Signed from Liverpool by Leicester, but it never happened, medical problems!

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A long time ago now, but we all, who are a few years, can remember the shrewd business done by Jimmy Bloomfield during his years as Leicester City manager. He was one that could really handle the job and finding the right players to slot in.

Back in November 1974 Bloomfield came close to signing John Toshack from Liverpool. There were money available after the sale of Peter Shilton to Stoke City, and by the time that the big Liverpool fella came available.

Leicester had a number of strikers at the time, but only Frank Worthington was a clear candidate with Steve Earle and Bob Lee alternatives. A move for John Toshack looked as a clever act by Jimmy Bloomfield.

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John Toshack who we all know from his great days at Liverpool being integral when winning the League in 1972/73 and the FA Cup in the next season. In his autobiography he talks about the transfer that fell through.

“Never really a Bob Paisley favourite, so following Shankly’s unexpected resignation in 1974, it became harder and harder for him to feel fully at home at Anfield. With a thigh problem keeping him out of the team, both player and club accepted a transfer to Leicester City in November of that year, only for a failed medical to scupper the deal. At the age of just 25 Toshack looked in limbo. It’s a sign of the man’s admirably large well of self-belief that he was able to turn things round and force his was back into the team, winning a second UEFA cup in 1976 and taking part in the club’s famous run to the 1977 European Cup final (although Toshack was injured by the time the game – won 3-1 by the Reds – came around)”

Later in the season Jimmy Bloomfield did sign two new players, with Jeff Blockley and Chris Garland coming in at the same time, Garland from Chelsea and Blockley from Arsenal, both of them shining in the Leicester City team but more or less forgotten at their London clubs.

The partnership of Keegan and Toshack is well known, but how would he had done together with Frank Worthington, we never got to know, since the medical stopped that partnership.

John Toshack turned 70 today, was a good footballer but probably even better as manager. He has had a great career as manager, leaving Liverpool for such a challenge joining Swansea City in 1978, taking them up from the bottom tier to the top in just four years. He has never been in charge of a club in the Premier League, but had stints as a national coach for Wales and Macedonia.

He is probably best known for his time as manager of Real Madrid from 1989 to 1990 and even coming back for short lived period 10 years later. He’s been around in Europe and of course three rounds as manager of Real Sociedad stands out.

Toshack has been in football management from 1978 to 2018, that is an impressive 40 years career, and of course the major of years in Spain and with Wales, but also been in charge of Catania (Italy), Besiktas (Turkey) and Sporting Club (Portugal).

The player Leicester City signed but we never saw in a single game since he never got his medical clearance, could probably have been the best of all those great moves done by Jimmy Bloomfield, as Toshack rebuild his career at Liverpool and had great impact at Anfield in the years after, winning trophies and going top in the league.

 

 

Where can Leicester finish next season under Rodgers revolution?

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A new decade approaches for Leicester City football club, and with it, the sense of promise that a new managerial regime brings. While his tenure at Leicester began with defeat, Brendan Rodgers has already proven able to follow up positively after an early setback. He has done so in emphatic fashion, with two straight wins, the second of which was, by and large, attained with just ten men.

Rodgers tactical genius?
Overcoming an ‘early setback’ was the exact task Brendan Rodgers faced after losing Harry Maguire, just four minutes into Leicester’s victorious trip to Burnley on 16 March.
The nature of the changes Rodgers made thereafter were indicative of his intention to mix the refined with the combative to great effect throughout 2019/20.

Shorn of his best defender, Rodgers knew that the optimal way to combat Burnley was to beat them at their own game, snuffing them out in the centre of the park, and utilising Leicester’s superior pressing abilities to restore control of proceedings.

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Wes Morgan’s introduction was inevitable after Maguire’s red card, but Rodgers’ decision to sacrifice Demarai Gray was a bold move, and one which showed full intent of keeping the sharp end of Leicester’s attack intact. James Maddison’s opener ensured full vindication of Rodgers’ decision, and he thrived as a more focal point in attack.

