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  1. 42 points
    We are watching, imo, the best Leicester side ever This team doesn’t have any real weaknesses, we look like scoring for fun and are rock solid defensively. It’s a delight to watch this
  2. 30 points
  3. 28 points
    Article from Rob Tanner about Steve Walsh At the back of a small cafe towards the rear of a gift shop in the Leicestershire village of Rothley, the unassuming figure of Steve Walsh sits with his wife, Val, quietly drinking coffee. The crumbs of a very-much-enjoyed cake are still on the small plate in front of him. The 66-year-old fits into these humble surroundings, having remained quietly out of the limelight throughout his career as one of the most important scouts and recruitment gurus in the Premier League. Having lived locally during his time as Leicester City’s assistant manager and head of recruitment, he knows the area’s coffee shops well, but not half as well as he knows where to find hidden footballing talent. The softly-spoken Walsh, whose Lancashire accent hides his Irish ancestry, was once dubbed by Sir Alex Ferguson the “most important influential person in the Premier League” as a squad of players Walsh largely found and recruited, at a cost of just £21 million, claimed the Premier League title, defying bookmaker odds of 5,000-1. At Chelsea, he scouted and wrote reports on Gianfranco Zola, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien, and worked under a succession of managers, including Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas, but his most famous finds have been Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, who played such huge roles in Leicester’s title triumph. His work at Leicester prompted Everton to make him their director of football, but he didn’t find the same open and unrestricted environment at Goodison Park that he enjoyed at the King Power Stadium, with the likes of Andy Robertson, Harry Maguire and Erling Haaland slipping through the net. After leaving Merseyside in May 2018, he has remained in demand as a recruitment consultant but is taking things a little easier these days, enjoying travelling with Val. Walsh is back in Leicestershire temporarily to see old friends and to watch his former club take on arsenal as they once again look to upset the Premier League’s elite, and he takes the time to reflect with The Athletic on his career. Born in Chorley to Irish parents, Walsh and brother Mickey were obsessed with football from a young age and while his brother went on to play as a striker for Blackpool, Everton, Queens Park Rangers and Porto, Walsh played non-League as a defender for Chorley, Morecambe and Leyland Motors, but from an early age he was involved in organising teams, including a seven-a-side outfit when he was just 12. While playing semi-professionally, Walsh worked as a PE teacher at Bishop Rawstorne High School in Croston, took his coaching badges and managed Lancashire Schoolboys, including the future Leicester captain and namesake Steve Walsh, Steve Thompson, Franz Carr, Mark Brennan and David Lee. “After playing, I had joined Bury and I was still teaching full-time but I was on call to do some coaching, take the reserves and sometimes the first team, doing stuff in the holidays,” Walsh recalls. “The logical next step was to do the analysis. I did that for Bury and helped coach. I was a general dogsbody. I would coach, wash the kit, drive the minibus. Then I went to Chester City and did a similar role there. You do everything: put the nets up, watch the opposition etc. I was very much involved in that.” In 1990, he was asked by Gwyn Williams, Chelsea’s chief scout, to do some part-time work watching opponents and providing reports and the role became permanent. “I was working in analysis, going to watch the opposition,” Walsh says. “There were no DVDs in the early days, no recordings, it was based on what you saw. You would go and watch a team or a player and write a report. “While I was there, the club was managed by Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli. I was working really hard and had other offers from clubs, including Notts County, and from there I went full-time at Chelsea. “Jose Mourinho was there by then with Andre Villas-Boas and Frank Arnesen as director of football. Lee Congerton was there, Brendan Rodgers was looking after the under-21s, Paul Clement was looking after the under-16s and Steve Clarke was first-team coach. Mick McGiven (youth coach), I worked with him quite closely. We had a good bunch of people. I grew up with those people. “It was a good environment for me. I was doing European scouting, watching Zola, Tore Andre Flo, Drogba, all the players they eventually signed. It wasn’t 100 per cent me, I was just part of the process. “When I joined Chelsea initially, they were lucky if they stayed out of the bottom three but it just got better and better. Then Glenn came in and stabilised the club, took us to a cup final against United, we lost 4-0, and then he was taken for England. “We had a succession of foreign managers. I was in Nigeria around about the time when Roman Abramovich took over, working with Bryan Robson and Geoff Hurst, coaching the coaches in Lagos as part of the Pepsi programme. I saw Abramovich was coming in and I wondered what would happen to me, but it was good.” Abramovich’s arrival sparked unprecedented success at Chelsea, especially under Mourinho, who Walsh says he is still on good terms with now. He feels Mourinho lost his way during his tenure as manager at Manchester United, and blames the club’s recruitment policy. For Walsh, recruitment is crucial to any club’s success, but it has to be recruitment with a purpose and a plan, something that didn’t seem obvious during United’s recent transfer activity. “I had more to do with Villas-Boas than Jose, but I did have a good relationship with Jose, and still do,” says Walsh. “He was very driven in those days. He is probably more mellow now. I remember we got beat 3-1 by Spurs. No one planned to get beat. We were top of the league. The next day it was like going to a funeral down the training ground. He was really driven and still is. He is a real character and a real winner. “He would be the first to admit that he probably needs to reinvent himself now a little bit. Obviously, it didn’t go right at United. Pep Guardiola was asked in an interview with a newspaper how he accounted for his success. He said 80 per cent of it was recruitment. I think Jose may have lost sight of that fact. “You have to work out what you want and need. Don’t try to attract players with no plan: ‘He’s available so we will take him.’ Alexis Sanchez is a good example. During the title-winning season we only lost three times but two of those were against arsenal. They pasted us at Leicester, 5-2. We played well and Jamie scored a remarkable goal, but Sanchez was outstanding that day. He was instrumental in both games. “But it is not about collecting players, it is about having a clear plan and a strategy of how you want to play. “When Jose signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton, I remember saying to him, ‘You have to be careful with Lukaku. He is a big baby, you know.’ He said he could handle him. I don’t think he really got Lukaku on-side mentally, which you have to do. That is the case with him and Paul Pogba. They aren’t my type of players. They are more about themselves than the team. I wouldn’t have touched them. Because they are good players doesn’t mean you are going to get a good team out of it. Mourinho of Manchester United gives the ball to Romelu Lukaku against Valencia in 2018 (Photo: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images) “United have made a lot of signings. Look at £50 million for Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Now, perhaps it is too early and he will improve, but my eyes tell me when he gets the ball he is not the best. He is a good athlete and very quick, strong, and a good defender, but United don’t need a good defender, they need someone who can play, get on the ball. “If I had been at United, I would have said, ‘Put your £50 million away, go and get Kieran Trippier for half that. He is an England international. He isnt a great defender or a physical specimen, but he can play right-back and get the ball in early and you have strikers who can score goals.’ It is common sense.” Walsh left Chelsea to become chief scout at Newcastle United under Sam Allardyce. That is where he first met Nigel Pearson, who he would form a successful partnership with at Leicester, although their early relationship was tested when Walsh would send Pearson off to scout players across Europe. “Previously to that, Nigel had been with Glenn Roeder but he (Roeder) had been sacked and Nigel stayed,” Walsh remembers. “He was forging his relationship with Sam but he had also brought in Steve Round at the same time. They did the coaching between them. I met Nigel and we got on. “Sam had a big thing to say, ‘When the international break comes, you make sure these coaches get out and watch some games and players. They need to look at players for you and help with our database.’ I sent Nigel to watch a full-back in Switzerland. He wasn’t pleased. Sam was in the room at the time and Nigel had obviously lined up something else. So I gave him the task and he just said to text him the details, and after he left the room Sam said, ‘He is definitely going. Make sure he goes.’ Nige was fuming. I badgered him, and he wrote a report for me, too.” Pearson would soon calm down, and when he was offered the chance to take on the manager’s job at Southampton he turned to Walsh to advise him on recruitment and scouting. “When he got to Southampton he didn’t have any help, so I offered to help him talk about players,” Walsh says. “So when he got the job he called me up and said he needed an agent, so how could I ever recommend anyone other than my brother? So, he ended up representing him. He got him the job at Southampton. “He called me up and said he wanted me down there. I asked, ‘In what role?’ He said whatever one I wanted! I flew down and had an interview with the board, and they were on-side with it, but then they all got the sack. Rupert Lowe had come back and sacked everyone, including Nigel. Nigel then joined Leicester.” Pearson would take Walsh — and Craig Shakespeare from West Bromwich Albion — with him as assistant managers. “I didn’t know Craig until we met up at Leicester,” Walsh added. “Now I stay with him from time to time. It was so much fun. Nigel is funny. He can make light of things. If he was in a good mood, we were all in a good mood. He was exactly what the club needed at the time.” It wasn’t just the recruitment on the pitch that Walsh was concerned with. He set about building a team off the field that could help find talent at the right prices, as Leicester were still operating on a minimal budget under Milan Mandaric, who had taken over the club as it recovered from entering into administration in 2002. Walsh embarked on building a scouting network that would eventually uncover many of the side that would go on to win the Premier League title in 2016, looking in areas and in leagues that many clubs were not. “There wasn’t much at Leicester when we went in,” he remembers with a smile. “The first time we were there, Ian Holloway had just left and all the staff had left. The decks were cleared. We had a blank canvas to start again. “It is about people and about bringing the right people to help you achieve your goal. It is about building it with the right people. I have had David Fallows, who was with me at Newcastle. Dave is at Liverpool now. I brought in Gavin Fleig. Gavin looks after the recruitment for Manchester City’s New York and Melbourne teams. Also Ben Wrigglesworth, who is head of recruitment now at Wolves. Rob