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August 30, 2013 / ultrafox1963

Why City were right to move Marshall on

 

Marshall saluting fans after his goal at Stamford Bridge in March 2012

This time last year, Ben Marshall seemed to have the world at his feet.

A string of impressive early-season performances had seen the young winger earn a call-up to the England Under-21 side, as well as play a key role in the opening stages of Leicester City’s promotion challenge.

He had become a firm favourite among Foxes fans, especially following a wonder strike against Chelsea only weeks after his arrival from Stoke in January 2012.

But the momentum could not be maintained. Instead of ascending to higher levels, Marshall’s career has stalled during recent months.

It had been evident for some time that he no longer featured in Nigel Pearson’s plans, and this week, he joined Blackburn Rovers in a deal of around £1 million.

So where did things go wrong? A significant factor may have been the rise of Anthony Knockaert, who overtook Marshall in both the pecking order on the pitch, and the affections of the fans in the stands.

Pearson decided that there was no room for two similar luxury players in the team. As a result, Marshall was often left kicking his heels on the bench. Frustrations set in, and reached boiling point during a game at Barnsley in the closing weeks of last season.

During one of City’s most disappointing displays for some time, Marshall came on after 56 minutes to replace Knockaert. This was an opportunity to prove his worth to the team. Unfortunately he was unable to take it.

Instead, after a series of wasted setpieces, he reacted badly to criticism from sections of the travelling support, directing a volley of expletives in their direction. This proved to be a breaking point in his relations with Pearson and the club.

A dignified departure would have served the interests of all parties. However, an ill-advised interview with Radio Leicester, in which Marshall hinted at unrest within the City dressing-room, ensured that this did not happen.

Fans are aware that there are other squad members who are less than happy at being continuously overlooked by the manager, and that tensions are likely to arise as a consequence.

However, results on the field are, as ever, the biggest influence on the mood within the club. And with the side having won five of its opening six games of the current campaign, the winger’s intervention can and should be judged as little more than sour grapes.

Another positive benefit of Marshall’s sale is that Pearson now has funds with which to enter the transfer market before next Monday’s deadline. While promotion rivals, most notably Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest, have been particularly active in securing new recruits, City have been far more cautious.

Despite the excellent start, both Pearson and the fanbase are only too aware of the perils of a repeat of the cycles of boom and bust which defined so much of last season.

Perhaps now is the time to ensure this squad has the experience and depth to sustain a promotion bid through the winter.

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