Taylor's Foxes lack real bite

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Life for a football manager is tough enough without having to parade in the shadow of a revered previous incumbent of one's position. But, try as he might, Peter Taylor, appointed to the Leicester hot seat in the summer, just can't shrug off the memory of Martin O'Neill.

Life for a football manager is tough enough without having to parade in the shadow of a revered previous incumbent of one's position. But, try as he might, Peter Taylor, appointed to the Leicester hot seat in the summer, just can't shrug off the memory of Martin O'Neill.

Already Steve Walford, O'Neill's No 2 at Leicester, is one of the Bhoys and reports north of the border suggest the Northern Ireland international midfielder Neil Lennon could be set to join his old boss within days for around £8m.

Perhaps in anticipation of such raids, Taylor made costly moves to consolidate Leicester's status among the elite. He splashed out a fraction over £11m on five signings and pre-season friendlies, for what they're worth, showed promise - four games, four wins, four clean sheets and seven goals the return before yesterday's rather trickier test.

If anything, such fixtures give a new manager the chance to experiment, to impose his own will. Sadly for Taylor, his use of a flat back four - O'Neill favoured the flexibility of a three-man defence - came unstuck within five minutes. New boys Callum Davidson, a £1.75m arrival from Blackburn and Gary Rowett, a £3m signing from Birmingham, joined a confused defensive mêlée which allowed Wayne Allison to score from eight yards.

The defence fared no better on the half-hour when Phil Gilchrist stood rigid as a ball was floated from Sean Flynn, a free transfer from West Brom, to Allison who side-footed for Scott Taylor to tap in.

Stan Collymore, looking off the pace since his return from a broken leg, operated as a lone striker in the opening period. He contributed little, but was hardly helped by a five-man midfield which appeared torn between supporting defensive frailties and enlivening the forward forays. In the end, they achieved neither aim and that must be of concern to Taylor.

There was more shape and purpose about Leicester after the break. Tony Cottee and Ade Akinbiyi, the £5m capture from Wolves, were introduced as a new strikeforce, with Collymore tucked in just behindfor the midfielders to work with.

The switch suited Leicester and Akinbiyi was unlucky to have a glancing header parried by John Achterberg before beating the offside trap, skipping past the goalkeeper and clipping a glorious left-footed goal from 25 yards.

Tranmere adapted well, despite the goal, and, when in possession, moved the ball effectively; the former Evertonian Paul Rideout back from a Stateside sojourn, intelligently controlling much of their play from his midfield berth. His one-time team-mate Stuart Barlow, another summer signing by John Aldridge, scored from the spot after Matthew Elliott had tripped Scott Taylor.

A good week for Aldridge, after also beating Everton 2-0, but one which might have his opposite number looking over his shoulder as he ponders the visit of Aston Villa in 14 days.

Comments