Moving on up?

Our new counter attacking style

Tony Pulis is in his 25th year of management, and in this game you don’t last that long without being effective. Over those years he has built a reputation for his physical and direct football style – preferring not to utilise full backs and relying on set pieces. This is what frustrated us last season, with Rondon always on his own and half a mile away from everyone else, who sat in their defensive formation while teams came at us over and over.

Since October, something has changed. We still don’t mind letting the opposition have the ball, but we are moving the ball around with much more haste, keeping possession a lot better and getting the ball out to our wingers quickly to set up effective counter attacks. We are now trying to go forward and trying to win games, and we have put in several excellent performances in the past few weeks. We are also now utilising Rondon’s greatest strength – his quality in the air – as proven by his amazing 13 minute header hat trick against Swansea.

Long may it continue!

Players on form

It was only a few weeks ago where some were stating that we had purchased duds in acquiring Phillips and Nyom. It appears they have now settled and grown in confidence and have been two of our stand out performers in recent weeks.

Chadli and Evans have kept up their usual high standard, and with Brunt and Fletcher returning to good form we have a team very much in the zone and high on confidence at the moment.

However, I am still a bit concerned about the depth of our squad. We have one of the oldest squads in the league and don’t have quality cover for all positions. This has been caused by several windows of buying back up players and ‘getting by’, rather than replacements for our regular starters. For example – he has been an excellent servant for us, but Olsson shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team any more. It is going to take several windows to rectify the squad situation, but hopefully we will get a few January reinforcements.

Daring to dream?

Many reports have suggested that Pulis’ new target under the new regime is to steadily improve and get in to that top ten, and even rumours that Europe might be on their radar. The calibre of player we are rumoured to be seeking in January, plus Leicester showing last season what a settled team high on confidence can achieve, means we would be forgiven of daring to dream.

Pulis will never win over some fans; they have grudges that can’t be overcome. But the rest of us have just been asking for a bit more attacking intent and setting out to win against teams around us in the league, and right now that is exactly what we’re getting.

Taking on the Champions

Leicester’s form this season has shown just what a massive ‘one off’ their first place finish was last season.

Remembering the fallen

Leicester went above and beyond in their efforts to honour the fallen for Remembrance. The stadium had poppies on the exterior walls, the groundsman had cut poppies into the pitch, and plastic bags were provided on seats to create a stunning visual display of red poppies on a white field.

One thing I did notice was the lack of information regarding the planned silence and display. I know it was the designated weekend for Premier League teams to do their Remembrance gestures and people should have really known, but the way Leicester’s concourse is down two flights of stairs from the pitch means you can’t hear anything that is going on. I didn’t even realise that the match had restarted after half time. Also the lack of TV screens meant that some people still in the concourse were unaware of The Last Post being played and continued to sing downstairs, leading to derision towards us from the Leicester fans. However, I have had a look on the Leicester forums and it appears some of their fans were caught out by this also, as they could hear Leicester songs during the silence.

Other than that I think the Remembrance activities were well observed by both sets of fans.

Yet another library

I would hope that if we ever win the top division in it’s current guise as The Premier League, the following season we would have a much better atmosphere than what I experienced at the King Power Stadium.

They have clappers which they all seem to do their own thing with; clapping at random times with no rhythm or song to accompany it. They have very cringey goal music and a drum, and I still thought their support was absolutely awful. The most witty thing they managed to come up with was “Champions of England, You’ll never sing that”, conveniently forgetting that we have in fact been Champions, almost 100 years before they were.

Their fans now appear to have the cockiness of fans of the top teams, but without the ability of the players on the field to back it up. None of us could believe their achievement last season, and I said on many occasions that it was like everything had come together in their favour: lack of serious injuries, all top teams being poor, etc.

In contrast, our away support was once again excellent. We backed the team throughout and came up with a couple of new, catchy songs.

Praise for Pulis

I think Pulis got the tactics for Sunday spot on. Performances like this where we press the opposition, not giving the ball away so easily and breaking quickly when we have the ball are all that we ‘Pulis haters’ have been asking for. If this was the usual standard of our play, we wouldn’t be complaining. I hope that this continues, but in previous games where we have done very well, he has still reverted to type in the next.

It was good to see Morrison and Brunt back in the side together, and Matt Phillips had his best game for us so far, in my opinion. Pulis says that Phillips’ only problem is a lack of self belief, so hopefully that performance and winning goal will do his confidence the world of good.

Jonny Evans was once again solid, and completely mugged off Okazaki with his change of direction (which I am still laughing about now!). The new song for him is very apt…..”Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cus with Evans at the back, it’s gonna be alright”.