From The Other Side - Leicester City
Ipswich Town's 2010/11 campaign finally draws to its conclusion this weekend as the Blues travel to Leicester City. Looking ahead to the match and looking back on the season as a whole, we decided to contact the chaps at Vital Leicester and get their views on what has no doubt been a similarly topsy-turvy year for the Foxes. So, From The Other Side, here's what they told us:
Vital Ipswich: Well another crazy season of football is coming to an end. What would be your overall opinion of the 2010/11 season for Leicester?
Vital Leicester: It's been a funny one really - bottom after nine matches, Sven-Goran Eriksson's arrival and then an almost immediate transformation into looking like play-off certainties at one point. But then the matches against the bigger sides began to arrive, and we've been badly shown up in most of them. At the beginning of the season I predicted us to finish mid-table, which now looks about right, but never under these circumstances. It's not been dull, that's for sure.
Vital Ipswich: Well quite! It seems a long time since those early days under Paulo Sousa. Was sacking him the right decision, or do you think he should have been given longer to get things right?
Vital Leicester: You could tell things weren't right almost from the start. I was generally quite optimistic about his arrival (even if it was completely unnecessary after what Nigel Pearson achieved last season), but things started badly and we never recovered. The team weren't used to his style of play from the word go, and it was going to take far too long to adapt. Reports of unrest among the team soon began to surface, and it only seemed a matter of time before he was shown the door. Disappointing, but the correct decision.
Vital Ipswich: You've certainly had a bit of a rollercoaster ride in the past few seasons. What did you make of the 'Milan Mandaric era'? I've heard some Leicester fans suggest that the best thing Mandaric did for the club was to make sure he left it in safer hands...(!)
Vital Leicester: He's an odd one to judge, that Serb. On one hand he made several terrible decisions during his time here, but overall we are now in a much better position than when he first arrived. There were some truly awful moments from himself during our relegation season of 2007/08 (mostly managerial-wise), but he finally got it right with Pearson. He may have complained about how much of his own money he supposedly pumped in, but the truth is he got us on the cheap in the first place and sold us off for a handsome fee.
Vital Ipswich: How do you feel about your new Thai owners? There's plenty of rumours going around that Sven-Goran Eriksson will have many millions to spend this summer.
Vital Leicester: At first I was hugely sceptical. We've all seen plenty of horror stories about foreign investment in recent seasons, and I hated the fact that they effectively forced out our best manager in years. But, that said, getting Eriksson was a coup. It took time to get there, but now we look to be in a position where next season holds high hopes.
Their expectations may have been lofty when they took over, but in the end, with their backing, those play-off hopes came within touching distance. It looks as though they'll stick with Sven and give him support once again. So far, so good.
Vital Ipswich: You weren't too far away from a return to the Premier League through the play-offs last season. Do you think you will be able to achieve promotion next year?
Vital Leicester: As an eternal pessimist, the Premier League still seems a distant thought. That said, I am very hopeful of a push next season. Eriksson's had his time to learn the division, hopefully rectify some errors and continue adding to the squad with players of genuine quality. The transfer window will be key. Defensively we've been atrocious at times this season, and sorting it out at the back really will be make or break for our hopes.
Vital Ipswich: I'm not sure how much attention you pay to events in East Anglia, but do you have any opinions on everything that has been happening at Ipswich Town this season, and what we might achieve next year?
Vital Leicester: I wrote a couple of articles about Ipswich towards the beginning of the campaign, which sadly for you, were mostly about turmoil. But since Paul Jewell's arrival it's fair to say there have been vast improvements at Portman Road, highlighted clearly enough by a safe mid-table position. While I never thought relegation was ever going to be a possibility under Roy Keane, it shouldn't even really be a consideration for a club like Ipswich. Next year I'd expect a finish just outside of the play-offs maybe, but we've all seen that anything's possible in this league.
Vital Ipswich: We can live in hope! Anyway, on to the match. Our last meeting in the December snow at Portman Road was pretty memorable! What did you make of that game? Should it have been called off, or do you think Leicester were merely looking for excuses after failing to adapt to the conditions?
Vital Leicester: It was horrific to watch from our point of view. We were outplayed in every department, barely looked like scoring and were never going to get anything out of it. That said, I think it was outrageous it even got played. Had it not been for the television coverage we wouldn't have even been having the debate.
Vital Ipswich: Hmm... you might have a point there! Looking ahead to this match, which Leicester players do you think Ipswich should be looking out for at the Walkers on Saturday? Looks like The Yak's been enjoying life under Sven, and Andy King has certainly been catching the eye this year.
Vital Leicester: You look at Yakubu's goal-scoring record - 10 in 19 - and it just doesn't tell the whole story. Four goals in his first six games, and then just one goal-scoring match in his next 11. And that game? A hat-trick away at Middlesbrough. Now he has three in his last three. As you can tell, brilliant sometimes, incredibly frustrating at others. Doubtless to say he has the quality, but his work ethic is questionable at the best of times. Still, he'd be a quality signing if we can get hold of him.
Vital Ipswich: Better than any of our lot have done this year anyway! Is there anyone on the Ipswich side that might have you worried? Come to think of it, there is something of a legion of former Foxes in the Town squad; Marton Fulop, Damien Delaney, Gareth McAuley...
Vital Leicester: Fulop and McAuley were popular figures during their time at the Walkers, and everybody wanted to sign the former until Keane demanded £4 million while at Sunderland. McAuley was solid for us, but once we had that offer from yourselves there was no chance of us turning it down. I'm glad to see he's doing well for you, I always rated him.
Vital Ipswich: Yes... not a bad price you got for McAuley, considering we look like we're about to lose him for nothing! Neck on the line then - what's your score prediction?
Vital Leicester: I'll plump for a 2-2 draw. We can score, but defending seems low on the agenda these days.
Thanks to Vital Leicester for taking part in this interview and good luck (within reason!) to the Foxes this weekend. There might not be much to play for on Saturday, but here's looking forward to what will hopefully be an entertaining conclusion to the campaign.
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