Why Sven is learning quickly, but not quickly enough

The hunt for reasons as to why Leicester have been unable to keep pace with the extremely high standards they set in January and February has been swift and brutal. Ricardo and Yakubu have been singled out for heavy criticism: the former for having the cheek to concede exactly the same number of goals in his eight games between the sticks as the proposed replacement, Chris Weale, did in his last 8 starts; the latter for failing to score in his last six matches, despite these barren spells being a common feature of long lost golden boy Matty Fryatt’s time at the Walkers.

To blame individuals on the pitch is too simplistic, too crude, too one-dimensional an analysis. It is time to propose a much more subtle reason why the last six games have gone so very badly for Foxes – Sven wasn’t in charge for any of the return fixtures.

The contrast between Sven’s results when facing a Championship side for the first time and the rematch is quite stunning. In his first meetings with other Championship teams Sven’s Leicester have played 19, won seven, drawn three and lost nine. By contrast, in the return fixture against the very same teams Sven’s City have played nine, won seven and drawn two. No Championship manager has beaten Sven at the second attempt. Only two teams (Leeds and Preston) have managed a better result than in their first meeting, but neither of them won.

We can only speculate why this might be happening, but it seems reasonable to assume that Sven was not being modest when he confessed to not knowing as much about the Championship as he might have liked when taking the manager’s position. In an interview with Mick Collins he admitted, “I watched many games on video to prepare for teams I might not have seen lots of, but the technical people here are very good, and they can condense them down for me.”

Sven would be the first to admit that this is no match for watching players first hand, and even that does not tell you the whole story – is that tricky winger good, or is the full back just making him look special? Only when his own side matched up against these opponents have the true strengths and weaknesses of the opposition and his own XI been revealed. Second time around, lessons learned, Sven has ruthlessly demonstrated his managerial prowess. At least, that’s what the stats would suggest.

If it is true then City fans should expect this period of turbulence to continue for a short while yet. Leicester’s next four fixtures are all against sides who first faced the Foxes when Paulo Sousa was in charge. Any more poor results and Leicester can kiss goodbye any hopes of the playoffs. But the 18 teams who remain in the Championship next season will know their one free pass against Leicester has expired. If Sven is learning as quickly as the numbers suggest, the Foxes will be a formidable force next year.

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6 Responses to Why Sven is learning quickly, but not quickly enough

  1. sean says:

    If thats the reason behind the slump im looking forward to next season!
    Excellent piece

  2. john says:

    An explanation looking for a theory…..

    • Chris says:

      “An explanation looking for a theory…..” – WHAT? Did you actually READ the piece at all? Structurally it could not be clearer! The article in itself is a theory as to why we are in this slump with a clear explanation of how we may get out of it. If you are going to make remarks to try and sound clever at least get your punctuation correct – five dots looking for three…

  3. john says:

    Looks like I hit a nerve…Why is it people need to make personal comments and attack when they don’t like the reply?I thought that was why this was here… I have heard an interview with Sven where he is at a loss to why we have slumped recently..When all is said and done the game is about players.Ricardo IS a weak link,Yakbu IS lazy,King has gone awol…There IS a lack of communication in the team…etc..I await your punctuation corrections.. thanks..

  4. Will says:

    Good article with some interesting statistical points, with those in mind I’ll wait with baited breath for next season! However In my opinion, to say that Ricardo and Yakubu’s criticism, is unfair based on the fact that Weale also let in eight goals and Fryatt was hit and miss is too black and white.

    Goalkeepers do more than concede goals and strikers do more than score, in Ricardo’s case, his inability or unwillingness to catch, his seeming lack of communication and his showmanship in and around the box weigh heavily against him. Yes, he’s conceded the same amount, but how many of those could or should have been prevented by a clean catch? Coventry springs to mind and his lack of communication with Bamba left Nugent an empty net against Portsmouth.

    From what I can see (as a long term season ticket holder) the criticism levelled at Yakubu is borne out of his seeming unwillingness to lead the line. It may be that the formation does not suit him, it may be that he’s still not built up an full understanding with his midfielders, but the one thing that the fans want (well, this fan anyway) is someone who will try for the team. For me, his words about wanting to stay here and help the club and his actions on the pitch don’t tally up.

    Maybe Kamara will be the missing link……….

    • foxblogger says:

      I think that’s a perfectly fair analysis. My point was not absolve Ricardo and Yakubu from all criticism, they are far from perfect solutions to City’s problems at both ends of the pitch. I just wanted to explore another angle.

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