After another season of disappointment for Leicester fans, will 2013 be the year the Foxes seal promotion back to the big time?
On the 24th October last year the Leicester City board decided to call time on Sven-Göran Eriksson’s reign at the club. The move came as no surprise after a 3-0 drumming at the hands of Millwall and the club languishing in 13thplace.
The Thai owners felt they had no option but to make a change if they were to succeed in bringing Premier League football back to The King Power Stadium.
Nigel Pearson, the man who left the club 2 years earlier to join Hull City, was the owner’s choice to take over the reins after Sven’s departure. Pearson couldn’t weave the magic required to get Leicester into a play-off position and they finished off a turbulent season in 9th place.
Fast forward 8 weeks and for the second year running bookmakers have installed Leicester as favourites to be crowned kings of the Championship, and with good reason. Leicester have one of the strongest squads in the league and owners with money to burn, this combination should provide Leicester fans with an abundance of optimism, but things are never that simple.
There are question marks over whether some of the players are committed to the cause and doubts have been raised over Nigel Pearson’s ability to produce results under intense scrutiny. The extreme pressure is due in large part to the fact Leicester are in effect ‘doing a Man City’ and trying to buy success.
Manchester City have proven money can buy you success but what they and Leicester have both proven is that it doesn’t come instantly. There are many factors that contribute to a Championship winning side but relentlessly pumping ubiquitous amounts of cash into a club is not an effective formula.
It takes time to ingrain a winning mentality and picking out the right transfer targets is also key to a side’s success. There has been little movement on the transfer front so far from Leicester but there is still plenty of time for Nigel Pearson to make some quality additions to his squad this month and next.
The only exit from the club so far has been Ivorian international Sol Bamba, one of the clubs best performers last season, departing to pastures new with Trabzonspor. Pearson will need to fill the void left by Bamba with a stellar replacement to keep the players and fans happy.
The main threat to Leicester’s chances of securing the league title will come from two teams who were relegated from the Premier League last season, Wolves and Bolton. Both have squads filled with quality and will be desperate to make the leap back to the promise land at the first time of asking.
Cardiff, who have narrowly missed out on promotion for two years running, will be a threat to Leicester’s chances, as will Leeds who have a ground and fan-base fit for the top flight.
Blackburn who were also relegated from the top tier last season should also not be overlooked. Steve Kean will struggle to hold onto the clubs best players and it’s yet to be seen how he will cope at this level but they should be contenders come the end of the season.
With expectations for promotion at an all-time high at The King Power Stadium, anything less than promotion will inevitably be deemed a failure. Over the past few seasons the team has adopted the motto “Keep the Faith”. If the club are going to achieve promotion then that slogan will be more prevalent than ever.