In Brendan Rodgers’ final days, either the game plan was wrong or Leicester City executed the right game plan badly. Both are favored from Saturday, where City seemed to have no game plan at all.
Now it’s clear that this team is in dire need of an outside player to come in and lead. They need a new direction, a new impetus, new ideas, new optimism. Without that, they will decline.
The hope that the manager’s sacking would magically inspire an upturn in results, as it often does for so many other clubs, has not borne fruit. The past two games have only shown how deep the problems are at Leicester. A new ruler can at least mask these problems long enough to ensure survival.
READ MORE. The decisions of Hari Southtar and Boubakari Soumar are explained as an injury update for Harvey Barnes.
READ MORE. Adam Sadler questioned over Jesse Marsh as Leicester City say they ‘have to decide’
Because Saturday’s game was set up as well as it could have been for a team in such disastrous form. Having picked up one point from seven matches at the start of the campaign, City’s next game was at home to fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest amid a raucous atmosphere. There was a big reaction on the field.
On Saturday, the situation was much the same. It was a sunny day and the visitors were relegation battlers who had lost eight of their previous nine away games. Union FS’s display sent supporters into a frenzy. The clappers returned and, though much maligned, turned up the volume. This time there was little reaction on the pitch.
For the first 10 minutes, City’s display matched the atmosphere, but beyond that they looked clueless. They didn’t know how to get the ball out of their own half.
It eventually led to a Bournemouth goal. James Maddison was forced to drop deep to get the ball as Wilfred Ndidi and Boubakari Soumare were no show for it and City had little progress up the pitch. There were no options ahead, so they had to keep looking back.
Inevitably, that inability to escape led to Bournemouth’s chances. The Cherries, hardly one of the most efficient teams in the division, set new season bests for shots on goal and had more touches in the final third and inside the box than in any other away game this season.
Even if City didn’t give up in their own half, Bournemouth were able to make quick progress in what was a lack of unity in the press, with Jamie Vardy often turning away in exasperation to find no team-mates backing him up.
As the momentum shifted in the final half hour, City still struggled to create meaningful chances. One of the few positives to their game this season has been their scoring ability, but even that seems to have deserted them now.
Without a manager, the fans’ fury turned to the scoreboard and the players. Full-time bugs weren’t sloppy. There was real feeling behind them. “You are not fit to wear the jersey” chants were heard in the stadium.
When City first introduced the cheerleaders in 2015, it was also nine games into a relegation battle season. This time there was no commanding display from Esteban Cambiasso, no late winner from Andy King. Although the challenge was more dire eight years ago, there was hope.
It’s gone now. Unless City bring in a manager immediately, temporary or otherwise, they will continue to be desperate. The idea that Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell could guide the club to survival to focus on setting up a summer fixture now seems naively optimistic. City need to act if they want to avoid this mess.
Choice calls show a lack of planning
City’s cause was not helped by some puzzling selection decisions, with Daniel Amartey and Soumare replacing Harry Souttar and Papi Mendy. It’s understandable to want fresh energy in the team, as was the reason for the changes, but for such a giant pitch, making those adjustments doesn’t make sense.
While managers like to point out that each match is as important as the next, that is not the case at this stage of the season. A game against relegation rivals Bournemouth was clearly more significant than a clash with Europe-chasing Aston Villa.
If they felt Souttar and Mandy needed a rest, they should have been out midweek. City need their strongest players in these six-pointers and right now those two form part of the club’s best XI.
Amartey did well in the first half but lost his composure in the second when Dominic Solanke got the better of him and the Bournemouth striker and Philip Billing outplayed him. Daniel Iversen was needed to help.
Soumare had not started a Premier League game for over three months and is not a player to be thrown in at the deep end. It takes him too long to get up to speed.
For the first hour he walked around doing very little. He didn’t push himself to get the ball and didn’t run hard enough. There was a moment of light for him when the subs came on the hour and he improved significantly, taking the ball with more confidence, dribbling and passing with greater skill. But his performance in the first 60 minutes was a big part of City’s woes.
