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A measure of City's dilemma

A measure of City's dilemma

Betting money seems to be fairly strong in tipping Burnley's Steve Cotterill to be Leicester City's new manager - yet Cotterill is a man renowned for playing 4-5-1.

I remember the Leicester/Burnley matches this season. Entertainment-wise it was like having two tactical clones squaring up to each other and seeing which could bore the other to sleep first.

We all make mistakes. Results wise, Leicester made a big one with Levein and I'm wondering if I've just done the same by buying a season ticket if 4-5-1 is the shape of things to come.

I bought my ticket convinced that City wouldn't, in the forseeable future, be tempted down the road of negative football anywhere, even away.

Such tactics have already left us near the foot of the Championship table.

I was persuaded not to criticise Levein in late September because it was too early to condemn his approach. We'd rather have 1-0 wins and 0-0 draws than 5-4 defeats cried the Leveinites.

Trouble was we didn't get 1-0 wins and 0-0 draws we got numerous defeats and the very occasional lump of sugar.

Cotterill might, given the chance, employ entirely different tactics at Leicester considering the different players here.

However, win at home, concede nothing away seems to have been his approach at Burnley and it failed for Levein at Leicester.

Even with his own, purpose-built squad, Cotterill's Burnley have played 16 away games this season and taken points from just six of them.

Their record comprises three wins, three draws, 10 defeats and 12 goals scored, one more than Leicester on their travels.

Indeed Burnley have conceded three more away goals than Leicester even with their formidable defence.

Leicester have only got 16 games left. Nine of those are away so if Burnley have only taken 12 points from a possible 48 (16 games)how many are Leicester likely to get under Cotterill from those nine games (or 27 possible points)?.

Based on those figures a quarter? That would be fractionally less than seven points leaving us needing to win a minimum of 16 points from seven home games to avoid relegation (based on the 48 points average which would have meant survival over the last 10 seasons).

Cotterill has managed 27 points from 14 home games which is a fairly good home record made up of eight wins, three draws and three defeats.

That fractioned down means Cotterill, on that basis, would win 14 points, two short of the target.

Apart from what it says about Cotterill's chances of success the figures give a measure of exactly how hard Leicester's fight for survival is going to be whoever takes charge.

Apart from winning regularly at home we have to score goals away. Cotterill has scored at less than one goal a game away, 12 from 16 matches.

And, his results have been achieved with a team that is ninth in the table while Leicester's is presently 22nd.

Cotterill may, in the Boards view, be the best applicant for the job, and they may be right.

Indeed, unlike some of the other likely applicants, he has a recent record in management to dissect.

If he got the job and succeeded some fans have made it clear that how he shaped the team wouldn't matter.

But, sooner or later the Board will probably have to decide which type of playing philosophy they are going to back to see us out of this mess. Cautious, cavalier, counter-attacking or simply adapted to the situation.

Not an easy decision, and especially with no time to play with.

That's why I'm hoping caretaker managers Rob Kelly and Mike Stowell do the business so that maybe, just maybe, no decision on long-term strategy will have to be made until the close season. Mid-season upheavals are not ideal even if Levein did have to go.

Writer:
Date:Saturday January 28 2006
Time: 2:12AM

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2 Man City 25 16 4 5 52 22
3 Spurs 25 14 8 3 50 28
4 Arsenal 25 15 5 5 50 26
5 Liverpool 25 14 7 4 49 24
6 Man Utd 25 13 9 3 48 17
7 Everton 26 12 8 6 44 15
8 WBA 26 11 7 8 40 4
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10 Stoke 25 8 8 9 32 -6
11 Burnley 26 9 4 13 31 -9
12 Watford 26 8 7 11 31 -13
13 Southampton 25 8 6 11 30 -3
14 AFC Bournemouth 26 7 5 14 26 -15
15 Swansea 26 7 3 16 24 -25
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