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Friday, 09 July 2010

Leicester City: Sousa given a so-so welcome by Foxes

I thought Usain Bolt was the fastest man in the world but I think Leicester chairman Milan Mandaric could give him a run for his money. The former Portsmouth chief wasted no time in finding Nigel Pearson’s successor but the way Pearson left the club has left a shadow hanging over the club.

Normally a new manager is given a fanfare reception, unless it happens to be Gary Megson, but Sousa’s arrival from Swansea has been very so-so. But Lance Tomlyn, chairman of the Leicester City Independent Supporters Association, says the fans will back Sousa all the way but that they are still shocked at the departure of Pearson.

“I think the supporters are still in shock over the loss of Nigel Pearson and there are still a lot of question left unanswered so there’s still a lot of anger around the place. This has put a dampener on the arrival of the new manager and there isn’t the same excitement that there normally would. Given the circumstances there will inevitably be comparisons between what we had and what we are going to get. This was always going to be a problem for whoever came in as Nigel Pearson was a favourite with the supporters and so he’ll have some big shoes to fill.

“Not only was Pearson a fans’ favourite he also brought the club forward in so many ways over his two-year tenure and the supporters will be looking for that to continue so Sousa will need to hit the ground running. We do have a lot of good players but some of our best were loan players that have now returned to their home clubs so they will need replacing very quickly given that we’re already into pre-season.

“As far as Sousa, as a manager, goes we will all have to wait and see. He was a very good player in his day so I’m sure he will get the respect of the players. However I think most people will agree he is yet to prove himself as a manager. He wasn’t really given enough time at QPR before his untimely demise but a full season at Swansea saw them almost achieve a place in the play-offs. I think if I’d been a Swansea fan I would have been a bit alarmed at the way they slid out of the play-off places at the end of the season and Sousa couldn’t seem to do anything about it and they were piped at the post by Blackpool.

“I must admit it was a bit worrying that Sousa seemed to publically lose his cool at the end of the season. Blaming referees for their demise as opposed to getting his players winning again. Maybe they did have a lot of crucial decision go against them but I remember thinking it can’t be helping the mindset of the players. Maybe it was the Latin temperament coming out? In comparison Pearson was coolness personified. When our form dipped and I remember thinking of the two clubs we’re favourites to hold on to our spot. At the time that was comforting however now it’s slightly worrying!

“Anyway as always the Leicester supporters will give him a fair crack of the whip as they always do and provided Mandaric gives him the time and the funds to advance the team then there’s no reason why he can’t succeed. He’s obviously a talented manager or he wouldn’t have got Swansea to where they were last season and on the positive side Swansea did have the meanest defence in the division last season although their top goal scorer only got seven which is a bit worrying.

“If you read the Swansea message boards they weren’t impressed with Sousa’s brand of football which wasn’t very attractive and they aren’t unhappy to see him leave which is always a concern. One fan said they only had one exciting game last season and that was because it was the local derby against Cardiff!

“Obviously at Leicester he’ll be working with a whole new set of players and whole a new set up so hopefully the approach will be a little more positive. Let’s hope so!”

Milan Mandaric has a bit of a reputation of being difficult to work with – well five managers in his first year says it all really – but Lance is confident that Sousa and Milan will be able to get along.

“I will always question whether anyone can work with Mandaric especially with the debacle over Pearson and that might be a bigger problem than Sousa’s ability as a manager. Only time will tell as to whether he can build on what’s already been achieved but he’s definitely inherited a good group of player he will have a good fan base behind him and he will hopefully have a bit of money to spend. In this division you can’t ask for much more than that so let’s see. The jury is out. Ask me again at Christmas . . . if he’s still here!

“A lot might depend on the budget he’s given. Milan keeps saying he will back his manager but the rumours are that the whole club is going through a cost cutting exercise and the playing side isn’t exempt and this was one of the reasons Pearson left. There’s also rumours that new investors or possibly owners might be coming into the club so who knows what the future holds.”

Following last season’s penalty heartache against Cardiff City in the play-offs the majority of fans were optimistic of the season ahead. They had a great manager, the team were playing some fantastic stuff and everything looked rosy. Now that Pearson has headed for pastures new and concerns have been raised over the club’s finances the fans are feeling a bit deflated. But Lance believes the play-offs remain a minimum requirement for Sousa.

“We will certainly want to be up around the top of the table for most of the season as we were last season. We certainly have the players to do that so I believe most fans will think anything less than a place in the play offs will be deemed to be a failure and that probably goes for the chairman as well.

“I wish Sousa all the luck in the world in what will be a difficult task following Pearson. It’s not quite the poisoned chalice that it was taking over from Martin O’Neill but it won’t be easy as there is a lot of expectation from the supporters and the chairman after last season.”

Mandaric may be one of the quickest chairmen when it comes to replacing managers but being fast is not always the best option. Let’s just hope that he has made the right decision this Sousa and has not made a knee-jerk appointment.

· Calling all Leicester City fans. What do you think of Sousa’s arrival? How confident are you that he can build on the platform left by Pearson? What do you think this season will bring? Whatever your view, I’d love to hear from you.

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