able to claw their way back into the match, surging forward and beginning to trouble Iker Casillas in the Madrid net, Steve Howard's header saved at the last by the World Cup winning keeper.

Then, with a minute left, a surging run from Lloyd Dyer saw him beat his man and win a throw-in. Bamba touched-on a superb long delivery from Lee Peltier and Dyer thrashed a superb volley beyond Casillas to grab a goal back for Leicester. Long balls forward allowed City to apply pressure in added time, but the Madrid defence fended-off the Foxes' efforts and the final whistle blew to a standing ovation from a capacity crowd.

The Foxes were not undone by the Galacticos, who failed to break into the game and dominate in their typical possessive style. Sven Goran Eriksson will have been impressed to see his side apply pressure to one of the world's top sides and to see that they were not embarrassed by them. Indeed, this was a performance that galvanised a belief in winning that now exists within a strong Foxes camp: it must be noted that the home side's only goal came when apparently second eleven players made their appearance, evidence of the strength in depth Eriksson has built within his large squad.

Most importantly, 32,188 football fans were able to witness their idols' idols playing their team in their home town. A friendly fixture this may have been, but for those youngsters who lined the pitch at full time they will never forget that they saw Ronaldo, Kaka, Casillas, Ramos and Alonso play their Leicester City.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Foxes will face Real Madrid first XI

Jose Mourinho has announced Real Madrid's travelling squad that will tour England and China, taking in tomorrow's nPower Challenge Cup fixture against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

The squad includes Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka amongst its big names, with World Cup winners Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso also named. The Foxes' multi-millionaire Thai owners are rumoured to have paid in excess of £1 million to bring Los Blancos to the King Power Stadium and will expect Mourinho to field a full-strength eleven.

Real Madrid's full travelling squad is as follows:

Iker Casillas, Antonio Adan, Tomas Mejias, Jesus

Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Raul Albiol, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Ricardo Carvalho, Marcelo Vieira, Fabio Coentrao, Nacho

Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Nuri Sahin, Jose Maria Callejon, Estiban Granero, Mehut Ozil, Kaka, Angel Di Maria

Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Vedran Jese

Fernandes set to sign

International: Fernandes has 33 Swiss caps
Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes is set to become Sven Goran Eriksson's tenth signing of the summer and will be unveiled as a Leicester City player at the King Power Stadium tomorrow.

Fernandes, 24, previously played for Eriksson during the Swede's tenure at Manchester City and was very much a favourite of the former England boss. Now, Eriksson is looking to strengthen his midfield and has turned to St Etienne player, out of favour at the French club.

With Michael Ball also set to sign his contract in the next 24 hours, the Foxes will have a strong squad to face Real Madrid at a sold-out King Power Stadium tomorrow evening. However, rumours are strongly suggesting that Eriksson has one further trick up his sleeve and that he will unveil a twelfth star signing before kick-off.

"We want two players for every position and we have that with defenders and midfielders now," said Eriksson, "We hope to get the same for the strikers, so we hope one or two more will come in."

"I hope we are close," he added, "There are different targets, but I hope that something will happen."

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Eriksson nets Johnson on loan

Reports have strongly signalled that Sven Goran Eriksson has made his ninth signing of the summer, negotiating a deal to take Michael Johnson on loan from Manchester City until the end of the season.

Eriksson worked with the 23-year-old midfielder during his time with the Citizens and he will add valuable Premier League experience to an already strong midfield set-up that includes Andy King amongst its younger stars.

A graduate of the Everton academy, Johnson signed his first professional contract at the City of Manchester Stadium and has made 37 appearances for Manchester City, scoring twice. He was linked for a move to a Championship club earlier in the summer but it seems almost certain now that Eriksson's ties with the Eastlands club have assured that Leicester will be successful in their bid to net Johnson.

Ball and Tunchev to be offered contracts

Out-of-contract Aleksander Tunchev and trailist Michael Ball are both set to be offered contracts at the King Power Stadium, following the pair's impressive displays in pre-season.

Both Ball, 31, and Tunchev, 30, have done enough to impress Sven Goran Eriksson, who confirmed to Of Fosse and Foxes in Austria that the pair are likely to sign. Those deals now seem to be even closer after both players completed ninety minutes against Kettering Town last night.

Against the Poppies Tunchev stood as a commanding presence at centre half alongside Sean St Ledger, whilst Ball impressed in midfield before he stood-in at left-back after Bruno Berner was replaced at half time.

Tunchev has been with the Foxes for nearly three years but only played a significant run of games in his first six months at the then Walkers Stadium, falling foul to successive knee injuries that saw him on the physio's table for eighteen months. Ball, meanwhile, has been without a club for two years after he was released by Manchester City in 2009.   

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Foxes held by defiant Poppies

On the Ball: Michael had a solid 90 minutes
Leicester City failed to beat a makeshift Kettering Town side at Rockingham Road in a game that saw a number of fringe players make a success of their chance to shine against inferior opposition.