Despite equalising and having a man advantage, Burnley continued to look second-best to the Foxes, and Leicester’s late winner was fully deserved under the circumstances. However, that display of Rodgers’ tactical flexibility was nothing new, and it was a notably common theme in his near title-winning 2013/14 season with Liverpool.

At the occasional cost of consistency in the natural positioning of his charges, Rodgers’ emphasis has always been on dominating the midfield, and ensuring that his men win the ball back at the nearest opportunity after losing it.

In that respect, Wilfred Ndidi was accomplished in the holding midfield role behind James Maddison and Youri Tielemans, and the latter man adapted particularly well to the tactical shift from Rodgers.

Forced into playing in a more compact way in front of Ndidi, Tielemans was a great beneficiary from the Nigerian’s stopping ability in the win over Burnley, and was afforded more time to make the most telling runs into areas that the Clarets saw fit to go criminally under-marked.

What to expect in 2019/20?
With Leicester now safe, Rodgers has license to experiment and make mistakes. There will undoubtedly be a few of those along the way, and while a seventh-placed finish is improbable this season, it should be an absolute minimum come next year.

Even if they finish around 11th or 12th on this occasion, the ‘Foxes’ will be comfortably in the top three – along, perhaps, with Everton and Newcastle – to finish as the ‘best of the rest’ in 2019/20, behind a top six that appears immovable from its hallowed mantle in current Premier League outrights on SportingIndex.com.

However, as evidenced by a draw at Liverpool and a win at Chelsea in recent times, Leicester do not inherently ‘fear’ any opponent, and Rodgers undoubtedly has the strength in man-management to make the most of that.

With the Northern Irishman also appearing to value long-term legacies as much as short-term solutions – especially in the middle of the park – those feeling optimistic are conspicuous in their majority over the doubters.

Old hands & new faces
With Rodgers yet to have his first transfer window as Leicester boss, there is every chance that he may yet change the complexion of the Leicester line-up.
On instinct alone, Rodgers is likely to consider the ranks of his former employees as a good initial hunting ground.

For an impressive addition to the Leicester defence from Celtic, and one who looks well equipped for the Premier League, Rodgers should look no further than Kieran Tierney.
The Scotsman’s ability to cover a lot of ground in the wide areas would add a degree of dynamic play seldom seen under Claude Puel, or even since the end of Riyadh Mahrez’ first season at the King Power Stadium.

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With Ben Chilwell already making a great impact on the left flank, Rodgers could easily make that Leicester’s strongest area of the pitch. Given that Tierney has equal strength in defence and attack, his potential deployment in front of Chilwell will already be giving Rodgers food for thought.

There is also central midfielder Callum McGregor for Rodgers to consider, with Andy King, Adrien Silva and (possibly) Daniel Amartey being prime candidates to follow Vicente Iborra out of the exit door in the summer.

Next to Maddison and Tielemans, McGregor and Ndidi would give Rodgers greater options, especially when it comes to deploying a midfield stopper, enabling him to fulfil his urgency-fuelled gameplans more effectively.

While greater tests than Burnley lie ahead, a clear vision for the future, in terms of tactics and personnel, is as good a foundation as any on which to build a potential dynasty.

The odds were even higher than 5000/1, a weekend with Leicester City and meeting Youri Tielemans

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To be a Leicester City fan is something special. As a fan from abroad “flying in”, you plan your trips in advance and you have always a route to follow. This time we had several highlights to look forward to.

We were invited to a party in Wolverhampton, and at the Wolves nest at Molineux Ground we were four foxes fans, celebrating together with fellow Wolves and other friends and fans from Norway and England.

We started early the next day, on our trip towards Burnley and Turf Moor. Going up the railway tracks passing Stoke-on-Trent, of course Gordon Banks got on our mind, buried just a few miles away a few days ago. To see a strong Kasper Schmeichel carry the coffin of Gordon Banks, together with fellow goalkeepers of Gordon’s former clubs and the national team, made a monumental impression.

