Friday, 4 May 2012

2011/12 Analysed: Player-by-Player - Part One

Last season's disappointment yielded a bright future when Leicester City spent a record breaking £10-15 million on players over the summer. With those big names failing to deliver on their promise of Premier League promotion, many have come under criticism with the future of many now hanging in the balance. To understand what the future might hold, let's first examine the performance of each and every player to feature in the first team squad over the 2011/12 nPower Championship campaign.

Each player's analysis is accompanied by a score awarded out of 10. For players who featured only sparsely, if at all, no score is given as represented by the N/S mark.

1 Kasper Schmeichel
Leicester City's Player of the Year - awarded by both the fans and his peers - was rightly rewarded for being the most consistent performer in an inconsistent team. Given the opportunity to show his leadership as captain on just one occasion, the Great Dane is a contender to take the armband permanently should Nigel Pearson look for a new skipper next season. Schmeichel's performances have earned him respect from many quarters, including Premier League scouts. But his commitment to the cause, his likeability and his determination are all qualities that City need in their players if they are to survive next season. 9/10

2 Lee Peltier
A bright start for one of the more low-key of Sven Goran Eriksson's summer signings soon yielded a disappointing campaign. Peltier demonstrated talent and capability to rival the best full backs on occasion, particularly before Christmas, but since the New Year he has hardly impressed. Peltier is one man under pressure as his defensive frailties were badly exploited by a range of wingers and, without improvement across the back four, the inconsistency that has plagued City's season is likely to remain. Peltier needs to prove himself early in the summer, or he could find himself offloaded before the season is begun. 4/10

3 Paul Konchesky
Signed by Eriksson during the Foxes' pre-season tour of Sweden, Konchesky offered top-flight and international experience to counter the youth of Peltier on the opposite wing. His pace, power and skill caused problems in virtually every game he played in and, apart from the odd quiet game, he proved to be one of City's more consistent performers. Whilst Konchesky was great on the field, City missed him when he was not there and that was too often by his own fault. He contributed to a red card tally higher than any other Leicester side in history and, without ill-discipline, City would have been a better side. 8/10

4 John Pantsil
Now released, Pantsil failed to work his way into the team ahead of Lee Peltier and that must be worrying for a man whose international career would have flourished if not for an irregularity with his FIFA registration, which does not match his passport. That these are the issues being discussed here only highlights the lack of Pantsil's involvement in the Foxes' campaign. His fleeting appearances - entirely under Eriksson if memory serves - did not impress and, judging by his lack of involvement under Pearson, neither did his training. N/S

5 Matt Mills
That his off-field relationship with Pearson has seen him ousted from the squad is either a blessing or a curse. Yes, he was amongst the worst offenders for inconsistency and was often at fault for goals conceded when Leicester played poorly, but on the other hand when he played well he was very, very good. Mills was handed the captain's armband at the start of the season by Eriksson, who let's not forget signed him for a record £5 million from Reading, but could not lead by example, particularly when City needed for him to do that most. Two red cards, inconsistency and a fall-out with his manager do not add-up well. 3/10

6 Sol Bamba
Dependable, reliable and always entertaining, Bamba's defending is the part of his game that often comes under criticism yet he was responsible for Leicester taking a result away from a game on many occasions this season. He built on the reputation he earned in the second half of last season, exciting at all times with energetic offensive runs that baffled and frightened retreating defences in equal measure. Alas, his passing let him down when tried in a midfield role but it is hardly for his distribution that he is selected. A die-hard approach and superb last-ditch defending should surely earn Bamba his starting berth next term. 8/10

7 Paul Gallagher
The tragic events of the last week mean that the hugely popular Gallagher will remember his season for very hard reasons but on the pitch he once again delivered exactly what was asked of him. Gallagher is not the strongest nor most pacey footballer but his skill and technical ability remain second to none in the Foxes' camp. Gallagher was once again amongst the top scorers, his impeccable penalty-scoring record and occasional spectacular effort ensuring he kept up with those leading the line. This was not a vintage season for Gallagher but he deserves to keep a place amongst whatever squad will emerge next season. 6/10 

8 Matt Oakley
Breaking into the first team just twice - both in the League Cup - marked the end of Matt Oakley's career as he first went on loan to Exeter City before finally leaving the Foxes' in March. His contribution to Leicester City folklore is assured - he was the club captain to lead City to the League One title at the first time of asking - but this season he failed to make his mark in a competitive squad. Oakley's future in coaching and management looks assured and, with his leadership qualities, has the potential of being a very bright one indeed. N/S

9 Steve Howard
Released last week from his contract after five seasons at the King Power Stadium, Howard has seen it all but showed his age this season as he became the most-used substitute in City's history. He contributed just one goal, however, in the League Cup, despite his 23 appearances (20 from the bench this term alone) and failed to make his mark on defences as he has done in the past. The height and power remain but Leicester City's football has moved on from the long-ball game favoured by the Scot. The future for Howard surely lies in the lower leagues, where he would be certainly more than capable of doing a job. 3/10

10 Andy King
Injured for much of the campaign, King nonetheless made 32 starts in all competitions this season. However this, as last season, was not a sterling year for the Academy product who burst onto the scene with a high-scoring League One campaign in 2009/10. Limited by his injury troubles and by (again) a lack of consistency, he failed to notch even half a dozen goals this season and did not provide the useful attacking spark he became known for. King needs a solid pre-season to give him confidence in his own ability and a kick-start to a free-scoring promotion campaign. 3/10

11 Lloyd Dyer
Providing pace and much-needed width to an otherwise often slow and narrow midfield allowed Dyer to shine on his day. Those days came too infrequently, however, and his poor finishing and crossing let him - and his team - down on numerous occasions. Dyer did contribute some important goals as the season wore on but his regular place in the team was due far more to habit and a lack of options on the left wing as to any desire to play him. Dyer is likely to appear again as a first team regular next season unless Pearson decides to bring in a new wide man and it would be a pity to see him go. He has been a regular performer for a number of years now and his pace and energy remain second to none on the City roster. 5/10


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