An impressive showing from Franck Moussa in the centre of the midfield was capped by his superbly placed headed goal after Martyn Waghorn's efforts on the wing paid-off. Michael Ball played a full ninety minutes that should earn him a contract, whilst Aleksandar Tunchev also played the whole game, apparently with no ill effects.

Of note was the debut performance of youngster Liam Moore, the eighteen year-old fulfilling a solid shift at right-back, accompanying a lively Lloyd Dyer on that wing.

Moussa's goal came as a first half equaliser after Kettering took a surprising lead after quarter of an hour. Jean-Paul Marna was set free and his superb effort left Chris Weale with no chance. That was to be a blip in a game very much dominated by Leicester.

That the Foxes did not thump the Poppies by a number of goals may have incurred some fears among fans but City controlled large parts of this game. Kettering's lead was a boost to their fans - almost outnumbered by a vast Leicester support - but further flashes of inspiration from the Poppies was not forthcoming until later in the game, as the Foxes appeared almost to lose interest in what became a flat second half.

Now, Leicester must look ahead to Saturday's glamour friendly against Real Madrid, the first of the 2011/12 season at the newly-named King Power Stadium. Sven Goran Eriksson will be unlikely to field any of the fourteen or so players featured tonight, but no doubt the likes of Steve Howard and Matt Oakley will have been keen to show they still have the potential to mix it with the youngsters bursting with energy to fill the substitutes' bench. 

Monday, 25 July 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Berner set for Leicester stay

Bruno Berner will remain at Leicester City, Of Fosse and Foxes can exclusively reveal.

The Swiss former international was linked with a move away from the King Power Stadium after Sven Goran Eriksson secured the signing of Paul Konchesky to bolster his options at left back, but Berner is not put-off by the competition.

Instead, he has confirmed to our sources that he is committed to fighting for his place at Leicester and completing his coaching badges, as he reiterated to the BBC's Ian Stringer when he acted as guest pundit on the BBC Leicester coverage of the Foxes' final pre-season tour game against Valencia.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Foxes beaten by Spanish giants

Leicester were a team beaten by the better side when they took on their final opponents of this pre-season's overseas tour.

Liquid football: Yuki Abe battles to win the ball against Valencia
That is not to say that the Foxes made it easy for Valencia, more that the Spanish opposition were a superior outfit with their usual fluid, passing movement impressing the few who made the trip from the East Midlands to the SV Wernberg Stadium in southern Austria.

The Foxes' put in a valiant defensive performance but Valencia made Leicester chase the ball and made their possession count when before half an hour was played, Brazilian international Jonas finishing well after he was put-in by Aritz Aduriz. The Foxes had their opportunities - Paul Konchesky had a lively game on the wing as he once again impressed - but were not able to make it count, Steve Howard notably unable to make a rare breakaway count as he fired wide in the closing minutes.

Whilst manager Sven Goran Eriksson will be disappointed to see this pre-season's unblemished record blotted, he will be cheered by a resilient performance from his side that saw the better team only win by a single goal. Another day could have seen the Foxes grab an equaliser, but on this occasion their efforts were stifled by a team that held the ball well and denied Leicester the chance to create opportunities using their own brand of passing football.

Instead, the best chances came from long-ball clearances: if this strategy is to pay off against good teams in the Championship, Steve Howard could swiftly become a key man in Eriksson's play-off ambitions. But, if Eriksson is right in believing his team to be the best in the league, that will not be an issue he will have to face. A Tuesday night away in Doncaster presents very different challenges to those found on a misty evening in Austria, against one of Spain and Europe's top sides.

King Power Stadium taking shape

Leicester City's newly-named home is taking shape for the new season, with a new pitch now laid and advertising banners being altered to reflect the change in stadium sponsorship from Walkers to King Power.

Images posted on the FoxesTalk blog reveal the first of the alterations, a panoramic view of the inside of the ground revealing that, with a week remaining for work to take place before City's glamour friendly against Real Madrid, 'Walkers' lettering built-in to the seating at either end of the ground is being re-laid to spell-out 'King Power'.

Revamp: The Walkers Stadium is undergoing it's transformation to the King Power Stadium
Meanwhile, the banner that used to run around the top of the stadium has been removed, with rumour suggesting it may be replaced with electronic advertising boards or indeed a new banner carrying the King Power brand.

Outside, new posters have been erected and the brand new giant electronic displays are awaiting installation. The club's megastore is continuing to undergo refurbishment.

All is set to be completed in a week's time, ready for the arrival of Jose Mourinho's Galacticos and a capacity 32,262 crowd.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Pantsil is Eriksson's 8th summer signing

Leicester City are set to unveil John Pantsil as the club's eighth signing of this summer's transfer window.

The 30-year-old defender - whose name also appears as 'Paintsil' in some literature - will add depth to an increasingly strong Foxes' back-line, as he joins Matt Mills, Paul Konchesky, Sean St. Ledger and rival right back Lee Peltier as a newcomer to Leicester's back four.

Having been released by Fulham, Pantsil has been widely tipped this week to be linking-up with Sven Goran Eriksson and the travelling Foxes' party on their tour of Austria. However, having signed his three-year deal late in the week it is currently unknown if the Ghanaian international will travel to join his new team-mates.

