Levein's attempt 'to reinvent' Leicester has a long way to go

Like a thousand chairmen before him Mike McGinnity, Coventry City's, will have hoped that the appointment of a new manager would prompt a change in fortunes at the weekend. Instead, Micky Adams' return to Highfield Road was marked by a home defeat.

Like a thousand chairmen before him Mike McGinnity, Coventry City's, will have hoped that the appointment of a new manager would prompt a change in fortunes at the weekend. Instead, Micky Adams' return to Highfield Road was marked by a home defeat.

At the other end of the M69 they know it is not that simple. In November, after Adams decided that he had given all he could to Leicester City, the club hired Craig Levein. The Scot arrived from Hearts with a big reputation: Tim Davies, Leicester's chief executive, described him as having "the intelligence of Arsène Wenger and the passion of Sir Alex Ferguson". Leicester were 13th when he arrived. Nearly three months later they are 14th.

Saturday's relatively comfortable victory over Gillingham was only their fifth in 13 League matches under Levein's command and, prior to it, the spectre of Jim Jefferies, his predecessor at Hearts, had begun to loom. Jefferies came south with a big reputation in 2000, but was sacked by Bradford after 13 months.

The comparison is unfair. Bradford were a relegation-bound basket case. Post-administration, Leicester are a well-run club, secure in mid-table, albeit unhappy at being there. While Jefferies was hired to fire-fight, Levein's brief is broader. "I am trying to reinvent this club," he said after Saturday's victory. "I want to bring in a different type of player and build some momentum: I want younger, hungrier players on the way up."

This suggests the club's hierarchy have already written off this season, even if Leicester are now only seven points off the play-offs and in similar shape to Crystal Palace this time last year. It might also explain the club's inconsistent form. Ten players are out of contract in the summer including many of the senior pros.

Levein's comment: "Things will change in the summer. Obviously, there will be [player] movement", is hardly a call to arms. Except some experience will be necessary. And as Keith Gillespie, 30 next month and one of those who will be out of contract, said: "I am playing for my future. It is an important time for a lot of us."

Gillingham also have a new manager. While Leicester invested in Levein's potential, Gillingham, in their more parlous position, opted for the experience of Stan Ternent. The veteran has made an instant impact, Gillingham going into this fixture with eight points from 12, a return that has given them hope of escaping relegation. According to his union, however, the recovery is unlikely to be sustained.

The League Managers' Association believes clubs change managers far too frequently and a couple of seasons ago published extensive research to support that view. It showed that though some clubs enjoy an initial improvement in results, in the long term most fared no better under a new manager than they did under the old one. A textbook example has unfolded at Nottingham Forest. Joe Kinnear came in and kept them up last year. Expectations rose but the underlying problems remained and they are back in the relegation zone this season. Kinnear has now been replaced by Gary Megson.

In fairness to the boards of Leicester and Gillingham, both their managers left voluntarily, in Gillingham's case Andy Hessenthaler's commitment to the club extending to his continuing as a player. He was on the bench on Saturday and must have been as frustrated as Ternent at the Gills' abysmal first half. Gillingham managed one wayward shot, and that after Leicester had scored twice. David Connolly tapped in after Danny Tiatto's shot was deflected off Nyron Nosworthy. The hapless Nosworthy, who was tormented by Jordan Stewart, then headed Gillespie's free-kick into his own net.

Ternent evidently blistered the walls at the break, for Gillingham were much improved and, had Andrew Crofts' shot gone in rather than hit the post after 73 minutes, would have worried an increasingly nervous Leicester. Instead, Ternent was left to state confidently his team would collect the "seven or eight" wins required for safety while a relieved Levein spoke of his team "looking a bit better", adding "we need to improve".

Such is the turnover of managers in the Football League that only five pre-date the millennium - and one, Peterborough's Barry Fry, part-owns his club while Scunthorpe's Brian Laws, was sacked then reinstated last year. That leaves Dario Gradi (Crewe), Neil Warnock (Sheffield United) and Ronnie Moore, whose Rotherham are the only Championship club below Coventry, Gillingham and Forest. But then, managing is all about meeting expectations and Moore has performed miracles at Rotherham since taking over in 1997.

To that end, staying up will be enough for Ternent to be a hero at Gillingham but Levein knows he needs to take Leicester back up next season. "This club has spent a lot of money and spent a lot of time in the Premiership," he said. "Supporters expect us to be at the top of the table."

They said the same at Coventry not so long ago. Now, as Adams settles in as their sixth manager in four seasons, they will be happy to avoid relegation.

Goals: Connolly (19) 1-0; Nosworthy og (29) 2-0.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Taylor; Maybury, Dabizas, Heath, Stewart; Gillespie, Nalis, Gudjonsson, Tiatto; Connolly (Dublin, 88), Scowcroft (De Vries, 69). Substitutes not used: Walker (gk), Makin, Gemmill.

Gillingham (4-4-2): Banks; Nosworthy, Hope, Cox, Rose; Southall, Smith, Pouton (Bodkin, 74), Crofts (Hessenthaler, 90); Byfield (Roberts, 75), Henderson. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Ashby.

Referee: D Drysdale (Lincolnshire).

Man of the match: Stewart.

Attendance: 23,457.

News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
New Articles
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all