Preseason Preview: Cats Feeling Foxy?

Will Nigel Pearson still be smiling at full-time tomorrow?

Let's be honest, pre-season has been something of a disappointment. We have severe problems with finding the onion sack, and the defence (Titus Bramble) looks wobbly.

Is tomorrow the day when it all comes together? Fingers are well and truly crossed as we launch our preview of the game...

Overview

The club was founded in 1884 as Leicester Fosse, playing on a field near Fosse Road. They moved to Filbert Street in 1891 and played there for 111 years before relocating to the nearby Walkers Stadium (now the King Power Stadium) in 2002.

Leicester were elected to the Football League in 1894. The club's highest finish was second place in the top flight in 1928-29. They hold six Second Division titles, and one League One title. They have won the League Cup three times, and have been runners-up four times, which is a tournament record for the most defeats in the final without actually winning the thing. In their entire history, they've only spent one season outside of the top two tiers of English football.

And, of course, they used to party with Marty.

Recent History

The heady heights of winning the League Cup under Martin O'Neill have become a distant memory for fans of the foxes. Having been relegated from the Premier League in 2002, and then again in 2004, they slipped even further down the league ladder in 2008. However, they would only spend one year in League One, as Nigel Pearson led them straight back out of the division.

With considerable financial clout behind them, Leicester were expected to win promotion last season, but after an inconsistant start, Sven Goran Eriksson was shown the door, to be replaced by Pearson, again.

They will start the season again this year as one of the favourites for promotion, and it will take a strong start and a consistant challenge for Nigel Pearson not to find himself on the wrong end of a P45. Managerial consistancy has certainly not been important at the King Power in recent years.

Fun Fact

The club has had 11 managers since the turn of the century, with Martin Allen only lasting four games, and Gary Megson only sticking around for six weeks. Revolving door on the manager's office?

The Gaffer

Nottingham-born Nigel Pearson was a no-nonsense defender in his day, starring for Shrewsbury Town, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough across a career spanning almost 450 games.

Making the move into management, he was the man in charge at Carlisle when goalkeeper Jimmy Glass made his heroic strides up the field to score against Scarboroughin injury time, saving the club from relegation. He then went on to be assistant manager at West Brom, England U21s and Newcastle, taking the role of caretaker at each, before being made boss at Southampton in 2008. After flirting with relegation, the club stayed up at the expense of, ironically given what was to come, Leicester.

After being in charge for the game that relegated the Foxes, Pearson decided that it was only right to get them back up, and that he did at the first attempt. A bash at the playoffs the following season finished in the semi finals, but a strained relationship with owner Milan Mandaric meant that he was to seek pastures new at Hull shortly after. However, his time in East Yorkshire didn't last too long, and he must have a short memory, as he returned to Leicester, following Paulo Souza's departure, in November 2011.

The Team

The current crop of Foxes look strong on paper, and will expect to do well in the Championship this season.

With Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks, their team is strong at the back, and names such as Danny Drinkwater, Paul Konchesky, Sean St Ledger, Zak Whitbread and even David Nugent are ones that will be considered to be excellent players at Championship level.

Leicester is also home to our own Martyn Waghorn, although he did spend the second half of last season on loan at Hull City.

One To Watch

Although he didn't set the world alight at Everton, Jermaine Beckford is more than capable of notching a lot of goals in the Championship. Scoring twice in a recent pre-season encounter, Sunderland will have to watch the big frontman carefully, as his threat can't be understated.

Despite only scoring nine goals last season, expect this to be a successful season for the 6"2 centre forward, especially if his confidence is boosted in this encounter. Titus Bramble can ill afford to continue making the mistakes that he has so far when up against Beckford.

Tough Test For SAFC?

After a disappointing campaign last season, the playoffs will be the mimimum requirement this time around for the Foxes. Expect them to make more signings before the transfer window 'slams' shut, and mount a real charge.

Sunderland have looked shaky in pre-season, but with this game providing the final chance for a few players to prove themselves ahead of next week's clash with Arsenal, we should see positive performances across the park.

Transfer rumour hogger Stephane Sessegnon won't make the trip to the King Power Stadium, which is a blow for Martin O'Neill, who must be secretely hoping that the little magician's injury is enough to keep him out until September 1.

Whoever starts up top for the Black Cats will be desperate to impress, as it may secure them the starting position in a week's time at the Emirates.

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