Next Step: World Domination

Next Step: World Domination
Firstly, thank you to all the supporters last weekend who joined us in showing our respect to the brave veterans of the world with an immaculately observed minute’s silence.
But, as expected once the game got underway, little could then contain the noise! What a weekend for N’Golo Kante as he netted his imagefirst goal for LCFC and what a goal it was as he somehow sneaked it past an unsighted Gomes to put us 1-0 up; his smile said it all. Much has been said about the team spirit between the Foxes but the second goal just epitomised that for me as Mahrez handed over the penalty to Vardy, ensuring his scoring sequence remained intact and still in the running to contend with Van Nistelrooy – fantastic.
This week has also seen Jamie Vardy named as Barclays Premier League Player of the Month for October ahead of Arsenal duo Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Watford’s Odion Ighalo and Stoke City’s Jack Butland. Ranieri got pipped to the post by Arsene Wenger, but Vardy praised the Tinkerman as instrumental in his own title win.
And it’s not just on the pitch but also the pitch itself! Often overlooked are the Groundsmen that keep King Power such a fantastic destination for football but this week they were awarded the Football Grounds Team of the Year award, beating Manchester United to the accolade – massive congratulations to the Grounds team for it is extremely well-deserved recognition for all their hard work.
This weekend we see a break from the Premier League action but, with 14 Foxes on International duty, the boys aren’t getting a rest. The squad will make their way across four continents to represent their countries, and it’s nice to see LCFC en-route for world domination!
It could be an interesting meeting for Fuchs and Inler as they cross paths in the Austria v Switzerland friendly and Schmeichel is set to join his country mates in the Denmark v Sweden qualifier. However it’s not just the first team getting in on the action as our U21s also have the continent in sight with Ben Chilwell representing England’s U21s and Simonas Stankevicius representing Lithuania. Good luck to all the lads – enjoy it but come back safe and ready to fight for that third place spot.
On a final, more sombre, note; many of you may have heard the sad news about former Leicester City goalkeeper Marton Fulop who passed away this week. Marton joined LCFC on loan in 2007 and made 27 appearances for the club before returning to Sunderland; he was fantastic and I remember we wanted to keep him but, unfortunately, it was not to be. However, he was always remembered by the team and management with great fondness and will continue to be. I’d like to offer condolences from all the ‘Blue Army’ to his family and our thoughts are with them through such a difficult time.
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Rule Britannia!

Last weekend, what a game! It was truly astonishing. I’ve been involved in some comebacks over the years, but this was amazing. Never do I think I’ve ever seen us make a comeback quite so spectacular but, as the commentators said, the Leicester team have a spirit this season of “never say die” and they certainly lived up to that last Sunday.

I think many spectators felt the dread of our first loss this season as we were 2-0 down in the second-half, but I did think if we just got one goal we could potentially pull it back. Little did we expect the outstanding last 15-20 minutes we witnessed!

In the first-half I didn’t feel we pressed Villa enough and we just couldn’t close them down but the second-half was a different story and Villa barely managed to make it over the halfway line. I thought the turnaround was inspired by some brave substitutions by Ranieri, bringing Inler off and bringing on Kante and Dyer, and what a difference they made.

I felt we had a solid back four, although we played a little deep at times, and Wes Morgan had a good game for our defence. Throughout the game there were some questionable decisions including booking Albrighton when he’d blatantly been fouled 3 times earlier and nothing was given for any of them. There were definitely a few penalty decisions that we might have benefited from but, in the end, we didn’t need them.

And what a debut from Nathan Dyer; he was sharp and fresh and his goal was a brave one. A lot of players would have backed out of that and I admit I thought he’d suffered a serious injury immediately afterwards but he shook it off and enjoyed the fans exultation. Good on him!

Talking of the fans, it was an electric atmosphere, and the noise from the Leicester supporters after that third goal must have hit a new decibel rating. It just goes to show, our die-hard fans are what make every match so much fun to be part of and the immense pride they have when we score really spurs the squad on, so they deserve huge congratulations for the success the club is experiencing at the moment as well.

I think we’re confident, fast and playing well as a team and we could potentially upset a few of the bigger clubs coming up.

We’ll be confident going to Stoke this weekend. We lost to them in our most recent meeting in January but the last time we visited the Britannia Stadium we recorded a 1-0 win. It’s another of those tricky stadiums and we could be in for a bit of a battle. I don’t think we can go there thinking it will be an easy game. Stoke’s performances this season may not yet be on a par with the Foxes, but they’ve got some good players and they’ll be definitely looking for a win at home.

As for us, I think Ranieri can’t fail to look at last week’s second-half performance when he’s picking the squad for this weekend and, providing there are no injuries, I wouldn’t be surprised if the starting eleven was very close to that which finally worked it’s magic on Villa but we’ll have to wait and see.

I saw an interesting piece in the Leicester Mercury this week which showed that Foxes’ players have registered four of the top five speeds recorded during the Premier League so far with Vardy logging a speed of 35.44km/h, Schlupp 35.26km/h and Albrighton 35.00km/h. So I think Stoke will have to catch us first before they start looking at scoring!

