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  1. 33 points
  2. 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.
  3. 26 points
    So... 2nd in the league. Best defence. 2nd best attack. Billionaire owner. World record fee received for our 3rd choice CB. 5th highest for profit wasn't it? What Universe do people still live in where they think Leicester can be ripped apart so easily in this current day and age?
  4. 25 points
    Not me, I'm loving the team spirit this club has. May our players never take themselves too seriously.
  5. 25 points
    I just heard, for the first time, "Kloppage Time" .
  6. 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
  7. 21 points
  8. 21 points
    I’m sorry, I know we are playing great and it all looks rosy etc. However, there is no guarantee that we will be too 4 come May. A change of manager, a run of form (good or bad) or any bit of bad luck, could change the story very quickly. We should be aiming for top 4 at this stage but nothing has been achieved.
  9. 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.'
  10. 19 points
    This player is fvcking special. Another stellar performance today. His work for the 2nd goal was brilliant.
  11. 18 points
  12. 18 points
    Had the pleasure of watching this game with @RoboFox at the Stag in London. I'm really impressed. Not a vintage performance, but there was a gulf in class and we were the class team out there. What on earth has happened to Arsenal!? There was one team out there that had a clear style of play, trying to pass it about and make things happen, dominating the game and not giving up when things weren't going their way. That was us! I felt we showed Arsenal too much respect in the first half but wore them down in the second. In fact one thing I think that separates us from being at the very top table in the league is that Tielemans and Maddison don't believe in themselves enough. I don't want them to become arrogant but the next step in their development is to realise they are the real deal and to disrespect opposition teams that are not as good as them. Once they started to play and get on top we blew Arsenal away and in fact it's been the case in every game so far. When Ndidi, Maddison and Tielemans are on song, we win the game! Maddison especially is becoming the real deal... he was very technical last season but didn't really affect games that much. This season he is something else, if his name was Andres Madiesta, people would be spaffing their load over him. He's pure class, Youri Tielemans too. Is our midfield the best in the league? I think it is. I felt throughout the game we looked by far the better team and never really felt like we would concede. Even that offside goal was clearly offside to me when it went in. We were turning the ball over so many times in their half and eventually it was going to make a difference, and it did. There were so many times Arsenal couldn't get out of their own half and more composure in our final ball would have led to a goal. A special mention tonight must also go to Demari Gray who for the second time made a huge contribution to the game, and must be pushing hard for a starting place even though I thought Perez was decent, though he went down too often. Honestly this is the best I have seen Gray in consecutive games for the club, he causes problems, is playing the correct ball for the most part and actually being a team player. *This* Gray is honestly a very exciting player. Don't want to write too much other than to say, wow! This is the best Leicester team I have ever seen. It hasn't won anything (yet) and maybe it won't win anything. But I enjoy football to see top teams play good football to a level that I know I will never be able to achieve. To truly play at an elite level. This Leicester City team does exactly that! The Fantastic Flying Foxes! Thank you so much Top, Rudkin, Wheelan, Brendan and the boys, you guys put a smile on my face every week.
  13. 18 points
    9 points clear of Arsenal 12 points clear of Spurs 13 points clear of Man Utd
  14. 17 points
    We should punish them for stealing Walshy Snr, disrespecting him then scapegoating him. The cvnts. 9-0 again pls.
  15. 17 points
    Ya know, everyone's always ripping on Kane, but I think you have to take a step back for a second and look at the big picture. The amount of unimportant goals he's scored against absolute insignificant teams is staggering.
  16. 17 points
    200 grand a week and a domestic treble?
  17. 17 points
    Kin'ell. You wait 25 years to beat Arsenal and then 3 wins come in 18 months. Happy days.
