Saturday, 29 October 2011

Clark and Keegan speculation grows

Manager: Lee Clark
Reports in the media and from well-informed sources have indicated to Of Fosse and Foxes that Leicester City's hunt for a new manager may be drawing to a close, with a surprise swoop for a former Newcastle United duo in the offing.

Lee Clark - who earlier in the week distanced himself from rumours that he had been approached by the Foxes - is expected to take over as the day-to-day manager of the club, his impressive forty game unbeaten run at League One Huddersfield Town proving enough to impress the Foxes' Thai owners.

Director of Football: Keegan
To accompany Clark as a young manager, Vichai and Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn are anticipated to offer a new role as Director of Football to former Newcastle, Manchester City, Fulham and England manager Kevin Keegan.

The speculation over the duo - who worked together at Newcastle United during Keegan's second stint in charge of the Magpies - has grown today after news over an approach by the Raksriaksorns to Keegan was rumoured in the Saturday newspapers.

Following Hull City's 1-0 victory at Nottingham Forest this afternoon, former Foxes manager Nigel Pearson distanced himself from reports that it could be him stepping back into the hot seat at the King Power Stadium.

Conclusions from Upton Park

West Ham United3-2Leicester City
(HT 2-0)
Baldock 21, 71
Faubert 22
King 58, 74

Upton Park, attendance: 30,410
BBC Match Report

Lennon wants to stay at Celtic

Lennon: Former Fox is happy in Scotland
Neil Lennon has declared himself out of the running for the vacant manager's position at Leicester City's King Power Stadium.

The former Fox, who followed Martin O'Neill to Celtic as a player before taking over as manager at Parkhead last year. He had been linked with the job at Leicester after coming under pressure in Scotland - Celtic currently lie thirteen points behind Old Firm rivals Rangers in the Scottish Premier League - but has confirmed now that he will not seek the appointment as Foxes' manager.

""I am very flattered, but I have a helluva job here," said Lennon speaking to BBC Scotland, "There is an obvious connection because I played there. It is a great club with a bit of a clout behind, but I want to stay here."

And, with Martin O'Neill distancing himself through third-party hints that he remains interested only in Premier League managerial jobs - he is heavily linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur next season should Harry Redknapp take over as England boss - it is another former England manager who is in the frame to replace Sven Goran Eriksson in the hot seat at King Power Stadium.

Kevin Keegan is being linked with a move to the East Midlands, possibly as a director of football with Lee Clarke taking over as manager, despite Clarke's insistence earlier in the week that he is not interested in any move away from Huddersfield Town. Former City boss Nigel Pearson is also believed to have attracted the Foxes' Thai owners.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Foxes look to Upton Park as rumour mill turns

Leicester City have reportedly approached Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman in their search for a new manager, according to Sky Sports.

And whilst Freedman has attracted the Foxes' Thai owners, Reading's Brian McDermott has rules himself out of contention for the job. The Heston Blumenthal-lookalike has impressed many after leading the Royals to the play-off final last year, with the Madejski Stadium-based club currently on an impressive seven-game unbeaten streak in the Championship.

"Leicester haven't rung me," McDermott said to the Reading Post, "I've been here 11 years now and until someone tells me anything different, this is where I am."

Steve Claridge has backed Martin O'Neill as the next Leicester City manager. Odds of O'Neill being appointed have fallen after a rumour that he was meeting with the club's owners in an exclusive Sutton Coldfield hotel failed to come true, but the Ulsterman remains a popular choice amongst the fans. However, Lee Clark (7/4) - who ruled himself out of contention on Wednesday -  Gordon Strachan (3/1), Mark Hughes (7/2), Billy Davies (6/1) and Karl Robinson (8/1) are all now being offered at shorter odds than O'Neill (9/1) at Sky Bet.

Leicester City visit West Ham United tomorrow and Hammers' boss Sam Allardyce is apprehensive of coming up against a backlash from the managerless Foxes.

"I hope it doesn't affect them in a good way," said Allardyce, "I hope it affects them in a negative way because most of the players that will be playing Sven will have bought to the club."

