If suffering Leicester fans had hoped to see their team respond positively to the crisis that precipitated Peter Taylor's demise they were disappointed, to put it mildly, as a rampant Leeds side revealed their managerless team also to be rudderless and clueless. Dave Bassett, the former Wimbledon and Sheffield United manager, is now a strong favourite to take over at Filbert Street, with Brighton's manager Mickey Adams linked to the role of first team coach, although the job may have lost some of its appeal after the brutal demolition that ended Leicester's participation in the Worthington Cup.
The opening 15 minutes, in which Robbie Keane scored twice, made the caretaker manager, Garry Parker, fully aware of the difficulties Taylor's successor will face and the evening only worsened thereafter. The Irishman went on to complete a hat-trick before being rested for the final half-hour. Eirik Bakke, Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell joined him on the scoresheet.
Leeds fielded a line-up that reflected David O'Leary's full commitment to the competition, which he willingly restated afterwards. "Manchester United and Arsenal can afford to take the Worthington Cup lightly because they have won things," he said. "My squad is not deep enough to allow me the same luxury but in any case we have won nothing yet and I would be delighted to win this competition." The floodgates opened on Leicester after 11 minutes, when a corner from Ian Harte was diverted towards goal by the head of Bakke at the edge of the Leicester penalty area before Keane glanced it home from close range.
The second followed a free kick on the left, again taken by Harte with Bakke his target. This time the Norwegian knocked the ball downwards from the far post for Keane to score at the second attempt.
Leicester, fielding a three-man front-line in which the 20-year-old Matthew Piper made his first start, tried to make an impression but were punished again before half-time as the gulf between the Premiership's top and bottom sides was painfully emphasised, a sweeping move involving Danny Mills, Lee Bowyer and a back heel from Keane ending with a 12-yard strike for Bakke.
All this made for an easy re-introduction to the Leeds line-up for the central defender Jonathan Woodgate, whose appearance in place of the injured Dominic Matteo was his first for 10 months.
O'Leary had spoken warily of Filbert Street being "a bad ground" for his side, recalling the defeats suffered there in the fourth round of the Worthington Cup in both 1998 and 1999.
There was no danger of reliving such horrors last night, especially after Keane completed his hat-trick from close range. Viduka's delightful left-footed curler then stretched the Leeds tally to five within nine minutes of the restart. But even that was not the end of the home side's suffering as Harry Kewell strode forward to thump home Leeds' sixth.
Leicester City (3-4-3): Walker; Sinclair, Elliott, Rowett; Savage, Jones, Wise (Impey, 62), Izzet; Piper, Scowcroft, Sturridge (Davidson, h-t). Substitutes not used: Royce (gk), Gunnlaugsson, Benjamin.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn; Mills, Woodgate, Ferdinand (Duberry, 68), Harte; Bowyer, Bakke (McPhail, 59), Dacourt, Kewell; Keane (Smith, 57), Viduka. Substitutes not used: Kelly, Robinson (gk).
Referee: G Poll (Tring).Reuse content