Golden rules that made Foxes best

STA­BIL­ITY MORE VI­TAL THAN CASH

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - Chris Dunlavy

LE­ICES­TER may not have won the Cham­pi­onship yet. With pro­mo­tion se­cured, they might not win it at all. This week’s 4-1 de­feat at home to Brighton had ‘on the beach’ stamped all over it.

But whether they lay their hands on the tro­phy or not, the Foxes have been the best side in the di­vi­sion by a mile.

It’s tempt­ing to say they left their ri­vals for dead but, in truth, they didn’t have any ri­vals. It’s been a pro­ces­sion, an ob­ject les­son in dom­i­nance.

So what can next sea­son’s as­pir­ing ti­tle-chasers learn from Le­ices­ter? Here are five lessons any­one with their eyes on the Pre­mier League should heed:

1. STA­BIL­ITY BEATS ME­GABUCKS

OK, so Le­ices­ter aren’t ex­actly pau­pers. Nor were Cardiff when they went up last year, nor QPR the sea­son be­fore that.

Yet nor were any of them blessed with £60-odd mil­lion in para­chute pay­ments like, say, Read­ing, Bolton or Black­burn.

That’s not to say para­chute money won’t skew the com­pe­ti­tion long-term, nor cut smaller teams adrift. But it does sug­gest that, for now at least, the cash be­stowed on sides who come down is no sub­sti­tute for a set­tled Cham­pi­onship side who’ve been to­gether for years.

2. DON’T RUSH TO JUDGE­MENT

– “For me, he runs about a lot but lacks the strength, con­fi­dence and abil­ity to lead the line for a top-half Cham­pi­onship side. I sincerely hope the ru­mours are true and we get rid.”

– “He’s not a ter­ri­ble player, but he’s short of the qual­ity we need to be a top side. He looks to be play­ing a level too high.”

– “He’s that far out of his depth he’s just bought a div­ing bell. At £1m he was ridicu­lously over­priced.”

This is just a se­lec­tion of com­ments plucked from Le­ices­ter’s mes­sage board in re­sponse to Jamie Vardy’s tricky first sea­son fol­low­ing a £1m move from Fleet­wood.

A year on, he has scored 15 goals, as­sisted in five and won more penal­ties than any other player in the di­vi­sion. Which just goes to show that a lack of con­fi­dence should never be con­fused with a lack of talent.

3. A MAN­AGER SHOULD SIT IN THE STAND

Rad­i­cal eh? Well, no, ac­tu­ally. Back in the day, ev­ery­one re­alised the view from the dugout was poor.

Which is ex­actly what dawned on Pear­son when he was given a one-game ban in Au­gust and sub­se­quently spent the rest of the sea­son in the stand.

Ask any­one who sits in Row A on a Satur­day af­ter­noon and they’ll tell you that the match day ex­pe­ri­ence is akin to watch­ing traf­fic from the hard shoul­der.You can’t see any­thing in the way of shape or tac­tics.

Pos­tur­ing

It’s why the likes of Matt Busby, Ber­tie Mee, Ron Atkin­son and Wal­ter Smith all spent match days up a height, and won sil­ver­ware to boot.

But for some rea­son, it has be­come the ac­cepted norm that play­ers ‘need’ a man­ager on the touch­line. Some­one to wave their arms and play to the cam­eras or, if you’d pre­fer a cliché, pro­vide ‘in­spi­ra­tion’ and ‘en­cour­age­ment’.

“I think the rea­son that more man­agers don’t sit in the stand in this coun­try is that there seems to be this ob­ses­sion, with fans and me­dia alike, that if you’re English you need to show pas­sion on the touch­line,” said Pear­son.

The Le­ices­ter boss re­alised all of that ma­cho pos­tur­ing is just a dis­trac­tion from a man­ager’s real job – to strate­gise and re­act to pat­terns of play. Twenty-odd games un­beaten sug­gest more should fol­low his ex­am­ple.

4.TIGHT IS RIGHT

At least when it comes to your squad. Only three teams have used fewer play­ers than Le­ices­ter’s 28 this year – and one of those are Burn­ley, who are also likely to go up.

Partly this is a mat­ter of pref­er­ence. Pear­son has said on many oc­ca­sions that he hates work­ing with a squad of 20-plus. He’d much rather risk in­jury and player short­age than dress­ing room dishar­mony.

Of course, it helps when your squad is strong; not many Cham­pi­onship sides can af­ford to sit a £2m striker on the bench, as the Foxes so of­ten have with Chris Wood.

And for those who scratch a liv­ing in the Cham­pi­onship’s foothills, it’s a fi­nan­cial stretch to rus­tle up 18 play­ers of any va­ri­ety.

But for man­agers with the cash to launch a pro­mo­tion bid, the moral of the story is as old as the hills: go for qual­ity, not quan­tity.

5. PACE IS EV­ERY­THING

Pick a Le­ices­ter player. No, not Wes Mor­gan. Any­one else. Guess what? They are light­ning quick.

Jamie Vardy, David Nu­gent, Anthony Knock­aert, Lloyd Dyer, Danny Drinkwa­ter, Ritchie De Laet – at times this sea­son the Foxes have looked more like sprint­ing club than a foot­ball team.

In the Pre­mier League, pace alone is not enough. In the Cham­pi­onship, it will over­whelm any­body. It is why the Foxes are go­ing up while QPR and their old codgers are re­signed to the play-offs.

PACE: Jamie Vardy and David Nu­gent RON­NIE Moore

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