Powell loving his last hurrah at Leicester
At the risk of engaging in a touch of understatement, it has been a difficult few years for supporters of Leicester City.
When Martin O'Neill left for Celtic in June 2000 the Foxes were an established Premier League side, had recently played in European competition and won the League Cup twice in three years.
But success in football can be ephemeral and then elusive. Once the sun sets on a golden era it often turns dark very quickly and leaves fans hankering for past glories. It is gone before you realise and years are spent wondering why.
Current manager Nigel Pearson is the 12th (including caretaker bosses) at Leicester since O'Neill left the club. New owners have also come and gone, there has been a period in administration and, last season, the club's tenuous grip on the Championship ended in relegation to League One.
I wrote a blog about Peter Taylor the other week. Taylor succeeded O'Neill as manager. In his 15 months he spent big but was sacked with the club in a slump. Judging by the comments posted by numerous Foxes supporters they lay a large portion of the game at Taylor's door. That is their prerogative and they may well be right.
The collapse of ITV Digital and the cost of building the Walkers Stadium - a ground that was opened the season following relegation from the Premier League in 2002 - hardly helped the financial position at the club.
The list could doubtless go on and on. What went wrong at Leicester is probably better suited to a book than a blog.
But at some point you have to draw a line underneath the recent travails and look to the future. Man City, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest have all made a recovery of some fashion or other after tasting life in League One. And after speaking to Leicester defender Chris Powell I get the feeling that a change of direction has taken place at the Walkers Stadium.
A typical quote from the veteran defender might read as follows:
"It is not about what has happened in the past. It is about what is happening now and where we should aim to be in the future."
Leicester are currently top of the League One table - two points clear of MK Dons and seven ahead of Millwall - and Powell is confident that in Nigel Pearson the club have a manager who is in for the long term.
Fans of the club might need some convincing - for one reason or another the club had four managers last season alone - and Powell can understand why supporters might have become cynical.
"To support Leicester over the last few years - you have really been through the mill," he told me.
But the 39-year-old is keen to make it clear that the current squad, a sensible blend of youth and experience, and the management team at the Walkers Stadium - are desperate to repair the damage.
Pearson was brought in during the summer after parting company with Southampton. Along with his management team of Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh, they have brought a steady hand to the club. Pearson is unlikely to become carried away by the current success and seems to be handling the pressure of expectation extremely well.
The Foxes drew 1-1 with Leeds on Boxing Day. It was the division's highest-profile fixture and the subject of extensive local coverage, especially given that it was to be former Foxes favourite Simon Grayson's first game in charge at Elland Road.
Pearson's pre-match assessment?
"Ultimately it is one fixture out of 46 in which we want to give ourselves the best chance of winning."
Powell has been impressed with the professional attitude at the club towards not only events on the pitch but also the fans and the community in general. On the day I spoke to Powell he was about to head out to a hospital to give some presents on behalf of the club (though he assured me he would not be dressing as Santa).
Players such as Powell, Steve Howard and Matt Oakley have been able to help the youngsters in the squad deal with the pressures that come from playing for one of the big fish in the division and the incumbent expectations. At the same time, Powell believes the vibrancy and energy the young pros have brought to the squad has in turn benefitted some of the older players.
There is an extremely pragmatic streak to Powell. I got the impression listening to him that if his attitude is typical of the squad then Leicester is in safe hands.
"Just because we are Leicester does not mean we are going to win games," he said. "The reality is that we are a League One club and we got our heads around that very quickly. We have to earn the right to get out of this league."
Powell joined the club in August on an initial six-month deal and is currently in talks about an extension until the end of the season.
The left-back, who was selected for England by Sven-Goran Eriksson at the ripe old age of 31, was without a club last summer and trained with League Two Bournemouth.
He felt he had one more season in him and you could say he landed on his feet by joining Leicester but the relationship seems to be mutual. His form has seen him push promising youngster Joe Mattock all the way for the left-back spot and he has been a regular over recent weeks.
Powell recently passed 750 games as a professional and since 2005 has been chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association. He is also taking his Uefa Pro Licence and will probably remain involved in the game past his retirement as a player.
But for the moment he cannot see beyond the current promotion campaign.
The ultimate goal is to see Leicester return to the Premier League. Powell is unlikely to be around to see that happen but I wouldn't bet against him being part of the team that takes them back to the Championship.