Can all the money pumped into the football club provide the foundations for a return to the promised land?
In October 2010, former England head coach - that's manager to you or I - Sven-Goran Eriksson, became the man entrusted with guiding the foxes back to the Premier League. Sven was first swooned by the club following the sacking of Paulo Sousa after a disastrous start to the 2010/11 campaign, where Leicester found themselves rock bottom of the Championship table. However, Eriksson almost certainly wouldn't have joined the club if not for the fact City had just been taken over by multi-millionaire Thai owners, receiving the reigns from Milan Mandaric who had moved on to pastures new at Sheffield Wednesday. Vichai Raksriaksorn and Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn took over at Leicester and almost immediately installed Eriksson as manager, promising him mighty rewards if he could guide the club back to the top flight of English football, something that hadn't been achieved since 2003. A huge wage budget, transfer kitty, and contract for Mr Eriksson swayed his decision to return to the English game, following unsuccessful and highly controversial moves to Notts County, and the Ivorian national team in the last few years.
Last season, following some very good loan signings by Eriksson, stretching all of his available contacts to the very limit, including Kyle Naughton a very promising English right back, and more noteably Yakubu, who racked up £60,000 a week wages at the club during his loan spell from Everton, almost reached the play-offs, just missing out by a couple of points in the end, but after such a poor start a more than respectable finish. This time around, Eriksson has been given all the help he could need from the owners to push the club forward for a promotion challenge. Leicester have already broken their transfer record by signing the former Reading captain Matt Mills for £5.5 million, as well as the additions of 10 more players, including the coup signings of Paul Konchesky, highly regarded as 'much better' than Championship level, and Kasper Schmeichel from Leeds United, who has been attracting a lot of Premier League interest and is a top-flight keeper in the making. And with the bookies making Leicester the co-favourites along with a West Ham side who have Scott Parker, Kevin Nolan, and Carlton Cole in their ranks, they must have done something right.
Eriksson has managed to sign a whole new team of players with the £10 million pounds he has had at his disposal, adding that to the nucleus of the team that got City into the play-offs two seasons ago with the likes of the ever-present Richie Wellens, Welsh international Andy King, and Paul Gallacher, as well as the rock-solid centre half Sol Bamba who joined the club in January this year from Hibernian. Stirring all of these ingredients into the pot, a former England manager, very wealthy owners, a whole host of top quality players with a blend of youth and experience, and a huge fan base... Surely that can only equal one thing, promotion?
So, can Sven's boys really buy their way out of the championship? Possibly. We can only wait and see and come 28 April 2012, maybe they will have done what many people say they have to do this year with the assests they have at their disposal, but if their start is anything to go by, they won't be far off. We must remember though that the Championship is the most difficult to get out of, with 46 games during a real slog of a season, and none of them can be portrayed as 'easy' games. So good luck Sven, and good luck to all the other 23 Championship teams who I'm sure still believe they have a realistic chance of promotion at this stage, may the best team win!