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First Team

Media view: Expert insight on Leicester


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to record a first win against Leicester at King Power Stadium on Saturday, while the Foxes will be looking to chalk up a first Premier League victory over the Cherries.

Ahead of the game, afcb.co.uk caught up with Rob Tanner, chief football writer for the Leicester Mercury and author of best-selling book ‘5000-1 The Leicester City Story’.

afcb.co.uk: What’s the mood on the terraces been like since the appointment of Brendan Rodgers?

Rob: Much, much better. There was a growing division among supporters under Claude Puel. There were those who were simply not accepting him. They didn’t like his tactics, his style of play or how he came across publicly.

There were others who recognised he was transforming the squad from the title winners to a much younger group but, as results and performances didn’t improve, their number started to dwindle as patience ran out. 

Rodgers has come in and his appointment has reunified the fan base. He has said many similar things to Puel but it hasn’t been the message but the delivery of the message that has won over the fans. 

There is genuine excitement that City could be on the brink of something special again and the Blue Army are right behind Rodgers.

afcb.co.uk: Seventh after the New Year’s Day win at Everton, where do you think it went wrong for the Foxes under Puel?

Rob: Even when they were seventh, there were many fans and sections of the media who didn’t want Puel.

The home form and the alarming trend of conceding early goals led to reports that players were unhappy behind the scenes with longer, technical tiring sessions and that Puel couldn’t win them over. 

After the win at Everton, the results started to drop off and Puel’s decision to play a much-changed side at Newport in the FA Cup was the final straw for many supporters.

He had also rested players in the League Cup, and the previous season too, and supporters felt he was throwing away a great opportunity to win some silverware.

afcb.co.uk: If you were a betting man, which team would your money be on to finish seventh?

Rob: I didn’t have any money on City winning the title in 2016, so I am not much of a betting man!

I genuinely feel City have momentum at the right time and that the FA Cup semi-final between Wolves and Watford could be a distraction for them.

I fancy City to do it, even though their last three games are tough against Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea.

afcb.co.uk: Who is Leicester’s dangerman and why?

Rob: Jamie Vardy seems rejuvenated under Rodgers, who has urged his players to play closer to his main striker.

Under Puel, Vardy became increasingly isolated, but Youri Tielemans and James Maddison are playing further forward and Tielemans has been particularly impressive.

Vardy is the dangerman but Tielemans has been pulling the strings of late.

afcb.co.uk: Who is Leicester’s unsung hero and why?

Rob: In recent weeks, it has been Jonny Evans.

He has gone about his business quietly and professionally. He experienced a frustrating start to his City career because of niggling injuries and couldn’t get into the side but, of late, he has formed a strong partnership with Harry Maguire, although he is suspended against Bournemouth.

afcb.co.uk. How much of a miss will Maguire be?

Rob: He is an important player for City and they will be fighting to keep him this summer.

But when he went off early at Burnley, Wes Morgan came on and did superbly, going on to score the winner. With Caglar Soyuncu also available, City are well covered at centre-back for this game.

afcb.co.uk: As author of ‘5000-1 The Leicester City Story’, do you think you will be penning a follow-up book any time soon?

Rob: I would love to write the book about City’s first FA Cup triumph. Perhaps next season. There have been talks about penning a book on the Khun Vichai years.

afcb.co.uk: What’s your score prediction?

Rob: City are starting to look much more assured under Rodgers, but I know Bournemouth have been a thorn in City’s side in the Premier League.

The odds will be on a draw, but I fancy City to pick up their first Premier League win over the Cherries and am going for 2-1.

You can follow Rob on Twitter at @RobTannerMerc

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