As we came into the Manchester station, we were heading for a new train track, this time hopefully taking us to Burnley. But as we were waiting for the train to leave the platform we got new messages that it will not go as far as Burnley. We decided to take a taxi with two other fellow Norwegians, two guys we had never seen before, but they had heard us speak, so they asked if we wanted take a taxi with them, and so we did.

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We arrived at Turf Moor at the time that we had scheduled with the train, so everything went smooth and perfect. The rain poured down as we entered the stands, and so great to be among our own and also see that the club cares a lot by handing out scarfs to everyone in the away area, just fantastic.

We all took our scarfs and waved with them as the players entered the field and despite the early sending off we had great hope. Leicester City defended really well and with the two strikes from James Maddison and “Captain” Morgan, the feelings of the PL winning season was back like a flash.

To see our captain, 35 year old Wes Morgan, leading by example and just being that powerhouse of a defender we used to know, was a bit unreal as he came on as a sub, fighting so hard and really making the day complete.

We had a plane back to Norway from Manchester the next day and stayed at a nice hotell at the airport. As we were sitting at the breakfast table, we thought one of the guys beside us looked quite familier, and my fellow traveler said, is that Youri Tielemans, go over and ask him.

I said, no, let him have his breakfast and don’t bother about it, if he is, who we think he is, we should just leave him alone. So we did and went for the shuttle, taking us to the airport. The guy we thought was Youri Tielemans jumped into the seat of the shuttle and we were all sitting there together.

My friend who sat alongside him asked if he was a footballer, and he replied “yes”, then we asked him if he was Youri Tielemans, and he said “yes”. We said we had been to the game and was Leicester City fans, and he smiled and said “I was there too”. Then he asked us “why are you flying?”, and we told him we were from Norway and my friend showed him his two Leicester City tattoos on his wrists, and Youri Tielemans laughed.

We asked if we could take a picture and he said “yes”, and so we did. Youri Tielemans was great and a fantastic “on loan” ambassadeur for Leicester City, what a guy. We said, you have been tremendous for us and what a player you are, and you need to sign a permanent deal, he smiled and said, “have to wait and see in the summer”.

For the picture, enter here, for the Norwegian travelling letter, enter here

We had a great and nice talk with Yourie Tielemans, he even asked us how many times we came over to watch games, we told him, four to five times a season. We told him how well everyone at the club takes care of fans and treat almost everyone as a family, he replied and said it was very nice and a really friendly atmosphere at the club. He also said he really enjoyed working with the new manager, Brendan Rodgers.

We wished him well on his travel to play for Belgium, as we went out of the shuttle to reach our flight. This was just a surreal and strange happening, but so great and on this trip “the icing on the cake”.

What was the odds on this one. Traveling from Norway via Wolverhampton, watching Leicester against Burnley at Turf Moor, seeing all travelling fans getting scarfs, going down to ten men after four minutes, taking the lead, and losing it, taking it back with Wes Morgan, not even in the line up from start, scoring the winning goal in the last minute. Then the morning after sitting in a shuttle buss to the airport in the same seat as Youri Tielemans chatting about the game and Leicester City, far above 5000/1.

Over the years I have experienced some great moments as a Leicester City fan, and this is one going up and above most of them.

There are lot of great moments and memories of special and unexpected meetings with players and staff, one being clapped on the head by Jimmy Bloomfield, when asked about his autograph. As a 10 year old kid in Norway, picking him out in a crowd at a friendly against Odd Skien. At the same game I jumped the fence and into the tracking field to reach Frank Worthington, getting his autograph as he came out for 2nd half.

Sitting in the Sky Bar of Bodo chatting with Craig Levein and Mike Stowell over a couple of beers talking about transfers, was another funny one. I knew the agent that arranged the trip for Leicester City, so he invited us up, and all of the staff was there relaxing as we were watching out on the Bodo harbor close to midnight.

Great memories also of meetings with Robbie Savage, Muzzy Izzet, Jamie Vardy, Frank Sinclair, Steve Walsh and several others at Leicester City, but this one with Youri Tielemans must be regarded as the most surreal and greatest of them all.

 

 

 

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