Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Eve Conclusions from Portsmouth

Leicester City1-1Portsmouth
(HT 1-1)
Nugent 24Futacs 20

King Power Stadium, attendance: 25,356
BBC Match Report

Friday, 30 December 2011

Reflections on 2011 at Leicester City FC

The past twelve months have not been a vintage year for Leicester City Football Club, what with Sven Goran Eriksson's fall from grace through to Nigel Pearson's less than impressive start to his task in revitalising an ailing team. There have been positives, the arrival of a world-class keeper in the making of Kasper Schmeichel to name but one, and here we weigh-up those who have had a good, bad or indeed indifferent year at the King Power Stadium.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Fernandes Departs

Midfielder Gelson Fernandes has played his final game for Leicester City and has returned to AS St Etienne after his final training session with the Foxes this morning.

Loanee: Gelson Fernandes scored once for the Foxes, against
rivals Forest in a 2-2 draw at the City Ground in August
The Swiss international was seen shaking hands with staff and players at the club's Belvoir Drive training ground after a workout today before speaking to fans and wishing the Foxes well. It is believed he will now move to Udinese on loan until the end of the season.

Fernandes joined Sven Goran Eriksson at Leicester in August, re-joining his former Manchester City boss and made an impressive d├ębut at Coventry City two days later. He went on to make a dozen more appearances for the Foxes and scored once, in a 2-2 draw against Nottingham Forest.

The midfielder gained popularity amongst the fans but after Eriksson's departure in October never made the same impression on the Leicester City midfield and will now return to his parent club after a mixed loan spell in England.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Foxes plan to snare Sharp striker

Leicester City are set for a dramatic January swoop for Doncaster Rovers forward Billy Sharp, according to the Leicester Mercury.

The Foxes, languishing in mid-table mediocrity in a season where it was hoped that big spending could offer promotion to the Premier League, are short of goals despite high-profile strikers in the name of Jermaine Beckford and David Nugent leading the line. Jermaine Beckford has struggled to find Championship form since his £2.5 million summer move from Everton, netting just twice for the Foxes, and it is thought that 25-year-old Sharp could offer goals to help Leicester jump into the play-off places in the second half of the season.

The Foxes will have to pay big money to remove Sharp from the Keepmoat Stadium, however. The striker has played-out nearly his entire career around Yorkshire, with only a loan spell at Rushden and Diamonds six years ago breaking that record. It is believed that Nigel Pearson's Leicester will bid an initial £3 million for Sharp, in-line with a minimum clause in the player's contract.

Pearson is keen to see chances taken and blamed his players for not taking scoring opportunities more seriously in the wake of the Boxing Day draw to Ipswich Town. To that end, the Foxes have once again linked with Bristol City's Nicky Maynard who is thought to want out of Ashton Gate after the Robins' dire year. Bristol sit above Nottingham Forest and the relegation zone on goal difference alone.

Sharp rejected moves to league leaders Southampton and Ipswich in the summer and Doncaster chairman John Ryan wants the striker to remain with the club. He has contributed nine goals to Rovers' campaign and would be a key asset to their ambitions to remain in the Championship.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Festive Conclusions from Ipswich Town

Leicester City1-1Ipswich Town
(HT 0-1)
Gallagher pen 69Bowyer 4

King Power Stadium, attendance: 27,091
BBC Match Report

Thursday, 22 December 2011

FIFA close emergency loan loophole

Football's world governing body have shocked the Football League with a new ruling that will see emergency loan moves banned from 2014.

Currently over 400 players move outside of the two transfer windows each season, allowing top-end clubs to give youngsters first team playing time in the lower divisions and allowing those lower league clubs access to a rich vein of new talent.

The Football League, long-time critics of the transfer window ideology, lodged complaints with FIFA but they were turned-down. The ruling could see a huge impact on the football economy of England, where there are 72 fully professional league clubs across four divisions. The Football League argued that the emergency loan system is a crucial tool for the 48 third and fourth tier clubs, who rely on the loan system due to their small incomes.

Leicester City have long used the loan system to their advantage, with current manager Nigel Pearson including many young prospects in his League One winning squad. Liverpool's Jay Spearing, Manchester United's Tom Cleverley and Fulham's David Stockdale all appeared as loanees for the Foxes during Pearson's previous two-year reign.

FIFA have agreed, however, to look again at the concept of transfer windows, as confirmed by the Football League's chief operating officer Andy Williamson in a letter to the 72 English league clubs.

“I have to advise you that, despite direct representations from both the Football Association and ourselves, Fifa have concluded that our domestic Emergency Loans (and Youth Loans) are contrary to the international statutes covering the Status and Transfer of Players," wrote Williamson, “The effect of this ruling is that short-term loans will not be allowed during the 'closed’ periods between transfer windows, starting from season 2014/15.

“However, Fifa has indicated that they are prepared to review the current international rules and will undertake research to ascertain whether there is support around the world for any relaxation in the present transfer window restrictions.

“The League will continue to do everything within its power to retain as much flexibility for clubs as possible in this critical area.”

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Waghorn given assurances over Foxes future

Martyn Waghorn has received assurances from Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson that he still has a future at the King Power Stadium.

