Welcome to our weekly Leicester City webchat.
Claude Puel’s side are on a bit of a roll after back-to-back Premier League wins over Huddersfield and Newcastle with another victory at Wolves in the Carabao Cup thrown in their for good measure.
Not only that but City’s young English stars continue to get recognition. James Maddison earned his first senior England call-up following his exceptional start to life in the Premier League while Harvey Barnes has been rewarded for his performances for West Brom by being named in the England under-21s squad.
Maddison receives England call-up
We hold a live web chat every Friday lunchtime giving City fans the chance to ask our reporting team whatever questions you like on the club.
James Sharpe was in the hot seat this week for his final web chat before he moves on from the Mercury. He answered questions about City’s European ambitions, where they should strengthen in January, what should happen with Barnes in January as well as the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Right-Backs.
Here’s how the web chat unfolded.
And there we go. That’s it for this week’s web chat.
Thank you everyone who sent in questions, under whichever hilarious pseudonym you chose. I had great fun answering them. I’ve always had fun writing about this team over the past six years. So thank you for being part of that too.
I will see you all tomorrow when Leicester take on Everton for what will be my last match covering the game as a Mercury reporter. Quite fitting, after all that title chat.
I can’t wait. It’s been an absolute blast.
Thank you again,
So many places to choose from. Barnsley had its perks. The nearby chip shop is belting, but the outside brick wall of a men’s toilets less so.
I remember the entire Midlands press pack sat outside at a restaurant in Porto, as the sun set over the river. We all looked at each other and agreed how ridiculous it was that were were here to watch Leicester play in the Champions League.
Of all those trips, though, I think Bruges was my favourite. Our first one. The most beautiful of old cities, scorching sun, an invasion of blue and white that was accepted in opens arms by the public and authorities.
Fondest memory, then. There are so many. Championship win, the Great Escape, Nigel Pearson and the Ostrich. But of all of them, there can be only one.
May 7, 2016. Everything about that day. The fans descending on the King Power Stadium hours and hours before kick-off. The heavens opening just before the game. Andy King scoring. Wes Morgan and Claudio Ranieri hoisting the Premier League trophy above their heads.
And that wasn’t even my favourite part.
That was saved for Andrea Bocelli. With Claudio next to him, as he serenaded the City fans who stood and hugged each other as tears rolled down everyone’s faces.
Even if City won the whole bloody thing again, it will never get better than that.
The fondest memories
It’s time to finish off. So what better way to call time on my final web chat than a little reminisce.
Firstly from former Radio Leicester finest Jason Bourne.
My question: of all the places you’ve been to watch Leicester City with the Mercury…. what was your favourite? Barnsley? Yeovil? Stockholm? Any others?
And then from Michael. It actually says it’s from Michael Lamey. As in former flop of a Dutch right-back Michael Lamey. Hey, we’ll go with it.
What’s your fondest memory of your time covering Leicester City?
Praise for Amartey
We’ve mentioned him already, but Amartey is settling into life at right-back.
There have been a couple of comments and questions sent in about him.
Question from Richard.
Now that Amartey has settled in at right-back would it be a good idea to play Pereira regularly in front of him so that a relationship can build into an understanding where Amartey drops in with the centre-backs when necessary yet is able to support the winger when going forward?
I agree, although I always find it tough to leave out Albrighton when he offers so much. I do think it’s probably time to find a more settled defence and get those partnerships working.
And here’s one from Srecko.
In my opinion, Amartey has to play the right-back right now. He has the energy to run up and down the pitch for 90 minutes and honestly defends better than Ricardo because that is going to be necessary against Richarlison tomorrow. But Ricardo goes past people relatively easy so he should start in one of those three positions behind Vardy. Also would love to see Albrighton play tomorrow. Anyways, congrats James on that upcoming job for Mail on Sunday. Cheers from Serbia
Thanks, Srecko. I will miss this place. On the football, though, I agree on Amartey. He’s a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Right-Backs. More attacking than Danny Simpson but more defensive than Pereira. At the moment, his performances are just right.
For those who did not read them, Puel said that Soyuncu had not made his debut yet because his lack of English was making it difficult for him to communicate with his team-mates.
So, that’s one reason. It’s not as ludicrous as it sounds. I know there’s the old ‘language of football’ cliche but centre-back is a position that communication with your partner is so key, especially in the Premier League when even the slightest hesitation can get punished.
I don’t think we will see Soyuncu for a while, but not just because of the English.
Wes Morgan, for all his critics, has played well recently and has formed a solid partnership with Maguire in the centre of City’s defence. Soyuncu is not getting into that yet.
And certainly not when Soyuncu’s performances for the development squad have not been that encouraging. He’s only young and will settle in over time.
Don’t panic. We’ll see him when he is ready.
When will we see Soyuncu?
Enough of that. City fans are still waiting to see Turkey international Caglar Soyuncu make his debut.
On that, here’s a question from Joe.
