Leicester City

Cottee Reviews 'Fantastic' Foxes Season To Date

During the latest international break, Tony Cottee spoke to LCFC.com to assess the season so far, Leicester's progression over the past few years and his excitement for the final run-in.
More on this story...

- Leicester City are third in the Premier League with nine games to go
- The Foxes have also secured a place in the semi-finals of the Emirates FA Cup
- Former City striker Tony Cottee has had his say on the season as a whole
- Cottee explains why a change in system has benefitted the team in recent weeks

Third in the Premier League, having earned 56 points from 29 games, and with an Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley on the horizon, it has been a promising 2020/21 campaign from Brendan Rodgers' side.

Ex-Leicester City frontman Cottee heaped praise on the way the Foxes have matured as a team and adapted their game, following a series of injuries to key players throughout the season, which has failed to hamper their significant progress in league or cup competitions.

Often deployed alongside the likes of Emile Heskey or Stan Collymore during his playing career at the Club between 1997 and 2000, Cottee is pleased to see the resurgence of the two-man forward line, currently implemented to great effect by Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Together with City's talismanic No.9, who remains the Club's top scorer this term with 12 Premier League goals to his name, Iheanacho's current tally of seven in his last four games represents his best run of form in a Leicester shirt, as he looks to nail down a starting spot in the XI.

It's great to have a strike partnership because they are few and far between nowadays. When I played it was always partnerships, but now you don't often see two players up front.

Tony Cottee

The first two of those goals earned four points from back-to-back away games against Burnley and Brighton & Hove Albion, with the Nigerian international's stunning equaliser at Turf Moor followed up by a cool finish in victory over the Seagulls - a 10th away triumph of the season. 

His hat-trick in the 5-0 triumph over Sheffield United helped equal the Foxes' biggest-ever home win in the Premier League, while his brace against Manchester United sent City through to the last four of the FA Cup.

"I think it's been fantastic season so far," said former Foxes forward Cottee, who regularly appears as a guest on LCFC TV broadcasts. "To be in third place in the Premier League and be in the FA Cup Semi-Finals for the first time in many years, I've really enjoyed watching the games the quality of football and the results. It's been a real privilege to be involved in it.

First Team

Goals: Leicester City 5 Sheffield United 0

All five goals from the Foxes' tremendous victory over the Blades at King Power Stadium on Sunday.

"It's great to have a strike partnership because they are few and far between nowadays. When I played it was always partnerships, but now you don't often see two players up front.

"So particularly in the last seven or eight games, the manager has decided to play Kelechi with Jamie. I think Jamie has been a fantastic player for Leicester over the last eight or nine years, he's been incredibly consistent.

"Kelechi has been very persistent, very patient and I've been really delighted for him because he got into the team and he put in some good performances and then the goals started to come as well and he's been banging them in. He's been outstanding in the last few games. We're at the point now where he's in that team to stay and there's a really good partnership developing."

It shows you the progression that the Club has made and quality of players in the squad that has been built over the last five years and, in particular, the last couple of seasons.

Tony Cottee

Leicester have also switched to playing with three at the back and this latest tactical adjustment made by Rodgers has resulted in a run of four games unbeaten, including three victories.

It's a system Cottee played in during his time at Leicester while working under Martin O'Neill and he was also keen to highlight the contributions from Jonny Evans, Wesley Fofana and Çağlar Söyüncü, who have formed a formidable partnership of their own in recent weeks.

The 55-year-old explained: "With the back three we've been playing in the last three games as well, it gives scope to play that system, whether it's a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-1-2, as it has been.

"It's a fantastic system that I enjoyed playing with at Leicester - with a back three and two up front. That was over 20 years ago and it's nice to see that the Club are playing that system, because I'm a big fan of it.

First Team

Goals: Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Leicester City 2

Kelechi Iheanacho and Daniel Amartey scored for City in their 2-1 Premier League success over the Seagulls at AMEX Stadium.

