5 reasons why Leicester have struggled this season
Leicester have announced manager Claudio Ranieri has left the club just nine months after he guided them to the Premier League title.
Following last season’s shock 5,000-1 championship triumph, the Foxes have lost 14 of their 25 league games to sit just a point above the drop zone.
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has previously called Leicester’s season “embarrassing” and, as they battle relegation, we look at five reasons why they have struggled so far this campaign.
The loss of N’Golo Kante
Leicester tried to fill the gap left by the midfielder’s move to Chelsea – but he was irreplaceable.
Bought for just £5.6million from Caen in 2015, Kante took the Premier League by storm with his ability to not only break attacks up but start Leicester’s counters, which were a source of such success.
He protected Robert Huth and Wes Morgan and such was his presence Ranieri joked he played Kante either side of Danny Drinkwater in midfield.
Kante moved to Stamford Bridge for £32million in the summer and he has continued the form which saw him break into France’s squad as he stars with Chelsea top of the league.
As champions, the Foxes had their chance to create a new era for the club in the summer but failed, having lost head of recruitment Steve Walsh to Everton.
Striker Islam Slimani, a record £30million buy from Sporting Lisbon, has shown glimpses of what he can do but, at 28, he should have been a ready-made signing.
Ron-Robert Zieler has kept just one clean sheet when deputising for Schmeichel, £16million Ahmed Musa is yet to flourish, Luis Hernandez lasted half a season before being sold to Malaga and £13million Nampalys Mendy has barely played due to injury.
At least January signing Wilfred Ndidi has shown his quality. That the Foxes failed to buy a centre-back in the summer was baffling and while Molla Wague arrived on loan from Udinese, it perhaps came too late to help Morgan and Huth.
Leicester are yet to win on the road this season and, coupled with average home form, that could be their undoing.
Ten defeats from their 13 games is an abject record and they set the tone by losing 2-1 at Hull on the opening day of the season.
They have lost at relegation rivals Sunderland while defeats at Watford, Bournemouth and Burnley have allowed those sides to move clear.
The only points away from home have come at Tottenham, Stoke and Middlesbrough, all draws.
Ranieri admitted a couple of months ago a lot could be put down to basic human nature.
It may be a simple explanation but a true one. The Foxes seemed to have relaxed since their title win, players who never dreamed of earning £100,000-a-week now appear to be too comfortable and there is a determination from the top sides not to be embarrassed again.
Juggling the demands of the Champions League – for players not used to European football – has also taken it out of them.
Everyone is out to get Leicester and looking for chinks in last season’s unbreakable armour, and they are finding them with alarming regularity. Even the fans have a part to play as the King Power Stadium is no longer a fearful place to go.
The Tinkerman’s return
Ranieri performed a miracle last season – winning his first top-flight title when he was favourite to be the first Premier League manager sacked.
That triumph came from a balanced and consistent side who, game by game, knew exactly what their jobs were. This season he has made too many changes with formation, at the start and during games, and his players at times looked confused.
Injuries have enforced changes but there is no longer a complete identity. Ranieri even conceded after the defeat at Southampton he got his tactics wrong.
He has not been helped by a huge loss of form from last season’s PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, the scorer of 24 goals.