Archive for January 29th, 2011
Chris Kirkland 'sorry' Leicester City move did not work out
Chris Kirkland has admitted his loan move to Leicester City did not exactly go to plan. The Barwell-born goalkeeper joined his home-town club …
Yakubu, Leicester City, Richie Wellens
The City midfielder has admitted that the Nigerian international is even better than he first thought after scoring in his first two appearances since …
Sven-Goran Eriksson will make a decision in the next week whether to offer a contract to Portugal international goalkeeper Ricardo. …
Richie Wellens eager to stay with Leicester CityBBC Sport
Portuguese keeper Ricardo trains with Leicester CityBBC News
Ricardo set for Leicester City movePortuGOAL.net
all 12 news articles »
What a fantastic advert last week’s game against Millwall was for Championship football – and yes, I am mentioning the last game again, and I seem to do that every week, but I make no apologies.
It had everything that makes our game in England great and the best in the world.
Our fans turned out in force and witnessed some great moments, including a great strike from their lad for the equaliser.
There was some great football, great goals, a sending-off and some near misses. It was exhilarating stuff.
These are exciting times at the club in more ways than one, and you sense that every day around the training ground. At certain times over the years it feels like you are plodding along, and every club has those moments, but we are now in the fast lane. Long may it continue.
The place is buzzing and I have never seen so many new faces down at Belvoir Drive in all my time at the club. I can’t keep up with it. It is like St Pancras Station at the moment.
Going back to last Saturday, the game is about emotion and passion, and sometimes I can get carried away by a decision, like any passionate supporter.
Along with everyone else in the ground, including Millwall supporters, I saw a foul on Darius Vassell and then the handball which wasn’t given. It was frustrating to say the least, and then they went down the other end and got a penalty, which we have all seen wasn’t a penalty.
These things happen but, of course, you get emotional and I was more than ticked off by the fourth official.
I have been sent to the stands only once, when we played Leeds a few years ago. I didn’t want that to happen again.
I am passionate and I understandably vented my feelings, but I was told in no uncertain terms I would be sent to the stands. There were no hard feelings and, at the end, I shook hands with the fourth official.
While I am on my high horse, I think 99-per-cent of fans in this country would agree with me that the worst law in existence is the one that stops players celebrating a goal by going towards their own supporters. We want it binned.
As someone who scored a couple of goals in his career, I can promise you it is an unbelievable feeling.
I never took off my shirt but I did run to the fans and was hugged, and as long as it doesn’t cause a riot what’s wrong with it? You are enjoying what you are there to do. Why you get booked for celebrating, I do not know. As long as it is not over the top, what is the problem?
On a happier note, The Mercury asked me this week about cult heroes as Sol Bamba and the Yak are emerging as big fans’ favourites.
It had me racking my brains to remember some. The cult heroes weren’t always the best players. They are the ones who catch the imagination of the fans.
Norman Leet (he had big feet) was one. He wasn’t a regular but for some reason he was a cult hero. Others I recall are Alan Woollett and ‘Elvis’ Frank Worthington, who was certainly a cult hero with the young ladies.
There was also Jari Rantanen, Iwan Roberts, Pontus Kåmark and little Joe Waters, who scored those two fantastic goals at QPR when I was injured to get us through to face Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final.
There were some cult heroes who were great players and more recently there has been Ian Marshall, with his socks rolled down, Steve Walsh, Muzzy Izzet, Matty Elliott and, when he did play for us, ‘Pelican Head’ Robbie Savage.
Now we could have two more in Sol and the Yak. I would not put myself in that bracket as I was never called a cult hero, but I have been called plenty of other things!
I think the Mercury is asking readers to provide their own cult heroes and I would be interested to read them.
Finally, I will be heading back to Sheffield United on Tuesday to the ground where I launched my career. But a smile comes to my face when I think about the Blades because that is where it all started for me.
I was a schoolboy there and I remember one minute I was playing in the youth team and the next I was facing George Best, Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton.
To any young kids out there I have to say don’t give up on your dream because there was a thin dividing line between me playing in the top flight and me going back to being an engine-fitter at a bus garage.
I am a guest of Tony Currie on Tuesday (say no more) and I am looking forward to it. But to the young readers there is a lesson to be learned – don’t give up on your dream!
The Birch is a patron of Wishes4KIds, Loros and Prost-Aid as well as being an ambassador for Natterjacks.
Chris Kirkland has admitted his loan move to Leicester City did not exactly go to plan.
The Barwell-born goalkeeper joined his home-town club in November from Wigan Athletic after losing his place in the Latics side to Ali Al Habsi.
The England international was hoping to get a run of games under his belt while at the Walkers Stadium but damaged his back in training before his debut.
The injury flared up again, restricting him to just two and a half games before he returned to Wigan.
Now he is fit again and determined to put his disappointing experience with City behind him, and win back his place in the Wigan side.
“The move didn’t start or end the way I hoped it would, and I’m just sorry it didn’t work out better for all parties,” Kirkland told the Wigan Observer.
“I’m grateful to Sven-Goran Eriksson and Leicester for giving me the chance, and it was great to play for my home-town team.
“It was so frustrating but there you go, you’ve got to keep going and I’ll be doing that.
“The aim of going out (on loan) was with a view to coming back and getting in the Wigan team, and that’s still the aim.
“It is good to be back and I just want to help the team as best I can. I’m back now and I just need to concentrate on getting back into the Wigan team.”
Paul Gallagher expects to be fit for a return to action at Sheffield United on Tuesday, but he knows he is not guaranteed to instantly regain his place in the Leicester City side.
The 26-year-old Scot was in great form and had started the last 17 games under manager Sven-Goran Eriksson until he limped off with a knee injury seconds after scoring his fourth penalty of the season at Manchester City last week.
