Injuries notwithstanding, Leicester City have set a standard under Brendan Rodgers; they can’t let that slip, writes Graham Ruthven.
There was no reason to believe Leicester City wouldn’t continue to upset the established order at the top end of the Premier League. While the Foxes had lost at least one key player in each of the previous two summer transfer windows, they kept their squad together ahead of the 2021/22 season. They even added to it with the noteworthy additions of Patson Daka, Boubakary Soumare and Jannik Vestergaard.
Seven games into the new campaign, though, and Leicester City are slumped all the way down in 13th place. Brendan Rodgers’ side have won just twice, with Sunday’s collapse away to Crystal Palace providing an illustration of the insecurity that has afflicted the Foxes over the early part of the season.
Leicester City have been defensively vulnerability in almost every match they have played over the last two months. Jonny Evans’ absence through injury has been felt keenly, but no team chasing Champions League qualification should be reliant on a 33-year-old. The Foxes have the squad depth to be better than they have been so far this season.
“We know where we need to improve,” Rodgers admitted after the 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace, which saw Leicester let a 2-0 lead slip thorough their fingers. “We can hopefully get some players back and, from that, the confidence can flow again and then we can be more consistent in our results. We need to perform better. I’m always very focused on that.
Leicester City 0-1 Man City ❌
Leicester City 1-1 Napoli ????
Brighton 2-1 Leicester City ❌
Millwall 0-2 Leicester City ✅
Leicester City 2-2 Burnley ????
Legia Warsaw 1-0 Leicester City ❌
September was not a good month for the Foxes ???? pic.twitter.com/eOLAzqk45I
— GOAL (@goal) September 30, 2021
“We won’t always perform to our level, but I think if you can consistently perform well, we’ve seen that results take care of themselves. In terms of results, we’ve made a slow start compared to what we’ve done over this last couple of seasons.”
Rodgers now faces the biggest test of his Leicester City tenure to date. Until now, the Northern Irishman’s time at the King Power Stadium has followed an upward trajectory, even if the Foxes have faltered towards the end of both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 campaigns. However, the next few weeks and months will reveal a lot about Rodgers’ future at the club.
At Liverpool, Rodgers failed to stop a slide from becoming a spiral. Having led the Anfield club to their first title challenge in years, he failed to build any further as defensive errors increasingly crept into his team’s game. A poor start to the 2015/16 season saw Rodgers sacked by Liverpool as it became clear that the Northern Irishman had no answers to the questions being asked of him.
Which manager has the best Win % in Leicester City's 137 year history?
53%. He's already our manager.
Context: he needs to lose/draw the next 23 games in a row, to become the 2nd best Premier League Manager we have ever had.
— Ash ???? (@Ashley_Rushin) October 4, 2021
Of course, Rodgers hasn’t quite reached this stage as Leicester City manager, but he must turn around their season otherwise the progress made at the King Power Stadium will count for nothing. There must be no spiral like there was at Liverpool, Champions League qualification might be beyond the Foxes, but Rodgers must prove that the club is still heading in the right direction with him in charge.
There is a sense Leicester have missed their chance to finish in the Premier League’s top four. A gulf has seemingly opened up between Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, who have finished in the top four in each of the last two seasons, and the rest and that gulf is getting wider. There’s only so much smart recruitment and good coaching, the kind of which Leicester have become renowned for, can make up for.
For Rodgers, the task is getting tougher, not least because tricky fixtures against Manchester United, Brentford, Brighton and Arsenal loom on the other side of the October international break, but Leicester City have set a standard for themselves under his charge and they are currently failing to meet that standard.