Leicester City In The 21st Century: 2000/01
O'Neill leaves the Foxes
After four-and-a-half years of continued success, Martin O'Neill finally left the Club in the summer of 2000, accepting an offer from Scottish giants Celtic. O'Neill won promotion and two League Cups with Leicester, as well as securing four consecutive top-10 finishes in the Premier League.
Taylor is announced
Martin O'Neill's replacement was finally confirmed as former Gillingham manager Peter Taylor. The Rochford-born ex-winger arrived in Leicester with a good reputation in the lower leagues and would also later combine his duties with the Foxes alongside international responsibilities after being appointed as caretaker manager of England for one match in November 2000.
A Club-record signing
Leicester parted with a £5M fee to secure the services of Nigeria international and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Ade Akinbiyi ahead of the new season. Akinbiyi was considered by many to be a replacement for Emile Heskey, who had left City to join Liverpool earlier in the calendar year.
A new-look Leicester side
While many familiar faces remained, Peter Taylor procured the likes of Gary Rowett (£3M from Birmingham City), Callum Davidson (£1.75M from Blackburn Rovers), Simon Royce (free), Trevor Benjamin (£1.5M from Cambridge United), Richard Cresswell (£750,000 from Sheffield Wednesday) and Dean Sturridge (£350,000 from Derby County). Steve Walsh, Theodoros Zagorakis and Tony Cottee were among the summer departures.
Off to a flyer
City made an excellent start to the 2000/01 Premier League season, going unbeaten for eight matches, and winning four of them - including a memorable 2-0 success at Chelsea. Muzzy Izzet and Stan Collymore got the goals for Peter Taylor's men against a Blues outfit managed by Claudio Ranieri at Stamford Bridge.
Peter Taylor's side were unable to replicate their fine domestic form on the European stage, however, and they exited the UEFA Cup in the first round following a 4-2 aggregate defeat by Red Star Belgrade. Gerry Taggart's goal sealed a 1-1 draw at Filbert Street in the first leg, but Muzzy Izzet's strike in Vienna wasn't enough to prevent a 3-1 reverse against the Serbian outfit.
A brace of awards for City's table-toppers
Following a 0-0 draw at Sunderland, the Foxes sat atop of the Premier League table in September, leading to Peter Taylor winning the Manager of the Month prize. Goalkeeper Tim Flowers, meanwhile, was rewarded for his individual performances with the Player of the Month award.
Back on track in the league
Despite defeats to Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Coventry City, the Foxes continued their good form on the whole, sealing wins over Derby County, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Leeds United, Charlton Athletic and West Ham United - the latter of which ended with Robbie Savage diving into the Double Decker Stand after netting the winner.
A big moment in City's history
The 2000/01 campaign also saw the end of years of discussions as plans were announced for Leicester City to leave Filbert Street after 111 years at the end of the following season. The new venue would be built within a stone's throw of the Club's old stadium and house up to 32,500 fans.
England duty for Taylor
Following the exit of Kevin Keegan as England manager, Peter Taylor stepped into the breach in late 2000, overseeing one game as Three Lions manager - a 1-0 friendly defeat to Italy in Turin’s Stadio Delle Alpi. The Leicester manager was also the man who first gave David Beckham the captain's armband for his country.
A marque signing
Leicester City completed the capture of Italian icon Roberto Mancini, on loan from Lazio, in January. The stylish midfielder was initially brought in a short-term replacement for Neil Lennon, who had decided to link up with former manager Martin O'Neill at Celtic for a £5.7M fee earlier in the month. Mancini would make five appearances for the Foxes.
A harsh winter
January saw extreme weather conditions hit the UK, leading to the home fixture against Arsenal being postponed. However, more often than not, Filbert Street was equipped to handle such conditions using a technique - blanketing the pitch beneath a tent for cover - developed several years earlier.
FA Cup woe
City's Premier League fortunes had begun to stutter over the festive period and, when Wycombe Wanderers visited Filbert Street in March for the FA Cup Quarter-Finals, a shock 2-1 defeat rocked the Foxes further. Roy Essandoh's last-minute winner ultimately led to a run of eight consecutive Premier League defeats for Peter Taylor's side.
A win to savour
Following such a damaging run of form, goals from Gary Rowett, Sturridge (pictured), Steve Guppy and Robbie Savage did at least secure a 4-2 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur in City's last home game of the season. Having slipped from the top-four to 13th, though, Peter Taylor conceded work had to be done in the transfer market the following summer...