Monday night Leicester City announced they had parted company with year long servant Sven Goran Ericksson, seemingly in response to the 3-0 home defeat to Millwall this weekend. The Foxes now sit in 13th place and the inconsistent form of pre-season promotion favourites seems to have been too much for Thai owners King Power. The heavy investment for said owners, a figure well over the £10million mark, over the Summer raised expectations for the Midlands club, and ultimately sitting mid-table with the half way mark just around the corner the owners must feel these expectations aren’t being completed. Were they unfair in this judgement however? Considering the Foxes are still only two points from play-off places and only five from the automatic promotion places.
Let’s look at some results so far, the major criticism of the performance of Leicester this season is the major inconsistency that has run rife, on one hand the decision of Leicester’s owners is understandable, the foxes gave rock bottom Bristol City their only win of the season, they lost to 20th placed Millwall 3-0 at their own King Power stadium this weekend, they were held by both Barnsley and Nottingham Forest who have both been struggling so far. It is results such as these that tarnish the image of Mr. Ericksson, and make the eight game unbeaten run that they held until defeat to Birmingham seem less impressive, considering of course that some of these results were part of that unbeaten run.
Considering the flip side of the argument Leicester have had some impressive performances, most significant of which is the victory over league leaders Southampton, who have only lost twice in the campaign. Furthermore the foxes have held other clubs that currently sit in the upper echelons of the league to draws, such as Middlesbrough and Cardiff, as well as the fact they swept to a 4-0 victory against Derby, who have been their usual selfsame and have been impressive at the beginning of this season. Another aspect that must be concerned in favour of the Swede is how tight the Championship is, while 13th sounds unacceptable for any promotion favourties, as mentioned earlier Leicester are a mere two points from play-off places and five points from automatic promotion places.
So performances have been mediocre, and whilst league position isn’t what was expected they are hardly out of the promotion race, so what other factor did the Thai owners take into consideration? This other factor must be Sven’s fortays into the transfer market, which stumped up costs that made Leicester look like a Championship equalivent of the blue side of Manchester. The biggest signing for the midlanders over the summer was the £5million deal that bought Matthew Mills to the King Power stadium from Reading, he was appointed captain almost immediately and whilst he is a figure at the back and has a lot of commitment he hasn’t been outstanding. The English centre-back saw red for a wild two footed tackle against Birmingham and his own form has almost mirrored Leicester’s due to it’s inconsitency. Sean St. ledger, another defender whose transfer stole the headlines has almost made Mills look like player of the season, with the Republic of Ireland international playing a measly four games, with disappointing performances, and has since fizzled out on the bench. Jermaine Beckford must be a final player to be placed in the disappointing category of Sven’s summer spending spree, at £3million the English forward sounded like a brilliant signing, seasoned to the Championship with Leeds and having spent a season at the top slight with Everton. He has not delivered however and can only boast an one goal return for his seven appearances and hasn’t performed admirably so far.
Once again there is another side of this argument, and one that very much covers Sven’s transfer policy. Huddersfield’s Lee Peltier has come in at the back and done a decent job for the Foxes so far, with eleven appearances, in which he has been solid, even getting forward to get on the scoresheet in one occasion. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has also come in to the squad in fine form, the big Dane may just go down as Championship signing of the season, with the ex City playing with finesse and reflexes that we have grown accustomed to and have many asking why he isn’t back in the top flight. Michael Johnson, a loanee from Man City, is another player that has performed above average in the few games he’s played and some fans are asking the question why the midfielder hasn’t featured more than four times. Finally Dave Nugent, a striker who has proved himself as a decent Championship player, was signed on a free after being released by Newcastle. The frontman has been in fine form, bagging four times in nine starts.
So did Sven deserve the sack? Considering all the above factors one must come to the conclusion of probably not, not yet anyway. The Championship season is only thirteen games in, and while so far the Swede has seen his Leicester side perform slightly below expectations the sacking was premature and given more time Sven probably would have seen his side rise in the ranks, probably a result of him seeing some of his disappointing signings gel with the more impressive ones and the team improve as a whole.