The Hammers boss also commented on the sacking of Eriksson: "The problem with that is you go out and bring in players and it's such a difficult job to produce results until you get to know the players and you build up team spirit. If you've got bigger purse strings you are expected to get to the top of the league and Leicester have probably spent more than anyone else in this division.

"It's a results-driven industry these days, and results have to come quickly," he added.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Grayson and Clark reject Leicester move

Leeds United manager and former Fox, Simon Grayson, has rejected any possibility of a move back to the East Midlands.

Along with Huddersfield Town manager Lee Clark, Grayson has not applied for the vacant managerial position at the King Power Stadium and the Yorkshireman has affirmed his relationship with his current club.

"[Leicester] is a club that's very close to my heart, but [Leeds] is far closer to my heart," said Grayson in an interview with the Yorkshire Post, "I've had an affiliation with Leicester in the past, but my sole aim is to do well for Leeds. I'm totally focused on Leeds and that focus has never dwindled during my time at the club."

Clark, meanwhile, remained cool on the idea of applying for the Leicester job. He had become a popular left-field option amongst fans after guiding Huddersfield to an unbeaten run exceeding forty games.

"I'm not applying for any job," said Clark speaking to BBC Leeds, "I'm a Huddersfield manager working for a fantastic man and a fantastic board. Whether it's just to fill areas in newspapers, I don't know, but there has certainly not been any contact with me or my representatives."

Both Grayson and Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who played under Martin O'Neill at Filbert Street, have given the Ulsterman their backing.

"It would be great to see [Martin O'Neill] back in the game," said Lennon, "One of his old adages was that you never go back, but I think it is very, very tempting for him. There is a good foundation at Leicester and I think the Leicester fans would be more than thrilled to see him back because he had such success there in the late 90s and the early part of the century. He has been out of the game for a long time. It’s the game’s loss to have such a great character and manager out of the game and if he does get the job I will be thrilled for him."

Grayson added: "I'd be very surprised if Martin O'Neill doesn’t accept the job if he's offered it."

Former Fox Steve Claridge - who scored at Wembley to take O'Neill's side into the Premier League in 1996 - added his thoughts and he also believes the job is their if the ex-Aston Villa boss desires it.

"It was always going to be the case that he would be mentioned," said Claridge, now a BBC pundit, "Whether or not Martin would want to go back I don’t know but I imagine if he did want the job it is there for the taking."

Rumours linking O'Neill with the post vacated by Sven Goran Eriksson on Monday night continue to circulate without concrete evidence from either O'Neill himself or the club. The Leicester Mercury, meanwhile, have suggested that the Swede was fired after Leicester City's Thai owners examined his form since joining the club  a year ago.

And, with Eriksson failing to secure successive wins since February and with his side failing to come from behind in any game to win, only the 1-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion in mid-September saved Eriksson's job. Indifferent form since then led Vichai and Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn with little option but to relieve Eriksson of his postion. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Eriksson releases statement as O'Neill speculation grows

The fall-out from Sven Goran Eriksson's departure as Leicester City manager continues as the shocking news settles and Foxes' fans come to terms with the news.

"It was always my aim to lead the club into the Premier League," said Eriksson, "I am very sorry that I won't be able to do that," he added, "I have always thought, and still believe now, that the club will be promoted this season. The current squad is capable and ready to achieve promotion, but football is a results industry and unfortunately we couldn't quite get things right enough of the time."

Eriksson released his statement through the League Managers' Association, the body who condemned Leicester City Football Club for their rashness after the sacking of Paulo Sousa a year ago.

"To the players; old, new, everyone in the squad, I would like to say thank you. You are a talented group and I am hopeful that you will achieve success very soon. To the staff at the club; both at the stadium and the training ground - you treated me like a king and I shall miss working with you all. Last but not least, to the fans; I want to say a huge thank you for your support. You are fantastic people and I will never forget the way you welcomed me in to your club. I am just sorry that I won't be on the bench the day you reach the Premier League."

Eriksson finished his statement with an emotional message: "Being the manager of Leicester City was an absolute pleasure and I wish everyone connected with the club the best of luck. Leicester City is a great club and I am certain that with the current owners in charge the club will go from strength to strength."

