Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Doctor Lakes - Leicester City

Here at Soccer AM/MW, we were relieved to learn that the Coalition Government weren't planning any cuts for the NHS.

Why? Because we didn't lose the services of our very own Doctor Lakes.

Some might say he's a danger to his patients, regularly displaying negligence and failing to spot even most the basic of diagnoses, but we fundamentally disagree.

No, our good Doc is actually an astute physician who is always the first port of call when checking on the state of Football League clubs.

His latest case took him to the East Midlands to check the pulse on Sven Goran Eriksson's Leicester City.

Happy New Year one and all. Sorry I'm a few weeks later with these remarks, I've only just finished my celebrations. It would appear I had one too many Tequila Sunrises and ended up in Peru - married to a young peasant girl.

Long story short, it took a while to sort a visa and we're now looking for a house in Woking.

Onto business. I've been told to pack my medical bags and head up the M1 to Leicester. After finding my stethoscope in my dog's kennel, I was on my way.

As I write this, Leicester are sitting in 13th place and are six points off the play offs.

It's not a bad position to be in but, when you consider the Foxes were a penalty shoot out away from the play off final last season, most Leicester fans will have disappointed with how the season has gone so far.

The problem has clearly been a lack of consistency. After winning League One and just missing out on promotion, Nigel Pearson packed his bags and left for Hull in the summer, leaving Milan Mandaric to look for another manager.

Fortunately for him, he found one in South Wales. Paulo Sousa put on his cardigan and made the journey to the East Midlands to build on the impressive foundations that Pearson had left.

He had a terrible start to the season, but this wasn't a massive shock at Soccer AM/MW towers, simply because we realised that Pearson and Sousa had two completely different ways of playing football.

Pearson preferred a direct approach - although I will need to add that it would be unfair to label his team as long ball merchants - while Sousa likes his teams to build slowly with the ball remaining on the deck.

It was always going to take time for Sousa's new methods to settle into the Leicester team, but Mandaric couldn't deal with the bad results - resulting in Sousa's dismissal in October.

A bad start to the season was starting to have an effect on the Leicester fans and it was with great relief that the next man to step into the managerial hot seat was the Swedish masseuse, Sven-Goran Eriksson.

He promised to relieve the aches and pains that had been plaguing the Leicester faithful and, slowly but surely, he is doing that. Leicester look good to make a dash for the play offs in the back end of the season.

They've just sealed a deal to take the Everton striker Yakubu on loan until the end of the season. Although The Yak has been dismal in front of goal this season, there's no doubting he has the ability to run riot in the Championship.

If he can score early on in his terms at the Walkers Stadium, then I have no doubts he will start banging them in for fun. Especially when you look at the men who are feeding him.

Yuki Abe, Andy King, and Richie Wellens have formed themselves into one of the best midfield combinations in the division. They completely dismantled Manchester City in the FA Cup and look very accomplished on the ball.

King has already scored ten goals in all competitions and is certain to be playing in the Premier League next season. King's goals have been helpful because, without them, Leicester have looked a little goal shy - hence the importance of Yakubu.

The experienced Sven-Goran Eriksson is plotting a second half of the season push

My only concern with Leicester's midfield is that it looks a little lightweight, especially on the road - and I think this has contributed to Leicester's dreadful away form.

Eleven points from 14 games is not the form of a team fighting for promotion and, although their home form - 25 points from 13 games - has kept them within touching distance of the play offs, I can't see them bridging the gap unless they start picking up points on their travels.

They leak goals away from home as well with 31 conceded. 31! Only Crystal Palace have conceded more on their travels and they're rubbish. This is something that has to be addressed before they can start to move forwards.

Sol Bamba has joined up with Sven's men and, at £250,000, he looks like he could be a bargain, but it might be more to do with how they set themselves up rather than a personnel issue.

I don't have the answers, but it looks like they don't keep it tight early on in games. In three of last five away games, they've conceded within the first 15 minutes - and have gone on to lose every one.

When you are playing away, you can't afford to be as expansive and as attacking as at home. You have to sit tight, see out the opening 20 minutes, and kill the crowd noise. Get a foothold in the game and build on that.

If you go a goal down in the opening 15 minutes, you're in trouble and the crowd are right behind your opponents.

I fancy Leicester to make the play offs. They seem to be getting better with every passing game and they are making some quality additions to their team during the transfer window - Kyle Naughton is a good acquisition.

They're playing good football and, although this season looks to be as tight as ever, I feel they will have the strength to shine when needed.

What could be a problem is their last five fixtures of the campaign. They travel to Reading, Doncaster, and Nottingham Forest, and host Watford and Ipswich.

They will be very lucky to get anything more than a few points in their away fixtures, as all three teams have impressive home records and Forest will be looking for revenge after losing 1-0 at the Walkers earlier in the season.

Although the Tractor Boys are a bit lame at the moment they're certainly not a pushover when they click and Watford, well, just ask QPR what Watford are capable of. They still seem to be reeling from that schooling.

They would like to be pretty secure in the play offs going into those final games, but the way this league works they could win or lose all of them - it's that difficult to call.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've just heard that Peterborough's owner is suffering from memory loss, so I've got to see how he is doing.

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