Date:Thursday March 9 2006
There's no doubt what the Leicester City players think of national newspaper rumours suggesting that Mike Newell will be appointed Leicester City manager in place of Rob Kelly come the summer.
Quoted on Teamtalk, team captain and centre-back Paddy Mccarthy said: The players have responded to Rob in a great way and everyone in the dressing room is happy with the way things are going.
'We're 100% behind Rob and Mike Stowell and looking forward to working with them for the long term.'
As the article had very little else to say, and nothing that wasn't already known, the timing of the statement so soon after the newspaper gossip was significant.
It was effectively a declaration of support and backing from the entire team and as such it was swiftly delivered and singularly emphatic.
No captain would come out with the comment 'looking forward to working with them for the long term,' at this time without having heard of the speculation and taken soundings from the rest of the players.
The statement was a barely veiled warning to potential competitors for Kelly's job that virtually the entire side has been acquired as part of the Kelly (latterly Levein) era and, with results now going so well, they feel a great depth of loyalty to him.
That feeling runs deep through the club as emphasised by Alan Sheehan just before he signed his new two-year contact when he said: 'People have said I might be moving but I love it here and I'll be going nowhere.'
Sheehan and a whole group of youngsters like Louis Dodds, Levi Porter, James Wesolowski, and others are like a bunch of brothers who have all come through the ranks with Kelly and the other regular Academy and Reserves staff.
Make no mistake, whatever the administrative controversies off the field, there is tangible unity of spirit among the players and you can see it everywhere from the games, to the bench to the group of reserves chatting in the West Stand entrance area.
The same exists among the coaching staff. Team spirit, equality, the all-for-one-one-for-all philosophy are all such strong aspects of Kelly's managerial tenure that even journalists can feel disloyal criticising the lousiest of performances, like at Ipswich.
And it is this spirit which on the one hand has galvanised our season on the pitch and on the other hand will stand like an immovable object against any other potential managerial appointee.
Results remain paramount but if you wanted one player to fight your corner in a crisis it would probably be Paddy McCarthy and Kelly clearly has him on board.
Someone wrote today that Kelly has to make a decision about including McCarthy in the team at Luton. I'm not sure what decision was being referred to - what colour ties to give him for his socks or something?
Leaving McCarthy out would be like a boxer going into a title fight without his gumshield or in football terms like Arsene Wenger deciding Thierry Henry could take a week off shopping instead of playing Champions League.
When Kelly picks his team he'll put McCarthy's name down and write the rest around it.
Because in every way McCarthy epitomises that immovable object mentioned. Immovable in the team, immovable in his support of Kelly and immovable in his stance against any alternative manager without there is a damned good reason.
And with what Kelly has done for Leicester so far there's no good reason for anything except a huge thankyou.
Kelly's quite right. Leicester's future in the Championship is still not secure. But if it becomes so, you can be sure that Kelly will be going no further than Alan Sheehan if the players have their way, and Kelly support runs not just through the first team, but right through the club.
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