Leicester City supporters are on a real high this summer. Not only have their ambitious club spent over £10m on seven new signings, beating Premier League sides to their signatures, but they have glamorous pre-season friendly against Real Madrid coming up.
After the underachievement of a 10th place finish last season, 8 points off the playoffs, Sven’s team will be looking to bag promotion this year and everything is looking rosy at the King Power Stadium, with a first return to the top flight since 2004 on the cards.
However one man that is not so sure is former Filbert Street hero Steve Claridge who has questioned the amount of money they are throwing around: “I think the sums of money the club is spending- and we’ve also got to throw wages into the equation- are absolutely staggering.”
As big-spending Middlesbrough proved last season investing in expensive players does not always guarantee success in the Championship and it more to about whether the management team can get the best out of the players at their disposal.
Highly-rated midfielder Neil Danns who turned down Champions League football with Rangers to join the club, exciting goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and the experienced Paul Konchesky are just some of the eye-catching arrivals so far with more expected before the big kick-off in less than three weeks.
Some of these have been impressive signings but the money they have paid could look very stupid. It’s hard to see how Matt Mills is worth £5.5m if Roger Johnson who is a proven Premier League centre-back only worth £7m? I think Reading will be laughing all the way to the bank with that deal. Claridge agrees: “£5.5m for Matt Mills? He’s a good player and a good centre-half- but I don’t think he’s ever played in the Premier League. If you were looking at around £2.5m to a maximum of 3m, then fair enough.”
The owners Asian Football Investments look determined to give Sven all the money he needs to mount a promotion push and it seems they are prepared to make a loss on their investment. They are not only investing in the team but they are also raising the club’s overseas profile as well as investing in an academy in Bangkok and it looks set to be a long term investment.
In May, Leicester’s Vice Chairman, Top Raksriaksorn, said: “I view this as a long-term project. I know we can bring a lot of success. To achieve what we want to achieve will take a long time.”
However the problem with bringing in as many players as they have done in such a short period of time is that it can unsettle the capable squad that was already there, and with no reserve team next season where are all these players meant to play?
Despite spending hundreds of millions on a new team at Eastlands, Manchester City’s owners are still searching for the perfect formula. When has a team ever done well straight away after signing a whole new team in the summer, won’t these players take time to gel into a team?
However worryingly for the other Championship teams, Leicester already had a good well-established team and are adding undoubted quality to that side, with the plan of chucking more money at it in January whatever position they are in.
In reality, the unquestionable talent throughout the young and ambitious side should make them promotion challengers and it is easy to see why they are one of the bookies favourites. But this season will not be a walk in the park as the Championship will be one of the hardest ever, so nothing is guaranteed.
If they fail to win promotion to the Premier League this year, will this strong Asian investment continue? If it was, in the unlikely circumstances, withdrawn they would surely be in financial ruin. This is the risk, with these high wages and transfer fees, Leicester City and its owners are taking with promotion to the Promise Land nowhere near assured.
What are your thoughts? Can Sven take Leicester back to the top-flight? If he fails this year, are real financial problems just around the corner or is everything looking up for the Foxes this season?