It’s not exactly been an ideal season for Leicester City so far. Last year they were surprise Champions as their team’s counter-attacking ability and their manager’s likeable personality saw them win over legions of fans and storm to their first ever Premier League Title. But now May 2016, where thousands gathered in Victoria Park to celebrate this monumental achievement almost seems like an alternative reality.
The Foxes find themselves teetering off the edge of the proverbial Premier League cliff. They have a goal-shy attack, a lacklustre midfield and a shambolic defence. There are rumours of squad disharmony and they may be on the verge of sacking arguably their greatest ever manager just nine months after he masterminded the greatest Premier League title win ever. So what has gone wrong at Leicester City?
A good starting point would be the fact that the players on the pitch have been grossly underperforming this season. Robert Huth and Wes Morgan were absolutey solid last season. But since the start of the 2016/17 season they’ve gone from being like the Great Wall of China to Donald Trump’s wall across the Mexican Boarder. In simpler terms they’ve gone from being the best to non exsistent.
In central midfield things are arguably even worse. I was outraged last year when Jack Wilshere was picked over Danny Drinkwater to play at EURO 2016. Now however Drinkwater looks nowhere near international level. The loss of N’Golo Kante has been massively detrimental to the whole team and his replacements, whether that be Mendy, King, Amartey or N’didi have left a lot to be desired. Kante was the ultimate ball winning midfielder but even having two men doing his job has not arrested the slide.
From an attacking standpoint The Foxes have been poor as well. Not only is Jamie Vardy not scoring he’s not even getting into goal scoring positions anymore. His various strike partners have flattered to deceive as well. Mahrez has been almost anonymous this season and is clearly rivalling Eden Hazard as Player of the Year with the worst follow up season. So is it just the players fault or should Ranieri get the blame?
The experienced Italian manager hasn’t really changed his side’s tactics. Last season Leicester’s tactic was for N’Golo Kante to win the ball, pass to Danny Drinkwater who would ping the ball to either Mahrez or Vardy and they would go on to score. This season they haven’t been able to win the ball in midfield as much due to the absence of Kante but even when they do defenders have realised they just have to sit deep and this counter-attacking tactic is thwarted.
So the big question is should Ranieri get sacked? He’s tried to change things up, playing a diamond formation against Southampton a few weeks ago, but this backfired massively. From a Leicester fans point of view I’m sure they idolise the man and will always love him. However from a board point of view they want that Premier League TV money and with the current trend of results and a disgruntled dressing room it’s not hard to see why they would sack him, despite all they achieved last season.
It is clear that the pressure of being Premier League Champions has weighed heavy on the players, and while nobody expected them to defend their Premier League Title, not many expected them to be in a relegation battle. As cruel as it might be perhaps the only way they could change their fortunes is a change in manager.