Micky Adams

Remembering Micky Adams' Leicester Tenure

Eighteen years ago today (8 April), Micky Adams was named as Leicester City's 27th full-time manager, days after the Club's relegation from the Premier League.
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Adams had initially joined the Foxes from Brighton & Hove Albion, temporarily stepping back from management to work as Dave Bassett's assistant following Peter Taylor's spell in charge.

However, it was stated from the outset that the Club's long-term vision was for Adams, who'd recently guided Brighton to promotion from the old Third Division, to replace Bassett in the City hot seat.

The Sheffield-born former full-back did indeed step up just days after a 1-0 defeat by Manchester United at Filbert Street had condemned Leicester to relegation to the First Division, now the Championship.

The Foxes' final-ever season at Filbert Street, home for the preceding 111 years, had been traumatic to say to the least, but Adams was now in charge of heralding in a new era at the new stadium.

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Micky Adams
Micky Adams

Adams eventually succeeded Bassett as manager in April 2002.

Just across the road, work was being completed on a state-of-the-art new 32,000-capacity venue, realising the long-term ambitions of the Club to attract exciting talent and build foundations for the future.

Despite displaying torrid form all season, losing 20 matches in 2001/02, Adams did not suffer a single defeat during the remaining four games of the season, drawing three and securing one victory.

His debut in the manager's role was a 2-2 draw at Everton, followed by another draw of the same scoreline at home against Aston Villa, before a 0-0 stalemate with Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Adams was shoring up the defence before, on the final day of the season, Matt Piper's goal ensured Leicester would sign off their time at Filbert Street with a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

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Micky Adams
Micky Adams

The Foxes manager was able to persuade the likes of Summerbee to play for free.

Resources were limited, though, and Piper (who joined Sunderland), Lee Marshall (West Bromwich Albion), Damien Delaney (Hull City) and Arnar Gunnlaugsson (Dundee United) left the Club.

Dennis Wise, on the other hand, also departed, but City legend Muzzy Izzet remained in Leicester - despite keen interest from top-flight sides.

Adams made just two signings with Nicky Summerbee and Billy McKinlay arriving at the newly-opened Walkers Stadium for free, playing for nothing, making them the first 'amateurs' in the league since 1974.

"Obviously it's not ideal for me and Billy to play for a club and not get any money," Summerbee said. "But I'd rather be playing football for nothing than sitting on my backside every Saturday afternoon."

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Micky Adams
Micky Adams

City's impressive start to the new campaign saw Adams named Manager of the Month in September 2002.

Despite the looming threat of administration, Leicester opened their new home - now King Power Stadium - in an opening day 2-0 success over Watford, courtesy of a brace from Brian Deane.

Stoke City were overcome in City's maiden away game of the campaign and, despite a humbling 6-1 reverse at Ipswich Town, the Foxes were generally living up to their billing as promotion candidates.

Adams was crowned as September's Manager of the Month but, in October, days following a demoralising 1-0 home loss to Burnley, the Football Club was placed into administration. 

Later that season, a consortium headed by former Foxes striker Gary Lineker, which also included several other ex-City players and prominent local businesspeople, would ultimately save the Club.

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Walkers Stadium
Walkers Stadium

In October 2002, Leicester went into administration.

But the scale of Adams' task remained considerable. Remarkably, though, with first team players taking pay cuts, Leicester just kept on winning football matches to remain in contention for promotion.

A 2-0 win at Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth in November, amid horrendous weather conditions, further emboldened Leicester's push for promotion. City would lose just six games all season.

On 19 April, 2003, in front of a home crowd of 31,909, headers from Izzet and Jordan Stewart wrapped up a 2-0 victory over Adams' former club Brighton. The Foxes were back - at the first attempt.

The euphoric celebrations at full-time were an expression of joy, of course, but of relief also, as the Club returned to the Premier League, guaranteeing financial gain for the near future.

More importantly, Adams had restored pride in the city. The Blue Army believed in their football team once again and the future looked bright for the Club as they looked forward with excitement. 

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Micky Adams
Micky Adams

Despite significant off-field strife, Adams had led Leicester back into the top flight.

City would conclude the 2002/03 campaign as runners-up, 12 points clear of third-placed Sheffield United, after winning 26, drawing 14 and losing just six of their 46 league fixtures.

Budgets were still incredibly tight, however, as Adams started his efforts to build a squad worthy of remaining in the Premier League, and nine fresh faces arrived in the summer.

Experienced figures Les Ferdinand, Craig Hignett and Keith Gillespie joined on free transfers, while nominal fees were paid for the likes of Steve Howey, Riccardo Scimeca and Lilian Nalis.

Adams believed, despite operating in such a limited market, that the squad he had assembled just might be able to squeeze over the line and preserve City's status in the top flight.

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Les Ferdinand, Micky Adams & Lilian Nalis
Les Ferdinand, Micky Adams & Lilian Nalis

Adams was forced to operate on a small budget in the summer transfer market.

