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February 27, 2012 / ultrafox1963

As form improves, the off-field Foxes soap opera continues

The elation of Leicester City’s two recent away wins has been somewhat tarnished in recent days by tales of a bust-up between Nigel Pearson (above) and ex-skipper Matt Mills.

Despite the vitriol currently being aimed at him by his numerous online detractors, Mills is a player of considerable quality, as he showed during the closing months of last season when leading Reading to the Championship play-off final. Indeed, two Premier League clubs (Wolves and Stoke) expressed interest in signing him, but were outbid by Sven-Goran Eriksson, who landed his services for the Foxes seven months ago during a summer spending spree.

However, Mills’ potential has rarely been fulfilled since his arrival at his hometown club. The tone was set by a dismal home debut (ironically at home to Reading) which actually saw him dropped for the next game. Although he quickly regained a first-team place, two red cards and consequent suspensions have also disrupted his season and that of the team. Further instabilty arose through the dismissal of Eriksson and the return of former Foxes boss Pearson.

Although form seemed to have improved in recent weeks, with Mills being particularly impressive in wins over Southampton and Cardiff, a setback at Watford provided the catalyst for the collapse in relations between manager and captain.

The signing of Wes Morgan from neighbours Nottingham Forest, and the return of Sol Bamba from the African Cup of Nations, have given Pearson more options in central defence.

And with that area of the side continuing to show the uncertainties that have plagued it for much of the season, it is little surprise that he chose to explore those options in more detail.

Mills could learn from the experience of colleague Sean St Ledger, whose recent improved displays has transformed him from outcast to first-choice in a matter of weeks. He could also have maintained a dignified silence, like Aleksandr Tunchev, who has also fallen out of favour recently.

There is a distinct feeling of deja vu among some sections of the Foxes fanbase. A year ago, a similarly out-of-sorts Jack Hobbs was allowed to join Hull by Eriksson, eventually departing for a fraction of the fee subsequently expended on Mills. Hobbs recaptured his form and now leads a side with the best defensive record in the division. Hull’s gain was definitely Leicester’s loss.

Meanwhile the leadership issues that the purchase of Mills was intended to resolve still continue at the KP Stadium. Although stand-in skipper Richie Wellens led the side well at Norwich, his overall record with the armband has been far from blemish-free. With a nine-game schedule during March likely to place heavy physical demands on a 32-year-old player who has already acknowledged ongoing fitness issues, it is eminently possible that City could shortly be forced into yet another change in captain.

Leicester’s season to date has been more soap-opera than success. It would appear there are still a few more episodes left to run.

The impact that the likely departure of another key character may have upon the storyline remains to be seen.

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