As for myself and Muzzy, we’re back at the academy with the new term underway. We’ve now got approximately 70 students (60 BTEC years 1 & 2 and 10 apprentices) in brand new classrooms down in Whetstone so it’s all systems go.

For those of you who don’t know, we teamed up with PTC Education last year to create the Advanced Football Academy (AFDA) which offers a unique program for 16-18 year olds to work toward a BTEC level 3 in Sports Studies, whilst giving Muzzy and I the chance to pass on some of our training and hopefully, we’ll be writing about our alumni playing for LCFC in the coming years!

If you’ve just left school, or have children who have, and want a career in sports, then it’s not yet too late to join this year’s intake, although it will close in a few weeks. So, if you’re looking to ‘kick’ start your sporting career, have a look or get in touch. Our website is www.afdaleicester.co.uk or email [email protected] and help us find some future Premier League stars.

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Caps, Trophies and a Midland Derby: Things Look Interesting for LCFC

It’s been a good week for Leicester’s players as they’ve contributed on the international scene.  Great to see Vardy make a start against San Marino and shows Hodgson is taking an interest and the opportunity to have another look at him.  The game was a bit boring, as you’d expect against a team which has two bar owners and an accountant as goalkeeper, but Vardy made some tremendous runs and perhaps didn’t quite get the service he does at Leicester.  All in all, though, it’s another cap for him and shows that he’s in Hodgson’s plans so I hope to see him making an appearance again soon.

The England v Switzerland game was the first real chance I’ve had to look at Gokhan Inler since his arrival and he looked good; could be a really useful player and I imagine Ranieri will be playing him in the imminent future after the performance he gave as Swiss Captain this week.

More good news for the club in the form of nominations for both Ranieri and Mahrez as the Premier League’s ‘Manager of the Month’ and ‘Player of the Month’ respectively.  And so they should be; Ranieri has helped us get a cracking start to the season under our belts and Mahrez has been outstanding, I really like him and think we’ll continue to see great things from him.

This weekend I must say I do fancy us against Villa, but as ever, I remain cautiously optimistic.  I think we will start as favourites but I’ve got a lot of respect for Sherwood and he’s got plenty of experience.  I think it will be a tight game and I cannot see an abundance of goals; we’ll have to work hard but we have the home advantage and Sherwood’s made a lot of changes to the squad so there is still some ‘bedding in’ to do.

For us, it’s a chance to cement our position in the league and continue our unbeaten streak and for Sherwood he’ll be keen to get points on the board to secure Villa’s Premier League place comfortably for next season and beyond, so I don’t expect it to be an easy match, but it should be a good one!

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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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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.

Walshy’s Premiership Podcast

Steve-Walsh-2City Communications is very happy to announce the first Steve Walsh Podcast featuring special guest Alan Birchenall talking about Leicester City’s return to the Premiership. Completely unedited listen to the opinions of two Leicester Legends about the Foxes chances this year.

We will be running the podcast as a monthly series with more special guests.

Sponsorship opportunities are available please contact [email protected] for more info.

Download it now on iTunes or stream it right here. Its a great listen for any Leicester fan!

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Steve Walsh Blog – 10th May 2014

This has been one long party for Leicester City Football Club since winning promotion. Now we are the Champions after a great final game at the KP stadium, we should spare a thought to Paul Dickov as his Doncaster team succumb to life back in League 1 after a dramatic last minute Birmingham equalizer decided their fate. Unfortunately one of their fans died at the final whistle, so condolences to the family and RIP.

A Nugent second half penalty soon put the icing on the cake for the Leicester City boys and it looked like Vardy was having another party night.

Thanks to the owners and Susan Whelan for inviting me and Muzzy into hospitality we had a fantastic breakfast brunch with champagne and directors box seats – they were magnificent. The after match celebrations were truly awesome and I finally got my photo holding the cup with Pearson. It will be a picture to finalize my book. Well done to Nigel Pearson and all the Leicester City lads you deserve a holiday… but I’m sure that the transfer market will be very important and can’t wait to see the fixtures on June 18th – raring to go already!

The bank holiday bus tour was another amazing day as 5000 Leicester City FC fans gathered outside the City Town Hall to greet their heroes. This was a moment that brought back so many amazing memories of all my Wembley visits and so did the sea of blue flags that filled the KP stadium.

Lastly well done to Birchy who’s 34th run raised thousands of pounds for local charities.

Well done the birch!!

Now it’s time to sign off for the summer, but look out for a brand new premiership blog starting early August. Have a great summer everyone. I hope to see everyone at the Leicester Music Festival, its a great line-up and promises to be a great weekend. http://www.leicestermusicfestival.co.uk. Don’t forget to per-order your Walshy biography book “50 shades of Blue” anyone who wants one email [email protected]

 

Steve Walsh Blog – 25th April 2014

Well, we are nearly at the end of a fantastic season and LCFC has been rightly crowned champions after another fantastic result up at Bolton. Lloyd Dyer put the icing on the cake in the 62nd minute of a game we had 62% possession and our 96th point of the season was in the bag.
We have now won 29 games and only lost 6 so far in a season that will match just about any in our history and all us fans have enjoyed the ride to the premier league.