  18. 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
  19. 16 points
    I wonder what he'd be like in this team under Rodgers, part of me thinks he is the missing piece of a team that would push Liverpool very close and probably win the Champions League the season after, the other part has made a mental note to stop talking out my 'arris. I know he was tempted to try and leave after we won the league and it still irks me that him, Kante and Vardy all were tempted or managed to move very quickly after what we achieved but it just goes to show how outrageous it was that we won the league in the first place. I honestly don't think we'll see the same level of desire to leave of the likes of Maddison, Chilwell, Ndidi etc come this summer if we make the top 4 and continue to look like one of the most exciting teams in the game right now. The whole ethos of the club has shifted from a fairy tale, where some of our top players didn't believe we'd ever compete in the top 6 again, hence wanting out to a blueprint and shining light for football. Riyad could do very well to remember Khun Vichai and Top in all of this and consider where his life and career might be had he not been so fortunate to be involved in those few glorious years with us. We may have refused to let him go, but there'd have been precious little desire for him in the first place had it not been for this club.
  20. 16 points
  21. 16 points
    Sorry but when the fvck have Arsenal ever played that defensively away to us?! It speaks volumes of where each club is at. We have made King Power a fortress again and Arsenal have come here for a point based on that first half showing. Disgusting from them with the players at their disposal. Anyway, enough about them. How fvcking good were we?! Professional and patient in equal measure. Beautiful football in tight spaces leading to Vardy's goal. So calm on the ball given the conditions too. Ndidi is just getting better and better. He's refined his passing game in the last 12 months and fits in perfectly in the tactics. I've seen Maddison has said it's like playing with 2 players when Ndidi is there. Where has that been said before?! Ndidi is putting in Kante-esque performances right now though. Another clean sheet. 6 wins in a row in all competitions. 9 (nine) points ahead of 5th place in November is just ridiculous. And much further ahead of Spurs and Man Utd. Always great to see. This club is in such a great place. Everyone pulling in the right direction. Long may it continue!
  22. 16 points
    It is the fourth time that Vardy has been named the Premier League’s Player of the Month, having previously won the award in October 2015, November 2015 and April 2019 – only Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Harry Kane, Steven Gerrard and Sergio Agüero have more. This is really incredible to me given that Vardy has played fewer games than all of the above and plays for a historically smaller team. Just continues his ongoing legendary status. Would be lovely to see him pick up the Golden Boot and / or Player of the Year award this season, both of which he is capable of doing!
  23. 15 points
    He wouldn’t if Southgate would put casino Jimmy on
  24. 14 points
    Calgar looked at Wes several times as if he would rather just be there by himself than have Wes sliding around all over the shop
  25. 14 points
  26. 13 points
  27. 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.
  28. 12 points
  29. 12 points
    https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2019/nov/10/brendan-rodgers-vision-leicester-city-sight-of-another-miracle-arsenal Brendan Rodgers’ vision keeps Leicester in sight of another miracle Nick AmesLast modified on Mon 11 Nov 2019 00.35 GMT Victory over Arsenal keeps Foxes in title hunt and shows how manager has brought light back into a club struck by tragedy Jonny Evans celebrates with his manager after the impressive victory over Arsenal. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA In a side room at the King Power Stadium, Brendan Rodgers was allowing himself to reflect. Only eight and a half months had passed since he joined Leicester City but the 90 minutes everyone had just witnessed felt among the most significant of that time. Leicester had just outmanoeuvred Arsenal, their claim to a Champions League spot looking increasingly hard to resist, and the atmosphere around the stadium bore resemblance to the near-disbelieving euphoria that helped sweep them to the title in 2016. “I felt the opportunity to hook into an emotion here for a number of reasons,” Rodgers said. Four months before his arrival the architect of Leicester’s lifetime high, the club’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was killed in a tragic helicopter crashoutside the ground. At that time Leicester, under Claude Puel’s management, were still trying to navigate the shift in landscape that came with topping the league. They were struggling for a fresh identity and it was a devastating blow to