Goodison Park erupted at the full-time whistle as Everton’s 1-0 victory against AFC Bournemouth ensured their Premier League survival on the final day of the Premier League season. But there was agony and despair inside the King Power Stadium as Leicester fans’ worst nightmare came true. Leicester City’s 2-1 victory against West Ham United was not enough to prevent their Premier League relegation.  

The Glory Years

Ever since Leicester City were promoted to the Premier League in 2014, their stay in the English’s topflight has been nothing short of a fairy tale. From their miraculous escape from the relegation zone in the 2014-2015 season to their unprecedented domestic and intercontinental success, the Leicester City faithful have had a lot to cherish during the past decade or so.

Many had written them off during the 2014-2015 season as they were languishing in the Premier League relegation zone up till mid-April. But Leicester City stunned everyone by pulling off a remarkable comeback. They won seven of their last nine Premier League games to comfortably finish in 14th place in the table.

The following season they accomplished the unthinkable and defied all odds by winning the Premier League title. It was probably the greatest sporting achievement of all time. The footballing world was left in awe of Claudia Ranieri’s men as they went on to lift the title with a sizeable 10-point gap over Arsenal in the second spot.

Their fairytale run continued into the 2016-2017 season. Although they were unable to defend their Premier League title and finished in the bottom half of the table. But they created plenty of headlines in the UEFA Champions League. The Foxes lost only once during the group stage and topped their group with 13 points. They were defeated by Portugal heavyweights Porto in the last match of the group stage.

In the Round of 16, they claimed another big scalp by defeating the 2015-2016 UEFA Europa League winner Sevilla. Their astonishing run came to an end in the Quarter Finals when Atletico Madrid’s challenge proved to be too much for them. But during both legs, they showed great fight and only lost by a narrow margin of 2-1 on aggregate.

Following their unprecedented success, the core members of the title-winning squad started to leave the club one by one. This included the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Ngolo Kante, Harry Maguire, and a few others. As a result, they failed to reach the heights of the previous campaigns. But still, they did well to finish in the top half of the table in the following seasons.

With the advent of Brendan Rodgers during the 2018-2019 season, the club started to find its feet once again. The Northern Irishman guided the club to two consecutive fifth-place finishes and a FA Cup triumph during the 2020-2021 campaign. The Foxes came agonizingly close to achieving another title when they narrowly lost in the semifinals of the inaugural edition of the UEFA Europa Conference League. It is really depressing for the footballing community to see a club like Leicester City go down after achieving so much in a short period of time. So, what went wrong for the East Midland club?

Marquee Players Not Stepping Up

Each team has particular players that form the core of the squad. These marquee players dictate the way football is played and they help to carry the team forward. Unfortunately for Leicester City, these players failed to step up when their club needed them the most. This includes the likes of Jamie Vardy, James Maddison, Wilfried Ndidi, and Youri Tielemans.

All of these players have been a key part of the success that Leicester City has achieved over the last decade or so. But this season they have struggled to find their form. Ndidi and Tielemans have been an important part of the Foxes’ midfield.

Ndidi assumes a more defensive role in the midfield while Tielemans is capable of playing at the back and is equally capable of supporting the frontline in a more attacking role. Both players complement each other well. But this season they have failed to live up to their expectations.

Another player who has failed to reach the heights of previous campaigns is Jamie Vardy. The Englishman has scored only 3 goals in the Premier League this season. The Foxes have relied heavily upon his goals in the past. With him not performing up to his best they were bound to struggle. It seems like the 37-year-old is past his good days.

Since signing from Norwich City in 2018, James Maddison has proven to be a great asset for Leicester City. The attacking midfielder has 10 goals and 9 assists to his name this season as compared to the 23 goal involvements that he had in the previous season. There’s not much of a difference between these numbers, but the England international has been a bit inconsistent this season. This coupled with Leicester’s poor defensive record has led to their downfall this season.

Also Read: Shock for Brentford: Ivan Toney Banned for Eight Months

Absence of Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper Schmeichel has been a great servant for Leicester City over the years. The Danish goalkeeper has seen all the highs and lows at Leicester City and had established himself as one of the key members of the squad. At the beginning of 2022-2023, Kasper left the Foxes after 11 years and signed for the French club, OGC Nice.

With his departure, Danny Ward and Daniel Iversen were assigned goalkeeping duties this season. Both have enjoyed limited starting eleven opportunities in the past, so it was an ideal chance for them to showcase their abilities. Although both have done well this season, they have not been as great as Kasper.  Kasper was not just the goalkeeper of the squad he was also the club captain.

He was a great shot-stopper and a commanding leader as well. He used to marshal his troops well in the Leicester City’s backline. The Foxes have missed him dearly this season. This is apparent from the fact that they have conceded the highest number of goals in the Premier League this season since returning to the topflight.   

Frequent Injuries and Poor Recruitment

Leicester City have had a very torrid time with injuries this season. The majority of their defenders have faced lengthy times on the sidelines due to various injuries. This is one of the factors that has led to their Premier League relegation. Club Captain Jonny Evans, Ricardo Pereira, and James Justin are some of the players who have missed the bulk of the games due to injuries.  Their absence from the backline has really hurt Leicester City this season.

Furthermore, recruitment by the Leicester City board has not been so fruitful in recent seasons. In order to provide cover to their backline they bolstered their squad by signing Harry Souttar and Victor Kristiansen in the January transfer window. Both defenders have shown great promise, but both had not got Premier League experience under their belts before signing for Leicester. Maybe it would have been better if they had opted for someone who had proven Premier League experience.

Another issue that the Leicester City board has failed to address is their forward line. Jamie Vardy is nearing the end of his playing career, but the Foxes rely heavily on his goals. This season his goals have dried out, therefore, Leicester City have struggled. Although they brought in Tete on loan from Olympique Lyonnais, he has failed to adapt to the pace of the Premier League.

Patson Daka is another player who has failed to live up to the expectations at the King Power Stadium. The Zambian came into the Premier League with a big reputation but during his 2 seasons with the club, he has managed to score only nine Premier League goals. So, they need to find a suitable Vardy replacement if they wish to make an immediate return to the Premier League.

Implications of Premier League Relegation

Premier League relegation can have devastating effects on a football club. Especially for a club of Leicester City’s stature that has a huge wage bill and whose owners have invested heavily in the club in recent seasons. By going from the Premier League to the Championship the finances of a club are impacted heavily due to the drop in TV Revenue. And the Foxes are going to have to endure that as well.

Furthermore, a mass exodus of players is expected from the King Power Stadium. Some players will not be willing to play in the second division of English football, hence they will be in the hunt for new clubs. While others will be unwillingly sold by the club in order to decrease their wage bill and manage their finances. This includes the likes of James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Wilfried Ndidi, and a few others.

The club is going through a difficult time and given the competitive nature of the Championship things are only going to get tougher from here on for Leicester City. But the Foxes fans would be hoping that their club can return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *