Ifs and Ands


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If ‘Ifs and Ands’ were points and plans; there’d be no need for the TinkerMan?

 

So I’ve been drawn to post another drafted, rushed, and unchecked blog given the outcomes of the last month of games since my last musings.

My assertions in the last post were hopeful that we’d start to pick up a bit of form in the league and start to push on. Clearly that hasn’t happened and some fans are up in arms and those with an extreme view are contemplating the worst possible scenario – relegation.

Firstly I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but I do think unlikely. Secondly, I don’t think the idea of sacking Ranieri is the best idea put forward, should we slip any further or can’t find consistency before Christmas.

I read a lot of people posting their thoughts across various interwebs means, and people are drawn to question the what ifs, and the asking why areas of the team were not addressed, and ultimately that the manager should be held accountable for this.

I’m not certain there’s much point in dwelling on what ifs and not sure whether all these conclusions are based on rational thought, non-evidential assumptions, or simply hysteria.

 

Spoiled with Success?

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I keep reading people questioning the team’s efforts, drive and willing to at least attempt to replicate some of the form that we showed last season. Various areas are used to blame this on, and I suppose some will mix and match or say in totality that combined this is all part of why we are not succeeding.

 

Contracts –

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This is I suppose the most common stone thrown. Key and squad players given bumper contracts, bigger than anything Leicester has offered before. Everyone knows that when you get a payrise you cease to care and put any efforts in like you might do when your low or medium paid contract is coming to its end, or prospectively another team is knocking on the door. You play out of your skin and earn that payrise. You have nothing now to aim for. Hard work done right?

I don’t buy this. Everyone who got a new contract earned it. It was the decision of the manager and owners to offer these contracts, both in reward for achieving the impossible, and trying to keep the team together that had achieved this.

I don’t believe that our lacklustre league performances are contract related. You may disagree. If you have examples of teams (not necessarily football) that have a similar path as ourselves, and done the incredible, and it all fell apart because of new contracts, then please share, as I’m interested seeing how that turned out, and what they did or didn’t do to turn it around.

 

Law 12 –

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Whilst both Robert Huth and Wes Morgan look as though they both could be lawmen from Judge Dredd, the question of whether or not their strong arm techniques in the box were a great addition to our defensive successes last season. With the FA asking for referees to enforce Law 12 vigorously when noted that this has neutered our CBs, with their old-fashioned style of bossing the box.

I think this certainly has had an impact on how our CBs manage the opposition, but the goals we’ve conceded so far this season, I would argue that it’s been individual errors rather than a timid and less physical approach.

Certainly corners and freekicks make me exceedingly nervous these days because of it. We don’t have a great deal of alternatives on the bench and in the squad that have enough time on the pitch together to make up for the absence of one or the other of our first choice CB pairing, but I don’t think this adds weight to the argument of some fans disgust.

I think we can all agree that as they get older and perhaps slower, that we do need to address this area, but I’ll discuss this under the next point.

 

Transfers –

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A great deal of fans suggest that had we got this player or that player or recruited to this position and/or that position we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today.

This is difficult to tackle because a lot of transfers can’t be confirmed, they are possible speculation, or conjecture.

I don’t know and most fans don’t know who we scouted, who put bids in for, and what reasons they didn’t happen. There’s simply too many reasons, from the amount offered, the contract, the player themselves, transferring elsewhere, or agreeing to wait until another window opportunity.

We were linked with a great number of players over the summer. Too many to mention in this post, and probably not worth going into, as I don’t know how close any of these were to actually happening, other than the ones that owners or managers have openly said they wouldn’t sell to us for whatever particular reasons. Particularly Silva (CM) comes to mind. It would seem they wouldn’t sell to us as we apparently offered too late in the window for them to find a replacement.

With that in mind, there were areas that I agree we could really do with some backup and possibly even upgrades, but I’m not going through each and every position, just additions that maybe we could bring in January to strengthen the team, and we can reassess in the summer.

As mentioned our CBs are ageing, and are struggling with the type of play the rules now dictate. We not only need someone who can step in if either are suspended or injured, but fight them for the position itself. It’d be great to see some youth coming through, and purchased, but time is of the essence in that area for sure.

Yes we’ve been liked with Keane, and Burnley were asking for stupid money, but now the big teams are sniffing around, and we have no chance, and Burnley will get a January bumper bonus as someone overpays for another Englishman despite their attributes.

I hope we have other irons in the fire, and bring the goods.

Midfield is problematic. Let’s address the elephant in the room. N’golo. Everyone who is anyone can use this stick to beat the drum of why we are failing to achieve consistency in any form.

It’s true we didn’t replace him, with a player of his calibre. This would be have been impossible in my view. Well why didn’t we find someone with similar attributes?

I think we did try. I don’t know who we approached, where we got up to with negotiations or whether we were outbid/ rebuffed, but any team who has a possible or 50% N’golo on their teamsheet isn’t going to give them up easily. Why would they?