Martin O'Neill is favourite to replace the Swede in the King Power Stadium hot-seat as he ruled-out the possibility of becoming the next manager of Northern Ireland. Nigel Worthington quit after a 3-0 defeat to Italy a fortnight ago and O'Neill would have been a popular choice - but the ex-Aston Villa boss played-down any speculation. He said that he wants another chance in the Premier League and wishes to return to club management.

And, with Eriksson relieved of his post, the path is clear for O'Neill to make an emotional return to the East Midlands. The Belfast Telegraph reports that O'Neill could be tempted to return to the club at which he made his name - the 59-year-old took Leicester to Wembley four times, winning two league cups and a play off trophy and led the Foxes to eighth place in the Premier League in 2000, their highest league finish since 1976. After being tempted by Celtic, O'Neill moved north of the border and won three titles in four seasons with the Bhoys.

O'Neill's stock remains high despite his leaving Aston Villa under a cloud over a year ago: he fell out with Villains' owner Randy Learner over transfer funding. Indeed, O'Neill remains as a common name mentioned with many vacant Premier League managerial positions, not least as a potential successor to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Whether he could be tempted to move back to Leicester - and whether or not that would be a shrewd move for as canny a man as O'Neill - remains, for now, to be seen.

O'Neill favourite with fans and bookies

Martin O'Neill has been installed as an early favourite to replace Sven Goran Eriksson as Leicester City manager after the Swede was sacked last night.

Beloved: Martin O'Neill is a legend at Leicester, where he won promotion and
established the Foxes in the top-ten in the Premier League

The shock decision leaves the Foxes in 13th in the nPower Championship and without a manager as they head into arguably their biggest game of the season when they visit West Ham United on Saturday.

Academy director Jon Rudkin will take charge alongside the last remaining first team coach, goalkeeping coach Mike Stowell, will select the team to face the Hammers but speculation has already turned to who will replace Eriksson on a permanent basis - despite a statement on the club's website confirming that no-one is yet in place to succeed the ex-England boss.

"The process of recruiting a new permanent Manager will begin in the coming days," reads a statement on the club's official website, "There will be no further comments from the Club or any comment on the recruitment process until an appointment is made."

O'Neill, the most successful Leicester manager in recent times, is odds-on favourite at 11/10 to take his former post. The Northern Irishman, who won two league cups in six years at Filbert Street before departing for success with Celtic and a stint at Aston Villa, is also a firm favourite with the fans, with one poll indicating that he is favoured by 55%.

Billy Davies and Mark Hughes are also popular option with fans but are installed by Sky Bet at 8/1 and 9/2 respectively.

The new-found reputation of Leicester City as a big-spending club, along with the well-known ambition of their Thai owners, sees the Foxes linked with big name managers like never before. The likes of Slavan Bilic (20/1), Carlo Ancelotti (25/1) and Marcelo Lippi (25/1) are big names for a club whose recent managers have included the likes of Martin Allen and Rob Kelly.

Certainly names such as Ancelotti or Lippi bring a similar respect and awe that Eriksson supposedly offered, but O'Neill, Davies or Huddersfield's Lee Clark (9/2) have a certain credibility within the Football League. With fickle Foxes' fans seeking nothing short of promotion in a third frustrating season back in the second tier, the steady hand of O'Neill could be just the ticket - if he would accept the job.

All odds from Sky Bet. Odds correct at time of publication.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Eriksson Sacked

Sacked: Sven Goran Eriksson
Sven Goran Eriksson has been sacked as Leicester City manager.

Eriksson was widely criticised by Foxes' fans after a disappointing and inconsistent start to the season and, with his big-money summer signings failing to consistently dazzle on the pitch, the club's Thai owners have run short of patience with the Swede.

An audibly shocked and upset Eriksson could say nothing as he drove away from the Foxes' Belvoir Drive ground, a simple "Hello" being his only message to the fans, "I can say nothing at this time."

