The Leicester View
The next visitors to Selhurst Park are defending champions Leicester City so we had a chat with Foxes fan Jim Knight this week to find out more about their very up and down season.
Q. How has the season been for the champions so far?
It’s been a bumpy ride but an incredible season. I’m sure the vast majority of Leicester fans know that this is likely to be our only ever season in the Champions League or as title holders, so we’ve enjoyed every moment of it.
Some of the performances have reminded us of how we won it last season while plenty of have been a hark back to the near-relegation of the previous year! One thing is for sure, it’s never boring.
Q. Perhaps you could share your views on the game at the KP earlier in the season which Leicester ran out 3-1 winners?
It came after the home game against Copenhagen and I think that was the time of the season where the home form was still keeping us out of serious trouble.
It was before anyone was really questioning Claudio Ranieri and we just seemed to have one of those days where everything clicked.
We went 4-4-2 with Ahmed Musa and Riyad Mahrez out wide and pace seemed to do the trick. Christian Fuchs’ goal is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry either!
Q. How do you feel the club did in the January transfer window and were all needs addressed?
I think we left ourselves a bit short in January, as we did in the summer window. It’s frustrating because we know the money is there but it’s been somewhat squandered on big fees for players who don’t really solve our issues.
We need more strength in depth, as the Everton game at the weekend showed. I’d like at least one more central defender, a central midfielder capable of subbing in for Danny Drinkwater and some more cover at right back. That said, Wilfried N’didi has been sensational since he came in so it hasn’t been all bad, he’s a superstar.
Q. Were you surprised at the sacking of Claudio Ranieri?
To be honest, no. I know a lot of people felt it was harsh and that’s fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Lots of Leicester fans knew he had to go though. Yes, that sounds really weird given what he’d achieved in a short space of time but he’d lost the dressing room. The owners would have been sanctioning relegation by letting him stay on.
If that’s what they’d wanted to do, I’d have supported the decision 100%. Ranieri earned that right but obviously it’s a huge financial hit and I think the money ultimately tilted the balance in the direction of change to avoid the drop, especially with several players now on £100k a week, that just wouldn’t have been sustainable.
Q. Was he solely to blame for the problems this season?
He wasn’t solely responsible, the recruitment wasn’t good enough, the pre-season was laughable and the players’ attitudes could be questioned during that barren spell. It was clear they weren’t playing for him and there’s very little you can do as a manager in that situation, regardless of what has led to that being the case.
He’ll always be a legend to a lot of City fans, if not all of them. He led us to something we could never have dreamed of but it just wasn’t working this season and modern football is usually down to the last 3-6 months of performance. You could say that’s a sad state of affairs but it’s true, it’s the world we live in.
Q. Who would be your choice to take on the role in the summer?
I think Craig Shakespeare is now very close to passing that audition (sorry!) but there’s still the option to go for a big name.
The King Power brand was furthered by appointing Ranieri so I wouldn’t be shocked if we chased a big name in the summer but I’d lean towards Shakespeare being given a full time role at the moment.
Q. If you had the power to make one change to the game of football, what would it be and why?
There’s got to be a better way of vetting potential new owners of clubs. Perhaps if the Football Association were a bit more stringent with their approvals process we might avoid seeing another Charlton Athletic or Coventry City where it’s ultimately the fans that pay the price.
That’s not a straightforward process of course, it’s such a complex procedure but protecting clubs that have been bedrocks of local communities for decades has got to be something the authorities have at the forefront of their focus.
Q. What is your view on Palace both as a club and how the season has panned out so far?
I think Palace are a relatively well run club and I’m glad they’re pulling away from that relegation scrap a little bit now. It was a bit like Leicester where you looked and it just wasn’t working under one manager, another one came in and, after a bit of adjustment, they’re playing to their potential for the first time in a year.
I’ll be really interested to see how Sam Allardyce does next season after a bit of a rocky start but he certainly seems to be getting a fine tune out of the squad now. I think there will be some attention in the top performing members of the team but if he can keep that group together then it could be an exciting 2017-18 campaign.
Q. Name one player from each team that the opposition should be concerned about.
At the moment, Jamie Vardy is our danger man. He looks to have that fire back in his game and that spells trouble for the opposition. He’s just such a nuisance and a player you love if he’s in your team but must be horrible to play against. You don’t get a moment of peace as a defender or goalkeeper, every pass you make is likely to be under pressure and that must be draining.
I’d worry most about Christian Benteke personally. Our set piece defence hasn’t been strong this season and he’s just the kind of player to exploit that. Robert Huth and company are certainly going to have their hands full, especially with Wilfried Zaha in sparkling form on the wing providing assists to those in the middle of the park.
Q. Your prediction ahead of the game at Selhurst?
A lot of our improved form has come at home and off the back of the trip to Madrid I’m not sure we’ll get a win. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw.
Q. Thanks for your time talking to TEB. Feel free to share any projects you are currently working on.
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