When will we see Caglar Soyuncu after comments made recently by Claude Puel?
A tough choice
Another from the list of suspect questions.
From world-famous hairdresser and personal friend Vidal Sassoon.
Nigel Pearson, Paulo Sousa and Vicente Iborra – snog, marry, avoid?
Snog Vicente. That’s the easy bit. It’s tough between Sousa and Big Nige. I love Nige but I’m not sure it would work. Marry Sousa, you’d live a fashionable life. I like gillets too.
Avoid Nige. Stick your head in the sand, or something.
I think that argument does hold a little bit of weight, although perhaps unfair to say they will *never* be happy.
It’s true that the joy and mind-blowing ridiculousness of winning the Premier League title will probably never be matched and that has give both fans and players a case of cold turkey in the proceeding seasons.
For a club with such a bipolar existence over the years: pushing for promotion one season, fighting relegation the next, and battling for titles as well, a period of much-needed stability was always going to be difficult to enjoy.
Having your Premier League life on the line is nerve-wracking and stressful as hell but it’s more encapsulating than a stream of bog-standard mid-table finishes.
But I do feel that City have come through that period and now have plenty more reasons to get excited. Hopefully, the worst of the toothing period of Puel’s evolution is behind us and supporters can now see a young, exciting squad push for Europe.
Not only that, but City now have five players who have been named in England squads over the past four months: Maddison, Chilwell, Gray, Maguire and Vardy.
Vardy may have retired but Leicester have the future of the England team in their ranks. If that is not exciting, I am not sure what is.
The price of stability?
A question from Luke on City fans and their ambitions following the title-winning season.
What do you make of the argument that Leicester fans will never be happy after having achieved the ultimate? I think the squad now is stronger and there’s a lot more to be excited about now with the chance to be able to cement ourselves in the top 8 with a stadium expansion, new training ground and young players.
That was my concern when Mendy first got brought back into the side. Are they too similar? But they have formed a pretty decent partnership.
And I see your point. Ndidi or Mendy win it back, then just give it straight to Maddison.
I think in Puel’s mind, and in his style, that doesn’t matter too much. And having two defensive midfielders could actually help.
In the 4-2-3-1 system that Puel plays, the two wingers actually play pretty narrow. Maddison has been ‘on the left’ recently but has been almost as central as Iheanacho or Vardy. On the other side, Pereira is often cutting inside. It’s the full-backs that bomb on to give the width.
So that’s Vardy, Iheanacho, Maddison, Pereira, Chilwell and sometimes Amartey in the opposition half. If that is happening, Puel needs those two sitting midfielders to help guard the space and help drop in for the full-backs. Unfortunately, they did not do that at Bournemouth.
Having said all of that that, though, I do feel someone like Iborra could do that role as well as bring a wider range of passing from deep. The problem with that, though, is that he is not quite as mobile as Mendy.
Mendy and Ndidi enough threat?
Here’s a question on City’s midfield duo from Andy.
Mendy and N’didi are combative midfielders but especially at home they do not give us the forward impetus to really press visiting teams back?
This is a great question and one that we have been discussing for a while on the Mercury sports desk. We’ve asked the club about it but have not been told of any plans, although that is not to say that there aren’t any.
Leicester City Women are one of the fastest-growing teams who have made incredible developments on and off the field in the past few years and are now battling it out in the Women’s Championship. They are a hugely professional outfit.
If you’ve noticed, too, their social media is starting to fall into line with the men’s side. That’s only something small but I think it shows that the two are slowly starting to come together.
In short: I would be stunned if there were not at least some sort of early discussions. As you say, women’s football is a booming market with ever-growing audiences watching on television.
Leicester’s owners are about as shrewd businessmen as you will find in the Premier League. I would be staggered if they don’t want a slice of the women’s market too.
Leicester and the rise of women’s football
Anyway, back to the football. And a really interesting question from Charlotte.
With women’s football gaining in popularity and clubs such as Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City giving their female teams more opportunities and support, are there any plans for this at Leicester City?
Ducks or horses?
As I mentioned earlier, plenty of non-football related questions from a host of eccentric names.
Here’s one for example from, apparently, Yohan Benalouane.
Would you rather take on 100 duck-sized horses, or 100 horse-sized ducks?
Absolutely no question. The duck-sizes horses. Run among them and they’ll scatter. Can you imagine 100 horse-size ducks?! That’s terrifying.
First up, I’m pretty happy with the squad at the moment. But let’s go through it ad
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel remains one of the best in the Premier League and Danny Ward showed in the Carabao Cup that he is a more-than-able back-up.
Full-backs: Ricardo Pereira joined in the summer and, while he has a lot of defensive work to learn, he’s an exciting prospect. Daniel Amartey is now also starting to settle in that position too. Danny Simpson is steady too, even if his future at the club is in doubt.
