Nick Powell Loan Watch 2014-15: September At Leicester City

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By Will Nicholson (Leicester City supporter)

Signed late on deadline day on a season long loan, Nick Powell was a name that received an almost unanimous vote of excitement on our message boards, something which happens maybe once a year over there if we’re lucky. So maybe a lot of pressure for a young man with very little premier league experience you’d think, but he’s a young man who comes with a solid reputation. As with most deadline day signings we had to wait two full weeks before any chance to make an impression, thanks to a surprisingly positive international break. A lot of talk over the two weeks was about where the new signings would fit in, with Powell joining along with Esteban Cambiasso to bolster an area that already contained former united youngsters Danny Drinkwater and Matty James, as well as Andy King and Dean Hammond.

With King and Hammond impressing early on in the season, showing they had what it takes to make the all-important “step up”, and Drinkwater and James both coming back from injury we were looking at going to Stoke with 6 central midfielders, all wanting what had so far been two positions, with Nigel Pearson sticking to his guns with our classic 4-4-2 formation.

So it might’ve been tough for Powell to make an impression, but we were all eagerly awaiting the team news. Would a new exciting partnership be formed in the shape of Cambiasso and Powell? Would the pair that won us the league at a canter, whilst scooping player of the year and young player last season, Drinky and James, come back in? Would we continue to see Hammond and King prove the doubters wrong? Well this is what we got…

Stoke (a) 13/9/14
To the surprise of most (and dismay of many!) we stuck with the same outfield team as before the break, King and Hammond taking their well-earned places in the middle. Unfortunately for you, Powell and the whole point of this blog (!!) young Nick wasn’t involved in the matchday squad at all, nor were other new signings and former United charges Tom Lawrence and Danny Simpson. Pearson knows it’s a squad game and we’ve got a squad at the moment, so Powell may have to bide his time. Games will come thicker and faster and be heavier as we move on through the season, whether Powell will be waiting a week or two or longer for an appearance or a start is up to Nigel, you’ll struggle to find a sane person in Leicestershire who’ll disagree with the big man at the moment! As for the game, we were dominated first half, King looked lethargic after international duty, hence the surprise to many that Nick wasn’t involved in the squad. At half time we brought on Drinkwater and Cambiasso and the game changed. We were putting together simple passes, looking classier and got our winner. Cambiasso oozed quality. Drinkwater was his usual self.

Where is Powell going to get his chance in this team? Who knows? Pearson probably. Hopefully! Come full time we went back to the same discussions of 6 central midfielders, all fit and most firing not fitting into 2 places. Although, to give Powell some hope, as we were informed he could fill an attacking midfield role, we did move more towards a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 second half, with Hammond, Cambiasso and Drinkwater all putting in a shift in the centre. A glimmer of hope for Powell in terms of chances, although we all know he won’t be involved next time out, against the “mighty” United! We will have to wait at least two more weeks to see what he can bring to this Leicester side.

Although hold on a minute… a start for Powell! Ok, ok it was only the development squad against Fulham but nonetheless a first chance to shine for our loanee. I must confess due to work and living quite a way away I didn’t see the game, so am only going off comments from friends and others. More bad news. The comments I’m going off aren’t particularly positive about Nick. He was seemingly deployed in an advanced midfield role/second striker position.

We played quite a strong looking squad for a development game, with Matty James coming back from injury, as well as new signing Tom Lawrence getting his first start. All former United boys. Regular and decent posters on our message boards left comments such as “Powell will frustrate our fans based on that”, which of course we hope isn’t the case once he’s moulded into the side and not playing for what is effectively a poshly named ressies. Our strong team lost 2-0 at home to Fulham, which was disappointing in itself, but apparently even more so in the shape of the performance of Powell. “Nick showed some nice touches and lay-offs, he isn’t 100% fit” was the official line coming from the management team.

He’ll get another chance, no doubt, whether it be development or in the first team, and hopefully he will start to show some of the promise we’ve heard he can.

United (h) 21/9/14
Powell was ineligible. Uneventful game. Not much to report. Next.

Palace (a) 27/9/14
We played a further development/U21 game on the same day as the first team made the trip to Palace. Powell was involved in the development game, so we already knew before any announcements that he wasn’t going to be joining the first team ranks here. He contributed an assist with his head and seemingly played alright as we saw out a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Nonetheless, pleasing to see him get another 90 minutes. Highlights are here on youtube, including a reet good goal from the Chelsea youngster:

The week before vs United we played with a diamond, to counter their similar shape. It seems like a diamond may be ideal for Powell, but there’s no way in at the moment. Besides, a lot of our joy using the diamond came from the immense workrate of Nugent at the top of it. Powell, based on reports and about 150 minutes of reserve team football, doesn’t seem like such a worker. In a team like ours everyone has to work incredibly hard, it’s how we damage teams, as you may’ve noticed in our recent encounter. Word from the Palace game is that our high pressing, counter attacking style isn’t going to wash against “lesser” (not meaning to disrespect, after all, we’re one of these “lesser” teams in this league) opposition. We need more creativity in games like this, games where we’re expected to be on top and competitive, seeing more of the ball. Maybe Powell will fit into this style more comfortably? We’ve got Burnley coming up and we will need clever players to unlock their tight defence, who we are assuming will sit deeper than average and say “break us down if you can, chaps”. Could Nick Powell be the answer?

Powell still waits for a way in. Will he ever play? Who knows? After all we’ve got Cambiasso, and he’s magic, you know.

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Will is a member of the Foxes Talk forum.
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