He leaves with the club just twelfth in the Championship table but within a win of fourth place. Leicester had the opportunity to go second with a win over Millwall at the King Power Stadium on Saturday but a dismal 0-3 reverse ensued amid fans calling for Eriksson's head.

Good wins against Derby County and Brighton & Hove Albion have been forgotten as poor losses to Watford and Bristol City have marred the Foxes' start to a campaign where they were widely hailed as being favourites to win the league this year. A mixture of big name signings, with the exception of top performers Kasper Schmeichel and David Nugent, have broadly disappointed with the likes of Matt Mills and Jermaine Beckford failing to shine in royal blue.

Early rumour links Gary Megson or Billy Davies with the vacant role.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Conclusions from Millwall

Leicester City0-3Millwall
(HT 0-2)

Henderson pen 36, 45+2, 68

King Power Stadium, attendance: 21,931
BBC Match Report

Danns storm-out rumours false

Danns: Featured heavily in pre-season
Leicester City midfielder Neil Danns has reportedly stormed-out of the King Power Stadium after Sven Goran Eriksson left him out of his match day squad for this afternoon's Football League Championship encounter with Millwall.

But 28-year-old Danns, active on social media, tweeted his thoughts having been prompted by Foxes' fans and remarked, "I didn't storm off".

Ending his tweet with a hashtag "#stupidrumours", Danns wrote, "I've gone to collect [my] family to watch the game."

Friday, 21 October 2011

Belated Conclusions from St Andrew's and Watford

Leicester City2-0Watford
(HT 2-0)
Nugent 19
Beckford 36

King Power Stadium, attendance: 20,304
BBC Match Report

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Seattle Sounders honour career of Keller

USA: Keller appearing for Foxes in 1997
Seattle Sounders will honour the career of former Leicester City goalkeeper Kasey Keller as he makes his final league appearance in the MLS tonight.

The American keeper - who played for the Foxes under Martin O'Neill between 1996-1999 - will be greeted by a record crowd at the Sounders' CenturyLink Field ground as they face San Jose Earthquakes tonight. Filling the entire NFL stadium for a soccer match is unheard of and stands as testament to a legend of American soccer.

“I look at the calendar and I see that I’m going to be 42 next month," reflected Keller, "At some stage, it’s all going to come to an end very rapidly. And I just don’t want that to happen in the middle of a season. I just don’t want to not be able to train, not be able to play, not be able to perform at the level that I’m used to, that you’re used to, that the club, the fans, that everybody is used to, and be stumbling around out there because of my name and that kind of stuff. I think it just feels like it’s the right time: I want to go out on my terms."

Keller became the first American to play in England when he joined Millwall at the tender age of 22 and, after accruing over 200 appearances for the Lions he became the first Yank to play in the Premier League when he joined Leicester for £900,000.

During his four years at Filbert Street Keller was in goal as Martin O'Neill's side won the Coca-Cola Cup in 1997 and he appeared at Wembley again when the Foxes met Tottenham Hotspur in the same event two years later. In total, Keller made just short of the magical hundred appearances for Leicester City and moved to Spain for two seasons before returning to England for a successful spell with Spurs. A loan stint at Southampton and a foray into Germany followed. He made his final appearances in England for Fulham before joining Sounders in 2009.

Tonight's league closer will not be Keller's last game for the Sounders, as he hopes to lead the team into the MLS Cup Final and his side will host a CONCACAF Champions League fixture next week. However it will stand as the final regular season game in a long and successful career spanning both sides of the continent.

Edited 16/10/2011 11:05 - It was erroneously stated that Kasey Keller joined Seattle Sounders in 1999. The goalkeeper in fact joined the club in 2009 and this has been amended (via @jglover12)

Rudkin praises "first class facilities"

Leicester City academy manager John Rudkin is amongst many within the club who have praised the recently re-opened LCFC Training Facility at Belvoir Drive.

Refurb: Sven Goran Eriksson's office is amongst the rooms renovated at the Foxes' training ground
Amongst the improvements to pitches - including the construction of a state-of-the-art synthetic pitch - every room at the facility has been enhanced with new technology to improve the already well-respected sports science and medical departments. A new lounge for youth team members and their parents has been constructed alongside improvements to the restaurant and changing rooms.

