Leicester could do with one final magical chapter in the Vardy epic
Jamie Vardy’s incredible career has shown us only a FOOL would ever write him off… Now, Leicester could do with one final magical chapter from the 36-year-old striker to make sure of their Premier League status
- Jamie Vardy has made an entire career out of defying expectations
- They’re currently 14th in the Premier League, but only three points above drop
- The 36-year-old has managed only one goal in 24 league matches this season
Only a fool would take the risk of writing off Jamie Vardy.
One of the greatest strikers the Premier League has ever seen, Vardy has made a career from defying expectations. From non-league obscurity to Premier League champion, World Cup semi-finalist, FA Cup winner and Golden Boot holder.
Not bad for a player who cost £1million from Fleetwood Town in May 2012. His story is one of the greatest ever told and may never be repeated.
Yet as Leicester fight for Premier League survival, how they would love their most famous player to write another incredible chapter.
Vardy signed a new two-year deal with the Foxes last August but this has been a season of struggle for both player and club. The 36-year-old has scored just once in 24 appearances in the league and has four in all competitions.
Jamie Vardy has managed just one goal in 24 Premier League appearances this season – but you wouldn’t bet against him making a crucial contribution in Leicester’s survival bid
Vardy, 36, has struggled at times after Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers changed their style
He is no longer first choice, either, with boss Brendan Rodgers relying on Kelechi Iheanacho as his main striker. In the league, Vardy is asked to come from the bench, either trying to rescue his team or exploit the spaces left by opponents chasing the game.
The latter trait has always been Vardy’s forte and while he is still one of Leicester’s quickest players, the pace is not as deadly nowadays. When he has figured this season, Vardy has cut a frustrated figure, not quite able to outrun defenders as in his best days.
‘You can never write Jamie off because he still has that hunger, that drive, and that desire. I don’t think I can expect of him what he was doing five years ago,’ said Rodgers last September.
‘When I came here in 2019 people were writing him off and we’ve had a fantastic few years out of him. He knows he can’t go on forever.
‘It’s never easy. It’s always difficult to accept. However, you’ve got to try to support the team and the collective and then do the very best you can when you’re asked to play.’
That has left Rodgers with a conundrum. Does he play to Vardy’s strengths, despite his advancing years? Or choose a more patient style that brings out the best in technical players like Iheanacho and James Maddison, Leicester’s best player by some distance?
Rodgers has gone definitively for the second option, asking his team to play out from the back and through midfield. Iheanacho’s top asset is to drop deep, combine with Maddison and use his vision to release Leicester’s wide players.
Rodgers was left with a conundrum over whether to continue playing to Vardy’s strengths
The 36-year-old striker goes close during Leicester’s narrow loss to leaders Arsenal
Vardy’s is to sprint into the space between centre-back and full-back on to quick, early passes. No wonder he has looked lost at times, and not even made his usual runs. If he is disheartened at the current situation, it is understandable.
The problem here is that neither Rodgers nor Vardy is wrong. Rodgers knows today’s Vardy is not the player he inherited when he became Leicester manager four years ago, and who was the Premier League’s top scorer in Rodgers’ first full season. So the manager has to adapt accordingly.
For his part, Vardy is the third-highest scorer in Leicester’s history and has defied the odds so many times. He is entitled to wonder why Leicester are not making better use of him.
Where this leads is anyone’s guess. Vardy remains comfortably Leicester’s top earner and has another season on his contract.
The crowning glory of Vardy’s career was Leicester’s extraordinary title win back in 2016
He played for England in their 2018 World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia in Moscow
Vardy also helped Leicester win the FA Cup in 2021, when they beat Chelsea in the final
Nothing can taint his legacy at Leicester. But Vardy is a proud man and it is hard to imagine him wanting to end a glorious Foxes career in the shadows.
If the current circumstances do not change, both player and club may have a decision to make in the summer.
The best outcome for everyone, however, would be for Vardy to rediscover some of the old magic. A relegation six-pointer at Southampton feels like the ideal time to do so.
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