With Leicester City having won both of English football’s most illustrious trophies over the last few years, fans expected the team to continue to develop and achieve great results on the pitch. That’s not been the case however, and Brendan Rodgers’ side find themselves lingering in 15th – just two points clear of the relegation zone.
After lifting the Premier League trophy under Ranieri in 2015/16, the club continued their fine form with a enthralling Champions League run that saw them make it to the quarterfinals, before being knocked out by Atletico Madrid in a 2-1 defeat on aggregate.
Things soon quietened down for the Midlands club, and the next few years were relatively standard – until Brendan Rodgers guided the Foxes to a sensational FA Cup victory, thanks to a stunning finish from Youri Tielemans. It represented the club’s first trophy since the tragic helicopter crash that killed Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who left the club in the hands of his son, Aiyawatt – also known as ‘Top’.
However, progress has stagnated since that famous win at Wembley. Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand were signed in the 2021 summer transfer window, alongside Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumare – from RB Salzburg and Lille respectively. Ademola Lookman was introduced on loan from Leipzig to cover the lack of a right winger.
Leicester won the Community Shield in early August, but other than that, a disappointing Premier League campaign saw the side miss out on European competition and finish in eighth. Squad reinforcements were clearly needed, and urgently. Unfortunately, the club had different ideas.
Star defender Wesley Fofana was sold to Premier League rivals Chelsea in a big-money move, with club legend Kasper Schmeichel moving to the French Riviera to play for OGC Nice. This left the defence in a frightening state, with the key figures both leaving the club – yet a lack of investment meant they weren’t adequately replaced.
The board opted not to sign a replacement goalkeeper, instead preferring Danny Ward to take the number one shirt, with Daniel Iversen as his back up. A shaky start to the season for the Welshman ensured that this decision was under intense scrutiny, but a good run of form in the buildup to the World Cup appeared to ease this criticism. Ryan Bertrand has only played eleven times for the club – despite costing the Foxes an estimated £6.2m in wages – and hasn’t returned to the squad after his ‘knee injury’ sustained on Boxing Day of 2021. Vestergaard was a liability in defence, with both signings representing panic buys that appear to have been solely to quieten an unhappy fanbase.
The 2022 summer transfer window saw Wout Faes sign from Reims in Ligue 1 – for an estimated £15m. The Belgian defender has certainly improved the Foxes’ defence since his arrival, though his performances since the World Cup have been less than convincing.
There’s no denying that the board have failed to invest properly, and that is a crucial reason why the club is lingering dangerously close to the relegation zone – but is it fair to solely blame the board, or should Brendan Rodgers be taking more responsibility?
Fans have turned against Rodgers on numerous occasions throughout his spell as Head Coach – but the intensity of calls for his resignation has increased tenfold this season. Irrespective of the board’s lack of investment, fans argue that the club still have good enough squad depth to be fighting for Europe. The general consensus around the King Power is that even if that isn’t possible, the club shouldn’t be in a relegation battle at this point in the season.
The Foxes have lost twelve of their 19 Premier League games so far this season, and have already been eliminated from the Carabao Cup. However, it’s the manner in which the team lose that is frustrating the Foxes faithful – as they’ve lost six league games despite taking an early lead!
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Brendan Rodgers’ faults lie within his inability to keep hold of a lead. Fans are becoming furious with his substitutions, deeming that he makes too few changes, too late into the game. His style of play is also incredibly boring to watch – with the so-called ‘Brendanball’ sending fans to sleep as the team constantly pass backwards rather than pushing forwards.
It’s a team that has completely lost its identity – and the loss of James Maddison through injury certainly hasn’t helped the Foxes to reignite the fine form they had found before the World Cup break. Moving forwards, an ageing Jamie Vardy is unable to play the same role he previously excelled in – and with Patson Daka not looking up to scratch, there are real concerns that City could find themselves in the second flight of English football for the first time since the 2013/14 season.
Foxes fans – what do you think? Is it Khun Top’s lack of investment, Brendan Rodgers’ tactical ineptness, or a combination of the two factors that has left the club in such a state? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!