“I have just signed a three-year contract with Leicester City,” he told, “I visited the club yesterday, met the coach and some of the club officials and I am very happy with what I saw. “The club has got a lot of ambition to succeed at the high level with their fantastic fans and that is why I chose to join them despite some other offers."

Pantsil has been capped 66 times in a successful career with the Ghana national team, spanning periods at West Ham United and Fulham in England after playing for Berekum Arsenal and Liberty Professionals in Ghana and Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel. He moved to Craven Cottage in a combined deal with Bobby Zamora worth at least £6.8 million, appearing 75 times for the Cottagers before falling out-of-favour with new boss Martin Jol last month.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Foxes hold Bursaspor in feisty Austria friendly

Leicester City held an aggressive Bursaspor side to a goalless draw in their first pre-season friendly in Austria.

The first half ended with a scuffle on the edge of the Foxes' eighteen-yard box and that was typical of the manner in which Turkey's representatives in the Europa League went about this supposedly friendly fixture. It started, however, with the Green Crocodiles playing the better football, applying pressure to Leicester's back five which stood solid throughout. New signing Matt Mills led out his boyhood team on this occasion and worked well alongside a committed Sol Bamba.

Paul Konchesky's dogged determination to feed Paul Gallagher nearly paid-off on more than one occasion but, like Darius Vassell on the opposite wing, Gallagher was barely able to see a shot at goal, his only memorable effort clearing the crossbar as he lobbed the Bursaspor keeper.

The connection between Konchesky - a new signing - and Gallagher - an established senior player - will have pleased Sven Goran Eriksson as his new-look Foxes side seems to have gelled nicely, neatly demonstrated in this left-wing partnership that would, on this showing, beat any in the Championship.

Second half substitutions saw Martyn Waghorn introduced to make his mark, but his dead balls were played heavily and he was once again unable to demonstrate the form of two seasons ago when he was embraced by the Foxes' faithful.

Yuki Abe, however, was unfortunate to not grab a goal when his flicked-on header was tipped away by the Bursaspor keeper. His replacement with twenty minutes to go allowed Bursaspor more time in midfield and it was the Turkish side that came closest to scoring when, with twelve minutes remaining, a long shot from Giani Kiriţă leaving Kasper Schmeichel reeling and the Foxes' crossbar rattling.

And, despite the game fizzling-out in the dying minutes, this was a guelling run-out for a growing Leicester City team who seem able to cope with high quality opposition and easily managed an important clean sheet against the Turkish former champions, despite the opposition's rather aggressive desire.

Club owners deny Sim link

Leicester City's club owners have released a statement denying any involvement by them of Joe Sim in the purchase of the football club last year.

Sim, former advisor to the Thai FA, was linked by a Channel 4 investigation with illicit dealings over the buying of English football clubs (see previous post). In that 'Dispatches' documentary, Vichai Raksriaksorn, now chairman of the Foxes, was alleged to have met Sim in relation to the purchase of the club.

In a statement on the club website, however, Vichai and Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn deny any involvement of Sim in the takeover of Leicester City, going so far as to say that Sim had no " involvement with, or authority to comment on any subsequent Leicester City business".

There is no denial from the Raksriaksorns that they met with Sim through his role as advisor to the Thai FA, but clearly reiterated that there was no link between him and Leicester City Football Club. The statement finished:

"Leicester City Football Club and its owners are committed to absolute transparency in every aspect of its operations and activities."

The owners travelled to Sweden earlier in the week to watch their team beat Vasalunds IF on their pre-season tour and they will be looking forward to a solid Foxes' performance against Bursaspor in Austria tonight.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

'Dispatches: How to Buy a Football Club': The Foxes' view

Channel 4's Dispatches has uncovered a range of dodgy deals in its past - but last night it turned its attention to football clubs.

Visiting Thailand and former Manchester United skipper Bryan Robson, Leicester City were mentioned as a target of an aggressive money-making takeover. And whilst Sheffield Wednesday and their rivals Sheffield United took the focus of the programme, it raised a number of fears that the recent takeover by Vichai and Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn could be a part of the rule-flouting London Nominees Football Fund scheme.

The scheme identifies Championship teams to be taken-over by a fund, receiving investment to quickly see the club promoted to the Premier League before the investors take a big pay-off when they sell the now-successful football club. A club like Sheffield Wednesday - with sound infrastructure, a large stadium and solid fan base - that is floundering in the lower leagues is ripe to be taken-over and turned into the top flight giant it used to be. Of course, the now-owner of Sheffield Wednesday is the former Leicester City chairman Milan Mandaric. 

Owners: The Raksriaksorns were mentioned in 'Dispatches'
Joe Sim, the brains behind London Nominees Football Fund, cites his close relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson as being key to his business strategy of obtaining players on loan from top flight clubs (namely Manchester United). Leicester City fans - who have seen new Thai owners invest in their football club - may be rightly concerned about allegations fingering the Raksriaksorns as being a part of this deal: Vichai Raksriaksorn apparently consulted Sim before making his purchase of Leicester City Football Club.

