What happened last season?
In one word, the answer of course was relegation. However, one word is
never enough and so perhaps a little elaboration is required.
After a successful promotion campaign the previous season, the realistic
expectation was that we would face an uphill battle to survive in the
Prem this time round. Martin O'Neill was long gone of course, but many
felt that we had the next best thing in Micky Adams. Here was a Manager who
had shown the previous season that he could 'do the business' with a
selection of players of varying abilities, ages and skill levels. Although
the Prem was hardly comparable to the Nationwide League Division 1, it
was felt that with a bit of money to spend, a few new players and a bit of
luck and we might just perhaps finish safely in 17th place.
Well the effects of the previous administration period were obviously still
having an effect. There was no 'serious' amount of money for new players.
Any players that we got had to have been begged for, stolen, borrowed or
acquired very cheaply indeed. Les Ferdinand aside, the old adage that 'you
get what you pay for' was never truer.
Never mind, perhaps team spirit and togetherness would take us where
financial input feared to tread? Perhaps it may have done, but at a vital
part of the season the team went away on a 'bonding' session to La Manga.
The events at La Manga were well documented in terms of quantity, although
sadly not with regard to quality. The daily 'reports' in the tabloids were
overly concerned with selling extra copies rather than getting at the
truth. Leaving that argument aside though, the aftermath had an effect on
the whole club. The record books may show that we won our first game out
after La Manga, but the damage had been done.
Whilst the effort and application was still present, the belief seemed to
have seeped away. Players who had been demonised in the press in previous
weeks were expected to perform to the best of their abilities again as if
nothing had happened. In truth, it was never going to happen and eventually
we, the supporters, came to know it as well.
In fairness, the outcome of the season itself was as much to do with
shooting ourselves in the foot as it was to do with La Manga. Whilst La
Manga was perhaps a premature coup de grace, the tone for the season had
begun as early as our very first game at the Walkers. Southampton were
allowed to come back from two-nil down to claim a share of the points and
similar situations happened several more times over the course of the
season. A three-nil half time lead at Molineux became a four-three defeat
at full time. Three-one up at Middlesbrough on ninety minutes became a
three-all draw after injury time had been completed. And so on and so on
and so on. It didn't take Einstein to realise that our generosity to the
opposition would have profound effects by the end of the season.
And so, we were relegated. In the main, the supporters remained loyal to
the club, the players and the Manager right through to the end. A lot of
the older heads amongst the supporters perhaps always knew what the
outcome would be. For the others, well there was a modicum of satisfaction
from not finishing in bottom place.
What's going to happen next season?
This coming season will be the making or breaking of the current team and
of the Manager. Promotion will be tricky, if truth be told, even a play-off
place will be hard to achieve. My own biggest fear is that we follow the
path of clubs like Sheffield Wednesday and drop down yet again. There has
been plenty of activity within the club on the transfer front lately -
sadly equating more to our better players leaving. We knew that Muzzy was
going of course, but when Ferdinand, Thatcher, Dickov and Scimeca also go
you know that you have lost an integral part of the team.
Yet again, it seems that no serious money is available to strengthen. Mickey
is again left to see who he can beg, steal or borrow. Whether or not the
likes of 'youngsters' Dion Dublin and Kevin Pressman are the answer to our
prayers remains to be seen. However, being a typical Leicester supporter I
am filled with optimism and expect our promotion to be confirmed with back
to back wins over Derby and Forest next March.
Bring on the Hammers on August 7th and let it happen.
We're a Premiership team, get us outahere :-)
Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)
"Watford FC still have me on their mailing list after I had to resort to sitting with the home supporters for the last game of the season in 1996"
"I have had a verruca for 2 years...and it shows no sign of leaving."
"Why did David James have the best game of his career for you against Leicester?"
"I nicked a load of carrots off the allotments last time I came down to Watford........"
"Hope we have a team by the time the season starts . . ."
"Disregard anything Forest fans say. They think it's 1979"
"I was in the watford end when muzzy scored to get us in the play-offs and send you down. it was fun."
"I am a closet furry make up bag lover!! I also eat fluff from the depths of the family sofa!"
" ive to go to hospital for major surgury..........i need to get this computer chair surgically removed from my arse....doing this bit o research has made me realise ive got no life anymore"
"if you cant read anything because i spelt it wrong blame Tony blair"