As Leicester fans, have we suffered long enough? This season City begin their ninth campaign outside the top flight. It is their longest spell away from the top division since the 1920’s.
As they did in 2004/05 and 2011/12, pundits and bookmakers have put Leicester amongst the firm favourites for promotion. The favourites tag isn’t necessarily a curse, the Foxes cruised to the League One title without much fuss.
But with at least 10 sides in with a realistic shout of promotion this season, the question is are Leicester better? More specifically, are they 20 points better?
To help answer that question in the season’s opening weeks here are some benchmarks to keep your eye on.
1. Home Bankers
Leicester record against sides in the bottom half last season simply wasn’t good enough. At home they won just 14 points from 12 matches against sides who the promotion hot shots had no trouble dispatching. We’ll have a early indication of how this Leicester side is able to impose itself on the division’s weaker teams when Peterborough visit this Saturday.
2. Points Lost
Last season City thew away 20 points from winning positions. Four times they led only to finish with nothing, and four times they had to settle for a draw. At the peak of his powers (2009/10) Nigel Pearson had City win 14 matches in the Championship by a single goal. It was more than any other side in the division and made all the difference when it came to reaching the top six. Same again please.
It’s difficult enough to win matches in the Championship with 11 players on the pitch so Leicester’s nine red cards last season (a club record) did them no favours at all. A few could be disputed, but the vast majority could not. Leicester will need to clean up their act this season.
It took until March for the Foxes to string together successive wins in the Championship last season. No sooner was a win gained, than the next three points thrown away. Nine Championship sides had unbeaten runs in the double digits last season, Leicester best run stretched to just seven games. Promotion campaigns are about momentum and Leicester will go nowhere if they surrender it as often as they did last year.
With eight players realistically challenging for a place in the midfield four on the opening day, finding City’s best lineup may take time. Consistency of selection is hardly helped by a lack of cover at centre back, or an embarrassment of riches up front. If most fans can agree on starting XI come September, City will be on the right track. If we still don’t know by October the Foxes could find themselves having to play catch up.