Well, why did we sell him then? Failure of the manager and owners!

Really, for what I read, he had been convinced to come to us with the basis that if someone significant came knocking that we would sell him. That’s why he had a release clause, however pitiful people think it was.

I still actually shudder that Leicester’s last record sale was £11m for Heskey. We amongst other records managed to blow this out of the water with the sale of Kante. Yes, it was painful, and embarrassingly people are calling him a snake or a Judas, to go to lowly Chelsea. They aren’t even in Europe etc.

Yeah? Well Kante won the league, and as Chelsea are not bothered by those extra European excursions this season, he has a great opportunity to win the league again.

As I write this Chelsea are two points off the top with a game in hand and play Middlesbrough away. There is every likelihood, given their form and abilities that they will win and be top by the end of the weekend, and I noted that when he signed that they have every chance with little or no distractions of staying there.

I hold no grudges against someone who had asked to better themselves with a team that might have that chance, and have possibilities of achieving success regularly in the future.

Sure it would have been nice to hold on to him, but it wasn’t to be.

So have we managed without him? Nope.

It’s obvious he helped enable our CBs to do their jobs better, made room for Drinkwater to distribute, for our winger to push on, and for strikers not to have to spend their time chasing the ball out of the midfield and make something happen themselves.

So is this a failure?

Well it is and it isn’t. We’ve managed to succeed in the Champions League (yes in a soft group admittedly) without him. This, in my view, won’t be possible should we get to the next stage. But that’s in February, and there’s a transfer window. I really hope that we’ve got someone lined up early doors, and get them integrated as quickly as possible.

 

Formations –

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Another big stick to beat Ranieri is why we can’t play the formation that worked for us last season.

When coaches, other managers, and commentators joked that N’golo was worth an additional midfielder when he played, they were not kidding. We do not have that player in the squad, who can do that incessant running, and brilliant intercepting that he did without looking even remotely lagged or tired following that game. A machine.

We also have lost a midfielder in Mendy. I’ve read some posts, like he’s always injured, we were had, he’s a crock etc. Really? He didn’t have an injury prior and the injury he had was misdiagnosed, and it turned out that there were fragment of bone which had to be removed from his injured ankle and unfortunately he has had some setbacks, that are down to luck rather than some bad scouting, or mismanagement.

What if he hadn’t had this injury would he allow us to better flow, and improve our form. Who knows? Can he come back this season, get match fit, and would he then be able to get in the first team should we go to the market in January? Again, it would be speculation that even Ranieri can’t suppose.

Will Matty James ever be fit and ready for the team, can he bring the needed steel to the midfield getting us through the season should we not bring someone in? I’ve not been able to see his performances in the under 23’s, but I know he’s getting more minutes under his belt, but is he ready, or will he be one of the few outgoings in January to make room? Time will tell.

For me, we’ve been forced to play a certain way and been hampered by injuries, form, and to a small degree internationals. Shinji is a good example. Claudio even openly said that Shinji’s brother had come back on the plan instead of him.

What I do know is that when you had a workhorse in the midfield and Shinji on the other end of that third of the pitch, the opposition didn’t have a moments rest, and we need to find that balance again. Our central engine isn’t firing on all cylinders as half the pistons are missing. Drinkwater came back over the summer, and is fitter than he ever was before, however because he’s being asked to work either beside King or Amartey, I don’t think he has the freedom that he had before, and is making poor decisions, and his passing at times has taken a hit.

We can play a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1, but without the right personnel it’s clear we are suffering because of it, as teams are set out in the league to stop us, whilst at least in Europe they are less prepared.

 

What ifs?

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I think it’s easy to moan and whine about the what ifs. We are where we are, and it’s a matter of progressing out the Champions League group, which openly has been discussed by Ranieri (and probably our owners) as the priority. I appreciate that when you pay week in week out for league football that this isn’t what you probably would like to hear. But also an understanding that whilst have the best chance of progression (a weak-ish group) that we take it, and make the most of it.

We hopefully will be able to strengthen in January before we get back on the road in Europe and play tougher sides, but that supplement should also help the league side too.

We didn’t seal the deal as I had hoped against Copenhagen, but still got a draw. If we get this over the line, I’m hoping to see a more invigorated impetus to make roads away from the bottom, and to get us to the January window to seek reinforcements and plug the gaps.

I remain steadfast optimistic, despite my disappointments, the overreactions and the hysterics, and the inevitable rollercoaster still to ride before this season ends.

I welcome any thoughts on my musings. Whether you agree or disagree, by all means drop us a message below, tweet me, or join my FB page to discuss without text limitations etc.

Thank you for reading…

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4 Responses to Ifs and Ands

  1. Mr T says:

    Another superb read. Truthful factual and to the point. No hysterics raised in the article just a bitter true reflection of our current predicament.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Right on the money. Good read.

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