lose the leader regarded by so many as “The Possible Man”. “It must have been so difficult for Claude and everyone around the team because I felt the great values and the light [Srivaddhanaprabha] brought this club were blocked,” Rodgers said. “I felt I could maybe come in and bring that light into the team again, and use that legacy he left in a really positive way.” The line was a nice one, sensitively delivered, and brought to mind a briefing Rodgers had given journalists a few metres down the corridor during his first week in charge. Back then he said: “It just feels … as if I have been here longer. With everyone, with the connection.” He was convinced the fit felt right from the start, and nobody would disagree now. Rodgers has always been good for a soundbite, of course, but criticism of him in the past has tended to play the man rather than the ball. Opponents of his Leicester team have a relatable issue now: most of them spend large periods of a game chasing shadows as the spherical object is manipulated around them, or find themselves caught dozing as the Foxes’ front six hunt in packs. Even accounting for the excellence of Liverpool and Manchester City, it is hard to pinpoint a better-balanced unit in the top flight; nor a manager who has been able to instil his vision with such clarity in a time frame this narrow. It was instructive, in his analysis of Saturday evening’s 2-0 win, to hear Rodgers’ reasoning for introducing Demarai Gray on the hour. At that point the game appeared to be anyone’s and Arsenal could hold legitimate hope of at least stopping their rot with a point. “We became too ‘basketball’ and that’s not how we play,” Rodgers said of the second half’s early stages. That kind of slippage from the “how” could not be tolerated so Gray was brought on to get Leicester back up the pitch and, 15 vastly improved minutes later, they had scored twice. “It’s just having an idea and a plan beforehand of how the game might evolve; then, when you’re in the game, you have to make the quick decisions,” he explained. What would Arsenal give, at this point, for a manager with Rodgers’ lucidness? Their embattled head coach, Unai Emery, did not make a substitution until the game had been lost. There is a growing sense they missed the boat in 2018, when Rodgers would surely have been receptive to an approach after Arsène Wenger’s departure was made clear. Leicester’s opening goal on Saturday, a patient buildup of passes that sped up as it reached the box, culminating in a dazzling flick from Harvey Barnes and an ice-cool assist for Jamie Vardy by Youri Tielemans, would have blended into the scenery at Highbury and the Emirates until Wenger’s final few years. Instead Arsenal were reduced to counterattacks – a gameplan that at least looked logical – for the majority of the night. Ricardo Pereira said afterwards that is was “a sign things are going well, teams show respect for us”. Jonny Evans made a similar point, saying Leicester had needed to come up with a more assertive way of playing because they could not trade forever on catching teams napping as they did four seasons ago. That mistake is rarely made now; the problem is that few can live with the personality Rodgers has forged. “I think … the club have been trying to change, because they know it’s hard to sustain the kind of style they had,” said Evans, who played against them for West Bromwich Albion that year. “I think teams disrespected Leicester that season, in terms of not really realising how good they were, and kept being caught short.” While Mesut Özil spent the final moments being chastised by his teammate Matteo Guendouzi for shirking a 50-50 challenge, the home side’s playmaker and second goalscorer, James Maddison, was continuing to comb every blade of grass. With Wilfred Ndidi and Tielemans, Maddison caps the most exciting midfield three in the country. Their snap off the ball and control after winning it – the outstanding Ndidi showed both in the buildup to Maddison’s strike – are formidable and the composure with which Leicester pick their passes around the area resembles that of a team far longer in the making. To a small degree, that is what Leicester are. In Vardy, Kasper Schmeichel and the nowadays background presence of Wes Morgan, Rodgers inherited big personalities who were well aware of what it had taken to create history here. He needed to help them awaken that residual knowledge and graft it on to his long-term plan. “My idea was to open up the minds of the players and say: ‘Listen, you did achieve it [winning the league], and I’ll tell you why you didn’t go on and sustain it’,” he said. “But we’re here to try and create something that can be sustainable, and that’s about your mind as well as your quality.” Leicester are a point better off than at this stage in 2015-16. The light really is back, both for them and for Rodgers. Meanwhile, a few bulbs might belatedly be going off in the minds of those Arsenal executives who passed over him in their hour of need.