Only two games left and today we travel to Huddersfield and meet up again with a Leicester City old boy, Mark Robins who is doing a great job at the John Smiths Stadium. If I see Mark he might have an interesting take on the events at Old Trafford where he once saved Fergie’s job and now they are in a bit of turmoil! Older fans will remember Mark’s time at Filbert Street when he joined us in the relegation year of 1995, but then great memories of the 1996 promotion under Martin O’Neill and the unforgettable cup win in ’97!! A final note about Mark – when he left Leicester he had a very successful move to Copenhagen where he picked up a fans nickname with his fellow strike partner of Batman and Robins. I might remind him of that one!

Back to us, and LCFC sits proudly at the top of the league with 96 points and our last two games should give us every chance of breaking 100 points, but what really matters is getting into the top league with all the massive fixture that brings. Before then we finish off the season at the King Power and what a day that should be as the trophy will be ours after what will be a tough test against a Doncaster team scrapping for their lives and I will add a bit more next week in my final blog of the season.

In fact, it just might be my very last blog as I am tempted to change my weekly ramblings into a fortnightly podcast for the Premier League and I will be joined by a few footballing mates and contacts to bring you views about our progress next season. I will have a think over the long summer when all there is to look forward to is the small matter of a World Cup with England competing against the best of the rest!

Steve Walsh Blog – 18th April 2014

LCFC’s fight for the Championship title was further enhanced by Burnley’s slip up against Middlesbrough. As I have said before, and you all probably know that points in the bag are better than games in hand at this point in the season. I think our convincing loss against Brighton shook up the players and made them realize that their job isn’t quite finished yet. I know that we have already secured promotion, which is great, but we all want to go up in style and win the league. Winning the league would also give us that bit of extra momentum next season.

 

These last few games of the season are the perfect time for Nigel Pearson to play around with his team. It’s important for him to make sure he knows what needs to be done for next season. I think for the last match against Doncaster he will play his first 11 that have been consistent this season in getting us to the Premiership. I can’t wait for the last game of the season, Birchy will be doing his 34th run but only a few laps this time. He’s raised over a million pounds for over 100 different charities, what a fantastic achievement!

 

Whilst the LCFC team had a weekend off, I was invited down to Wembley for the Arsenal vs. Wigan FA Cup Semi-Final. My old club Wigan nearly upset Arsenal but in the end the inevitable happened and Arsenal won on penalties. It was a great day other than seeing Wigan lose, I met up with a few of the legends. Bob Wilson, Ray Clemence, Alan Kennedy, Martin Chivers and Phil Neal. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day of meeting Arsenal fans and reminding them of my equalizer at Filbert Street! No sign of Ian Wright to remind him of our polite discussion coming off the pitch!

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Back to business on Monday night for LCFC. They were straight back into the action against Reading who needed a win to secure their play-off dreams. We managed to secure a draw but we should have won that, we created more than enough chances but couldn’t quite force another goal. It was great to see Jamie Vardy back on the pitch, we will need him again before the end of the season. My player of the year definitely goes to Danny Drinkwater, his equalizer was just amazing! Mahrez had another great game and Schmeichel made some vital saves.

 

Good luck to Nigel and the lads for last push, come on lads, I know we can do it!

 

 

Steve Walsh Blog – 12th April 2014

Saturday’s results couldn’t have gone any better for LCFC! Our opponent’s downfalls were our victory. We are once again in dreamland. We’ve been away for 10 years and I couldn’t be more excited for our return.

After a busy weekend of celebrations from the player’s, it was obvious that they were suffering on Tuesday night when they played Brighton at home. Had we been promoted over the weekend or not it was going to be a tough game. Brighton are fighting for a place in the play-offs so they were always going to be determined to get a win. It’s a shame that we saw our undefeated record broken, and in such style! But, I’m sure the boys will be back on form next week.

After the brilliant season LCFC have had, it must have been pure euphoria for everyone over the weekend even though this did prove costly on Tuesday night. Nigel Pearson really changed the team lineup and I think at this stage that was an important move to make, Pearson needs to see which players are ready for the Premiership! The manner of Tuesday’s defeat will have been the last thing everyone wanted to see, but hey, at least they lost convincingly! One thing is for sure, my lucky shoes definitely lost their luck!

I know it was a disappointing defeat, but you have to look at the achievement LCFC have made over the full season! No one can take that away from them. The fans on Tuesday were brilliant, no one can deny that the atmosphere was great. There was a lot of support for the team.

There’s a lot of work to be done until the end of the season, I think the players and staff will now be reaching for the Championship title. There’ll be a lot of work to do over the summer as well to get all the players ready for the big league. I can’t wait until 18th June when next season’s fixtures are released!

Good luck to everyone at the club for the remainder of the season. Keep the faith fans, I think we can do it!

This weekend I’m off to Wembley for the Wigan vs. Arsenal match. I’ve been invited to work in the hospitality area. I’m really looking forward to seeing my old home town team!