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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 12:23 GMT
Mandaric to use Pompey template
By John May

New Leicester owner Milan Mandaric
New Foxes owner Mandaric stakes out his territory
Milan Mandaric believes he created a template for Leicester to get into the Premiership when he was at Portsmouth.

Former Pompey owner Mandaric completed his protracted 25m Foxes takeover on Tuesday and set himself a three-year target to take them to the top flight.

He told BBC Sport: "There are a lot of similarities to when I took over at Portsmouth, so this is a familiar road.

"Three years is tough but I feel you have to set tough targets to put pressure on yourself."

For somebody who professes only to look forward and not look back, Mandaric will be revisiting his past over the next three years.

The parallels between the Foxes and Mandaric's previous incarnation at Portsmouth are as if he had inserted a tape and pressed the rewind button.

Football is like a disease for me, it's in my blood

New Leicester owner Milan Mandaric

As Leicester's new owner told BBC Sport: "This is a road I have been down before."

Like Pompey when Mandaric took over, Leicester are languishing in the lower reaches of the Championship, not so much a snoozing as a comatose giant, riddled with debt but with bags of potential.

Oh, and they play in blue.

As Mandaric told BBC Sport: "It's true, they are very similar situations and I hope I can use the experience I gained at Portsmouth to good effect.

606 DEBATE: Your views on Mandaric's takeover

"Like Portsmouth, this club has good support and that's the most important thing for me, it's all about supporters."

After selling his share in Pompey in September, Mandaric's return to the game is quicker than might normally be expected for somebody suffering from disillusionment.

But Mandaric suffers from something far more serious.

"Football is like a disease for me, it's in my blood. It's always been a big part of my life, and I can't leave it alone," he revealed.

"In the end, I am a supporter like anyone else, it's just that I'm lucky to enough to have a bit more money and can use it."

Like Superman, Mandaric was able to declare "my work here is done" when he sold Pompey after eight years.

Leicester fans will be heartened that the millionaire with the American 'can-do' business attitude delivered on his promise to get Pompey into the Premiership.

New Leicester owner Milan Mandaric
Mandaric has always seen himself as a man of the people

Whereas it took him five years at Pompey, he has made the same promise in a smaller timescale and has no fears that the three years he has set himself will rise up to smack him in the face.

"You have to set yourself a tough goal and objective to put pressure on yourself.

"If I can't get Leicester into the Premiership inside three years, I will consider myself to have failed and not done the job," he said.

"But it is going to be difficult. There are 24 teams in this division and they all have the same ambitions to get out of it.

"I want to be one of them that will go up. It's going to be difficult but that's the reason I'm here."

The stadium is one thing I don't have to worry about

Milan Mandaric

The biggest difference is that Leicester have the sort of ready-made infrastructure that Pompey never had.

Fratton Park represents Mandaric's only failing on the south coast as he found himself unable to redevelop the ramshackle old ground.

"The stadium is one thing I don't have to worry about, the Walkers Stadium is a fantastic ground and is set up for the Premiership."

During his time at Pompey, Mandaric went through eight managers in as many years, including an inspirational kiss-and-make-up with Harry Redknapp, which saved Pompey's Premiership bacon.

With Iain Dowie lurking like Banquo's ghost, Mandaric has declared his intention to keep faith with current boss Rob Kelly, although it will be a big test for him as he will have the use of a transfer cheque book for the first time in his managerial career.

"Our first target is to stay up and I'm optimistic we can do that," said Mandaric.

"Then we can start to think about the summer."

SEE ALSO
Mandaric seals Leicester takeover
13 Feb 07 |  Leicester City
Leicester chief Taylor steps down
01 Feb 07 |  Leicester City
Mandaric anger over buy-out delay
22 Jan 07 |  Leicester City
Foxes 'welcome' Mandaric approach
18 Nov 06 |  Leicester City
Mandaric plays down Foxes link
06 Oct 06 |  Leicester City
Mandaric steps down from Pompey
21 Sep 06 |  Portsmouth


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