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Leicester City – a Decade in the Walkers – KPS…

The Busy Fan’s Guide to Ten Eventful Years… for those of us who have trouble distinguishing one season from another in the last decade…

2002-03  An Atletico Bilbao friendly opens new stadium after proposed new name Bowl rejected by fans. New (old) club name Fosse also binned. Promoted back to Premier with Micky Adams second behind Portsmouth. Dickov and Deane share 30 goals. Muzzy Izzet plays for Turkey in World Cup finals. The club goes into administration in October.

2003-04  A disastrous Premier League season sees early relegation with three home wins and 33 points. Players tangle with prostitutes in La Manga to delight of national press and dismay of club and fans. A mentally drained Adams resigns in October, replaced by Craig Levein. Theo Zagorakis lifts Euro Cup for Greece. Best ever home league attendance of 32,148 for Newcastle visit.

2004-05  Celtic are pre-season guests. New FA ‘points deduction’ rule introduced for administration. Secret talks with Tigers on ground share. Finish 15th with 6,500 average disappearing off gate. David Connolly is top scorer with 13 goals.

2005-06  Poor start sees Craig Levein sacked by January. After weeks of searching, assistant manager Rob Kelly sees out season to finish 16th. Hume top scores with 9 and attendances slump to under 22,000 in a pretty forgettable twelve months.

2006-07  Financial stagnation sees the club sold to Milan Mandaric. Rob Kelly gives way to Nigel Worthington who does enough to preserve second tier status. It’s not enough for Mandaric who appoints Martin Allen to general puzzlement. Iain Hume top scores with 13+1.

2007-08  Despite a good win over the league leaders, Watford, Allen is sacked after a handful of games with Mandaric saying ‘it wasn’t working out’. Gary Megson comes, looks round briefly and goes, making way for Ian Holloway. Loanee Clive Clarke recovers from a dressing room heart attack. Holloway, having arrived in November, cannot arrest slide to avoid relegation to third tier for first time, sacked in May. Replaced by Nigel Pearson as club reaches lowest ebb ever. Topps Tiles replace Alliance and Leicester as shirt sponsors.

2008-09  Pearson escapes the third tier with some panache as League One Championship is won. Club achieves longest unbeaten league run, 23 games from November to March. Fryatt (who wins Best Player in Division award) and Howard share forty seven goals. Lowest Walker’s average league attendance of 20,253 includes stadium’s lowest league gate of 16,378 for Stockport visit.

2009-10  Promotion impetus continues for best finish in years as fifth place wins play off place but painful experience of failure in play off semis after penalty shoot out in Cardiff. Here surely is the man to get the club going again but Mandaric again screws up by forcing close season departure of disillusioned Pearson. Matty Fryatt again top scorer with 11+2 goals but Martin Waghorn hits twelve in league.

2010-11  Mandaric, despite (because of?) seeking a new buyer for club, recruits (another) puzzling choice, Paulo Sousa, who is club‘s first non British manager. But only one win in first nine condemns season to catch up struggle. As team hit the bottom of the table Sousa is sacked as new owners, a Thai consortium, have seen enough of Mandaric’s last appointment. They demonstrate their ambition by appointing club’s biggest ever name, Sven Goran Eriksson in October to general approval. Having missed the transfer season he brings in several eye catching loan signings. After a steady rise up the table, a late slump ends promotion challenge. Welcome new investment in training facilities and pitch. Shirts rebranded KingPower

2011-12  Thais enable Sven to spend big to assemble a likely looking squad but expectations dwindle as inconsistent results fail to impress. Dismayed owners shock all by dismissing Sven in October. Nigel Pearson is coaxed back from Hull as ‘man who can get us promoted‘. Again the poor start to season proves impossible to overcome and Pearson vows to rebuild squad with different ethos. King Power rename stadium. Pre season guests Real Madrid draw record crowd for Filbert Way of 32,188.

This article was originally intended for The FOX Summer Special 2012 but it was already too packed with great stuff…

… we are almost out of Summer Specials – any subscribers who have yet to renew should get a move on… to subscribe to The FOX for the 2012-13 season via Paypal and receive your Summer Special and free set of City postcards by return of post, press this blue button… 

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Ten Years at Filbert Way…

Chris Lymn takes a look back at ten years in Leicester City’s new home in this extract from his article in The Fox Summer Special 2012…