However, there are a number of features of the Raksriaksorn deal that does not carry the hallmarks of a London Nominees Football Fund. For one, the idea of the Football Fund is that an investor can become an anonymous club owner, something that the Raksriaksorns have avoided as they have placed themselves firmly in the limelight, seen happily supporting their new club amongst ordinary fans.

But most significantly and most reassuringly, the Raksriaksorns have invested significant amounts of money in re-branding the club with their King Power duty-free brand. King Power is now the stadium sponsor as well as the sticker to be seen on the players' shirts. The Raksriaksorns' have made Leicester City a multi-million pound, national billboard for their Asian business and their intention to take the Foxes to the Premier League will only offer that billboard to a wider, global audience. Why risk the name of a respected brand by tarnishing it in a dodgy football deal?

King Power: Vichai is using the Foxes as a billboard for his venture
So, whilst there will be concerns amongst the Leicester City fraternity, even by the mention of Thailand as being the base for the controversial dealings uncovered by Dispatches, it seems the Raksriaksorns may not be directly connected to Joe Sim's illicit venture.

If nothing else, the lack of star signings on loan to the now-King Power Stadium from the red half of Manchester may offer a small crumb of comfort.

Howard given confidence booster after Swedish display

Steve Howard has been given a timely confidence boost after his game was praised by Leicester City manager Sven Goran Eriksson after he ended the tour of Sweden with four goals to his credit.

Chuffed: Howard scored 4 in an impressive 2nd half at Vasalunds

Eriksson singled-out the Scot for praise, claiming, "If he scores four goals every game, he can go on playing, no problem."

"Howard played very well in the second half and had good support from the others," the former England manager was quoted as saying in the Leicester Mercury, "The team should be stronger this season than last season and the competition is very hard. But the ideal thing is we have two players for every position and then it is up to the players."

Competition is indeed hard in almost every position and, with two more signings expected this week, the challenge for Eriksson is in who exactly to choose as his first eleven. For now, however, the Swede has been impressed by what 35-year-old Howard has to offer.

"He just does need to go on as he does now. He has done a very good pre-season, working very hard, and he is in good shape."

Monday, 18 July 2011

Howard grabs four for rampant Foxes

Howard: Scored four in rampant performance
Steve Howard netted four times as Leicester City easily rolled-over Vasalunds IF in Solna to win the Stockholm Football Trophy and end their pre-season trip to Sweden on a high.

A more sedate pace to this game meant the Foxes were held to a 0-0 scoreline at the break, the Swedish outfit never troubling Chris Weale's goal however.

After the break the Foxes turned-up the heat, Richie Wellens winning a penalty that Howard despatched easily into the lower-right corner. Impressing once more was Yann Kermorgant, developing into a reliable ball-player in the centre of the park, whilst Jeffrey Schlupp enjoyed his second forty-five minutes in a midfield three more than as a full-back in the first half as he was able to break forward and unleash his striking pace.

Howard scored again after some neat play from Paul Konchesky and fired home from twenty yards. Leicester netted a third when the advancing Aleksandar Tunchev was pulled-back in the penalty area and Howard made no mistake in scoring to grab his hat-trick. Vasalunds beat Adam Smith, on for Weale in the second half, with a good strike on the break but that did not trouble the Foxes who managed a fourth - again from Howard - with the last kick of the match as Howard bundled the ball over the line.

Whilst Howard's goals will take the plaudits, this was, once more, a chance for the likes of Tunchev, Kermorgant and Schlupp to impress their talents upon manager Eriksson. And, despite the slower pace of this game compared to the brisk run-out against Real Mallorca, this was another impressive display from a more mixed-up Foxes eleven.

What Eriksson will now be looking forward to ahead of two tough tests to come in Austria - Leicester play 2010 Turkish Super Lig winners Bursaspor before a clash with Spanish giants Valencia on Saturday - is the chance to pick from what appears to be a deep pool of players. The Swede has competitive options in more or less every position and, with strong hints of two new signings before the week is out, the choice of who to pick in his first eleven is only going to become more difficult for the Leicester City manager.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

City equal to Spanish inquisition

Draw: Gallagher tucks-home the equalising penalty
Leicester saw-off Spanish side Real Mallorca in their second pre-season friendly as they battled to a 1-1 draw with Los Bermellones in Stockholm.

Sven Goran Eriksson fielded an entirely different eleven to that which featured in the 3-1 victory over IK Sirius on Tuesday, opting to play what would appear to be more akin to a 'First XI' against the Spanish first tier outfit. Only Matt Mills was left out from the seven new signings to the Foxes squad, with Kasper Schmeichel, Lee Peltier, Sean St Ledger, Paul Konchesky, Neils Danns and David Nugent all making their first appearances.

It was, however, Mallorca who struck first with a goal from Israeli forward Tomer Hemed after a stray pass from Sol Bamba gifted Chori Castro a shooting opportunity that Schmeichel could only parry into the path of Hemed, who could not fail to give his side the lead.