  30. 12 points
  31. 12 points
    Couple of things there. First, you say the mega-rich have no influence on the rest of us. Well, apart from funding the Conservative Party -in fact all parties on the Right - and forming the vast majority of the Cabinet, not to mention the Press you may have a point. And 'as long as they pay a decent chunk of tax'...come on, mate. The examples of the rich avoiding tax are so egregious and widespread it would be tedious to even begin on that well-worn path.And 'we're all wealthier' Are we? The news that came out yesterday about the unprecedented use of food banks would suggest otherwise. 'The politics of envy' - a stick used to beat the left since the heady days of Victorian paternalism, and as meaningless then as it is now. Envy has nothing to do with it...I don't want to be rich - and I certainly don't want to be like the rich! I'd just like to see a society where money is used as an instrument to unite society rather than divide it. There is more than enough money and wit in this country to provide a society where decent housing, education and employment are available for all of its citizens. But as long as we run the place on the Daddy knows best lines implicit in laissez-faire Toryism we'll get nowhere.
  32. 11 points
  33. 11 points
    Not even a debate, we'd have been relegated without Huth.
  34. 11 points
    Thats equaliser against Swindon. Still makes the hairs on the back of my head stand up.
  35. 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
  36. 10 points
  37. 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.”
  38. 10 points
    What do you mean “nah didn’t think so” my answer would be “**** yeah let me google Olaf”
  39. 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?
  40. 10 points
    Forget about it lads, he's never going to pick us over them.
  41. 10 points
    Our food and drink prices are horrifying.
  42. 10 points
    Good luck, hope you manage to find a buyer. @SO1
  43. 9 points
  44. 9 points
    Wealth doesn’t really mean anything to be honest. Yes, Chelsea and Man City have used their owner’s money to effectively buy their way into the top 4, but they’ve also broken a shit ton of rules to do it, and are getting caught out. But we’ve done it without spending obscenely. Vichai barely put any money in because FFP wouldn’t allow us to do the same as Chelsea or Man City, and because we tried spending big under Sven and that backfired spectacularly. Vichai gave us his time, business expertise and love, not money. That’s what defines us, this quote: “Our spirit exists because of the love we share for each other and the energy it helps to create, both on and off the pitch. And in the years to come it will continue to be our greatest asset.” Our club record signing up until Ulloa in 2014 was STILL Ade Akinbiyi at £5.5m from back in 2000. The team we won the league with cost less than what elite clubs spend on one player. Even after winning the league we couldn’t progress because we were hindered by STCC (Short Term Cost Control - designed to stop clubs spending beyond their means on wages based on a percentage of their wages the previous season; meaning still we couldn’t compete with big clubs). Our winnings from the Premier League and Champions League have gone straight back on our squad and eventually training ground. We bought Kante, Drinkwater, Mahrez and Maguire for less than £20m combined, and sold them for £219m - only to be above all of them in the league. No, we've done this without spending money that we haven’t earned and are in the top 4 on pure merit. The way things should be.
  45. 9 points
  46. 9 points
    I can't agree with some posters that say we were poor today. I thought we did ok played some good football and created chances. Granted we didn't look as secure at the back as we have recently but we can't thrash and outplay teams every week. The expectation levels of some people are crazy. Wednesday's game might be more of the same
  47. 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!
  48. 9 points
  49. 9 points
    The thing is if Spain Germany or whoever, had two young players like Maddison and Grealish they would build the the team around them. Southgate has not capped Maddison, and not even included Grealish in the squad. But i suupose we will beat Kosovo and Montenegro, and the papers will say how great we are.
  50. 9 points
    Admittedly happened in the CL, but this feels cringey and I'm not a fan of it. If he's apologised in private there's no need for public displays like this, seems to be to gain sympathy for himself
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