The Championship 2011/2012 Season Preview – Leicester City

Club Name: Leicester City Football Club (A.K.A The Foxes)

Last season in brief: Last season saw the managerial merry-go-round continue at the Walkers Stadium as Nigel Pearson who was unfortunate not to get City promoted the previous season was shown the door during the close season. His predecessor Paulo Sousa tried to get the team playing a style of football which didn’t suit the Leicester way – and the pre-season which focused more on playing with the ball, rather than concentrating on fitness backfired as we sat at the bottom in October.

This poor run of form, along with the new owners investing in the club saw Sousa replaced with Sven Goran Eriksson. At first many fans were concerned that this was another Notts County situation; but Sven quickly turned it around and a string of good performances on the pitch saw the Foxes climb the table.

Sven used his contacts in the game, along with the loan market to his advantage as players such as young and hungry players, such as Kyle Naughton, Ben Mee, Jeffrey Bruma and Patrick Van Aanholt, who were being frozen out at Premier League clubs were brought in on loan, alongside more experienced players Yakubu and Diomansy Kamara.

Unfortunately, as happens to all clubs, we went through a bad patch – including the 3-2 defeat at local rivals Nottingham Forest; which saw us slip out of the play-offs; and instead having to settle for a top ten finish (which in October, all the Foxes faithful would have taken!).

2010/2011 Final Finish: 10th

Who’s New: Neil Danns (Crystal Palace), Lee Peltier (Huddesfield), Kasper Schiemical (Leeds), David Nugent (Portsmouth), Sean St Ledger (Preston), Matt Mills (Reading), Paul Koncesky (Liverpool), Michael Ball (Free Agent)

Who’s Out: Patrick van Aanholt, Miguel Vitor, Kyle Naughton, Jeffrey Bruma, Yakubu, Diomansy Kamara (all end of loans); Jack Hobbs (Hull City) Ricardo, Lamey (end of contract), Robbie Nielson (contract cancelled by mutual consent), Aman Verma, Adi Yussuf, Ben Milnes, Craig King, Jorrin John, Nathan Hicks, Ashley Chambers, Robert Ambrusics, Conrad Logan (Rotherham, Loan) Cian Bolger (Bristol City, Loan)

Who to Watch: Despite Sven Goran Eriksson and the Thai owners splashing the cash and spending in excess of £10million during this pre-season, the two players worth looking out for in the City shirt have came through the academy ranks.

Andy King – is still very young but has achieved so much since coming through the academy here at Leicester. Last season he took the armband of veteran Matt Oakley, and proved to be a rock within midfield and scored at hat-full of goals during the campaign. Unfortunately, he seemed to take his foot of the gas during the vital run in; but Sven hasn’t lost faith in the youngster – and Gary Speed also handed him a few caps for Wales.

Another player who is worth keeping an eye out for is academy striker, Jeffrey Schlupp. He was sent on loan to Brentford for the second half of last season and featured in their Johnsons Paint Trophy Final at Wembley. Sven thinks highly of him and has tipped him to be one for the future. During pre-season he’s made a few appearances, bizarrely as a full-back in Sweden.

Who’s going up: Due to the money we’ve spent, we’re being tipped as one of the bookies favourites, alongside West Ham United. However, the teams I think will be pushing for those three important places will be ourselves, Reading and Blackpool.

Who’s going down: It’s a tight league and a few wins here and there will see everything change drastically, but when the final whistle goes on the last game of the season I can see the fans of Crystal Palace, Peterborough United and Millwall planning weekends away in League 1.

Where will you finish: Due to the money we’ve spent and after the run Sven took us on when he first took over, we’ll be expected to be in the top 2 – and realistically if we keep a regular team, I see no reason why this cannot become a reality.