No plan for life after Rodgers, poor recruitment… and treating their £95m training ground like a HOLIDAY CAMP! Leicester are sleepwalking towards Premier League relegation two years after winning the FA Cup, so how have they got themselves in this mess?
- Leicester could be relegated by the time they face West Ham on the final day
- Seven years after becoming English champions it marks a huge fall from grace
- Here, Mail Sport examines how the Foxes have found themselves in this mess
The spectacle of James Maddison attempting on Twitter to clarify a post-match interview summed up the sorry state of Leicester City’s season.
After yet another pitiful display and defeat at Fulham, where Leicester lost 5-3 to slip two points adrift of safety with three games remaining, Maddison said – with typical candour – that Leicester had not been ‘hungry enough to want to win the game.’
Few could deny that, and Maddison did not seek to exclude himself from blame. That did not stop the inevitable social media pile-on, though, and instead of stepping away from his phone, the England midfielder went in for another go.
‘What is wrong with social media, say 1 thing in an interview straight after a game and it gets taken way out of context,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘When I say not hungry enough I mean aggressive and on the front foot in duels, not us wanting to win or realising the importance.’
The problem here is that lacking aggression in duels sounds suspiciously like a side without the stomach for the fight – something Leicester have struggled to find throughout the season.
James Maddison attempting to clarify a post-match interview summed up Leicester’s season
The Foxes are sleepwalking towards Premier League relegation after Monday’s loss at Fulham
Dean Smith’s arrival had an initial impact, with Leicester taking five points from games with Wolves, Leeds and Everton.
But with fixtures against Liverpool and Newcastle to come, that haul looks insufficient and – just seven years after winning the Premier League title – Leicester may already be relegated by the time they take on West Ham on the final day of the campaign.
Here Mail Sport examines how the Foxes – FA Cup winners two years ago – found themselves in this mess.
In early August 2021, as chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha carried the Community Shield around the Wembley pitch after the win over Manchester City, Leicester felt like one of the best-run clubs in Europe. Yet this was the summer that marked the start of the slide.
Leicester committed about £60million on Patson Daka, Boubakary Soumare and Jannik Vestergaard, as well as bringing in Ryan Bertrand on a free transfer. No major player was sold.
Leicester have had no return on that investment and the failure to make a significant sale caused problems the following summer, when then-boss Brendan Rodgers feared the players were tiring of his message but was unable to overhaul his squad due to Leicester’s Financial Fair Play concerns.
Hope for the best while planning for the worst.
By sticking with Rodgers for so long when he had clearly reached the end of the line, Srivaddhanaprabha – known as ‘Khun Top’ – did the former but forgot about the latter.
Brendan Rodgers (left) was not backed in the transfer market and Leicester failed to prepare for life after their FA Cup-winning coach before sacking him
The appointment of Dean Smith on an eight-game deal summed up their fuzzy thinking
When Rodgers sat down with the hierarchy for a pivotal meeting in January 2022, there were two options: change the coach, or change the players.
Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha and the board have made crucial mistakes this season
Support Rodgers’ vision and give the squad the ‘healthy shake-up’ he felt it needed to stay competitive, or try to move forward with the same group but a different leader.
Leicester did neither and even when they did sack Rodgers on April 2, there was no plan for what happened next.
Khun Top and the board hoped coaches Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell could muddle through until the end of the season and when that did not work, they interviewed numerous managers before settling for Smith on an eight-game deal.
It was fuzzy thinking that did not match the severity of the situation.
Some sources have even made the suggestion – strongly disputed by senior figures – that Leicester’s £95million training ground itself, with its hotel-style rooms, swish dining areas and details tailored to meet a player’s every need, had weakened the squad’s hunger.
Rodgers was a stickler for timekeeping but not everyone appeared to feel the same way, with players missing certain appointments and arriving late for others.
‘It’s like a holiday camp,’ lamented one earlier this season.
Leicester will feel the benefits of this superb facility in years to come but at present, it looks like becoming the best training base in the Championship.
There is also a feeling – strongly denied by senior figures at the club – that Leicester players are treating their new £95million training facility ‘like a holiday camp’
Leicester spent £95m on their new training complex – but it could be Championship-bound
‘Sleepwalking towards relegation’ was a phrase directed at Leicester as far back as last autumn but they have still not woken up.
Maddison and Harvey Barnes will both be sold if the Foxes go down but that will not plug all the financial holes created by dropping out of the Premier League and there will have to be severe cuts to the wage bill across the club.
If they somehow survive, Leicester will likely move for Graham Potter, long admired and out of work since leaving Chelsea in April. But Potter would surely not want to work in the second tier, meaning Leicester would either stick with Smith or move for a younger boss like Russell Martin of Swansea.
Yet however the season ends, this campaign has been a lesson in how not to do things. These mistakes must never be repeated.
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