"The whole place has had a major revamp and it will be beneficial right across the club. These are first class facilities and it is terrific when young players see not only the facilities but the standard of delivery and after-care provided by the football club. It is an environment that you would want you children involved in."

Rudkin was quick to praise the investment in the club made by Thai owners Vichai and Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn, the King Power owners showing their commitment through major investment in the playing squad alongside improvements at the King Power Stadium and now Belvoir Drive.

"The investment has been magnificent since they arrived at the football club," Rudkin continued, "They have a real vision for the long term and this is part of it. For us as a football club and academy, we thank them greatly, and also as a city. What we are seeing at a senior level with the investment is very exciting for everyone."

Football director Andrew Neville, whilst curt on the exact cost of the training facility's refurbishment, praised the work done at the training ground and the new "Premier League facilities" on offer.

"We felt left behind a little bit over the last few years. We have certainly felt the facility had become a bit tired so we put a proposal to the owners to improve the facility and they have bought into it," he said in an interview with the Leicester Mercury, "They have invested significantly here in terms of the pitches, the artificial pitch, the offices and medical facilities here, and all the fitness facilities."

For the time being the improvements to Belvoir Drive will quell rumours that spoke of a move away from the Aylestone site to a greenfield location and Neville hopes that with first-class facilities will come top flight football.

"This is a massive improvement and we feel we are up to a level now where, while we are probably not on the same level as the top Premier League clubs, we are at a Premier League level we want to be at and maintain."

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Eriksson spoilt for choice by fully-fit Foxes

Sven Goran Eriksson will be spoilt for choice ahead of Sunday's Championship game against Birmingham City at St Andrews (KO 13:00, live on BBC One) with five first team regulars set to challenge for a highly-coveted starting role.

Paul Gallagher remains the only doubt - he has been out for four weeks following an ankle injury picked-up in the 1-1 draw against Barnsley - with the Scot set to return to full training only at the end of this week.

However, Richie Wellens (groin) and Michael Johnson (shoulder) both trained with the rest of the Leicester City first team today and are set to challenge for a starting berth in a highly competitive midfield. Andy King, sidelined over the weekend with a back complaint, did not appear for Wales but will be in contention for the Foxes, as will Jermaine Beckford who has shrugged-off a groin injury. Sven Goran Eriksson is confident that at least four of the five injured players will be competing to return to action with the Foxes on Sunday.

"They are all getting better and Wellens and Johnson have joined in full training," said the Leicester boss, "Then we have Beckford, Gallagher and King. I am pretty sure they might be available, all of them, for Birmingham. I hope they can train today or Thursday. If that is the case, they could be available. Gallagher has been out for a while so he is doubtful, but the other two have a good chance. King has a back problem, but it is not serious. The problem is you can't really move with a back injury, but he is improving."

Eriksson is keen to see his side build on recent successes in the league and, having gone four league games without conceding with his team in good form, altering his starting line up could be seen as a controversial move.

"It would be good to have them all back and have the problem of who to pick," added the Swede, "It's good news for us and will be some headache to have."

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

St Ledger enjoying Irish life despite Leicester "nightmare"

Sean St Ledger has spoken of his "nightmare" time since joining Leicester City ahead of tonight's European Championship qualification fixture between Armenia and the Republic of Ireland.

The Irish international, buoyed by the faith shown in him by Republic coach Giovanni Trapattoni, admitted to Irish newspaper the Herald how he yearns to appear for his club but must be content with sitting on the sidelines for the time being.

"I haven't even made the bench for the last few games with the club and that's frustrating. It's not down to injury, it's purely tactical," said the defender, "It's hard to get angry with [Sven Goran Eriksson] as he's such a nice man and a good person, he's brilliant to work under. I want to be successful at Leicester. It's a massive club with great potential so I have to keep working as hard as I can to stay in there."

St Ledger earned his 21st cap as the Republic beat Armenia 2-1 this evening but is becoming increasingly frustrated at club level. He believes that to succeed internationally, he must be making regular appearances for the Foxes.