Maybe bring another left-back in with a view to Christian Fuchs’s departure in the summer when his contract expires. Leicester already have the future England left-back in Ben Chilwell but the experience of Fuchs will be difficult to replace. Callum Elder signed a new contract recently. Maybe they see enough in him? Personally, I’d look to bring one in for next season.
Central midfield: Absolutely bursting with talent here. Wilfred Ndidi is one of the best ball-winners in Europe. Papy Mendy is (cliche alert) like a new signing. Vicente Iborra oozes class. Adrien Silva has still not shown his best, but has pedigree, and Hamza Choudhury is the future. No need for any new arrivals here.
Wingers: I’m pretty happy here, too. Especially until the summer. Maddison is now playing in a sort of wide role with Iheanacho down the middle which leaves Gray, Ghezzal and Albrighton. That’s plenty.
Striker: And we’re back here again. This is probably the place where fans are most concerned. Maybe City could look to sign another striker. But, as Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani have found out, it is difficult for new strikers to settle here because they just are not Jamie Vardy. If City were to look for an area to bolster, it could be here. Who, though, is another question entirely.
How to strengthen the squad?
We’ve already had one question about loan players being recalled in January. What about permanent arrivals?
Where, if anywhere, should LCFC strengthen in January so they can kick on in the new year?
Probably. But this is nothing really new. Leicester have always been pretty reliant on him. Tottenham are over-reliant on Harry Kane, too.
Vardy is one of the best strikers not only in the Premier League but in Europe too so City are always going to miss him when he’s not there.
I guess with him turning 32 in January, we can say that time is not on his side. And the question of how do City replace him will only get closer.
I agree with you though about Iheanacho. The thought was that he would be Vardy’s natural successor but I have also been surprised by the Nigerian’s lack of pace.
Iheanacho and Vardy play well together, and I have been impressed with their recent blossoming partnership. Iheanacho’s record in pre-season, without Vardy, was pretty strong too.
I think under Puel’s more possession-based style, electric pace up front might not be quite as necessary as it has been over the last few years. Let’s get as much time as we can out of Vardy while he’s still here though.
Who follows Vardy?
Jamie Vardy took his goal tally to three goals for the season in the victory at Newcastle.
Good news, yes, but here’s a question from John.
Are LCFC now over reliant on Jamie Vardy? Kelechi Iheanacho doesn’t seem to have the electric pace to play the role that Vardy does.
Yes. Certainly a Europa League place, anyway.
City should have got one last season but chucked it away as Puel’s evolution came to a juddering halt after Riyad Mahrez went awol at the end of January.
Puel has had his summer window, his pre-season and snapped up the likes of James Maddison who is already helping win matches for Leicester.
The current squad, with the spine of Schmeichel, Maguire, Ndidi, Maddison and Vardy should be looking to finish as the ‘Best of the Rest’.
Leicester currently sit eighth and that is with the thought that there is plenty of room for improvement.
Everton are likely to be battling with Leicester for that seventh spot so this weekend’s game will be a good barometer of how Leicester are doing in their search for European football.
I predicted them to finish seventh before the season started. I have seen nothing to change my mind.
Back-to-back wins for Leicester and people are already looking up.
Question from Joe.
Do you think a Europa League place/Champions league place is up for grabs for LCFC this season?
Claude Puel has been asked about it twice now. And twice he has given the same answer: we will see.
I guess it’s two questions: will they recall him and should they recall him. The answer to both, I think, is no.
In my opinion, it is absolutely best to leave Barnes at West Brom. He is playing regularly in a team battling for promotion in the Championship and performing superbly. If no one saw his goal the other night, just check this out…
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 3, 2018
Barnes was doing well on loan at Barnsley last year but then got recalled in January. After that he played just seven Premier League minutes across three matches and started two FA Cup games. He finished neither.
A full season at West Brom would be great experience. Much better than warming the bench at Leicester or playing with the kids. He’ll come back a much better, stronger, confident player.
Unless there is a serious injury to James Maddison I think City will leave Barnes at West Brom. City’s squad is strong enough and Barnes’s development will be better with the Baggies.
In fact, my colleague Rob Tanner has written a good opinion piece on this very subject. Read it here.
Barnes on the way back?
Let’s kick off with the Leicester lad who is tearing up the Championship with West Brom: Harvey Barnes.
A question from David…
Leicester can recall Barnes in January, but what are the chances of them actually doing that?
And another one – well, the same one really – from Jorge…
Do you think Leicester should recall Harvey Barnes back in January? I think we need him to stay at West Brom to develop himself more and to play every week.
Hello and welcome
Welcome to our weekly Leicester City web chat. James Sharpe here, poised and ready to answer your questions over the next couple of hours for what will be my last time (I’m soon off for pastures new).
We’ve had plenty of questions so far. Not all of them football-related. So far we have had questions from Paulo Sousa, Yohan Benalouane, Terry Robinson, Michael Lamey and Vidal Sassoon.
I have my suspects.
Anyway, let’s get cracking.
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