Leicester City (2:3) Liverpool
Steve Guppy penalty
Arsenal aside, and rightly aside because it’s the opening day of the season, this was the first real test of quality. First half we matched them stride for stride. It wasn’t the sort of game I’d associate my tactics with, to be honest. Guppers won and scored a penalty early on and the game of football apparently evolved into a game of basketball. Poor defending all over, we played with an abandon, I didn’t equip them with. Am I regretting the sale of Neil Lennon? A little but to get a player like Steven Gerrard, we’ve got the better end of the deal, it just might not seem it on a September afternoon in 1999 like this. We’ll see the difference in their careers by 2005.
Southampton (1:2) Leicester City
When Emile Heskey doesn’t hit you, Alvaro Recoba will. Poor Emile must have missed two handfuls of chances in the opening half hour but Recoba was always behind him waiting for the rebound, waiting for the runs off him to pick up his goal. In the end, it was a vital goal. This game is a testament to his workaholic nature in between the lines of midfield and attack – the boy has a mind made for the sport.
Leicester City (1:0) Chelsea: Alvaro Recoba
Leicester City (0:3) Chelsea
Derby County (2:1) Leicester City: Alvaro Recoba
Leicester City (1:1) Tottenham Hotspur: Alvaro Recoba
Sheffield Wednesday (1:1) Leicester City: Muzzy Izzet
Leicester City (2:1) Manchester United: Steven Gerrard, Alvaro Recoba
I group these matches altogether for one reason, these six games were missed by Emile Heskey’s who tore his groin in training two days before the Chelsea match. We adopted our tactics massively due to his absence. For a player who appears to do very little, it makes a huge difference when we have to move Recoba into a centre forward position as we lose a dimension in midfield as the figurehead of Recoba in attacking midfield is missing when Theo Zagorakis plays in there.
Nonetheless, Recoba won five of the eight points won in this period due to his relentlessness up front. He brought the work ethic he had from attacking midfield but to a more offensive position. Our only two wins in this period were only won through incredibly negative tactics. We reverted to more of a six at the back as Robbie Savage made a nuisance of himself more of a 1930s style half-back, and he flourished under this Beckenbauer-esque role. Despite Recoba scoring the winners in these two games—against stronger opposition in the form of Chelsea and Manchester United—Robbie Savage rightly earned the man of the match in both games. Possibly the biggest disappointment here is the humiliating League Cup exit to Chelsea at Filbert Street.
Leicester City (4:0) Bradford City
Isn’t it funny how one player’s return can suddenly rejuvenate the other ten? Emile had his hat-trick by half-time. It was the most explosive performance I had seen since Diego Maradona against England thirteen years ago at the Azteca.
League Table: (after 13)
Leicester City 29
Manchester United 26
Aston Villa 24
Scoring Charts: (after 13)
Emile Heskey 11 Leicester City
Alvaro Recoba 7 Leicester City
Lee Briscoe 6 Sheffield Wednesday
Neil Ardley 6 Wimbledon
Roy Keane 6 Manchester United
Kieron Dyer 6 Newcastle United