The Foxes fought hard though, a determined Nugent not quite taking chances given to him by Konchesky and wing-man Darius Vassell. They were to gain their reward following a free-kick from Paul Gallagher in the second half, St Ledger bundled into by Kalu Uche and rightly awarded a penalty which Gallagher deployed in his customary cool fashion.

That Leicester failed to grab a winner will not have worried Eriksson, who once again would have been pleased to see a team complete a full ninety minutes of relatively competitive football. Indeed, the tempo with which the Foxes played was high, Gallagher breaking free to create chances on goal and the new midfield trio of Danns, Richie Wellens and skipper Andy King looking controlled and well-balanced throughout.

Eriksson will now be looking forward to his side's next fixture against Vasalunds IF, where perhaps he may be looking towards fielding a team more representative of that which could take to the field at the Ricoh Arena in three weeks' time. He will certainly be hoping that his side can put in another impressive and committed performance and take a win into the tour of Austria.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Konchesky joins Foxes on tour

Leicester City have signed defender Paul Konchesky from Liverpool for a fee believed to be in the region of £1.5 million.

On tour: Paul Konchesky joins the travelling squad in Sweden 
The left full-back spent a year at Anfield but never featured under Kenny Dalglish and, having spent his entire career in the Premier League, marks a statement of intent from the Foxes of their desire to escape the Championship this season.

The 30-year-old started his career at Charlton where he made nearly 150 appearances before moving to West Ham United after a brief loan at Tottenham Hotspur. He then moved to Fulham for a fee in excess of £3 million and went on to make nearly 100 appearances for the Cottagers before agreeing a four-year contract for a similar sum with Liverpool.

Konchesky has now joined-up with Sven Goran Eriksson's Leicester City squad in Sweden and the manager, who selected Konchesky for England during his tenure, is delighted to have signed a player of such high calibre.

"Paul has been a Premier League player year in and year out throughout his career so he represents a very big signing for us," he said, "He wanted to come to Leicester City and it means a lot that proven, established top flight footballers want to be part of what we are building here. I know Paul very well as a player and as a person and he will be a top class addition to our squad."

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Foxes see off Swedish opponents in curtain-raiser

Options: Eriksson chose 2nd XI in Uppsala
Tonight marked the first opportunity for Sven Goran Eriksson to show-off his new-look Leicester City side as the Foxes kicked-off their pre-season tour of Sweden against IK Sirius in Uppsala.

But Eriksson opted to field none of his six £9 million star signings, instead handing the eleven starting places to those players with something to apparently prove to the former England manager.

First half goals from Franck Moussa and an energised Martyn Waghorn put Leicester - wearing their alternative all-yellow kit - comfortably ahead at the break. Most impressive, however, was a resurgent Yann Kermorgant. The Frenchman's keen eye for the ball and aerial presence led to his reward on the hour as he put the Foxes 3-0 in front.

Steve Howard, too, put in a solid showing commanding City's three-man front line ahead of Waghorn and Lloyd Dyer whilst Matt Oakley skippered the side from defence.

But the man of the match award was handed-out by the hosts to young Jeffrey Schlupp, the German-born Leicester City academy graduate enjoying his time filling-in as a full-back.

This was not a friendly that showcased Leicester City's first team but it must have been rewarding for Eriksson and his coaching team to see all of those players featured complete a full ninety minutes against a fully-fit Sirius side in a break from their domestic season.

Indeed the home side began to threaten Chris Weale's goal in the latter stages and were rewarded with a goal with two minutes to play, but that will not worry Eriksson who has plenty of options to choose from in what seems to be a very competitive travelling squad.

Foxes keen on Konchesky and Routledge

Leicester City are set to bid for Liverpool full-back Paul Konchesky, according to the BBC.

The former Bolton Wanderers defender - out-of-favour at Anfield and widely tipped to leave Merseyside this summer - won two caps under now-Foxes boss Sven Goran Eriksson during his reign as England coach. Konchesky has not appeared for the Reds under Kenny Dalglish and was loaned to Nottingham Forest - also tipped to be interested in securing his signature -  for three months last term.

Meanwhile, Newcastle winger Wayne Routledge is also on Eriksson's radar, the Leicester Mercury reporting that he is close to agreeing a deal that could see him arrive at the King Power Stadium within 48 hours. Like Konchesky, Routledge is believed to have been subject to a £1.5 million bid from Leicester City's Thai owners and the 26-year-old former England starlet is rumoured to have accepted terms with the Foxes ahead of Forest, Queen's Park Rangers, Cardiff City and Swansea City after being impressed by Eriksson's renaissance in the East Midlands. 

Talk on signings will have to wait for the Swede, however, as he looks forward to his side's first pre-season friendly in his native country this evening. A Leicester City XI - likely to feature two full sides over 90 minutes - will take on Swedish third-tier outfit IK Sirius at their Student Arena at 6pm BST.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Transfer record smashed: Mills pens Foxes' deal

Skipper: Mills scores at Wembley for Reading
Leicester City's transfer record has been smashed after the completion of the signing of defender Matt Mills last night.