The campaign which followed offered several fleeting moments of hope. On day one, Leicester led Southampton 2-0 on Filbert Way with 14 minutes to go, but the Saints hit back to draw 2-2.

They were briefly level at Chelsea, buoyed by the recent arrival of Roman Abramovich, but lost 2-1 in the capital. They were held to a stalemate by Middlesbrough and then lost, unluckily, at Aston Villa.

When Leeds United visited Leicester in September, though, it clicked. Nalis' rocket put them ahead before Paul Dickov's brace and a header from James Scowcroft secured a stunning 4-0 home triumph.

It was clear that City had real quality, especially in attacking areas, with Ferdinand, Dickov, Scowcroft, Deane and loan signing Marcus Bent all being recognised strikers in the top division.

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Lilian Nalis
Lilian Nalis

A 4-0 success over Leeds, which included a stunner from Nalis, was among the highlights of Adams' reign.

Defensively, though, City struggled. That success over Leeds was followed by five consecutive losses against Liverpool, Manchester United, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

At Wolves, a double from Ferdinand and a solitary effort from Scimeca put the Foxes 3-0 up at half-time. It seemed that Leicester had finally turned a corner and were ready to start climbing the standings.

Colin Cameron, though, scored a brace of his own, while Alex Rae and Henri Camara netted one each in a remarkable second half revival to help secure the home side's second league win of the season.

It was a disastrous loss for Adams' men, but it did galvanise them into an admirable response. 

Bent and Howey booked a 2-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers, before Stewart, Dickov and Bent again struck during a 3-0 win at Manchester City. 

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Micky Adams
Micky Adams

The City manager could only watch in horror as Wolves came back to win from three goals down.

A late penalty from Paolo di Canio secured Charlton Athletic a 1-1 draw in Leicester, but a 2-0 victory at Portsmouth got the visitors back to winning ways.  

The Foxes had used that Wolves experience to push themselves up towards the top half of the Premier League table, but it sadly was not to be, as another bad run of form quickly followed.

Leicester would go on to endure a 14-game stretch without a victory, a run of form which included Hignet's dramatic late equaliser against unbeaten Arsenal, but also a damaging 5-0 home loss to Villa.

Shortly after, the Foxes were due to visit Steve Bruce's Birmingham City with the eyes of the footballing world on their backs - without several key players following the events of early March. 

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Micky Adams
Micky Adams

A morale-boosting win at Birmingham lifted spirits for the Foxes.

Adams, still a youthful manager enduring intense scrutiny, was able to inspire his men to victory, though, as Ferdinand's close-range strike sealed a 1-0 win at St. Andrew's Stadium.

It was a moment of defiance from a beleaguered squad of players, but as was the case before, it was a brief flicker of joy. City often led in games, but could not hold out for three points.

By the time they visited Charlton Athletic on 1 May, 2004, they needed a win to stay up. Wonderful goals from Bent and Ferdinand weren't enough as City were curtailed by Jonathan Fortune and di Canio.

Leicester did sign off their home season with a 3-1 success over Portsmouth, while almost denying Arsenal a winning end to their 'Invincibles' season, but relegation, in 18th place, was confirmed.

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Relegation is confirmed
Relegation is confirmed

Leicester's fate was sealed in a 2-2 draw at Charlton.

A glance at the table tells the story. City scored 48 goals, better than many of the sides around them, but conceded 65, a number eclipsed only by Leeds and Wolves, who joined them in the bottom three.

Nonetheless, Adams' magnificent achievement in securing promotion a year earlier gave the Blue Army hope of a repeat success in 2004/05, despite financial restrictions in the transfer market.

Eleven new signings arrived - Dion Dublin, David Connolly, Martin Keown, Joey Guðjónsson, Danny Tiatto and Nathan Blake among them - and Leicester were favourites to win the Championship title outright.

Indeed, on the first day of the new season, despite Dublin receiving a red card early on, there was enough on show for fans to retain that optimism after a 0-0 draw with a strong West Ham United outfit.

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Micky Adams
Micky Adams

Despite efforts from the Club to persuade him otherwise, Adams resigned in October 2004.

The following week, goals from Nalis and Trevor Benjamin also recorded a 2-1 win at local rivals Derby County, another team fancied to make a bid for promotion, and all looked in good order on Filbert Way.

By the time City tackled a double-header of home matches against Preston North End, in the Championship and League Cup, however, they'd won just four of their opening 11 games in the second tier.

A week after a 3-2 defeat in the cup, Adams made the decision to leave the Club, with Leicester sitting narrowly outside the play-off positions after 12 matches. Craig Levein was his replacement.

However, many members of the Blue Army reflect on Adams' tenure with admiration, certainly for securing promotion in spite of administration, but also for his resolve amid extraordinary circumstances. 

Leicester City Crest

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