Leicester beat Derby, but BBC pundits rage over weak teams
Managers Ranieri and McClaren make 18 changes for what should have been a critical Midlands derby
Leicester City 3 Derby County 1
Two goals in extra-time saw Leicester win at home for the first time this year but their FA Cup fourth-round replay still prompted a storm of criticism, reports The Sun.
The game was shown live on the BBC, but Match of the Day pundits Alan Shearer, Martin O’Neill and Robbie Savage did little to build the tie up and accused Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri and his Derby counterpart Steve McClaren of undermining the famous competition by making 18 combined changes to their line-ups.
Even Match of the Day anchor Gary Lineker admitted he nearly “fell asleep” during the first-half he was so bored, but it was Shearer who really let rip. "That was blooming awful," he muttered. "That's as polite as I can be."
In fairness to the clubs, it did pick up a little after the break when Andy King headed home the opening goal of the game from Marc Albrighton's clever cross. But Abdoul Camara's defelcted free-kick for Championship side Derby took the tie into extra-time, and it was only then that crowd got their money's worth with two sublime goals from the hosts.
First Wilfried Ndidi unleashed a rasping drive from 25 yards that went in off the post, and five minutes from time Demarai Gray danced his way through several Derby challengers before coolly slotting the ball past Jonathan Mitchell.
Leicester, 16th in the Premier League and only one point above the relegation zone, now face League One Millwall on 18 February. "This is what we needed and I wanted," said Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri. "We want to do well in all competitions. We want to go forward in the FA Cup. The Premier League is not so good but we have to stay in the Premier League. This fresh air is good for the players."
Steve McClaren put the result down to fatigue, saying: "There are some very tired players in the dressing room. It was always going to be hard work. We had a go and I can't fault the players. We ran out of steam in the end."
That drew a sharp retort from Alan Shearer in the Match of the Day studio. "We wonder why we're not producing strong kids with strong mentality," he said. "Because from the age of 12, watching on television, managers keep telling everyone - and them - that players can't play three games in a week. So when they get to 18 and a manager says (you're going to play three games in a week), they say 'hang on a minute, all I've ever heard is I can't play three games in a week'."
Shearer also lamented the under-strength teams fielded by both clubs, a betrayal of the FA Cup and also the fans. "It tells you that survival and promotion are the concerns for these particular football clubs... Derby, they've got 5,000 fans here tonight. What a chance to beat their local rivals and go into the next round."