Mackenzie went to Spurs. I could go on. Laurence Stewart was with me at Hull but was poached by Manchester City. I took him to Everton and now he is at Leipzig. “You need those people who have good analytic brains. You need them to do the number-crunching and a lot of the leg work, so when you go out to watch a player a lot of the work is done. You aren’t going in blind. “You could watch any game in the world and like a player, and you can tell whether that player will fit into what you want to do, but you need other things. You need the back-up to convince the owner that if I am spending £50 million of his money I am not wasting it. I am not going to write down on a piece of paper that he is a good player and hand it to the owner, I need to back it up with the stats and video footage of what I want to highlight.” It was this approach that convinced Vardy to join Leicester. Walsh gave the then-Fleetwood Town striker a video presentation of his strengths and what they wanted to develop in him, similar to the one he would give the club’s hierarchy to convince them to spend £1 million on a player from non-League. But in those early days, there weren’t millions to spend. Very little in fact, and the loan market was Walsh’s domain, calling on his contacts at Premier League clubs. “In the first year we didn’t have much money,” he says. “I think we had five goalkeepers on loan in that first season. We had loads of loan players. “Tom Cleverley came in from Manchester United, Jack Hobbs from Liverpool, Michael Morrison from Oxford United for £20,000. We had Chris Powell on a free from Charlton, Kerrea Gilbert came in on loan from arsenal to play right-back, although he couldn’t take a throw-in, strangely. “I remember on one occasion we handed a team-sheet to Andrew Neville (director of football operations) and he told us we couldn’t field that team because we had too many loan players. I told Nige. He said, ‘I’ll do what I want.’ I had to remind him that we were breaking the rules and if we won we would lose the points. We had to change the line-up. But it worked as we got promotion, and it kicked on from there.” But only for another season. Pearson, Walsh and Shakespeare almost took Leicester straight through to the Premier League, but for a penalty shoot-out defeat at Cardiff City in the play-off semi-final and Yann Kermorgant’s woeful Panenka penalty. With Pearson’s sometimes abrasive approach rubbing up chief executive Lee Hoos the wrong way, they were all shocked when Hull City were granted permission to speak to them – an indication Leicester were looking for a new direction. While they were at Hull, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and King Power took over Leicester, Sven-Goran Eriksson was given millions to spend on a new team of big-name signings, and Walsh’s template was ripped up. But the trio had unfinished business with Leicester and when Eriksson’s approach, which saw a dozen players arrive in a single summer, failed, those still at the club championed Pearson and his team’s return. This time, it would be a completely different ball game. “When I came back, we had to start again because Sven-Goran Eriksson had been in, so there was no strategy, which was great because, again, we had a blank canvas on which to work,” says Walsh. Once more, Walsh and his recruitment staff would be scouring untapped areas to find talent. One of their signings who captured the imagination was diminutive French winger Anthony Knockaert, discovered by Walsh at Guingamp. They paid £2.5 million for his services. “He was great, Anthony, for us, but Nigel was never fully having him,” Walsh says. “I was pushing him in team meetings and Nigel would say, ‘If you mention him one more time I am going to knock you out’. I would say, ‘Well, if you are going to leave your best player on the bench, it is up to you’. Eventually, he got into the team. Anthony Knockaert of Brighton faces former club Leicester City in February (Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images) “I went to watch him. I tried to have a scouting system but I didn’t have anyone in France at that time. I would send scout David Mills, who is still at the club, to go and watch and then I would go. There was a video system but, in those days, even back eight years ago, there wasn’t the coverage there is now. The systems were Pro Zone, Scout 7 have a system and there was one other. You can pretty much get anything on anybody at any time day or night. There are big companies who have invested a lot of money into it. “I think I sent Millsy out to watch him and tell me what he thought. I watched him first play on video footage and I remember his brother had just died. He had a shirt on underneath in tribute to his brother and when he scored he took his club shirt off and revealed this t-shirt with a tribute ‘For My Brother’. “I met him, his girlfriend and his dad. I went to watch him play and I took a friend of mine, because I had a place out in north France. My friend was a good French speaker and he came to have dinner with them, to translate. His English wasn’t bad, but his father, who has sadly died, couldn’t understand. “Anthony was a good signing for us. It was ground-breaking, I suppose, for Leicester in those days, to sign Anthony. When we won the Championship we had Anthony on one side and Riyad Mahrez on the other. Anthony could be very frustrating as a player because you never knew when the ball was coming in. He would check back three or four times before he crossed it. I remember Jamie saying to me once, ‘Don’t sign any more of these French players,’ because he was sick of Anthony. “I signed Riyad and N’Golo Kante after that. I saw Jamie at his villa in the Algarve not long ago and I reminded him of the time he said don’t bring any more of those French players in and then I signed Kante. He said, ‘Alright, alright!’ But Anthony was a part of Leicester’s success.” But while Pearson had laid the groundwork, guiding the club to the Premier League and keeping them up after a great escape, Walsh and Shakespeare would lose their leader and the man who brought them together when Pearson was sacked. His successor was familiar to Walsh from their time together at Chelsea, but he remembers there was genuine shock within the camp when Claudio Ranieri arrived during a pre-season training camp in Austria. They were expecting someone else! “I was the only one who knew Claudio because I had worked with him at Chelsea. I was doing match reports for him back then,” Walsh recalls. “He said to me once a long time ago, ‘Steve, you are the best.’ When someone says that to you, you remember it. Me and Craig were taking the team. We didn’t know what was happening. I had a call from Jon Rudkin (director of football). They were flying in on a private jet and we were going to meet the new manager. That was the first time he told me it was Claudio. “All the players were expecting Big Sam Allardyce to come through the door. There had been so many rumours. But Claudio walked in and he called me over and seemed pleased to see me. I took him upstairs and introduced him to the players. They were all like, ‘Who?’ Jamie and Kasper Schmeichel were the first to react. Gary Lineker said the same thing, didn’t he? It was amazing what followed. It was a great time for us all.” A big feature of that incredible season were Ranieri’s entertaining press conferences and comic phrases. He rang an imaginary bell and shouted ‘Dilly-ding, dilly-dong’ to attract his players’ attention and after the media got wind of it, when Vardy revealed his attention-grabber, Ranieri would repeat it in press conferences, affairs which would become more and more comical as the season progressed and his players continued to navigate unchartered waters. “It was good when he did that stuff in press conferences because if deflected the pressure off the players,” Walsh insists. “Nige would never have done that, and he got the press on-side. If you were English and saying, ‘Dilly-ding, dilly-dong’ they would have had you committed. But as a foreign manager with limited English, you can get away with it. Even Jose Mourinho would do it at times. Some of his phrases he uses…” Where do you go after such a high as winning the title as 5,000-1 underdogs? For Walsh, it was time for a new challenge. Everton, his brother’s former club, came calling with the offer of becoming their director of football, paying £800,000 compensation to Leicester. No longer was he just overseeing recruitment, now he was given the responsibility of overhauling all of the club’s football operations… or so he thought. Walsh is reluctant to reflect too much on his time with Everton. It is still too soon after his sacking 18 months ago for him to go into much detail, but it is obvious sitting across the table from him that there is a sense of frustration. “While I was at Everton, I offered them Andrew Robertson and Harry Maguire deals, when they were at Hull, and it was worth £20 million for the pair,” is one of the things he does reveal. “Everton wouldn’t take them. “I had a deal done for Jonny Evans too before he came to Leicester, but again they wouldn’t take him. Erling Haaland, the striker with Salzburg, I had him and his dad at the club with a deal done for €4 million. The club wouldn’t back me.” Walsh stops himself from revealing any more, but while he is disappointed his time at Everton didn’t work out as planned, he is not bitter. He is enjoying himself, travelling with the extremely patient Val, a retired head teacher, seeing some of the places they had always dreamed of going to. He is still working too, helping out his many contacts in the game when they ask for help and advice, offering tips on scouting and even checking out a player or two for other clubs. Walsh’s skills are still very much in demand.
  4. 26 points
    Wrong “TWAT, YOU’RE SHIT AHHHHHH” was sung by cavemen to dinosaurs.
  5. 25 points
    Not me, I'm loving the team spirit this club has. May our players never take themselves too seriously.
  6. 25 points
    I just heard, for the first time, "Kloppage Time" .
  7. 24 points
    Atrocious. Imagine being a player winning 7 in a row, second in the league and having fans who can’t even be bothered to clap and sing them off let alone sing and show some passion during the game. Imagine if the players just walked straight off after the game some on here would have a heart attack! It’s clear players like Youri, Maddison want to interact and celebrate with the fans but unfortunately for them they play at a club where 90% of fans are happy to sit and fiddle with their clapper and then leave as soon as they can. Says a lot when your manager has to come out and urge fans to stay till the end. Get behind the boys ffs! You don’t win anything without a 12th man
  8. 23 points
    Games with no goals conceded: 3~7 Total goals conceded: 14~10 Shots blocked: 8~10 Interceptions: 16~24 Tackles won: 13~28 1v1’s won: 8~21 Clearance from dangerous zone: 86~87 Add that all up together and the comparison is staggering. There is a real argument to say Soyuncu has been the best CB in the league this season. The only blot on his copy book is the penalty he gave away against Man United which showed inexperience, but other than that I think we can all see how good he has been. To out perform VVD at age 23 is insane, and this is in the team that faces the least shots on goal of any team in the division, so it's not like the stats are skewed by being under the kosh for 90 minutes either.
  9. 23 points
    No they haven't. It's just typical FT desperately searching for something to whinge about
  10. 23 points
    Now do you lot understand why I think Grealish is a whiny little crying scrote?
  11. 21 points
  12. 20 points
    Norwich's "On the baaaallll Ciddy" song is one of the best unique club songs. May the best team win. That's us, by the way.