Although officially announced as an undisclosed fee, the Foxes are believed to have paid around £5.5 million for Mills. The previous record was the £5 million paid for Ade Akinbiyi in 2000 under Peter Taylor.

Mills completed a medical last night and put pen-to-paper on a four-year deal after two successful seasons with Reading. He led-out the Royals in their Wembley play-off final just two months ago and is now a Leicester City player aiming to repeat that feat in 2012.

"Matthew is a quality defender and we are delighted to have secured his services," noted Foxes' manager Sven Goran Eriksson, "Understandably, there was a lot of interest in him, but he is the latest player to pledge his commitment to us, which is another great endorsement for the work we are doing here at Leicester City."

Meanwhile, the Foxes are chasing former England star Owen Hargreaves. The midfielder, who has two Champions' League medals to his credit, was released by Manchester United after an injury-filled time at Old Trafford and has posted a series of YouTube videos in a bid to prove his fitness. According to the Daily Mirror, Eriksson is set to meet up with his former England charge to seek a deal that would make the 30-year-old the best-paid player in the history of the club.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Reading agree fee for Mills

Leicester City have agreed a transfer fee with Reading for Royals' defender Matthew Mills.

The 24-year old is now believed to be travelling to Leicestershire to speak about personal terms with Foxes' manager Sven Goran Eriksson.

Mills has impressed many commentators during his 61-game stint at the Madejski Stadium, where he contributed with four important goals. Born in Swindon, Mills cut his cloth at Southampton and made loan appearances for Coventry City and Bournemouth, before moving to Manchester City in 2006.

Whilst at Eastlands he made just two appearances but had successful loan spells at Colchester United and Doncaster Rovers before moving to the Keepmoat Stadium on a permanent basis, making nearly 80 appearances for Rovers before joining Reading for a fee exceeding £2 million.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Bristol reject second Maynard bid

Bristol City have rejected a second bid from an 'unnamed' club for striker Nicky Maynard.

A statement on the club's website said that the offer was from "the same club who tabled a bid two weeks ago, which was also rejected".

That detail, that the offer is from the same club as previously, almost certainly confirms that it is Leicester City whose bid has been rejected for a second time, with sources close to the club hinting as such on Twitter.

"Once again we have made clear our position," said Robins' chairman Colin Sexstone, "We do not wish to sell Nicky, especially to a rival club in our division. Talks continue with Nicky and his representatives with regards to a new contract."

The Foxes have made no comment.

Progress on Masilela transfer

Pacey left-back Tsepo Masilela will travel with the Foxes on their pre-season tour of Sweden next week.

The South Africa international will join-up with his new team-mates on Sunday having agreed terms on his year-long loan deal from parent club Maccabi Haifa, according to

Masilela will train with the squad and undergo a medical in Scandinavia before flying back to South Africa to complete his work permit application process.

The signing of Masilela has been on the cards for some weeks, but talk of the deal subsided as he waited for his work permit to be processed.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Nugent is first signing at King Power Stadium; Hamann departs for Hatters

David Nugent has agreed terms with Leicester City to become Sven Goran Eriksson's fifth high-profile signing of the summer.

King Power: New signing David Nugent
The striker joins on a three-year contract on a free transfer having been recently released by Portsmouth. He played for Pompey on over 75 occasions, netting 16 goals. He spent two years on loan at Burnley as struggling Pompey looked to offload the wages of their star players, netting six times in 20 starts for the Clarets. Prior to signing at Fratton Park, the Liverpool youngster made appearances for Bury and Preston North End - where he was spotted by then-England boss Steve McLaren and consequently made his first senior appearance for England, scoring against Andorra.

"David is another player who has made it very clear that he wanted to play for us, which is a pleasing sign and shows that we are moving in the right direction," said Eriksson, "He is a high calibre footballer and has played in the Premier League and at... international level for his country. David is hard-working and will score goals for us, whilst creating opportunities for others. We are very pleased to have him on board as we continue to assemble a squad fit to challenge for promotion."

The Foxes beat-off stiff competition to secure the signature of Nugent, who becomes the first player to sign a contract at the newly-named King Power Stadium. The company, owned by Foxes' Thai owners, have secured the naming rights in addition to their existing shirt sponsorship deal. Walkers will remain as a 'Legacy Partner' of the football club, with The Great Hall being renamed The Walkers Hall in a lasting deal.

Meanwhile, on what has been a busy day on Filbert Way, first team coach Didi Hamann has departed to take-up the vacant managerial role at Stockport County. The former German international was bought into Sven Goran Eriksson's leadership team in February but his time with the Foxes apparently coincided with a dip in the team's form. Hamann will be the Hatters' first manager in 105 years to lead-out his team at Edgeley Park in the non-league after they were relegated from the Football League last season.

Monday, 4 July 2011

St Ledger signs three-year deal

Leicester City have made their fourth acquisition of the summer and have signed defender Sean St Ledger from Preston North End for an undisclosed fee.

New team-mates: St Ledger in action against the Foxes' Richie Wellens last term
Capped nineteen times by the Republic of Ireland, the Birmingham-born defender made 200 appearances over four years for the Lilywhites, having joined them in 2006 after graduating through the youth ranks to the senior team at Peterborough United. Impressing at Championship level and internationally, he was ruled-out through injury for the latter half of last season, in which Preston were relegated to League One.

