Oh, We Do Love to be Beside the Seaside

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Another solid performance and another point on the table after last week’s match against Tottenham. They’re a big team and we played very well, we deserved a win. I felt there were a couple of questionable decisions which didn’t go our way and we continued to create great chances, particularly in the second half. And, Mahrez, well, what can I say? He’s in terrific form and really stands out this season as a quality player and getting the equaliser in the last 10 minutes lastweek was just another outstanding piece of play from him.

Mid-week we had another success with the win over Bury for the Capital One Cup; Ranieri took a good opportunity to rest some players and give others a chance to show what they’re made of and we had another good performance, which gives us more confidence going forward that we have a back-up in place which will see us through the season.

The players seem to be responding well to Ranieri, I think there was some concern that the change may cause upset in the team dynamics, but that’s simply not been the case, I’ve yet to meet him personally but I’ve heard good things from everyone I’ve spoken to and whatever it is he brings to the team, it’s certainly working so far!

I think he will still be working on the defence, as we are leaking a few goals but at the moment we’re scoring enough for it not to be a huge concern. When we get in front of some of the big teams it could leave us more vulnerable though so he’ll certainly want to get things as tight at the back as possible. We’ve yet to be fully tested but the team looks much better than this time last year, work rate, teamwork, energy – it’s proving a winning combination and one to be reckoned with.

We’re on track for that Top 10 finish I predicted pre-season and I think that will be the focus for the owners and Ranieri as the league progresses, and, of course, this year it’s big money which cannot fail to benefit the club further for next season.

This week, we’re at Bournemouth which is one for the fans and it should be a great bank holiday weekend and a big day for LCFC. I think we need to be wary of Bournemouth though, they’ve had a good win at West Ham and scored 8 goals in their last 2 games so they’ll be fired up and wanting some more points on the table to make up for their first 2 games.

I remember at Leicester when we first got promoted to the Premiership it gives you a renewed energy and a real impetus to show the ‘big boys’ what you can do, and they’ve done great to work their way through the leagues to get where they are today, and they won’t want to give that up without a fight! As long as we are prepared and stay relaxed, we can definitely win this one, but we need to stay focussed as we could trip up if not and they’ll be quick to take an advantage if they can.

I think it’ll be an interesting team selection for Ranieri so I’m keen to see what he does, although I imagine he will keep the formation which has brought us success so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if he mixes the squad up a bit.

The Cherries look ripe for the picking, here’s to another great match!
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Three’s a charm

We can’t fail to be impressed with the start to the season and we’re now looking at 10 wins out of our last 12 premiership games, which is outstanding.

As I said last week, I think we would have been happy coming away from Upton Park with a point so it was a terrific win at a historically difficult fixture.
I think many were surprised that Ranieri kept the same formation as we played against Sunderland, but it worked and I cannot see a reason we cannot continue the celebrations with Tottenham this weekend.

The club has seen such a turnaround since Christmas when it all looked a bit doom and gloom and the players and fans have had a real boost from achieving maximum points from these first two games. It’s important to get points on the board early on and very difficult in this league to come back from early losses, now it’s just a case of following up on our performance so far.

I think our biggest test will be when we do get beaten, which we will at some point, and how we react. We’ve got some tough games in Autumn, but at the moment it’s so good to see us up there between Man City and United, I don’t know if we ever had such a great start when I was playing.

The signing of Gokhan Inler, Swiss International, is exciting and I’m hoping he’ll be passed to make his debut against Tottenham. But, I think it’s also indicative of the club’s intentions, we now have plenty of international players and the owners have made it clear that this is not just a club aspiring to stay up this year. It could cause a bit of unrest in the squad wondering if there are plans to offload any existing players, but we’re now in a good position where we can rotate the squad and, if we suffer any injuries or suspensions later in the season, we have back-up in most positions so it shouldn’t impact on our performance.

Again, last weekend Okazaki stood out for me, he’s hit the ground running and his reaction to the goalkeeper’s save was quick and decisive and, of course, Vardy is doing exactly what he needs to up front, I reckon he’ll be aiming for 20+ goals as a personal target for this season, and he could do it!

Defensively, I think Robert Huth will be key for this season, Wes Morgan sometimes gets criticised for his pace but his experience means that he can read the game perfectly and that’s extremely important in a defensive position. Jeffrey Schlup has definitely stepped up to the plate and his pace is perhaps his best attribute, he just seems to get better and better with experience. I’m confident we have a solid back four which will be pivotal in the big games this autumn.

Of course, we said farewell to David Nugent as he goes to Middlesborough; great player and we wish him the best of luck with his new team.
What’s great about LCFC is our supporters, I’ve heard people referring to our away fans as the best in the league, and it really does make a difference on the pitch. At home, the
clackers are back and we’re reaching a 32,000 capacity every week which is not only great for the club but the city as a whole.

It’s a great start for sure and I’m cautiously optimistic, let’s see if this weekend we can get another 3 points on the table and ‘spur’ Leicester on!

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Can The Foxes deliver another ‘hammering’?

Can The Foxes deliver another ‘hammering’?

What a start to the season! The lads put in a fantastic performance overall and the fans were great, I don’t think Sunderland we’re quite ready for a taste of Leicester passion!

It wasn’t the formation I think most of us suspected, but you do need a different strategy at home and Ranieri went straight in for the attack. A great debut by Okazaki; great energy and work rate and with the chances we created, we could easily have scored 7 or 8 goals.

