DOUGIE Freedman once hailed Leicester City as the best team in the Championship by “a million miles” – now he is looking to disprove his theory, for one night at least.
After watching his side concede five at the King Power Stadium in December, the Wanderers boss confidently predicted Leicester would go on to win the title at a canter. And they have already achieved promotion.
Nigel Pearson’s well-drilled team can clinch the silverware with victory at the Reebok tonight but Freedman is working on a plot to delay their unveiling as champions. A touch of hindsight tells us the 5-3 defeat four months ago was a little closer than it felt at the time. Wanderers twice led – and though their soft under-belly was exposed all too often by the pace of Lloyd Dyer and the exemplary movement of Jamie Vardy, neither player looks likely to start at the Reebok.
Leicester have won three of their last eight games as they coasted towards promotion and Saturday’s 1-0 victory marked their 28th of the campaign, a new club record.
Are they still the best by “a million miles?” Freedman’s own view has softened a little as he looks to maintain his own club’s late-season form.
“I felt on that particular day back in December they were,” he said.“They were the best team then and I don’t think I was a bad judge because they ran away with the league.
“They play four strikers and they can always chop and change because they’ve got depth in the squad.
“On top of that, there’s a solid back four so it isn’t rocket science to see how they are doing well.
“When you can achieve that level of organisation in a team with strikers who are scoring goals, you are going to do well.
“They have won promotion and now they can win the league – but is that going to make me change the way I go about it? No. I’m going to make sure we continue playing the way we have been playing. Hopefully, that will be enough to get some sort of result.”
Freedman admires the way Pearson has steadily built his squad off the back of the excess of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s tenure.
In fact, he has positively benefited from Leicester’s rebuilding – his own signings of ex-Foxes alumni Jermaine Beckford and Neil Danns adding to Matt Mills’ arrival the summer before last.
But Wanderers go into tonight’s game with just one defeat since February 15 – a spell of 13 games in which they have matched Leicester’s record of seven wins and five draws.
And Freedman is keen to prove his side can match them stride for stride over 90 minutes tonight.
“We had Wigan at the Reebok the other week and I thought we were outstanding, so I think we have shown we can match that calibre of team,” he said.
“The way we are playing right now, we’re getting nothing less than 100 per cent commitment, so all we can do is try to continue playing in that vein.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Nigel Pearson for how he has built a team up there with younger players – Jamie Vardy, Danny Drinkwater, Anthony Knockaert.
“They have built a team that has been set up to win the Championship so there’s no way that they’ll come lightly.
“They are a very fast, very dynamic team and we need to make sure we match them.
“There’s no reason we can’t continue our good form and our good performances at home.”