He was sidelined for the visit of Millwall last weekend but should be fit to return at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night.
However, Gallagher knows he might have to be satisfied with a place on the bench after the attacking trio of Lloyd Dyer, Yakubu and Darius Vassell were in such great form against the Lions.
Dyer and Yakubu scored, and Vassell was a constant menace, as the pacey threesome proved to be a potent attacking force.
“I knew when I came here that I wouldn’t just be able to walk into the starting eleven,” said Gallagher.
“We have a good squad, a good team and even a good bench. Everyone is playing to win their place and, no matter who plays, the team will be strong.
” I thought they were fantastic against Millwall.
“The injury was frustrating for me. I have had it before and it is just one of those things where you have to rest it and have treatment. But, hopefully, I should be all right for the next game.
“When I was at Plymouth, I got a tackle on it.
“There was a bit of inflammation on the knee and it is sore when I kick the ball.
“I took a bang on it again at Preston a few days before and it settled down, but when I stepped up to take the penalty at Manchester City, the way I hit it jarred my knee.
“I was gutted to miss the game against Millwall. The lads played well and got a great result. Hopefully, I will be back for Tuesday.”
There may not be a quicker front three in the Championship than Dyer, Yakubu and Vassell, but Gallagher says he offers something different and his delivery from crosses and set-pieces can be equally effective.
“I am different to Lloydy and Darius, for a start they are a lot quicker than me,” he said.
“It depends what the manager goes for. If he wants out-and-out pace, they are scoring goals and doing well.
“It is only good for the club to have players in form and doing well.
“I do offer something different, so it depends who we are playing against and which way the manager wants to go.”
Richie Wellens believes Leicester City team-mate Yakubu is too good to be playing in the Championship.
The City midfielder has admitted that the Nigerian international is even better than he first thought after scoring in his first two appearances since arriving at the Walkers Stadium on loan from Everton.
Yakubu produced a clever finish at Preston North End on his debut and scored with a clinical strike against Millwall last weekend, and he will be gunning to blunt the Blades on Tuesday night when City face Sheffield United.
Wellens said all the players in the City squad had been impressed by the 28-year-old’s quality.
“He has scored a lot of goals in the Premier League and I would say he is far too good for the Championship,” said Wellens.
“If you give him the ball he will keep it, and with players around him he is strong.
“He is quicker than I thought he was when he gets going, and he has got this knack of producing clever finishes.
“If you look at his two goals so far, he hasn’t lashed them in, he has just passed them into the bottom corner.
“He does that every day in training. He just passes the ball through people’s legs. You can see he can score a lot of goals.
“He has been in the Championship before with Portsmouth and they won promotion, so he knows what it is all about at this level.
“He has a great attitude too. His personality isn’t ‘I’m too good for this level’. He works really hard in training.
“He and Sol Bamba have brought a freshness to the squad where they always have a smile on their face.
“They are nice people and Yakubu is really down to earth. There are no airs and graces with him.”
Wellens said all the new arrivals this season had strengthened the squad and provided even more belief that a promotion push is possible.
“All the players we have brought in are top quality players,” he said
“Yakubu and Vassell are internationals. You want to play with players like that because it makes you a better player.
“I think when you start to get in the players Sven has brought in – there are the two lads up front, and Kyle Naughton is going to be a great player – it gives everyone confidence.
“We were so close last year with a squad that was nowhere near as good as this one. We should be looking at least to get in the play-offs.”
Sven-Goran Eriksson will make a decision in the next week whether to offer a contract to Portugal international goalkeeper Ricardo.
Fellow trialists Erick Norales and Danny Uchechi could also earn deals as the Leicester City manager adds the finishing touches to his promotion-chasing squad.
It will be a case of, if you cannot beat him, sign him, for Eriksson as he considers whether to snap up Ricardo.
He is a keeper who has twice played a significant role in dumping an England side managed by Eriksson out of major championships.
His presence will also bring back unhappy memories for City striker Darius Vassell.
The 34-year-old, who is a free agent after being released by Real Betis earlier this month, saved Vassell’s spot-kick and then scored the crucial final penalty himself to knock England out of Euro 2004.
He then became the first man to save three kicks in a World Cup shoot-out two years later to dump out England in Germany 2006.
Ricardo, who has been capped 79 times by Portugal, has been training with City this week. He has not been offered a contract because Eriksson, who has been in Sweden this week, wants to see him in action.
Striker Uchechi has been training with City for several months and has impressed Eriksson enough to earn a deal, while central defender Norales has also caught the eye during his trial spell with City, and a deal could be struck with his Honduran side Marathon.
Norales’s case will have been strengthened after City missed out on the signing of Curtis Davies, who completed his transfer to Birmingham City yesterday for an undisclosed fee.
Davies looked en route to City for a second loan spell when Blues swooped for the centre-back, and he has signed a three-and-a-half year contract at St Andrew’s.
Davies apologised to City fans, saying: “I can confirm I’m officially a Birmingham City player.
“Sorry to all Leicester fans that feel let down, but a permanent move was priority.”
Apart from the trailists, Eriksson will still be looking to add to his squad before the transfer window closes on Monday and he was again strongly linked yesterday with a move for Manchester City youngster Michael Johnson.
The England under-21 international has returned to training following a serious knee injury.
But Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes a loan spell away from Eastlands will help him regain full fitness.
“Maybe Michael Johnson (will go) because I think that he needs to play,” said Mancini yesterday.
“It is important for him so, if we have a chance, Michael Johnson (will go).”
Leeds are also interested, but Eriksson is close to Mancini, who was the Swede’s captain at Sampdoria and assistant manager at Lazio.
City have already secured the loans of Greg Cunningham and Ben Mee from Manchester this season.