Date:Tuesday January 24 2006
Surely Craig Levein's miserable days as manager of Leicester City are finally done. As a fight for their lives City's 1-0 defeat at Plymouth tonight represented a limp and pathetic response.
In military terms, under some regimes of times past, Leicester City's 'platoon' would have endured a shameful return to camp but might have escaped with their lives because some of them did scrap.
But their commander Craig Levein would either have been executed in disgrace or, at the very least reduced to the ranks.
Not for losing this so-vital Championship battle but for tactically surrendering it before he started.
There was no mystery about what was needed. Leicester needed a win. To do that they needed goals.
So what did our managerial matermind come up with. He played not two but three centre-backs, a five man back line with Maybury in his usually inept role as a left back and three scurriers in midfield.
The predictable result of all this?. Just five proper shots on goal all match and they were little more than half chances.
It was a thoughtless, soulless, witless, faithless waste of the five strikers he left freezing on the bench for most of the time.
Levein has been out-thought tactically all season and tonight Plymouth simply repeated a way of beating Leicester that was plainly advertised on Saturday.
Barely a minute into the second half, Kisnorbo was lured into conceding a free-kick on the edge of the 'D' outside City's penalty box.
City knew all about free-kicks from dangerous positions after Saturday's Koumas strike won the match.
But they learned nothing and up stepped Plymouth captain Paul Wotton to smash an unstoppable shot past Douglas, his third goal in two games.
Levein's approach suggested that he simply ignored the fact that Leicester would logically have to score two goals in the match because they always concede at least one and have done so in each of our last 15 League and Cup games.
Instead it was obvious his safety first tactics would fail on any minor mistake and that, if that happened there would never be a realistic chance of scoring twice with the line-up we had chosen.
Plymouth did score and then, predictably, conceded ground progressively throughout the second half.
Leicester eventually realised that the way around the big, strong Plymouth defenders was on the floor and down the flanks.
But of course, and as usual it was too late.
The appearance of Ryan Smith, Iain Hume and Elvis Hammond to attack those flanks came long after the jewel of three points had been plundered.
Maybury did have a promising shot which went straight at the Plymouth keeper, Fryatt had a shot blocked and Stearman almost equalised with an injury time overhead kick which was blocked by Doumbe who, minutes earlier had an easyish headed chance to settle the issue.
It should be said that this wasn't about players letting the manager down. Kisnorbo, as the third centre-back was forever in the thick of things fighting for the ball and mostly getting it.
Others like McCarthy, Stearman, Wesolowski and Gudjonsson did the same.
The trouble was Kisnorbo shouldn't have been there. We needed attackers on the pitch from the word go to seize the advantage and maintain it. We didn't need an overweighted defence.
As a one-off mistake what Levein did was forgiveable. As the umpteenth repeat it must surely cost him his job.
Two points from the last 30, six successive League defeats, one win in 15, four goals in eight Championship games, our 10th League defeat by a single goal this season. What a sorry, sorry story.
That's not bad luck it's bad tactics.
It wasn't as if the foolishness of so many Levein decisions hadn't been pointed out to him with emphasis by the fans both this week and on the days preceding so many previous footballing embarrassments which have been recorded with such growing trepidation since the end of October.
Attacking full-back Alan Sheehan wasn't even on the bench. Key attackers Ryan Smith, Iain Hume and Elvis Hammond were left frustrated on the sidelines for too long and livewire forward Chris O'Grady was not used at all.
We never gave ourselves a chance of winning. Only perhaps of forcing a bore draw and that was never going to be any good.
Even at what I believe to be the final shoot out of a dire spell as manager Levein didn't even bother to draw his guns until it was too late.
Plymouth surely killed his career with that single bullet of a free-kick.
And how marvellous were Plymouth?.
Well, Douglas was called on to make a couple of timely saves from headers by Evans and Wotton, but their intention was always to grab a goal and hold it. Plymouth had no more than six or seven meaningful attempts on goal and they were at home.
In their frustration City players like Douglas and Gudjonsson, McCarthy and Gudjonsson were seen to have a snarl at each other but you could understand their frustration.
In roulette terms the wheel was always weighted against them. Levein had been begged to play a cohesive, attacking team but didn't.
City have a squad with enough attacking potential to have camped in the Plymouth half like tourists. Instead they were ordered into a trench warfare strategy.
Levein says he has never thought about walking away from the City job. Well, he might as well start thinking now because the board no longer has any room that I can see for manoeuvre.
Leicester, on 26 points, remain third bottom and now have 16 games left to get the likely 23 points they will need to survive based on the average 48 points that has sent teams down these last 10 years.
Fans have been remarkably patient with Levein but the banner held aloft at Home Park conveyed, I believe, the overwhelming view of even the most faithful of their kind It said, simply....'Go Levein'.
What case can be made to disagree?.
Plymouth: Larrieu, Barness, Doumbe, Ward, Aljofree, Norris, Ward, Nalis, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick, Subs: Buzsaky, Hodges, McCormick, Zebroski, Djordjic.
Leicester: Douglas, Stearman, McCarthy, Johansson, Maybury, Hughes, Gudjonssson, Wesolowski, Kisnorbo, DeVries, Fryatt. Subs: Hume, Hammond, Smith, Hamill,O'Grady.
Referee A Woolmer.
Story compiled with help of Vitalfootball Staff Reporter.
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|Leicester City||2||-||1||Sheff Wed|
|1. Leicester City||43||28||9||6||+36||93|
|3. Derby County||43||23||9||11||+29||78|
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