Written by Stephen Hopper
Leicester City Football Club surprised the world last season by becoming Premier League Champions, they played with no fear against the leagues so-called big guns which led them to lift the title. So, what has gone wrong this season?
The club managed to tie up the club’s top performers from last season apart from key midfielder N’Golo Kante who moved to Chelsea in the summer. The likes of Vardy, Mahrez, Morgan and Schmiechel and Drinkwater were all an important part in the Championship winning campaign, so why now are they in a real fight to stay in the division?
Is Champions League football a factor or has Kante’s departure played a key role in the predicament the club find themselves in? I think neither of those factors personally have any part in current form, however rumours off dressing room unrest would obviously be a key factor with reportedly some players going to the clubs owner to voice concerns, a rumour which has been strongly denied by players and I tend to believe this as the team had a real togetherness last season and manager Ranieri was an important part in that and can’t see the players disrespecting the man who took them to the title like that.
Ranieri has a tendency to tinker with the squad and as a manager you can’t keep all players happy and along with new faces being brought to the club surely this should strengthen, but on the other hand new players coming in don’t have the bond of the team that were successful last season and may find it difficult to settle with players already at the club could this be a factor?.
Off the field saw Ranieri lose important figures in terms of player recruitment leave the club for pastures new, the club however still have the nucleus of staff who were at the club last season. Leicester currently languish in 16th position in the table on 21 points and have to face the fact they are fighting for survival.
Critics are claiming the manager should have left the club after helping Leicester to the title. I strongly disagree with that statement, players have to stand up and accept the blame, yes they take instruction from the manager and coaching staff but it’s those 11 men who take to the field to stand up and be counted.
I recently watched Leicester play Manchester United at the KingPower Stadium and for the majority of the first half kept united at bay, but once they conceded the players looked beaten and this is where more errors crept in to the game, a sorry state from the side that were outstanding last season. A team clearly lacking in confidence need to improve and fast and the clubs owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has given that dreaded vote of confidence to the manager.
My belief is Ranieri can only protect his players for so long as he does so well, but what about the players giving everything for the club and the clubs superb fans and make the KingPower a fortress as it was last season. Leicester are playing with a real fear of not coming back into games and are struggling for goals, the problem is they are simply too dependent on individuals to get them out of the situation they are in and you can’t have players performing to the best of their ability under such pressures.
Leonardo Ulloa, has reportedly stated in the national press that he will no longer play for the club. This certainly will upset his team mates and cause tension in the dressing room, Another factor which won’t help build confidence. The all important factor for me is that they need to get the basics correct again this season and this is where we see how good the coaching staff and management team actually are.
Undoubtedly the talent is there in the bucket load but how do they turn it around? Is sacking the manager the answer or do they stick with him? As previously the owner has backed the manager but anyone who knows football knows that is certainly no guarantee that he will keep his job.
Do Leicester do what Newcastle did last season and leave it too late to replace the manager and subsequently lose their Premier League status or is the time now for a change?
A massive game this weekend for Leicester who play Swansea City who are discovering some form under Paul Clement but Sunday is the day things must begin to be put right. Make no mistake about it this is a huge 6 pointer.
What do you put Leicester’s struggles down to? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Ungry Young Man