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Backline horrors a Weale mess for Eriksson

If this match alone was not enough for lessons to be learned, then nothing will be.

Quality was distinctly lacking from both sides in this five-goal tussle, from which a point apiece would have been more than a worthy result.

But when your last line of defence allows a tame shot to creep under his body for what feels like the umpteenth time, there really is little you can do to avoid defeat in such close-fought encounters.

In truth, it could be the final nail in the coffin for Chris Weale. The man who performed so admirably between the sticks last season en route to the top six seems a shadow of his former self.

A howler to gift Derby all three points last season at Pride Park was perhaps forgiveable in the long run, but two more in his last three matches is testing on the patience. For too long have City fans been well aware of his faults, yet still not averse to the ridiculous chanting of his name when Ricardo has been present.

It would perhaps not be unfair to suggest that he has never quite recovered from the injury picked up at Turf Moor towards the beginning of the campaign, and subsequently the Foxes have been forced to suffer in goal ever since. Ricardo is not the answer.

Yesterday's performance was by no means horrendous once again, but was yet another reminder to Sven-Goran Eriksson that getting it right at the back next season will be the difference between another season of Championship football and promotion.

Eriksson's side had more than their fair share of the possession against their local rivals, coming back twice from behind after Forest goals against the run of play. Paul McKenna may have struck the match winner, but it should have felt like a hollow way to win for Forest fans after a disappointing showing.

They may find themselves in the top six for the time being, but Billy Davies knows his side must book their ideas up quickly if they are to stake a real claim for promotion to the Premier League this season.

That Forest scored three, however, should be enough evidence to suggest that Leicester were once again undone to defeat by suspect defending. Weale error aside there were no obvious individual errors to call upon, pointing largely to a distinct lack of organisation from the loanee back four.

It is an area of the team Eriksson has never been able to get right this season, despite the likes of Curtis Davies, Greg Cunningham, Ben Mee, Jeffrey Bruma and Sol Bamba all arriving during the Swede's tenure.

Miguel Vitor, arguably the best centre-back at the club, has found himself resigned to the substitutes bench for much of the campaign while his team-mates have failed around him. Earlier in the season, two goals against Scunthorpe were rewarded by being dropped for the next match against Portsmouth in favour of Bruma.

Meanwhile Mee, a potential man of the match candidate against both Burnley and Crystal Palace, rewarded once more with a spot on the bench instead of Bruma against Reading last weekend.

Leicester lost both. Eriksson may have admitted he was wrong to drop Mee for the Reading game, but only in the summer will we see whether or not he has genuinely learned from his mistakes this time around.

There should be little doubt that City need some experience heads at the back to arrive in the transfer window. No nonsense, uncompromising and proven. Last season it was Wayne Brown who proved the perfect figure under Nigel Pearson's well-drilled backline, but a man who Leicester should not have missed this time around.

Jack Hobbs will return from his loan spell under Pearson at Hull, but quite whether he exists in Eriksson's plan for the future remains to be seen.

Eriksson is a man with little experience of football management at this level, but he can get it right for next year. If only he may see that Premier League mercenaries such as the likes of Yakubu are not necessarily the way forward, the Foxes may well be on the prowl for the big time in a year's time.

A new goalkeeper seems a certainty, while tying down the permanent services of at least three new centre-backs is likely to be high on the shopping list.

Demand for Kyle Naughton may be high from elsewhere, but Eriksson must do everything in his power to lure the young full-back to the Walkers for good. Consistency at this level is key for a defender, and Naughton has demonstrated it in abundance.

Only time will tell whether Eriksson will get things right in the summer, but for his sake he must work his magic for the defensive overhaul to come.

Leicester proved under Pearson last season that anything is possible with a solid backline. QPR, Cardiff, Swansea, Hull (unsurprisingly) and Millwall have done it this year, with all harbouring realistic hopes of a shot at promotion.

Sorting this mess out really will prove the difference when it all boils down to it.




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The Journalist

Writer: JBFox Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday April 23 2011

Time: 3:45PM

 

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