As we blow out the candles on the ten year celebration of our ‘new’ stadium, it is not a good feeling to report on a tale of faded hopes and misconceived effort, of the blind leading the devoted.
Moving across the road from our loved but archaic stadium with no name had been seen as a first step on the road to a shiny future which would see dreams realised of a sustained period with the big boys in the land of milk and money, a realistic and localized football renaissance which would see us finally punching our weight.
In one sense, the KPS is just a building, designed and built in one go and not a century’s ragbag of gradually bolted on sheds, seats and roofs. Today, a decade on, it looks little different. It recalls a review of a new car at the time on Top Gear before they got round to blowing them up or dropping them from aeroplanes. The young curly haired chap in jeans called Jeremy Something surveyed the new Vauxhall hot off the production line: “It’s okay.” he said; “…it’s not bad; it’s alright; it’ll do the job; it’ll get you there; it’ll be reliable….”
The new stadium (it was nearly a bowl!) is a Vauxhall stadium. It’s bland, functional shape, sitting awkwardly in a tight space facing the wrong way, was never going to quicken the pulse when 31,000 of us filed in for the first serious match against Watford (happily a 2-0 win with two Brian Deane goals).
We were, however, grateful that it wasn’t in a field at Beaumont Leys or somewhere (with apologies to the speedway).
It cannot fail to enhance what is a forlornly unlovely corner of the town, nestling among electricity pylons, metal retail sheds and an underused plot belonging to Eon (what a great site for a much needed King Power entertainment Arena that would be). Even the stretch of the Grand Union canal to which it presents its face would fail to attract anyone except the odd twitcher or angler. Its size and scale accurately represents, and some would say, determines the club’s modest ambitions…

The rest of this article, and much more  besides, can be read in The FOX Summer Special 2012

…to subscribe to The FOX for the 2012-13 season via Paypal and receive your Summer Special and free set of City postcards by return of post, press this blue button… 

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New Sponsor for Filbert Way

King Power, the company belonging to Leicester City’s owners, have added the stadium naming rights to their branding…

The ground that has been known as The Walkers Stadium since it opened nine years ago will now be known as the King Power Stadium. 
Always careful to do the right thing, the club have made Walkers ‘a legacy partner’ in acknowledgement of their 25 year association with the club.
While we are are grateful to King Power for their enthusiastic investment we will continue to call the ground ‘Filbert Way’ for historical reasons.
There may be younger fans for whom the change from ‘Walkers’ is a bit of a wrench, but we are unmoved.


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City End With a Flourish

Leicester City 4:2 Ipswich Town

City ended the 2010-11 season in style with a 4-2 win over Ipswich on Saturday, leaving their fans wondering what might have been…

It was typical end of season fare, an afternoon when applause rang around the ground time and again and not just for the four goals. Alan Birchenall, on completing his 31st charity run was given a lifetime contract by the club, now immune to the whims of just-visiting cost-cutters who didn’t understand the role he playes and his invaluable link with players past.
Richie Wellens also got a warm ovation on receipt of his Player of the Season award, as did Aleksander Tunchev when he came on for Vitor on the half hour for his first decent spell on the field in many months.

City, with one change – Van Aanholt in for Mee – had a superb first half although it could have been different had Ipswich not wasted two early chances.
A slip-up from Vitor presented Norris with a one-on-one chance with Weale, but he missed the target.
Van Aanholt and Yakubu both went close as play raced from end to end in a lively opening, and then Weale produced a fine double save to prevent Connor and then Wickham giving the visitors the lead. 
Instead, it was City who went ahead in the 26th minute, with Gallagher delivering a perfect cross from the left, met by the head of King at the far post for his 15th goal of the season.
 City were then forced into two changes with Vassell and Vitor limping out of the action to be replaced by Kamara and Tunchev.
Tunchev came close to a glorious comeback but sent an acrobatic volley just over the bar.
The re-shuffled City side did extend their lead in the  41st minute, however, when Abe centred from the left, King struck the right hand post, and the rebound went straight to Yakubu who netted the 11th goal of his loan spell.
Just before the break the home fans were celebrating again as King crossed from the right and Abe found the bottom left hand corner with a sidefooter for his first City goal.
3-0 and crusing at the break, but some familiar defensive failings came back to haunt City in the second half
as the visitors came back to 3-2 with two goals in three minutes.
In the 68th minute Bruma handled while attempting to head away a corner and Leadbitter sent his spot kick low to Weale’s right.
In the 71st minute the away corner were conga-ing in delight after a suicidal back pass from Van Aanholt and a slip from Weale allowed Connor to make it 3-2.
Happily, any thoughts of a comeback were extinguished just moments later when brilliant work from Van Aanholt down the left – exchanging one-twos with Gallagher and Yakubu –  saw him cross for King whose effort was saved by Fulop, but fell for Kamara to net from close in.
This was followed by a twenty man brawl after a poor challenge on Yakubu but only yellow cards were shown when peace was eventually restored.
Ipswich’s challenge was seen off this time and the remainder of the game was about fun in the sun for the two sets of fans with Ipswich becoming perhaps the first ever set of away fans to join in with the wave.

