Leicester AREN'T showing any heart for the relegation battle

Leicester AREN’T showing any heart for the battle in the Premier League’s relegation scrap while the teams around them are… the Foxes have previously won against the odds but they’re now a club in total DISARRAY

  • Leicester’s Premier League status hangs in the balance as relegation looms
  • The Foxes have previously endured amazing success against all expectations
  • But are now a club in disarray with plenty of reasons to blame for their downfall 

A video was doing the rounds on Leicester City fan Twitter this week. It was a compilation of special goals and moments enjoyed by the club in the 10 years since their promotion back to the Premier League.

Jamie Vardy’s screamer against Liverpool in the season they won the Premier League. Wes Morgan lifting the trophy. Youri Tielemans’ winner in the FA Cup final. Lifting that trophy too. 

Vardy and Morgan scoring against Sevilla for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals. Recent hits from Harvey Barnes and James Maddison.

‘I hope we don’t get relegated,’ read the caption, ‘but, if not, it’s been a good run.’

Hasn’t it just. They survived against the odds and won the title against even more. They won the Community Shield. They finished fifth twice. They beat Southampton 9-0. They got to the Europa Conference League semis. And now they’re probably going to be relegated.

Leicester City have endured a torrid Premier League campaign and face the realistic prospect of relegation

Jamie Vardy has previously lead Leicester to Premier League and FA Cup glory but now he finds himself trying to help the Foxes avoid relegation

The supporters know it now too. Acceptance has set in. Shipping five goals in the defeat by Fulham on Bank Holiday Monday followed by wins for Everton and Nottingham Forest made that clear. Then on Saturday Leeds and Forest both took a point against Newcastle and Chelsea, respectively.

By the time Leicester host Liverpool on Monday, if Everton somehow get something against Manchester City today, the Foxes could be three points adrift of safety. Victory, of course, could still lift Leicester out of the relegation zone. 

But the teams around Leicester are showing the heart for the battle. Leicester aren’t.

When Maddison grumbled after the Fulham defeat that the players lacked hunger, regardless of how stringently he attempted to clarify his comments, is it any wonder many who follow them are resigned to their fate?

Leicester manager Dean Smith insists he sees the hunger every day in training. The players just need to make the right choices.

‘When they go into the game their decision-making has to be good,’ said Smith. ‘They have made good decisions because otherwise they wouldn’t have won the FA Cup a couple of years ago and there’s players here who have won the Premier League as well.’

Smith’s words could be directed at those above his head. If Leicester go down, it will be because those who run the club, from owner Khun Top, chief executive Susan Whelan and director of football Jon Rudkin, have been just as negligent.

The reasons for Leicester’s potential fall from champions to Championship are varied and increasingly well documented: missing out on Champions League money two seasons in a row at a time the pandemic stripped them and their owners in the duty-free trade of vital revenue; handing out bloated contracts to average players they now can’t shift and letting the deals of their best players like Tielemans run down so they’ll leave for nothing.

Leicester won the Premier League in 2016 against the odds but things have spiralled since that success

Brendan Rodgers lost his job earlier in the season as Leicester dropped down the table

Leicester have eight first-team players out of contract this summer and another nine heading into the final year of their deals like Maddison and Vardy. Letting a leader like Kasper Schmeichel go in a squad lacking in leadership. 

Breaking your policy of selling a key player every summer and then spending more than £50million on duds; leaving it too long to sack Brendan Rodgers and then having no succession plan when you do and hoping you’ll be able to muddle through with caretaker bosses who text friends when they got the job that they felt out of their depth.

Harvey Barnes is one of the club’s stars that haven’t hit form this season

When you’re a club the size of Leicester, you don’t have to get too much wrong in the Premier League to fall behind. For the past couple of years they’ve got it all wrong.

The real question, though, is what happens if — or when — Leicester do go down. They would do so with the highest squad cost and wage bill in Premier League history. 

When Leicester won the league in 2016, they spent £80m on wages. Now, they spend £182m — behind only the Big Six clubs. It’s also 85 per cent of their £215m turnover, a figure that will plummet by more than £130m if they are relegated.

The Foxes posted record losses of £92.5m for the 2021-22 season. They’ve lost nearly £200m in the last three years. They are on UEFA’s Financial Fair Play watch list.

‘It’s going to be very severe,’ football finance expert Kieran Maguire told BBC Radio Leicester. ‘They are looking at a potential two-thirds reduction in income compared to their most recent accounts. There’s got to be a lot of belt-tightening.’

Tielemans will leave on a free. So will Caglar Soyuncu, a former inclusion in the PFA team of the year. Jonny Evans is also out of contract alongside Daniel Amartey — one of three remaining title winners — Papy Mendy, Ryan Bertrand, Tete and Ayoze Perez, who is already out on loan. 

Dean Smith (left) was brought in to try and salvage Leicester’s Premier League status but it could be too late for the Foxes

James Maddison (right) will have his suitors in the summer but Leicester are unlikely to get anywhere near his true value

Maddison will have his suitors but Leicester are unlikely to get anywhere near his true value. The same for Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi.

Another concern is the loans Leicester have taken out with Australian bank Macquarie over the past few years that were secured against future Premier League TV rights money. They have at least £70m of that to pay back.

If Leicester go down, it’s likely money from parachute payments will have to go towards that instead of rebuilding the team from scratch. 

That’s hard enough but who will oversee it? Smith’s deal is until the end of the season. Fans may have accepted their fate, but their real worry is what happens next.

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