Liverpool tighten grip on sixth as Leicester slide.

David Nugent’s first half strike gave Portsmouth a 1-0 victory, as The Foxes play-off dream appears to be coming to an end. The dented hopes are left pinned on results going Leicester’s way over the final eight games and themselves picking up every point, starting at Middlesborough on 2 April.

The Foxes started brightly and dominated for large periods but a resolute Pompey defence saw them claim their eighth clean sheet in nine games.

With Yakubu’s penalty shout and Gallagher’s free kick appearing to hit an opposition hand, Eriksson’s men can feel they gave their all yet still finished empty handed. Even the late introductions of Lloyd Dyer and Martyn Waghorn couldn’t save play-off seeking Leicester from defeat.

The Foxes have been playing well but just not finding the back of the net enough in recent games. It has been addressed this week with the loan signing of Diomansy Kamara from Premiership Fulham.

Eriksson told lcfc.com: “Diomansy is a quality striker and will be a great addition to our team. He brings with him pace, good technical ability and, of course, Premier League quality.”

At West Brom, Kamara fired in 23 goals that led them to the Championship play-offs in 2007. He was crowned the PFA’s Championship Player of the Year, which resulted in a £6 million summer switch to Fulham.

But with eight games remaining has Kamara arrived too late to make an impact? Leicester are currently sitting in 11th position but only five points of a play-off place. Eriksson remains as confident as ever, telling lcfc.com: “Whilst it is mathematically possible we will go on trying and working hard. We still have the belief in the dressing room that we can achieve the play-off place, but obviously we can’t guarantee it.”

With momentum possibly lost for the run in, their chances are slim. Would it be wiser for Eriksson and Asia Football Investments to save money and prepare for next season? Since their take over AFI have backed the manager and both seem to share a real desire to make The Foxes a successful Premier League team. But this does not come cheap.

Many teams in the Championship are well backed financially and recent seasons prove that unless promotion is gained in the first couple of attempts then the clubs lose impetus, and hungrier, less scarred teams come through.

Flavio Briatore has heavily investment in champions elect QPR, which will be a large obstacle out of the way for next season. Leeds and Norwich came up last season and have continued their form this season, sitting in sixth and second both could make promotion. If they don’t, would two successive big seasons take their toll?

Behind closed doors The Foxes board and Eriksson could put this season to bed and hope for a solid season long attack next time out. Their determination this season should not get the better of them, if they fail the club may not challenge again so soon.

This is the beauty of the Championship though, as many teams can lay claim to a promotion place at the start of the season. Investment, good football and unwithering determination are key ingredients to a successful promotion push.

With approximately £90 million to be gained for promoted teams it’s clear how anxious investors are to see a return on their money. Football is not a profitable business, unless you are a top player or manager. Investors need to care for the club and want to see it succeed. Making money rarely happens.

Ask Hicks and Gillett the former owners of Liverpool FC. They paid £218.9 million for the club in 2007 and sold for £300 million in 2010. The sale was out of their hands as the Royal Bank of Scotland called in the debt due to their failure to service it. As more than £200 million worth of debt had been placed on the club, resulting in high interest rates and penalty payments, the outgoing owners ended up losing an estimated £144 million on their investment.

Asia Football Investments don’t seem to go about their business in the same foolish manner of Hicks and Gillett, but along with Eriksson they have shown they want the best for Leicester City and their fans, and that’s a great start.

Fenway Sports Group are following the Boston Red Sox model for the running of Liverpool. Good management, a winning mentality and sensible acquisitions are felt to be the guidelines that FSG work within. It worked so well for them with the Red Sox so it seems sensible for them to use it for Liverpool.

There are notable successes already. The installation of Kenny Dalgish as temporary manager has turned around the club’s fortunes since January. The considered appointment of Damien Comolli for the position of Director of Football Strategy brings in-depth knowledge of players and a vast network of contacts. He has now moved to Director of Football following Ian Ayre’s appointment as MD. Ayre has worked at Anfield since 2007 but FSG wanted to make sure they had the best possible candidate, especially as he worked for the previous owners, but he proved his importance and has earned promotion.

After the sale of Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel and the purchase of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez the transfer window dealings left Liverpool £2 million in the red. The owners scouted a skilful young talent in Suarez, and then acted quickly in the face of losing their biggest playing asset. These were not hurried acquisitions. The targets were pinpointed and the owners acted swiftly, when required, to secure their services.

FSG’s careful approach won’t bring immediate success back to Anfield, but with no debt at the club and owners with a proven track record Liverpool’s fans should feel secure about the future.

It is this considered approach that will lead many clubs to their aim. Of course, there will only ever be one team as the Champions of England per season and not all owners have the finances to bankroll clubs or the business sense to use the money wisely within the Financial Fair Play rules. But if fans see success on the park and a feel their club is being run well it will keep them coming through the turnstiles.

The crowds are coming back to Liverpool. While they were never low under the previous owners, attendances had fallen during Roy Hodgson’s time as manager.

The fine display against Manchester United and the grit shown at Sunderland have been praised and appreciated by fans. Luis Saurez has been exciting to watch, probably the most exciting player since John Barnes.

Suarez’s goal against Sunderland capped off a determined 2-0 victory to help Liverpool cement sixth place. A feeling of making fifth is almost tangible but fourth is probably out of sight for the Reds.

There’s now a break for Internationals this weekend, a period Liverpool fans often loathe for fear of players returning injured. It just happens too often to too many players. Andy Carroll is in the England squad, even after Dalglish requested him to be left out.

Fabio Capello can take a look at Carroll during training but should he feature on the bench, never mind the starting XI, Liverpool fans and Dalglish will not be impressed with the disregard for £35 million worth of talent returning from injury lining up against Wales this weekend.

The graph below shows Leicester’s £35 million team has fared poorly in March, although the signs are favourable for the future. Liverpool have shown resolve and flair under Dalglish, looking like a top four team once again. Since Tottenham’s resurgence and the money available at Eastlands, the old top four could be extended to six. But with only four places gaining entry to the Champions League it creates an interesting scenario for next season.

Leicester’s average league position over the 38 games played so far this season is 9.9, which suggest their league position is about right. Where as Liverpool are much higher than the 12.5 average states, with The Reds perched in sixth after 30 games.

All football fans know that statistics, while true, can paint the picture you want people to see. Liverpool fans crave the title but competing with Europe’s elite would suit. Leicester would also love a divisional crown, but are chasing a chance to play in the top tier of English football for the first time since 2004. Though it seems, despite the best efforts of new managers and new owners, this season those desires will remain unfulfilled.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: