Q & A with Crystal Palace
Vital Leicester speaks to Crystal Palace fan Phil Duffield ahead of Leicester's season opener at Selhurst Park tomorrow, which sees new manager Paulo Sousa in charge for his first competitive match.
1. The club's future was cast into serious doubt just two months ago, did you ever feel that the club might go under? Do you feel safe with the new consortium in charge?
The individuals involved in the consortium have taken charge and impressed most supporters a great deal with their approach. I am confident in their ability to manage the club properly and to ensure that the team can be rebuilt upon a solid foundation.
Under Simon Jordan we chased the dream, but, ultimately, like a lot of clubs, did not budget for life in the Championship. CPFC 2010 will look to run the club to breakeven and make the most of our academy to bring through young talent.
Given the state that football is in, we are very lucky to have an effective clean slate and our stadium back under the ownership of the club for the first time in many years.
2. So, after last season's extreme flirtation with relegation, what's the mood like ahead of the new season? How will Palace fare after their scares?
It's easy to forget that we would have been a solid mid-table outfit but for the points deduction we received. We've lost several experienced, wholehearted individuals in Derry, Hill and Ertl, but fortunately we managed to hold onto our better players through administration.
I think it will take some time for the team to gel and adapt to new management in the form of George Burley, but I think it'll be an exceptionally tight division this year and, with a reasonable start, I think we should be aiming for the top half of the table.
3. With George Burley now at the helm, do you feel you have the right man in charge?
He's been around a long time now and he knows the division very well. He has a track record of playing good football and blending together experienced pros and exciting youngsters. If he can do the same at Palace then he'll be very popular.
4. Selhurst Park has witnessed a few out the door this summer, is there anybody you've been particularly upset to lose?
Mixed feelings. I was sad to see Ertl, Derry, Butterfield and Hill depart as they were all tremendous servants to the club; symbolic of the grit and determination which kept us up against all the odds last season. However, none of them are irreplaceable and, Ertl aside, they've all passed their peak.
5. And more importantly, how have Burley's new signings fell in with you on first thoughts?
I think the signings have been solid enough. I am particularly excited about Garvan, a cultured player who could finally fill the void which has existed in the middle of the park since Ben Watson's departure, and Andy Dorman, who has had some impressive reviews north of the border.
We're still badly lacking in the striking department, however, and it's important that we can bring a couple more faces in before the end of August.
6. Speculation has linked Palace with a move for Leicester's very own Matt Oakley, is he a player you'd be interested in taking?
I think he's one of Burley's favourites having worked with him before. He could add some experience to what is now a fairly young squad, but his best days are surely behind him now. Seeing as it's the manager's honeymoon period I'll have to trust his judgment if a deal materialises there!
7. How do you feel Leicester will get on this season after their play-off heartbreak last year?
I think they're a solid enough outfit. Last season they returned from League One with a little bit of extra know-how and an admirable knack of winning games. The major doubt over their promotion credentials will be whether Sousa can carry on the good work of Nigel Pearson.
A lot will depend on whether his side can score enough goals because I don't think they'll concede too many.
8. Who should we be looking out for on Saturday from the Palace ranks?
Speroni has arguably been the best keeper in the division for the past three seasons now and Ambrose provided our most significant goal threat last year. Ex-Leicester stalwart Paddy McCarthy has recently been made captain and provides a real presence in the heart of the defence.
9. Anybody you particularly fear from the Foxes?
Matty Fryatt has always struck me as a player with the potential to score freely at this level and Andy King was particularly impressive last season. Steve Howard is one who has often caused us problems in the past, as is DJ Campbell.
10. Finally, the all-important match prediction?
I'd be inclined to go for a fairly tight 1-1 draw.
Thanks to Phil once again for taking the time to speak to us.