WRITTEN BY CHARLES ODUGBESAN
What a difference a year makes! This time last year Leicester City Football Club, despite losing 2-1 to the mighty Arsenal, rounded off Week 26 of the Premier League 2 points clear of Tottenham and well on their way (as we all know) to completing one of the greatest fairy tales in modern day sport. Fast forward a year and as we approach Week 26 of the current campaign, The Foxes sit a point above the relegation zone off the back of five defeats in a row; OUT of the FA Cup; OUT of the EFL cup in September and behind in the first leg of their second round Champions League fixture vs Sevilla. After 7 losses in their last 10 in all competitions the man behind the magic of last year, Claudio Ranieri, has apparently lost his Midas touch and subsequently was given the boot yesterday. So now all the introductory crap is out the way allow me to put my two cents in.
As outrageous as their run was last year the depth of the Leicester City plummet this time around is truly inexplicable! I believe we all thought that they would have a humble season, perhaps finishing mid table and exiting the Champions League at the group stages – a subtle, gentle fall back down to earth after reaching such dizzy heights. But never in my wildest dreams could I have thought that the team who won the league the year before could possibly be relegated the following season?
So who’s to blame?!
Is it the board? Did they not provide enough funds for Leicester to both add sufficiently to their squad and to keep their best players? Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani are the two most notable signings who (for a combined fee of £44.6 million) have not been very notable for them this year. Vardy and Mahrez are both examples of those who resisted temptation to move on but N’golo Kante was a major loss for this team. Honestly, the guy counts as an extra 3 players on the pitch. If you can, Google his stats please do, he’s a monster!!
Is it Ranieri? So often last year when speaking to the press or being interviewed, we saw a manager so composed, relaxed, charming in voice and admirable in belief of his team. This year his demeanour portrayed him at a loss for words and bereft of ideas; a shadow of himself. Had teams worked Leicester out? Was he wrong to uphold the same tactics and formation that brought him great success previously? Or did he simply lose the dressing room? Was he not able to motivate the players in the same way that he could last year? He’d be a true magician if he were able to given the magnitude of their efforts. But we saw a team last year that was built on heart and soul. How can it be lost so unanimously?
Is it the players? For the most part, the starting eleven for Leicester City every week consists of the same 8/9 players that were Premier League Champions last year. Personally, this is where I point the finger. To me the players have come across extremely arrogant this year and feel no need whatsoever to mirror the efforts they put in last year. Players have gotten too comfortable, they’ve been given pay rises, showered with accolades and praise and thus fallen by the wayside this year. They stopped trying. Anyone remember what happened to Chelsea the season after they won the league in 2015? The players’ intensity dropped massively and their efforts betrayed the manager Jose Mourinho… the situation at Leicester is strikingly similar.
The player’s boys and girls- the players fought. The players won. Success got to the players heads. The players stopped performing. The players failed. The manager bit the bullet. The players should be ashamed at the lack of effort and responsibility they have taken and the board should also be shamed for making an example of Ranieri. There truly is no loyalty in football these days.