Not so long ago, Leicester City were widely considered the best-run club in the Premier League. Not only did the Foxes punch above their weight in a financial sense, they played an attractive, dynamic style of football with Brendan Rodgers arguably the most important figure in the whole operation.
Now, though, Rodgers’ team are on the slide with the Boxing Day mauling at the hands of Manchester City leaving Leicester City slumped in 10th place, 13 points off the top four - where they have targeted Champions League qualification in recent times. It’s safe to say the competition’s famous anthem won’t ring around the King Power Stadium next season.
Only three Premier League teams (Leeds United, Newcastle United and Norwich City) have conceded more goals this season than Leicester City, highlighting the defensive issues suffered by Rodgers’ team. Injuries have been a factor, but a team of the Foxes’ calibre should be able to absorb more.
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While Leicester City started the 2021/22 season with the intention of taking the final step into the top four, it is now about consolidation. The longer their current form continues, the longer the Foxes risk erasing all the good work they have done in recent times. Rodgers’ future at the club might have to be considered. Leicester could have no other choice.
Indeed, if Leicester City are truly the best-run club in the Premier League, they are surely weighing up contingency options after a fourth defeat in five matches. There certainly wasn’t any hesitancy when the Foxes made the difficult decision to sack Claudio Ranieri just months after he’d delivered the Premier League title. Leicester might have to demonstrate a similar sort of ruthlessness when assessing Rodgers’ future.
One of Rodgers’ biggest flaws as a coach is his inability, or unwillingness, to recognise when circumstances are against his team. This was something Celtic fans experienced when the Scottish giants were repeatedly punished in European competition for Rodgers’ stubbornness. No matter the opponent, Celtic under Rodgers played the same way. This led to a number of heavy defeats. A more pragmatic manager would have stood a better chance.
A more pragmatic manager might have Leicester City higher in the Premier League at this moment in time too. Rodgers surely would have guided his side through the group stage of the Europa League had he adopted a more conservative approach. Instead, Leicester crashed out when they were one of the favourites to win the competition.
Time and again this season, Rodgers has been made to pay for his commitment to his footballing principles. From Leicester City’s form in the league and Europe, to the nine-goal thriller at the Etihad Stadium, to their collapse in the Carabao Cup quarter-final against Liverpool, when they were 3-1 up with just over 20 minutes left to play, a pattern has emerged. Leicester City have become too volatile.
Of course, this season’s form shouldn’t mask what Rodgers has achieved as Leicester City manager. The Foxes spent 567 days in the top four over the last two seasons, illustrating the extent to which the Northern Irishman maximised the talent at the King Power Stadium. For a long time, Leicester City and Rodgers looked to be the perfect match.
Now, though, there are understandable doubts about the relationship. Rodgers might well have taken Leicester City as far as he can. At Liverpool, the Northern Irishman struggled to steady the ship when his team started to sink and so there is already precedent for Rodgers losing his job after a dramatic decline. He might have entered another managerial spiral.
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