  13. 19 points
    Someone posted this on the BBC's Man United v Aston Villa match thread. They're quite right, here..; 'You could buy everyone in the country a doughnut for £80million. Man U just spent it buying just one.'
  14. 17 points
    Pearson to shaft them in his first game in charge next week. G'wan Nige!
  15. 17 points
    We should punish them for stealing Walshy Snr, disrespecting him then scapegoating him. The cvnts. 9-0 again pls.
  16. 16 points
    You wouldn’t have got Rodgers when Puel took over, we might have wanted him but the “project” looked a far harder and a far shitter one. Whether you wish to give the club or Puel, or both the credit. During his time we transitioned the club from one relying on old players past or passing their best, unable to play possession football, to one of the most exciting young teams around already making strides into being possession team. So to suggest that time was wasted is laughable.
  17. 16 points
    To my knowledge they aim to have the 1st team training there for pre season. Doubt the whole site will be 100% complete. But I'm also told they only need the outdoor pitch and gym sorted for them to do that. The 1st team will train outside in the main, so the indoor complex is not a key part of that plan. The 1st team main training pitch is being seeded as we speak with some clever bit of kit that knits and seeds the grass and is working something like 20 hours a day. The club wanted it working 24/7 but had to back down. My wife went round last week, she says she has never seen such an efficient building site in 17 years in her job. Unfortunately she won't share the photos she takes with me as she knows they will end up of here
  18. 14 points
    I'm sick of politics, can we avoid it in the football bit please?
  19. 14 points
    Just got back from the polling station. Wasn’t sure who to vote for so I just put a massive X next to the Conservatives to make sure they definitely don’t get in.
  20. 14 points
    We are incredible. Villa are the dirtiest team I've seen in the premier league for a long time. Truly got what they deserved. I've always like Michael Oliver but he was absolutely shocking today.
  21. 14 points
    Said it before, say it again - it's because Puel was willing to do the dirty work and didn't care if it pissed some people off that we transitioned into a side that could do what this one is doing. If people are too petty or xenophobic to see that it's their problem, not Claude's. I hope both LCFC and St. Etienne make the CL next season.
  22. 13 points
    Some thoughts. Whatever you think of Boris he's an election winning machine, two mayor of London wins in a Labour city, led the leave referendum campaign and now the biggest national share in a GE since Ted Heath. He'll win again as well in five years. He's united the party on Europe and should now make sure he focuses on keeping his new voters, as Lib Dem remainers may also return in his tradiotional areas post Brexit. Personally delighted with the new Conservative party, it's going to be great hearing all the Northern voices on the backbenches and the party needs to be more like this and represent it's voters more. - these people are very loyal and took the Labour party ignoring them for years to bring them over, let them down Boris and you'll deserve what you get. I hope for the Labour moderates they can recapture their party from the lunatics who have taken it over, a strong democracy needs two serious options for government. The Momentum mob need destroying, they've still taken no responsibility at all for this and still think that fantasy manifestos and "woke" politics are the way forward - it was hard to describe in hindsight how ridiculous it was to produce a fully costed manifesto and then just pop up with 60 billion for the Waaspi two days later, not ever serious and everyone knew it, even their own voters. I hope whoever reforms this if this actually tries for a kinder, gentler poltiics as well - these morons have spent the last three years telling almost anyone who disagreed with them to vote Tory and last night they did. The People's Vote/Second referendum mob are as responsible for this as anyone, the country hadn't changed it's mind at all and there was no evidence it ever had, you could have passed May's deal and stayed close to Europe, instead of gambling it all - your punishment for this is now Boris for at least five and most probably ten years. Fun fact of the election following Pidcock losing, the Durham Minors Gala will next year be held in a Tory seat
  23. 13 points
  24. 12 points
  25. 12 points
  26. 12 points
    Wellens and Gallagher should be nowhere near the same names as Ball and John Paintsill. Wellens was our best midfielder for a while, Gallagher used to get at least 10 goals a season and both contributed to great success under Pearson when we finished 5th and that team shouldn't be forgotten.
  27. 12 points
  28. 11 points
  29. 10 points
    ‘A bit of a rascal with the ladies’... yeah that’s all he can be accused of isn’t it 🙄
  30. 10 points
    And we beat Leicester 2-1 at Anfield. Make sure you include yourselves in this list - you've got a Premier League trophy in the cabinet, and are on our heels 100% on merit rather either sets of those Mancunians. We were discussing you lads on our own forum today, and honestly can't help but speak with admiration. Team built the right way, overcame such tragedy with the helicopter crash, and fans who prefer to spend their energy supporting their own side as opposed to cryarsing about rivals. We'd be thrilled to have ye all finish second behind us this year!
  31. 10 points
    Correct, "one of" is a huge insult as he is actually our best ever.
