A new number 9 in Leicester (FIFA 2000 #10)

Transfers Out:

Tim Flowers                Blackburn        £3m

Rob Ullathorne            Leeds              £5.5m

Steve Walsh                Leeds              £2m

Emile Heskey             Real Madrid    £35m

Transfers In:

Thierry Henry              Arsenal            £21m

Fabio Cannavaro        Parma             £15m

We gave in. We didn’t have the power to keep him. Emile Heskey was gone for a fixed price of £35m to Champions League holders Real Madrid but we spent that fee by bringing in two of the best talents in Europe: Fabio Cannavaro as Hierro’s understudy and Thierry Henry as Heskey’s replacement.

 

August 2000:

PL        Leicester 1-0 West Ham                     Henry

PL        Birmingham 2-3 Leicester                  Henry, Nedved [2]

PL        Leicester 0-0 Man Utd

PL        Chelsea 0-0 Leicester

PL        Aston Villa 0-1 Leicester                     Recoba

PL        Leicester 1-1 Arsenal                          Henry

6th       12pts, 2 behind Man Utd

Now, yes, we knew that Heskey’s goals would need to be replaced and our fluid five-piece up front would provide this. I experimented, using Thierry Henry and Alvaro Recoba as roaming forward, given that Henry is more of a winger. Henry was integral, scoring two in two wins at home to West Ham and at promoted Birmingham. He even scored at his old club, Arsenal but when the big teams came like United and Chelsea, our goals dried up, scoring once in three matches against last season’s top three.

 

September 2000:

PL        Middlesbrough 2-2 Leicester              Totti, Henry

PL        Leicester 2-3 Tottenham                     Henry 2

UC       Bologna 0-1 Leicester                         Nedved

PL        Sheff Wed 0-0 Leicester

UC       Leicester 1-1 Bologna                         Henry

PL        Leicester 0-0 Charlton

LC       Leicester 0-2 Man Utd

10th      15pts, 8 behind Man Utd

The dipping of our toes tactically in August was subsequently found out. Thierry Henry was hitting the back of the net which was one saving grace, scoring twice in three games but there have been six games in which he hasn’t scored so far. That’s a worry. Goalless games at Hillsborough and at home to promoted Charlton wasn’t a good sign, we were even flirted with the bottom half. We weren’t creative enough going forward.

 

October 2000:

PL        Newcastle 2-2 Leicester                     Gerrard, Nesta

UC       AEK Athens 0-4 Leicester                  Henry 2, Gerrard, Totti

PL        Leicester 3-1 Ipswich                          Henry 3

UC       Leicester 0-0 AEK Athens

PL        Liverpool 1-4 Leicester                       Carlos, Henry 3

7th       22pts, 8pts behind Man Utd

It all clicked together in Greece. Totti, Gerrard, Nedved, Recoba and, most of all, Thierry Henry, in a beautiful marriage on the Athenian turf. Enough of the double-headed attacking midfield fluid partnership with Recoba, I stuck Henry up top on his own, Heskey-esque. 8 goals in 5 games happened, this slight tactical change made all of the difference. Yes, there were teething problems as he was dragged out wide in the return leg against AEK but back at Anfield, he stuck in between the sticks. What followed was the biggest result of the season.

 

November 2000:

PL        Leicester 2-1 Wimbledon                    Henry, Recoba

PL        Everton 0-1 Leicester                         Nedved

UC       Leicester 0-1 Inter Milan

PL        Leicester 2-2 Coventry                       Henry 2

5th       29pts, 10pts behind Man Utd

This was a vital month. We welcome footballing royalty but that was before we continued our good run of form. We were sniffing around the Champions League places again and that was all down to Thierry Henry, he was becoming more selfish. The only blemish being that Ronaldo ran us ragged at Filbert Street, leaving us a mammoth task in Milan next month. We were up to fifth, not expectant of catching Manchester United who would run away with the league, let’s be honest with ourselves. We had got a tight defence for the majority, with the exception of Coventry’s visit of course.

 

December 2000:

PL        Southampton 0-1 Leicester                Henry

UC       Inter Milan 0-3 Leicester                     Henry 2, Savage

PL        Leicester 2-1 Leeds                            Nedved 2

PL        Derby 0-2 Leicester                            Henry, Gerrard

PL        West Ham 0-0 Leicester

Our stoic defence held firm in the cold month of December, just the one goal went past Paul Robinson and the firm defensive partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Fabio Cannavaro. Hierro cannot get in the team. Thierry Henry was the difference as the poacher down at The Dell, and was at the double in the San Siro in a much more fluid performance. Even Thierry Henry’s suspension at home to Leeds left Pavel Nedved to take centre stage. It ended disappointingly with a draw at Upton Park but nonetheless, a superb month.

 

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