Sunderland were pretty poor and it is a concern that we conceded 2 goals to them, so I’m erring on the side of caution when it comes to predictions for the rest of the season at this stage. If we stick with the same system of play throughout we could come unstuck, but it doesn’t detract from the win on Saturday.

A5_eskimo beats.2I remember those first games of a new season and it is a dream come true to start with a win, especially a thrashing! It should fill the lads with confidence and I would imagine they’re feeling pretty positive and motivated to keep it up.

This weekend we’re away to West Ham which is always a tough game, never in my career did we get many points at Upton Park or The Emirates, those 2 stadiums just never seemed to come through for us. But, last season we did manage a win against West Ham at home so we just need to carry on the energy and grit we had last weekend and I hope we come away with a point, if not a win.

I’ll be interested to see how Ranieri plays the squad for his first away game, whether he’ll stick with the formation he used against Sunderland or change to a more defensive strategy such as a 3-5-2. When we’d played a great game like that, Martin O’Neill probably wouldn’t have changed too much but we’ll see what Ranieri’s experience brings to the fold at the weekend.

Sadly, attention has been slightly deflected from
our victory by the news on Jamie Vardy’s conduct, which we could do without after Pearson’s exit in the summer. I’ve not really looked into the full story, but poor conduct, on or off the pitch, and bad press is never good for football.
Don’t get me wrong, I made my mistakes and was outspoken at times but the press are getting too intrusive into player’s personal lives and you have to be so careful when you speak to them as you never know what they’re probing for.

I think players should maybe be given some media training, particularly the younger players, as it’s a minefield which they’re not prepared for and it takes time to adjust. More importantly though it’s realising that your actions reflect on the club and making sure you always conduct yourself as well as possible…then there’s nothing to write about!

Let’s hope it’s resolved and Vardy can concentrate on getting us another goal this weekend…come on lads, show the Hammers what we’re made of!
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The Black Cats enter the Foxes den

Since the squad returned from their training in Austria, we’ve had a cracking pre-season which has no doubt fuelled the team and fan’s spirits for the new season.

With three wins under our belt already we are looking forward to a very positive start to the 2015/16 season.

Judging by our performance across the last three matches, it looks as though Ranieri has, as expected, tried out different squads and formations in order to pick the best combination to take on the Premiership, and it looks as though he will stick with the 3-5-2 formation which brought us success at the end of last season and against Championship side Birmingham City last week.

With Wes Morgan returning to the back three from Jamaica, further strengthening our defence, and Schmiechel in goal, the combination should give us a force to be reckoned with for any team’s attack. I believe that we had one of the best defences in the Premiership by the end of last season, and continuing that will be fundamental to our success.

Ranieri’s new signings mean we have an abundance of quality midfielders for the squad, a bit of a selection headache for Ranieri, but an advantage for us as a team. Aside from the replacements and new squad members, I hope that there aren’t too many changes from Pearson’s end of season squad, as we managed some great performances and the team spirit was electric.

The first match of the season against Sunderland is a great opportunity to pick up three points and start the season as we mean to go on, it’s a ‘must win’ in my opinion.

Sunderland’s pre-season has been mixed and they had a tough 2014/15 season, with the arrival of Dick Advocaat saving them from relegation in the final stages of the league. Looking at the two sides, I believe we do have a better squad, although, with ex-Tottenham player Jermaine Defoe up front, he could pose a threat.

Above all, I cannot wait to get back to the stadium and meet more fans and players, and I’m hoping we will recreate the fantastic atmosphere we had last year to spur the lads on.

See you all at the stadium.

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Steve Walsh Blog – 27th July 2015

With the first home game of the season in just 2 weeks, the spring has not been all that quiet for Leicester City FC; but hopes are high for the new season and I for one, cannot wait to get back to the club and see how the premiership unfolds this year.

After Pearson’s exit during the summer, the club welcomes Claudio Ranieri on a three-year deal to take the reins; bringing with him an impressive heritage, following a successful four years with Chelsea (2000-2004) and spells with international giants Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Roma and Valencia.

Ranieri has been at pre-season training in Austria with the team for the past week and, a man known for his methodical and entertaining system of play it will be interesting to see which tactics he begins to apply at Leicester, and the results that ensue.

Other team news included the potential return of Esteban Cambiasso, after a one-year deal at the club last summer, during which he made 33 appearances and scored 5 goals. But, the former Inter Milan and Real Madrid player decided not to renew his contract with the club, which many fans were disappointed to hear. In an interview with the BBC, Cambiasso on his time at Leicester said, “I have lived one of the most important years of my career.” We wish him all the best wherever the next phase of his impressive career takes him.

The signing of centre-half, Robert Huth from Stoke, will be vital to this season’s success; between him and Christian Fuchs, we’ve got one hell of a defence which will help us compete against the best of the Premiership.

Goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel is reportedly enjoying his return to the team for pre-season training; fighting fit and raring to go, after missing some of the 2014/15 season through injury and international commitments.

The fans pre-season insight has been positive and I think we’re all just eager to get the new season underway and see what Leicester can do. I believe that the squad we now have is a recipe for success and should everything go to plan, I see no reason we cannot finish the 2015/16 season mid-table.

None of this would have been possible without the terrific support the owners have given the team, the management and the club and I think the players and fans are all greatly appreciative that they are as committed to Leicester’s success as we are.

The fans last season were amazing, always a great atmosphere and that’s just what you need on the pitch, and off it. I think we really surprised some of the Premiership last season and the fans did us proud, I’m looking forward to a great 2015/16 season.