Martin Allen

Martin Allen, 2007

In May 2007, Leicester City narrowly escaped relegation from the Championship, and the Club’s owner, Milan Mandarić, decided not to extend Nigel Worthington’s contract as manager. He appointed MK Dons manager Martin Allen in his place, giving him a three-year contract.
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This set in motion a series of events which resulted in what was arguably the most difficult season in Leicester City’s long history.

Over the next 12 months, the Club had three permanent managers, played a record number of 40 players in the first team and was relegated for the first time to the third tier of English football.

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Martin Allen
Martin Allen

Allen's appointment led to a very brief spell as the Club's manager.

After only 96 days and five games - one of which was abandoned at half-time - Allen had left the Club. Allen's decision to replant the flower beds at the training ground with blue and white flowers made headlines and he also posted unedited blogs on the Club’s website.

There was a flurry of new signings: Bruno N’Gotty, Jimmy Neilson, Ricky Sappleton, Carl Cort, Sergio Hellings, Radostin Kishishev, James Chambers, Jonathan Hayes, Hossein Kaebi, Shaun Newton, Stephen Clemence and DJ Campbell. Very few were successful.

Allen’s first game was a home defeat to Simon Grayson’s newly-promoted Blackpool. The following week two loan players arrived from Sunderland.

These were goalkeeper Márton Fülöp and full-back Clive Clarke. The Blackpool defeat was followed by a 1-0 League Cup victory at Accrington Stanley and a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace.

Allen’s final home game was an impressive 4-1 win over Watford, with goals from Iain Hume, DJ Campbell, Alan Sheehan and Mark de Vries.

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Martin Allen
Martin Allen

His final game at home was his most memorable, a 4-1 win over Watford.

However, behind the scenes, tensions continued to develop. When Allen waved to the crowd after the victory over Watford, some thought it might be a farewell wave.

Nevertheless, he was still in charge of the side which went to Nottingham Forest for a League Cup tie three days later. This was Allen’s last game as Leicester City’s manager. At half-time, Clarke had a heart attack in the dressing room.

The first moment the crowd became aware that something might be wrong was when Allen emerged with the players from the tunnel to conduct his half-time talk pitchside.

Clarke was fighting for his life in the dressing room. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and four attempts at using a defibrillator was followed by Clarke being rushed to the Queens Medical Centre, which saved his life.

The game was abandoned. The next day, Allen left the Club by mutual consent. The instability and turmoil which was to characterise the reminder of the season had only just begun.

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