It was difficult not to get excited about next season at this stage. With a team that has often looked superb at home (not often enough away) there is clearly a solid base to be improved upon and a budget that should allow Sven Goran Eriksson to do the job. Even the new kit – unveiled in this match – has something about it that suggests ‘promotion’…
Sven was well aware of this season’s failings: “We need to build on the good stuff. Our team is good to watch with some brilliant passing and combinations but that is not good enough to get you promoted. If we did not make so many mistakes we would easily be in the play-offs. We have to do it better next season.”

Leicester: Weale, Vitor (Tunchev 30), Naughton, Van Aanholt, Bruma, King, Abe, Wellens (Oakley 77), Yakubu, Gallagher, Vassell (Kamara 27). Subs Not Used: Dyer, Moreno, Howard, Smith. 
Ipswich: Fulop, McAuley, Delaney, Leadbitter, Kennedy, Healy, Martin (Peters 74), Norris, Edwards,Scotland (Carson 64), Wickham. Subs Not Used: Lee-Barrett, Brown, Murray, Drury, Civelli

Referee: C Boyeson (East Yorks). Attendance: 24,859.

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City Fail to Conquer Palace

Leicester City 1:1 Crystal Palace

City’s play-off hopes all but faded away as they failed to beat relegation threatened Crystal Palace at Filbert Way on Tuesday night….

Sven Goran Eriksson made no changes to the side that beat Burnley 4-0, with Bruma returning to the bench after suspension.
City dominated possession for the first 20 minutes without threatening the Palace goal as the Eagles kept plenty of men back, waiting their chance to hit on the break. An off-target Kamara shot was all City had to show for their efforts when Palace took a shock lead on the half hour. 
A long range effort from Scannell didn’t appear to pose much of a threat but somehow beat Weale to find the net, with City making life hard for themselves.
Although Bamba forced a save from Speroni Palace took heart from the lead and were the better side up to the break with chances from Scannell and Counago.
Vassell came on for Gallagher at the break as City went in search of an equaliser. He set up Oakley for a chance that missed the target, but the City skipper would soon make amends. In the 59th minute Wellens lofted a ball into the penalty area and McCarthy headed a looping clearance that fell nicely for Oakley to volley home his first goal in two years.
With Derby beating Leeds, a win would put City within two points of a play-off place, but the rest of the evening was an exercise in frustration for the City faithful.
Yakubu skied an effort over the bar from two yards after good wrok from Mee and Vassell; and Van Aanholt sent a weak shot at Speroni from a decent position.
The introduction of Howard and Dyer for Yakubu and Kamara, didn’t change City’s fortunes and th eonly incident of note in five minutes of time added on saw Zaha dismissed for toe-poking a grounded Van Aanholt in the head.
Results elsewhere went well, so City still have a chance of making the play-offs, but they can’t afford to slip up again in the remaining five games, which seems a massive task.
Leicester: Weale, Bamba, Vitor, Mee, Van Aanholt, King, Oakley, Wellens, Kamara (Dyer 77), Yakubu (Howard 78), Gallagher (Vassell 46). Subs Not Used: Abe, Ricardo, Bruma, Berner. 
Palace: Speroni, Gardner, McCarthy, Moxey, Clyne, Danns, Garvan (Agustien 64), Dikgacoi, Scannell (Vaughan 69), Zaha, Counago (Iversen 80). Subs Not Used: Cadogan, Price, Ambrose, Davis.

Referee: I Williamson (Berkshire). Attendance: 22,303.

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City Second Best as Slump Continues

Leicester City 2:3 Norwich City

City’s poor run continued at Filbert Way on Tuesday night as they were defeated 3-2 by a superior Norwich side…

