Sven-Goran Eriksson’s impact at the Walkers Stadium since replacing Paulo Sousa in October has been profound. Leicester’s home form has been the platform upon which their ascent of the Championship table is based and the Foxes immediately set about translating that form into the cup.
Throughout his illustrious career in management, rarely can a signing of Eriksson’s have reaped such immediate rewards as that of Sol Bamba. The strapping Ivorian centre-back, making his debut following his transfer for an undisclosed fee from Hibernian, headed Leicester in front from a corner kick after 46 seconds. For a team which prides itself on its solidity, it was an atrocious way for the Blues to concede so early in the match and they would not recover. Bamba’s was omnipresent in Manchester City’s penalty area. Given a free run on his marker for every set-piece, he was unfortunate another firm header was directed straight at Joe Hart and that too soft a connection could be made on the rebound to challenge England’s No 1.
Despite Leicester’s high-octane pressing, Manchester City fashioned two chances towards the end of the first half. With clinical precision they took them both. The equaliser was James Milner’s first goal for the club – a surging run from the right finished with a sweet left-footed drive which became his hallmark at Aston Villa. Anonymous throughout, Carlos Tevez’s prime contribution was an adroit flick at the near post, turning in Jerome Boateng’s low cross in a manner not dissimilar to Javier Hernandez’s goal for Manchester United against Stoke City.
Leicester were not to be undeterred. Led by the surging runs of Kyle Naughton from right-back, the probing of Richie Wellens in midfield and the industry of Darius Vassell – a name familiar to Citizens following his stint at Eastlands during more frugal times (how distant they seem) – they moved the ball more crisply than their expensively assembled opponents and deserved their leveller, fortuitous though it was. Joe Hart spilled Paul Gallagher’s cross and before he could rectify his error, Andy King pounced to tap into the empty net.
Ending a week during which Roberto Mancini has been criticised for his cautious tactical approach, City again sought to play on the counter-attack. Indeed, one could attribute Mancini’s conservatism as a coach to the time he spent as Eriksson’s assistant at Lazio (his managing style, after all, is incongruous with his flamboyant talents as a player). Over the weekend, the lesson he was taught by his master was how to approach matches with an attacking mindset. Perhaps it is a lesson that Mancini should take heed of, especially if he wants to bring the best out of new recruit Edin Dzeko, signed for £27m from Wolfsburg.