"It's not just a striker, I think it's everyone. If you're Vardy, you've got some support, someone up there to hold up the ball up and make runs off and work with. In the midfield, it gives them more options and it certainly gives the defenders more options when they look up and have got two players up front.

"If it's played right, it gives you many attacking options and I think it's fair to say Leicester have played the system right in the last few games. The Manchester United game springs to mind, they were fantastic against United."

The Club have put in place an infrastructure to continue on an upward trajectory, according to Cottee, who sees a bright future ahead for this crop of players, which includes 14 players currently on international duty and several youngsters who have risen through the ranks from the Academy set-up and into the first team picture.

He continued: "It shows you the progression that the Club has made and quality of players in the squad that has been built over the last five years and, in particular, the last couple of seasons since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers.

I think in the last couple of years there have been some really good decisions made which have got the Club into the strong position it's in now.

Tony Cottee

"Hopefully long gone are the days when Leicester were a yo-yo club, up and down in the divisions, one good season and then one bad season. I think this is the second season that they have consistently pushed and challenged to get a Champions League place.

"Pretty much everything at the Football Club, whether it's the stadium, the new training ground, the talent in the squad, the fact that they can compete against the so-called 'top six' - and they are a real threat to them - there's an acknowledgement in football that they've made enormous strides.

"Obviously, they had a fantastic victory in the Premier League in 2016 and I think in the last couple of years there have been some really good decisions made which have got the Club into the strong position it's in now and I haven't even mentioned the young players coming through."

While last season's Carabao Cup Semi-Final and fifth-placed finish represented a significant improvement, Cottee, a League Cup winner with the Club in 2000, believes they are well placed, both in the Premier League and in the FA Cup.

First Team

Goals: Leicester City 3 Manchester United 1

All the goals from King Power Stadium as the Foxes defeated the Red Devils 3-1 to reach the FA Cup Semi-Finals.

 

"They are a fantastic model for other clubs that are looking to strive to get into Europe," he added. "You only need to look at what Leicester have done on and off the field to have a real template to admire.

"The transformation that has gone on at the Club over the last 10 years has just been a fantastic achievement by everyone. I hope the success continues and I hope every year we're talking about Leicester looking to get in the Champions League.

"Hopefully they can compete in the cups as well because there's a huge tradition, particularly in the League Cup going back to the '90s when I played, but in the FA Cup there's that real desire to win it. It's been a real bane in the life of Leicester fans, four finals and not winning the FA Cup.

You often learn more in defeat or in adversity than winning sometimes. You have to regroup and go again and that's what Leicester will have done with their experience.

Tony Cottee

"That's something this group of players could possibly put right this year. Everything seems to be going in the right direction for the Football Club.

"We're only three quarters of the season in and it's so important, that last quarter, the business end. With the last nine league games and hopefully a couple of FA Cup games, then you could be looking at history made by this current group of players. There's obviously a long way to go, though.

"You often learn more in defeat or in adversity than winning sometimes. You have to regroup and go again and that's what Leicester will have done with their experience.

"It was a fantastic experience last year and they were very unlucky at the end of the season not to be in the Champions League, but the players will remember that hurt, they'll remember that feeling against Manchester United on the last day, sitting there thinking: 'If only we'd have won one more game'.

First Team

Goals: Leicester City 3 Liverpool 1

Leicester City came from behind to beat champions Liverpool 3-1 at King Power Stadium on 13 February, 2021.

"That's where you learn and that's where you make the decision as a player and as a team that you don't want to feel like that this season, you want the glory, you've put all that work in and then to not get the glory at the end of the year, it's so frustrating and heartbreaking.

"You learn from when things don't go right and you look to put them right in the future. I think it's fair to say that across the board, ever since that first game of the season, it looks like the players have learnt their lessons from last year.

"They're in an incredibly strong position to not just achieve league success, but hopefully FA Cup glory too. There's such a lot to play for now and it's a really exciting couple of months for us involved at the Club and all the fans."

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