  32. 10 points
  33. 10 points
    All the mid table teams beating each other and stopping each other from getting anywhere near the CL spots. Love to see it
  34. 10 points
  35. 10 points
    https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/civils/project-reports-civils/inside-leicester-city-fcs-new-training-ground-27-11-2019/ Inside Leicester City FC’s new training ground Ian Weinfass Main contractor McLaren faces a race against time to get the Premier League football club’s state-of-the-art facility ready before next season Project: Leicester City Training Ground Client: Leicester City FC Contract value: £95m Contract type: JCT design and build 2016 Main contractor: McLaren Project manager: Arcadis Cost consultant: Turner & Townsend Structural engineers: ME Engineers Landscaping and design consultant:EDP Steel erector: BHC Architect: KSS Start date: 7 January 2019 Completion date: 29 June 2020 The death of Leicester City’s chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash in October 2018 sent shockwaves around the world. Thousands of people, including the Duke of Cambridge Prince William, paid tribute to the Thai billionaire, who died alongside four others. The influence of the colourful owner on the football club had been profound, with the Foxes winning promotion to the top tier of English football in 2014 and extraordinarily securing a first league title in their 132-year history two seasons later. Just eight months before his tragic death, the club unveiled a major off-field investment plan, in the shape of a new state-of-the-art training ground designed to offer facilities that should rival any in the world. Before tragedy struck, McLaren had been in discussions with the club about working on the project. After the crash, the plan was placed into uncertainty, but Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s son Aiyawatt – also known as ‘Top’ – the vice chairman, vowed to continue his father’s legacy and pressed on with the ambitious training ground. The complex, on the site of a former golf course in rural Leicestershire, will feature 11 full-size training pitches including one under a steel roof, eight smaller pitches, five training grids and two goalkeeping areas. The main training centre building will include 35 bedrooms so players can stay at the site. Several other buildings need to be delivered, including one for a turf academy – where Leicester City’s ground staff will train those keeping pitches for other clubs. Other facilities include a pitch for the club’s academy sides with a 499-seater stand, which will host matches on a regular basis. In 2019 the facility went out to tender and McLaren won the job. But that was just the beginning of the contractor’s challenges. Short deadline Leicester City is determined the complex will be up and running for the start of the 2020/21 football season, giving the firm a 77-week timeframe for completion. McLaren project director Martin Burge says: “Perhaps with a different client and a different structure you’d say ‘we need a bit more time’, but here it wasn’t within the client’s gift – they have a hard and fast holding point. “The Premier League season starts when it starts and we have to be ready for that.” Among the features of the training complex is that it has curved designs, to blend in with its rural setting near the village of Charnwood. Conservation: re-homing the site’s great crested newts A former golf course with several ponds dotted throughout, the site was home to hundreds of great crested newts – a European protected species. The amphibians can only be moved under license from Natural England, and only when the temperature is above 5 deg C. The complexities around this early work put off one of McLaren’s competitors for the job, according to project director Martin Burge. The main contractor, alongside consultant EDP, came up with a strategy to manage the early construction works around the removal of the newts so as not to delay the job. In the end, 348 great crested newts were re-homed during the project, along with a further (non-protected) 257 smooth newts and 245 common toads. Early works also saw some 4,000 trees lifted from the training areas of the site and re-planted close to what will remain a golf course. Around that area a further 38,000 trees are being planted. Football teams do not build training grounds very often, and few are on the scale of Leicester City’s premium version, which makes the client-contractor interaction on the project a little bit different. “The relationship is really good. You often push that when you think there’s going to be a repetition of work with retailers, supermarkets, that sort of thing. With this one, it’s very much a one-off,” Mr Burge says. “A different contractor with a different mindset might think - it’s only a one-off so we might as well just get everything we possibly can out of this because there’s not going to be a next job that comes up.” McLaren, he says, aren’t doing this. Mr Burge is a Leicester native who has supported the club all his life. He joined McLaren from Simons Group ahead of starting the job and his enthusiasm for the work was clear when ConstructionNews visited the site. The influence of the club’s owners can be felt throughout the scheme, which includes the retention of nine holes of the former golf course for use by players and staff. Current chairman Top Srivaddhanaprabha is said to be a big golf fan – and personally asked for improvements to the original plans for the course. The turf academy will be made available to those from the world of polo, another sport where the late Mr Srivaddhanaprabha had large interests, both personally and financially. Buddhist blessings. Throughout their time as owners the Srivaddhanaprabha family’s Buddhist beliefs have been felt around the club, with national newspapers reporting that monks were often being flown in ahead of home games to bless the players during their title-winning season in 2016. This approach was similar on the construction job too, with the client looking to hold a blessing ceremony for the start of works on the main training centre building – and requesting a six-week delay to the start to facilitate it. Mr Burge says: “Buddhism is very spiritual. They said it had to be done on a certain day, as some days are luckier than others and in that building it had to be a certain [element of the] steel [structure], as certain areas of the building are lucky and others aren’t. “It went to and fro for weeks about what the date