The 21-year-old striker returned early from his loan spell at Hull City, where he joined Pearson at the start of the season, owing to a hamstring injury. Waghorn has been in reciept of much criticism from Leicester's fans after a disappointing 2010/11 season in the East Midlands but the Foxes' boss has given the former Sunderland man his backing.

"When Waggy is back, is he in our plans? Absolutely," Pearson told BBC Leicester. Waghorn moved to Leicester after a successful loan spell with the then-League One Foxes and was signed for a reported £3 million by Paulo Sousa at the start of last season. He failed to shine under the Portuguese and was ousted from the first team by Sven Goran Eriksson and sought first team football under his former boss Pearson at the KC Stadium at the start of this campaign.

Meanwhile, Pearson confirmed that defender Bruno Berner is not set for a permanent coaching role with the Foxes and could depart in January and stated that Aleksandar Tunchev, long sidelined with knee problems, will make his Leicester City return in the new year.

With Pearson now back in the King Power Stadium hot-seat and his team struggling to find goals despite a potent attacking threat in the form of David Nugent and Jermaine Beckford, it looks likely that Waghorn once again has a future with the club.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Belated Conclusions from the Keepmoat Stadium

Doncaster Rovers2-1Leicester City
(HT 0-1)
Sharp 63, 65Nugent 38

Keepmoat Stadium, attendance: 9,461
BBC Match Report

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Conclusions from Peterborough

Leicester City1-1Peterborough United
(HT 0-0)
Gallagher 56Tomlin 71

King Power Stadium, attendance: 25,948
BBC Match Report

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Waghorn reunited with Foxes

Martyn Waghorn has ended his loan spell at Hull City nearly a month early to rejoin manager Nigel Pearson.

Waghorn, a fans' favourite after his successful spell on loan under Pearson at Leicester in 2009, cites a recent hamstring injury as cause for his hasty return to the King Power Stadium. The ex-Sunderland striker was signed on a permanent deal by Paulo Sousa for £3 million but never made it into Sven Goran Eriksson's plans and he was shipped-out to the KC Stadium to rejoin Pearson.

With Pearson's return to Leicester and with Waghorn likely to remain injured until the New Year it was natural that the 21-year-old would return to the East Midlands.

"He has been brought back for assessment and he is going to get some treatment here because it was a lot more serious than first thought and it wasn't really repairing," said Foxes' assistant manager Craig Shakespeare, "We have had him scanned and we will treat him on a week-to-week basis here. He probably won't be fit before the loan finishes anyway."

Waghorn made five appearances during his temporary spell with the Tigers, scoring against Doncaster Rovers and earning his first call-up to the England under-21s along the way.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Foxes join hunt for Motherwell winger

Wanted man: Chris Humphrey
Leicester City are reported to be one of a number of football clubs chasing Motherwell winger Chris Humphrey.

Sky Sports report that scouts from Bolton, Birmingham, Newcastle, Rangers, Swansea, Sunderland and Leicester were all in attendance at Fir Park as the Steelmen's game against Hibernian on Friday was abandoned due to an electrical fire. All were keen to watch 24-year-old Humphrey, who has set alight the Scottish Premier League with his dazzling performances so far this season.

Humphrey has established himself as a key man in Stuart McCall's side but the Lanarkshire club are in no position to turn-down a good offer for their star man, with the Scottish game's biggest players all struggling for funds and Nigel Pearson's Foxes in a position to spend richly in January.

Humphrey has rubbished speculation and committed himself to the Motherwell cause. The Steelmen are vying for a European place, in a comfortable third position in the SPL six points ahead of St Johnstone and eight points behind Celtic in second, with a game in hand over Neil Lennon's Hoops.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Conclusions from the KC Stadium

Hull City2-1Leicester City
(HT 1-1)
Fryatt pen 30
Coren 88
Konchesky 41

Kingston Communications Stadium, attendance: 20,148
BBC Match Report

Friday, 2 December 2011

Sunderland appointment ends questions over O'Neill future

Foxes legend: Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill's agreement this morning to be named as new manager of Sunderland ends speculation surrounding the future of the former Leicester City, Celtic and Aston Villa boss.

The Ulsterman was, for a long time, favourite to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson in the hot seat at the King Power Stadium, to the extent that a number of bookies stopped taking bets on his future. His failure to deny any approach from the Foxes served only to confirm his interest. In the light of his unveiling as the new manager at the Stadium of Light, however, that crucial piece of speculation sits in a whole new light.

O'Neill has been named as the Black Cats' new boss within just three days of Steve Bruce's departure, with the obvious conclusion being that O'Neill had been approached by the Teesiders before Bruce had lost his job. The fact that O'Neill was so quiet on a return to Leicester suggests that he may have seen interest from Sunderland as long as a month ago and, with the door a Premier League club ajar - his boyhood club, no less - he was willing to bide his time and take the chance on Bruce leaving the Stadium of Light rather than make a hasty return to the East Midlands. The rest, for Foxes' fans at least, is history. Nigel Pearson was re-appointed for his second tenure at Leicester City and he has seen the club reach the play-off places for the first time since his initial departure eighteen months ago. 

The appointment of O'Neill to Sunderland leaves lots of pending questions for Tottenham Hotspur, England and Manchester United - all of whom are supposed suitors to the Ulsterman's services. For Leicester City meanwhile, this could be a blessing in disguise: in going for their second-choice man in Pearson, it looks like they may have got the best man for the job.