Date:Monday March 13 2006
There is renewed speculation every day about who will manage Leicester City after the summer but what fans are asking is 'when will Rob Kelly be signed up long term?'
The players want him, the fans want him and the Board might well have kept their own jobs because of him.
Leicester won one away game in the first half season or so before the departure of Craig Levein. Rob Kelly has won three of his four away games since taking over and at places like QPR where we hadn't won for 20 years.
We've collected 17 points from eight League games which is the rate normally needed for a play-off place. In the previous eight games virtually the same players lost six, drew two and collected a miserable two points.
Goalswise we scored 14 times in Kelly's eight games compared with four in the preceding eight.
Every way you look at it Leicester are unrecognisable from the over-cautious, disjointed, uninspired team which had no recognised strike partnership, no effective winger, Kisnorbo misfiring in midfield and no confidence or self belief.
Kelly has come in and behaved like a master mechanic.
Instead of throwing people out and bringing lots of people in he has basically fine-tuned the team that already existed.
The effect of his tuning has been to make City's engine run far more smooothly and now there are even signs that he's getting performance out of it too.
His supposedly main rival for the manager's job, Luton's Mike Newell, was emphatically silenced at Kenilworth Road where City finished the stronger and were rewarded for two positive substitutions with a winning goal.
And what other rival for a Championship team managership is likely to have matched Kelly's five wins, two draws and one defeat in eight tricky matches so far? And that when under severe pressure.
Every move that Kelly has made whether with existing players or with his new boys has had a purpose and has been made within a team structure that has remained unchanged.
Furthermore, to a great extent, all his adjustments have worked to the extent that they have each seriously or marginally improved the team and collectively they have improved it beyond recognition.
Why might any new manager arrive? More attacking style?. Kelly's goals ratio has been a great improvement on Levein's and he gives every indication that he will gradually increase our attacking potency.
More charisma? Kelly is no Bill Shankly in front of the cameras but he seems a far better communicator than Levein (who had no talent in that direction) and comes across as sensible, good natured and sincere. Mike Newell could hardly be considered an interviewer's dream.
More ambition? How would anyone know? Kelly never speaks of personal ambition beyond doing the job with which he's been charged, namely keeping City in the Championship.
But he does talk of trying to win every match. Levein never seriously tried to do that.
Occasionally, against Southampton in the Cup, Wolves at home and Ipswich away, it might have been difficult to believe it of Kelly's Leicester. But otherwise there's been no doubt he's tried to win, home or away, and if his ambition really is to win every game then could anyone ask for more?
At the moment there seems to be daily speculation about Leicester and it is bound to be unsettling. Newell's coming, McAllister's on his way, two-year contract for Kelly.
Well the sooner it is settled the better. And because there really is no sensible contest remaining anymore, the sooner Kelly gets the green light to fully-fashion his own version of a footballing Formula One outfit the better.
And let us hope it is an exciting drive - towards the Premiership and in a manner which fills the empty seats in our stadium.
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|Leicester City||3||-||2||Aston Villa|
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|3. Man Utd||8||5||1||2||4||16|
|4. Crystal Palace||8||5||0||3||4||15|
|5. Leicester City||8||4||3||1||2||15|
|6. West Ham||8||4||2||2||6||14|
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