was going to be and then we had to make a compromise in the end because we knew where we wanted to make a start in the steelwork.” In the end, the contractor agreed to delay that work for two weeks so that the ceremony could be held to bless its first steel column. Club officials including Top Srivaddhanaprabha, manager Brendan Rodgers and stars of the playing squad – including Jamie Vardy and Wes Morgan – came to the site for the ceremony which took place in a specially-erected marquee. “It was a really good ceremony. They blessed the steel – tied ribbons round it, and showered it with flowers and coins – and it was cracking to be part of that,” Mr Burge says. “It had to be done at exactly 10.20am, that morning. It was orchestrated to the second. "We had the crane there with the steel basically hanging from the steel erectors, and we had a countdown from five to one then had to drop it down onto the holding down bolts, tighten it up and release it. “It was one of those where suddenly you’ve got loads of people watching and a bit of steel hanging there and you are thinking – this could go so wrong. “There was an enormous sigh of relief when the steel was there and down.” Roof design Having narrowly avoided a six-week delay on the training centre building for the blessing ceremony, the contractor soon had to deal with another potential four-week delay relating to steel work. The largest structure on the project is the roof of the covered full-size training pitch that is to be used by the club’s top academy players to get used to a stadium-type environment. Designers on the project came up with a curved roof structure leaning in to walls covered in grass to give the impression that the pitch is moulded into the rural landscape. The 1,560 tonne roof will feature diagonal braced steel frames, with 13 trusses of 23.4 tonnes each, covered on top by a layer of transparent ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) plastic, and set against concrete walls, which give support to the mounds of earth against the sides. Mr Burge recalls: “We originally thought the steel frame would stand up on its own with the columns that support it all, and then we would follow along with reinforced concrete works after, as that is quite a slow process. “But then the structural engineers at the steel erectors ran a model on it and realised that because of the span, which is over 80 m, without the support of the reinforced concrete walls the truss rafters would drop, the columns at the side would spall outwards and you’d never get them back again. “So we had to change our entire strategy on that and do the reinforced concrete walls first. “At one point we were looking at the jaws of disaster, from a programme point of view on that one,” Mr Burge says. “We delayed the start of the steel by four weeks and pushed on with the concrete in advance.” The roof was made of four parts, with two at each side locked together before a tandem lift was carried out and the structure bolted together at a central point. And, despite starting four weeks later than planned, Mr Burge says the team recovered the time during the process and got that element of the programme back on track, praising the work of steel erector BHC. Planning permission If the external and internal time pressures on the build were not enough for the contractor to deal with, McLaren is also trying to help the club negotiate what could be another hurdle to full operation of the facility. A condition of its planning permission is that the training centre cannot be put into use before improvement work has been carried out at the closest junction of the A46 dual carriageway, to cope with increased traffic. On the face of it, this is a relatively straightforward job which will improve a junction layout to help traffic flow across the central reservation safely, but it is made challenging by the job’s tight timeframe and the bureaucracy involved with roadworks. “As McLaren, we can push this and get all the buildings done and fitted out, but if that road’s not done they can’t take occupation. It’s a big risk, a client-held risk, and we’re helping them to try and get that done as quickly as possible,” Mr Burge explains. The contractor has submitted a plan to Highways England and is awaiting permission for it to be signed-off and has three of its highways subcontractors currently pricing up the job. “[And after the sign-off], you often have to wait up to three months to do road-space booking [to do the work], so our nightmare would be that when we want to do that, you could have Severn Trent [water] in the road or British Telecom or somebody,” he says. “What I’ve suggested to the club is: we’ve got a design we think is okay, we might as well get it out to the supply chain now, pick a contractor that we think is competitive on the basis of the initial design that we’re happy with and get that road-space booking in ahead of Highways England’s sign-off.” While the cost-certainty won’t be there at that time, Mr Burge says this is one of the ways the contractor is trying to help de-risk the job for the client. Staying on target When CN visited the site, it was extremely muddy, after heavy rain over the previous few weeks. It was another complicating factor, which had delayed the suction lift of glass panels for the main training building for a few days, and work needed to be carried out to keep paths around the site passable for vehicles. With all the challenges taking place while Leicester City rides high in the Premier League, will the £95m training complex really be ready to open in July 2020, just 77 weeks after work started? Mr Burge says: “Some bits are ahead, some bits are behind. The weather has killed us recently, it’s been an absolute nightmare – but we are still on target.”
  36. 10 points
    What do you mean “nah didn’t think so” my answer would be “**** yeah let me google Olaf”
  37. 10 points
    This was happening before the international break too, pundits talking about them being 9 clear when again we were only 8 behind them and it was Man City in 3rd who were 9 off. Some of these pundits genuinely can't wrap their heads around talking about the points gap to Leicester as though we're really a challenger so instead they ignore us and move on to the next team down. You have to wonder, if we go top will they only talk about the points gap between 2nd and 3rd?
  38. 10 points
    Forget about it lads, he's never going to pick us over them.
  39. 10 points
    Our food and drink prices are horrifying.
