19 October ~ When the new chairman, Vichai Raksriaksorn, and his son Aiyawatt (more affectionately known as “Top”) arrived at Leicester City in 2010, they soon made clear their expectation to bring Premier League football back to the club, with cost not being an issue. Their drive and determination was soon underlined with the appointment of Sven-Göran Eriksson. Rather than pining over the most recent glory days under the management of the great Martin O’Neill, Leicester fans had a reason to look to the future.
Eriksson’s last truly successful run as a club manager came when he was in charge of Lazio in the late 1990s, where he amassed an array of silverware, including a UEFA Super Cup victory over Manchester United in 1999. However the trophies came at a price, as he spent almost £300 million on players in his four-year reign at Lazio, leaving the club in a dire financial position and in freefall when he eventually left to take the England job. Taking into account Leicester’s willingness to spend in this year’s pre-season (nearly £15m on 11 new players), fans can be forgiven for showing concern over the financial future and stability the club.
However, the pressure and responsibility shouldn’t lie squarely on Eriksson's shoulders, as a manager can only spend what the chairman is prepared to invest. Given that Raksriaksorn is reportedly the 35th-richest man in Thailand and has clearly stated his intention to bankroll the club into the Premier League, those concerns should be appeased. But after the money that has been spent on bringing in high-profile players such as Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Beckford, anything other than promotion would be viewed as an embarrassment.
With this in mind, Leicester’s current league standing of 13th reflects what has been a truly underwhelming start to the campaign. While defensive signings such as Matt Mills, Lee Peltier and Sol Bamba have made the team extremely difficult to break down, the problem has been at the other end of the pitch, with only 13 goals scored in the opening 11 games.
Despite missing captain Mills through suspension, Leicester have an almost full-strength squad to chose from for tonight’s match at home to Watford; riches that would be the envy of most Championship clubs. Having beaten the Hornets in their last three meetings on home soil, scoring four goals on each occasion, the Foxes will go into the game as strong favourites. However, although Watford sit above the relegation places by a solitary point, it would be foolish to look at tonight’s match as a walkover, as the Championship stands as the most highly contested, unpredictable league in the country. Oliver Woods