Sven Goran Eriksson is delighted with his new signing, stating that it was St Ledger's hunger for football that attracted him to the player.

"I am very pleased that Sean will be joining us," said the Foxes' manager, "He expressed a real desire to play for Leicester City and I believe that he will have a positive impact here at the Club. Sean is a very good defender and has proven this in league football, but also on the international stage for the Republic of Ireland."

The 26-year-old has penned a deal that will see him at the Walkers Stadium until at least 2014 and will form part of a renewed defence alongside Lee Peltier. Sources close to the club have indicated he could be joined by Reading's Matt Mills by the end of the week, whilst Tsebo Masilela will be registered as a Leicester City player once his work permit is approved.

Mackail-Smith turns-down Foxes move, joins Gulls

Transfer target Craig Mackail-Smith has been announced as a Brighton and Hove Albion player this afternoon.

Seaside?: Brighton tempted Mackail-Smith over other offers
The 27-year-old Peterborough striker was hotly tipped to be joining Leicester City after a bid from the Foxes was accepted last week. With West Ham United also submitting an offer, it seemed Mackail-Smith was sure of a starting berth at a top Championship club for the coming season.

But a last-gasp move by Brighton has seen both the Foxes and the Hammers pipped to the post. However, Leicester seem to be on the verge of a new signing with the BBC's Ian Stringer tweeting for his followers to 'stay tuned' less than an hour ago.

The Foxes are believed to have had bids accepted for Preston defender Sean St Ledger, Reading centre-half Matt Mills and Bristol City striker Nicky Maynard for a second time, whilst South African full-back Tsepo Masilela is poised to sign pending a work permit. 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

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

In this third and final part of my player-by-player review of the season gone, we shall turn our attention to those stars of the season that have moved-on to pastures new and old...

Loanees (in the squad at the end of the season)
4. Patrick van Aanholt (Chelsea)
Van Aanholt didn't impress many despite his rapid running down the wings. What he did offer was a single, breathtaking goal to open his senior account against Burnley in what was one of the more impressive performances from the Chelsea loanee. Whether or not he will return to the East Midlands next season remains in doubt, particularly should Sven Goran Eriksson's deal with Tsebo Masilela go ahead.

5. Miguel Vitor (SL Benfica)
Vitor opened his Football League account badly, being sent off in the 6-1 drubbing by Portsmouth at Fratton Park, returning to the first team in November with a goal against Barnsley only to pull his hamstring against Ipswich before Christmas. Vitor impressed when he returned after the festive period, his commanding defensive presence belying his tender years. He would be a popular addition to the squad next year.

12. Jeffrey Bruma (Chelsea)
Joining compatriot van Aanholt from Chelsea on a deal that apparently meant he had to be included in the starting eleven, Bruma made a number of shocking defensive decisions that saw him make seven starts, all of which were in the losing team. In an apparent managerial master stroke, Eriksson moved Bruma into a holding midfield role that immediately paid-off: Bruma netted two thunderous 30-yard strikes against Watford. he is now on an extended loan at Hamburger SV.

15. Kyle Naughton (Tottenham Hotspur)
In what became the loan deal of the Championship, Naughton impressed immediately he moved to Leicester in October, making his début against Hull before scoring in only his second appearance. The England under-21 right back had a season that impressed many, scoring five times in his 35 appearances in royal blue and winning the club's Young Player of the Year award before being named as right-back in the Championship Team of the Year. Naughton would prove an incredibly popular signing either on loan or on a permanent basis, should Spurs' valuation of the promising young player not deter Eriksson from making a bid.

24. Yakubu (Everton)
A signing that split the opinions of many fans, Yakubu nonetheless did what he was bought-in to do and scored an impressive - and important - eleven goals in his 20 Foxes' appearances. Critics of his 'lazy' style make their voices heard above others, but the Yak's impressive statistics - including a hat-trick against his former club, Middlesbrough - speak for themselves. He is unlikely to return to the Walkers Stadium as his wage demands are believed to be excessive.

36. Ben Mee (Manchester City)
Another Premier League youngster who impressed in defence was Mee, who carved a name for himself at left-back as well as his preferred berth at centre-half. Arriving in January, Mee's début was not one that credited his true potential and he immediately built upon that poor performance with more impressive appearances later in the month. Now back at Manchester City, Mee would make himself very popular with a return to Leicester next season.

39. Diomansy Kamara (Fulham)
Kamara arrived late in the season to provide quality support for Yakubu and he impressed with his style and flair, scoring twice in his seven Foxes' appearances. Now a free agent having left Craven Cottage, he has not be spoken of in the local press and, it seems, he will not be wearing royal blue next season.

Loanees (left the club prior to the end of the season)
Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers
Ikeme made four appearances for Leicester having signed as an emergency loanee as cover for the injured Chris Weale. Failing to impress, he departed after the arrival of Chris Kirkland and now warms the Wolves' bench.