  40. 10 points
    Good luck, hope you manage to find a buyer. @SO1
  41. 9 points
    Where did your Grandad live in Norwich..Letsbe Avenue?
  42. 9 points
    Nice stat from the BBC match report.... Leicester City have won their last four away Premier League matches by an aggregate score of 17-1.
  43. 9 points
    Brendan Rodgers targeting trophies after signing £8 m-a-year Leicester City contract John Percy Brendan Rodgers is targeting trophies and breaking records after signing an £8 million-a-year contract with Leicester City. As revealed by Telegraph Sport on Friday, Leicester moved to tie down their highly-regarded manager by offering a lucrative extension until the summer of 2025 as a reward for nine months of progress. The 46-year-old was appointed in February and has overseen a remarkable resurgence at the King Power Stadium, guiding Leicester to second in the Premier League. Their league win over Watford on Wednesday night was their seventh in a row. Arsenal are understood to have considered Rodgers as one of their potential targets to replace Unai Emery, who was sacked last week, but Leicester are now focusing on a future with the Northern Irishman at the helm. Leicester had always intended to reward Rodgers for the impressive start to his tenure and contract negotiations had started last week. Rodgers initially agreed a 3½-year deal worth around £5 million a year when he moved from Celtic, with a £14 million release clause. He has now landed a significant pay rise, and the contract is likely to include an even bigger compensation fee due if he was to leave. He said: “We really want to establish ourselves near the top of the table in the next few years, and there is so much room and scope to develop here. “I hope in my time here that we can continue to break records and win trophies, and stay competing and fighting which is important. “I want this team remembered in 30 years’ time for the level of football and how competitive they are. That would be the ultimate for me. “I’m committing my work and life here to give it everything. I’ve got a real motivation.” Leicester will seek an eighth league win in a row at Aston Villa on Sunday and James Maddison is backing “world-class” striker Jamie Vardy to break his own goalscoring record. Vardy has scored for seven games in a row and is closing in on the milestone he set in 2015, when he found the net in 11 consecutive matches to claim a record previously held by Ruud van Nistelrooy. After the trip to Villa, the 32-year-old will play against Norwich City and Manchester City before the visit of league leaders Liverpool on Boxing Day. If his scoring streak continues, he would equal the record against Liverpool. “I would back him to do it, definitely. He doesn’t ever look like he’s not going to score,” said Maddison. “I sit next to him in the changing room and when I look at him, I just think he looks like he’s going to score every time. He’s always in the mood. He’s a goalscorer, a world-class finisher. “World class isn’t a term that you should throw around lightly but his finishing is. He scores goals at this level and that record of 11 games in a row is just unbelievable. “He’s only four away at the moment and I’ll keep trying to feed him – maybe I’ll even let him have the odd free kick!” Vardy’s goals have helped propel Leicester into second place, while the performances of £21 million signing Maddison earned him international recognition last month. Maddison insists Leicester deserve more credit for their excellent start and is focusing on keeping up the pressure on Liverpool. “Seven wins in a row is fantastic to hear and it’s great to be a part of. We’ve got real momentum at the minute and we don’t want that to stop,” he said. “Liverpool are top of the table and very rarely drop points so to stay up there at that level we have to keep winning. “Let’s hope we keep staying under the radar. We’ll keep going, people will or won’t talk but it doesn’t really matter because it won’t change our preparation for games. Eventually people might start talking about us but we won’t let that derail us because we’ve got a job to do.”
  44. 9 points
  45. 9 points
  46. 9 points
    I'm loving it! 15/16 was a fairytale, a once in football history moment where all the stars aligned. It was magical, incredible and brilliant but it always felt like a one-off. Every player hit the form of their life at the same time and we rode a wave of momentum to the greatest story ever told. But this time it’s different. This feels like Vichai’s dream coming true. It feels sustainable, like the changing of the Premier League guard with a new power emerging. We rely on the brilliance of some old faces but it’s the Ndidi’s, Soyuncu’s, Maddison’s and Chilwell’s etc that are defining this era. Games are a joy to watch, we play incredible stuff and there is just a feeling about the club, the city and even the forum that these are the magical days. When’s the last time someone had a serious rant on FoxesTalk!? I can’t even remember! I'm literally watching every game we play this season with a massive smile on my face. I remember watching that 9-0 game at the pub with RoboFox from these forums and I didn't really know what to say or do! The goals just kept flying in! This is truly a special time in our club's history and the only sad thing is the man that was behind it all won’t get to see it. But we’ll do it for you Vichai! You said you would bring regular European football to Leicester and it’s happening before our very eyes!
  47. 9 points
    I’m getting used to winning again and that doesn’t do anybody any good.
  48. 9 points
    Mahrez proves it’s difficult to leave. Maguire proves even if you do it won’t be good. I can’t decide if we’ve got an excellent transfer policy or the starting of a cult.
  49. 9 points
  50. 9 points
    This one for me. For obvious reasons Got mine in a frame in my man cave!
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