It was the first time since 2019 that neither Youri Tillmans nor Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall featured in a Premier League match for City, and they needed Mendy in that scenario. There was a desperate need for someone who enjoyed dominating defenders so Madison didn’t have to keep going so deep.
It is important to protect players from injury. It is better for them to rest than to stretch the hip. But there needs to be better planning. For the biggest games, City need to have their best players available.
Maddison needs to refocus after the pain of the mistake
Madison didn’t need to be told that her mistake was a big one. He knows this, describing his wayward ball to Iversen as a “stupid, sloppy pass that cost the team.”
He showed his dismay on the pitch, having to be taken off his knees by Ricardo Pereira after Billings’ tackle, and then with Patson Daka comforting him as the players scrambled onto the pitch after the full-time whistle.
Madison was composed enough to handle the postgame media, but the pain it caused him was clear. He wears his heart on his sleeve.
Just because he’s likely to leave in the summer and not feel the effects of a slump doesn’t mean he can quickly shake off the impact of such a mistake. It is positive that he will contribute so much to City’s fortunes, but for the sake of the club’s future, they need him to get over it quickly.
Mistakes aside, Madison was playing better. He was nameless against Aston Villa but shuffled back into the middle and got on the ball much more regularly. He was getting it in the wrong position, not in the pockets where he thrives, but it was an improvement.
Maybe a bug held him back. In the last half hour he was in better quarters, but not very involved. He wasn’t terrible, but not as impactful as City needed.
City have shown this season to struggle when Maddison isn’t on the pitch and now it’s proving they struggle when he’s not at his best either. They need to find a way to get his confidence back up and not let this mistake drag him down. He is the best player in the relegation battle and City must use that to their advantage.
Everyone involved with City needs him to focus on playing his best and keeping the club in the Premier League.
City can’t count on a Hollywood finish for Vardy
City can’t wait for the fairytale Hollywood ending for Vardy. Just not working with him on the team.
It made sense to start him against Villa. He is a player the fans adore and he runs hard enough to set the tone and energize the supporters. He strikes fear into the opposition as well, his reputation holding up despite his slump in form.
But these qualities are not enough at the moment. The way “City” play, they can’t afford for the striker not to be involved in the game. Vardy touched the ball 11 times during the 57 minutes spent on the field.
They needed a central point, a forward who can get the ball to his feet. There were plenty of occasions where the wingers and midfielders dominated possession and looked for an attacking option, but Vardy wasn’t there to provide it, sending the team back.
He has always played that way and it was good when he was a goal threat and when City were good enough to build the play in midfield that he didn’t need to be involved. But City are not that team right now, especially with Tielemans injured. And in any case, one goal in 29 Premier League games suggests he is no longer the elite goalscorer he once was.
There was an immediate momentum shift when Kelechi Iheanacho and Daka came on. Iheanacho is the style of striker they need, someone who shows the ball and then uses his strength to hold it and play the rest of the team.
As long as there are wing players willing to run past him and penetrate, Iheanacho is the best striker at the club. He has the vision and scoring ability to be effective.
Vardy had little reason to start against Bournemouth, even with his good form against the Cherries, and little reason for him to start for the rest of the season either. “City” has better options.
Now it’s more likely to fall than not
City are now one of the three relegation favourites. Any positives that can be gleaned from the relegation battle have nothing to do with them as a club. Any hint of optimism comes from Nottingham Forest’s fixture list, Everton’s likely FFP punishment and Southampton’s inexperienced squad.
But even they mean little if City don’t start picking up points. They have games to spare, but they’ve also only had three games against Palace, Villa and Bournemouth where they were around 53/1 to get a clean sheet and yet they managed to do it.
They are now in a worse position than at the start of the season, one point out of a possible 24 points off the 21 points they earned in the first two months. No side has taken fewer points since the World Cup.
At this point, there is no evidence to suggest that City will stay. Even with collective acceptance at the club that relegation is a real possibility, performances and results have not improved.
This would be one of the most disastrous relegations in Premier League history given the club’s position and squad. And that happens if City don’t change their course.
#Redirected #Leicester #City #fury #reveals #deeprooted #problems #desperate #action