Curtis Davies (Aston Villa)
Davies moved amidst some excitement from Aston Villa and immediately impressed with solid defensive performances. Making few mistakes, he extended his stay to January and looked set to sign a permanent deal, only to snub the Foxes and join Birmingham City for Premier League football. That ended well.

Greg Cunningham (Manchester City)
Immediately popular, Cunningham's work ethic made him a firm favourite after he joined the club in October. He made twelve impressive appearances before a reckless challenge from Hull City's Liam Rosenior on New Years' Day broke the leg of the young defender, who is now fully recovered and enjoying pre-season with his parent club.

Roman Bednar (West Bromwich Albion)
Unlike Yakubu and his similarly 'lazy' style of play, Bednar failed to deliver the goods during his two months at the Walkers Stadium. Arriving in November to some criticism, Bednar made just five appearances before quietly returning to West Bromwich Albion at the start of January.

Chris Kirkland (Wigan Athletic)
A dream move for the boy who grew up in Barwell, Kirkland indeed made his boyhood dreams come true when he walked out at Portman Road to play for the Foxes against Ipswich in December. Unfortunately his dreams ended that day as he let-in three goals and he returned to Wigan after making just three appearances due to his recurring back injury.

Danny Uchechi (FC Dender)
Uchechi was never given a squad number and consequently made no appearances for Leicester, despite scoring in a January behind-closed-doors friendly against the San Jose Earthquakes. He's now training for pre-season with Aberdeen.

Michael Lamey
The likeable Dutchman made just four appearances for the Foxes despite signing a three-year deal with Paulo Sousa at the start of the season. Released having not made a single appearance under Eriksson, he is now preparing for the new season in Poland with Wisla Krakow.

Having trained with the squad it was only natural that the former Portugal international be added to the playing roster. What was not known at that time was that he would usurp Chris Weale's position as Number One, destroy the Bristolian's confidence and make goalkeeping a crisis area for the last three months of the season. Ricardo's contract was understandably not renewed.

Aman Verma
Never quite making the cut, Verma returned to Leicester as a trialist in 2008 - he was released as a youth player and carved a career in the non-league before that. Consistently on loan, Verma has made no competitive appearances for the senior team and as such his contract was allowed to lapse and he is once again free to explore the lower leagues.

Craig King
King at least made it into the team under Nigel Pearson when he warmed a seat in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy match against Hartlepool United before replacing Steve Howard in the second half of the following round against Lincoln City. That did not, however, deliver the breakthrough he was looking for and after loans at Hereford United and Northampton Town he has now signed a deal with AFC Telford United.

Luke O'Neill
Another youth product to have been released, O'Neill made his début against Hartlepool in that JPT fixture and warmed the bench in the opening game of the following season against Swansea. He played 90 minutes against Macclesfield in the 2-0 League Cup victory before making his first senior league appearance when he came on for an injured Jack Hobbs on Boxing Day. He was loaned-out to Tranmere Rovers in Feburary 2010, joined Kettering on a six-month deal in January 2011 and his contract at the Walkers Stadium lapsed last month. He's now enjoying pre-season training having signed a deal with Mansfield Town.

Ashley Chambers
Now at York City where he spent the last season on loan.

Nathan Hicks, Jorrin John, Ben Milnes, Robert Ambrusics, Adi Yussuf
All youth players who impressed at that level but whose professional contracts ended last month.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Leicester 'close' to Mackail-Smith deal

Leicester City are 'close' to signing Peterborough United striker Craig Mackail-Smith, according to the Posh chairman.

Darragh MacAnthony revealed that despite bids from Queen's Park Rangers, Norwich City and Brighton & Hove Albion, only the Foxes' bid was accepted and the player was set to meet with Sven Goran Eriksson yesterday.

"I would expect him to sign for Leicester on Friday," MacAnthony told the BBC, ""I presume if Sven gets on with Craig he'll be a Leicester City player on Friday."

There has been no word yet from either club to confirm that Mackail-Smith, 27, has penned a deal at the Walkers Stadium.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Sheffield Wednesday are interested in signing Foxes' winger Lloyd Dyer. The 28-year-old was bought to the Walkers Stadium on instruction from then-Chairman Milan Mandaric, now at Hillsborough, who is again chasing the pacey left-sided player.

Foxes will be all white on the road

All white: Andy King models the new kit
Leicester City will take to the field in a brand new all-white away kit for the 2011/12 season.

It marks a return to the Foxes' traditional away colours after a break of a decade, with a white strip last being worn for the sorry 2001/02 season in which the club were relegated from the Premier League under Peter Taylor and, later, Dave Bassett and Micky Adams.

In essence, the new away kit it a mirror of the home kit released in May, with a blue 'Manchester United'-style collar and piping around the ends of the sleeves. It shares the same white shorts, although kit manufacturers Burrda have also produced blue shorts should they be required for kit clashes with either the home or away kit.

The Foxes old away strip, the all-yellow kit worn last season, will now cascade down to be used as a third, alternate kit for the season ahead.

The new white away kit is available for pre-order from and the Walkers Stadium Megastore.