Eriksson copes with high expectations at Leicester
25 September ~ After successive home wins against table-toppers Southampton and Brighton sandwiching a hard-fought point at Barnsley, Leicester City fans are, in the main, beginning to allow themselves a cautious optimism that our season is now up and running. A visit to Cardiff today will give a decent test to this theory as we face a side three places and a single point ahead of us, and with clear promotion aspirations of their own. A second consecutive play-off defeat saw a change of manager at Cardiff in the summer, with Dave Jones being replaced by Malky Mackay. It would appear that the job spec includes the words "dour" and "solid" along with the prerequisite to have been a rock-hard defender.
Although Mackay has been active in the transfer market (we can but hope that the magnificently named Filip Kiss sees a piece of the action) his involvement has obviously paled next to Sven-Göran Eriksson's rampant summer purchase of a virtually new squad.
It is the reality of being the manager with the division's most generous chequebook that has heightened the expectations of many Leicester fans and led to the talk of Sven being under pressure to deliver. To his credit he has dealt with this in his usual courteous, unflappable style accepting that only promotion is good enough and that the pressure is to be expected, particularly as, by his own admission, he is "extremely well paid".
The main area of concern on the pitch has been the wobbly defence, although the last couple of games have seen things looking considerably tighter. Record signing Matt Mills certainly didn't settle well but there are signs of him regaining the confidence and poise that attracted Sven in the first place, and a useful partnership with the eccentric Sol Bamba seems to be slowly developing. Lee Peltier at right-back is also looking the part with marauding runs forward and some wince-inducing tackles in defence – a combination that will earn the affection of most sets of fans.
Said defence will need to be on top of their game if Robert Earnshaw lines up for Cardiff as expected, he being one of the finest strikers in the division. Kenny Miller and Jon Parkin are no slouches either. With David Norris still out injured we will be looking to snatch a goal via the tireless running of Darius Vassell or the languid skills of Jermaine Beckford. It'll be a tough order against a mean defence and,in David Marshall, a pretty solid keeper. I hate making predictions but 1-1 would suit us just fine. Simon Betts
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