Sven Goran Eriksson made one change to the side that performed so well at QPR, with Berner in for the injured Bruma and Mee restored to the centre of defence.
City should have taken an 8th minute lead when Berner swung a cross onto the head of Yakubu, but he header over the bar for what was the first disappointment of a poor night for the on-loan Everton striker.
The Canaries then took a 21st minuite lead when the impressive Hoolahan ghosted through the penalty area, unmarked, to convert a Surman corner at the near post.
An impressive number of visiting supporters only had two minutes to celebrate as City immediately summoned up an equaliser. Vassell fed Berner, who delivered another good quality cross and this time Wellens connected with an awkward looking header which nontheless beat Ruddy in the Canaries goal.
City then enjoyed a decent spell up until the break but King fired an effort inches wide and a frantic goalmouth scramble ended with a Norwich boot clearing the danger. 
Sadly, City’s improvement didn’t continue in the second half.
Two minutes after the break Mee tripped the lively Hoolahan in the area and Holt, despite Ricardo scuffing up the penalty spot, blasted home from 12 yards to put Norwich back in the lead. 
City looked ineffective in every department by this stage and Norwich settled the game in the 58th minute when Wilbraham beat Bamba on the left before firing in a shot from a tight angle that deflected past Ricardo. Shouts of “Weale, Weale!” went round the stadium, though Ricardo was not really at fault for that goal, despite looking rather unconvincing when dealing with crosses.
The rest of the evening was a miserable one for City and their followers. Norwich looked better organised and livelier all over the park and there was no way they were going to let the home side get a sniff of a point.
The long ball pumped forward for Yakubu to lose out in the air, was much in evidence, something that was missing during the golden run and January and February. 
When Gallagher hit a long range free-kick home at the death there was only time to kick off before the ref blew for time and City’s play-off hopes lay in tatters.
This was the first time City had lost at home since Sven’s arrival, but the chasing down of a play-off place seems to have exhausted them, at least for the time being.
Sven admitted: “I was worried at the start of the second half. I saw a team totally without energy, in the legs and in the mind. I don’t know what it was or whether it was too much pressure. We have to come together and talk about that.”

Leicester: Ricardo, Berner, Bamba, Naughton, Mee, King, Oakley (Gallagher 66), Abe, Wellens (Dyer 75), Yakubu, Vassell (Waghorn 58). Subs Not Used: Weale, Vitor, Schlupp, Moreno.  
Norwich: Ruddy, Ward, Whitbread, Tierney, Martin, Crofts, Surman, Fox, Hoolahan (Smith 86), Wilbraham, Holt. Subs Not Used: Jackson, Rudd, Lansbury, Edwards, McNamee, Drury.

Referee: C J Foy (Merseyside). Attendance: 23,398 

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Foxes Frustrated in M69 Derby

Leicester City 1:1 Coventry City

City and Coventry shared the points with a 1-1 draw at Filbert Way on Saturday, with Leicester unable to convert possession into goals…

Sven Goran Eriksson reshuffled the side that lost at Cardiff, with Vassell taking Dyer’s place, Abe returning to the midfield, and Burma taking Mee’s place in defence.
City were camped out in Coventry’s half for the opening spell of the game and Yakubu missed two chances to put City ahead during this one-sided start to the game. 
But it was the Sky Blues who hit City on the break to take a 14th minute lead. Jutkiewicz beat Van Aanholt down the right and his cut back found King, who fired the ball through Ricardo’s legs from 10 yards.
Yakubu was then denied by a last ditch Wood challenge as looked set to equalise, but King almost made it 2-0 moments later. A long ball undid the City defence far too easily and King did the hard part bringing the ball down and rounding Ricardo before blazing his shot wide.
Gallagher then sent a shot over on a day when City just couldn’t seem to hit the target, and there was another scare when former City winger Bell then delivered a cross and Keogh sent a looping header onto the crossbar over a pedestrian looking Ricardo.
Abe then went close after a storming run through the middle but sent his shot just wide of the right hand upright. 
City fans finally had something to cheer about as the first half entered time-added-on.
Naughton made steady progress down the right before arrowing a magnificent drive into the top left hand corner from just inside the area. 
City’s dominance continued in the second half and the yellow cards began to mount up for the visitors who were becoming stretched by Naughton’s pace.
City’s best chance of the second half came when Gallagher swung in a cross from the right, Yakubu’s header was parried away by Westwood, and Bamba hit the inside of the left hand post with the goal at his mercy.
Sven brough Dyer on for Gallagher and Waghorn on for Vassell, but still City couldn’t find a way through.
The best chance in the closing stages saw Waghorn teeing up Van Aanholt, but his hurried shot sailed over the bar and into the Family Stand.
Cranie’s dismissal for a second rash challenge came too late to make a difference and when Dyer skied a low Van Aanholt cross over from 6 yards it was clear that this wasn’t our day.
City had to be content with a point when things never quite clicked together.
No one does understated disappointment quite like Sven: “We are disappointed we don’t win games like this. It was a bit like last Tuesday, we played rather good football and created chances. But in these last two games we conceded goals a little too easily for my taste, unfortunately.”

Leicester: Ricardo, Bamba, Naughton, Van Aanholt, Bruma, King, Abe (Oakley 85), Wellens, Yakubu, Gallagher (Dyer 69), Vassell (Waghorn 75).  Subs Not Used: Vitor, Weale, Moreno, Mee.
Coventry: Westwood, Keogh, Cranie, Wood, O’Halloran  (Clingan 64), Cameron, Bell, Baker (Eastwood 71), Gunnarsson , King, Jutkiewicz. Subs Not Used: Hussey, McSheffrey, Ruffles, Ireland, O’Donovan.

Referee: G Scott (Oxfordshire). Attendance: 25,356.

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