"Maybe I need to go on loan to get some football for the time being. If we do get to the play-offs I need to be playing if I am to stay in the team and if I'm going to be match fit," continued St Ledger, "I feel fine and sharp but it's difficult and personally frustrating for me to be not playing for my club... It's a bit of a nightmare at the moment, to be honest. I want to play but to keep my place with the Ireland team I need to be playing at club level regularly and I haven't been doing that."

With consecutive clean sheets racking-up, Eriksson is unlikely to disrupt a back line that have hit form in recent weeks, with Matt Mills and Sol Bamba forging a formidable centre back partnership that have seen the Foxes now go four league games without conceding.

"It's not easy when you can't even make the bench," St Ledger went on, "You only have five subs on the bench in the Championship and our right back can play centre half so they have other options. I just have to deal with it, but it's been a very frustrating period... I have spoken to the manager about it and he said he'll speak to me again after the international break. We have only three centre halves at the club and if one of them gets injured then I am back in the team, but it's not easy."

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

"We'll see" on Beckham - Eriksson

Royal Blue: How Beckham might look for Foxes
Sven Goran Eriksson has once again stated his firm intention to lure David Beckham to the King Power Stadium - and insists that the former England captain will not refuse his offer.

Beckham - made permanent skipper of the England team during Eriksson's spell as head coach - will be a free agent after the expiry of his current deal with LA Galaxy at the end of the season. The Swede hopes that the 36-year-old midfielder will rejoin him as a player/coach.

"We will give him a whistle and he can go out [on the training pitch] straight away," said Eriksson, "I have already had that discussion with him. I spoke to him about Leicester."

The signing of Beckham would be a major coup for Championship side Leicester who have not made such a high-profile signing since the capture of Roberto Mancini in 2001, the Manchester City manager falling in love with the English game after just four appearances in Foxes' royal blue. Whilst Beckham is without a club for next year - and keen to return to England in a bid to represent his country in the 2012 Olympic football tournament - the club's Thai owners remain interested in the possibility of securing Beckham.

With the Foxes without a first-team coach following the departure of Dietmar Hamann to Stockport County in July - and King Power seeking a mega star to launch their duty-free brand in the west - big-spending Leicester could be a perfect move for Beckham if he wishes to continue in football beyond his LA Galaxy contract.

"The big thing is what he wants to do when his contract finishes in LA," added Eriksson, "Will he want to go on playing? Beckham, he will never say no to me - he says, 'Sven, we'll see, we'll see'."

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Injuries "not serious": Foxes trio set for Brum return

Sven Goran Eriksson has confirmed that injuries to Jermaine Beckford (groin), Richie Wellens (groin) and Michael Johnson (shoulder) are not serious and all three are expected to be in contention when the Foxes face Birmingham City a week on Sunday.

"They have had scans," said the Leicester manager, "But the injuries are not too serious and they will have the international break to help them, so they should be back for the next game."

The televised match, live on BBC One at 13:00, will present an interesting challenge for Eriksson as he looks to include the three high-profile players in his match day squad without disrupting the side which played so well and hit Derby County for four last weekend.

Meanwhile, Eriksson has confirmed that midfielder Matt Oakley still has a role to play at the King Power Stadium, despite his departure on loan to League One Exeter City last week.

"I am sure Matt Oakley would go into the team tomorrow, as a right-back or midfielder, and do a good job," said Eriksson, "He is one of our fittest players. If you did a running test now he would win it.

"He needs to play football. It is not good for him to be training every day and not even sitting on the bench. It will be very good for him now."

Full-back Tom Kennedy has also left the club on loan as he joins Peterborough United. Kennedy did not feature in Posh's 2-1 defeat to Doncaster Rovers, whilst Oakley played 90 minutes in the Grecians' 2-0 triumph over Oldham Athletic.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Joyous Conclusions from Derby County

Leicester City4-0Derby County
(HT 2-0)
Nugent 21
Vassell 44
Schlupp 88
Dyer 90+1

King Power Stadium, attendance: 22,496
BBC Match Report