Football News: Leicester Mid-Season

 

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Leicester Mid-Season
Image from: droug.co.uk

Mid Season Review

Leicester City

How different this is from last season for the Foxes, when they were lighting up the Premier League, now they are stinking up the place. Gone is the drive and will to win that saw them picking up results they should never have been able to get. Now they are back in the position everyone expected them to be in last season, struggling against relegation.

It is difficult to understand just how they have ended up in this position, even if some of the causes are plainly evident. This is a team that managed to resist the advances for all their top players, except one, N'Golo Kante. All the other players sold in the summer were surplus, a number of them had been away on loan during the title season, so are not missed at all. On top of that, they have strengthened, bringing in forwards to take the pressure off Jamie Vardy's shoulders, and brought in the midfielder that had been first choice before they turned to Kante, Nampalys Mendy.

This should have been a season to build on the previous one, not in terms of winning the title again, no one expected a repeat, or even a genuine challenge. However most people did expect them to be safely ensconced in the top half by this point of the season. Though no one foresaw them doing quite so well in the Champions League, to fly through the group stage the way they did was truly impressive.

Leicester's players have simply not got themselves up for matches in the Premier League in the same way they did last season, and the difference is all the more jarring when you see they manage it in the Champions League. The players have lost focus, the league winning players anyway, as the newcomers, such as Islam Slimani, have not let the fans down at all. Without Slimani's goals they would not be sat 15th and fighting to stay clear of relegation, they would be deep in the mire trying to claw their way out of the drop zone.

The ability is still there, the home dismantling of Manchester City showed that, as did the performances in the Champions League, where they won four of the six matches and only lost their final match, after qualification had already been achieved. Claudio Ranieri must be tearing his hair out at the sheer lack of application from his players in away matches, which has seen them fail to win a single one so far this season. With the crowd on their back at home, they managed a 50% win ratio, after things got so bad they were booed off by the fans who cheered them on all last season.

With Steve Walsh having left for Everton, their problems could be just beginning, as his eye for transfers is what got them into such a good position in the first place. If he had not argued so strongly for the signing of N'Golo Kante, there is no doubt that last season would have been completely different. Walsh had the sense to look beyond Kante's lack of height and spot his quality, which far outweighs the small stature. Have the current staff got the same ability to see beyond those kind of issues and spot the real talent of the players?

Has this terrible attempt at defending their title been a sign of the future? Or is it a blip? Has the hunger gone altogether, or do they just need time to get used to the idea of being champions? It is always said that defending a championship is much harder than winning it, as it takes a special kind of character to remain focused on winning, once the initial title you have worked so hard to get is yours. The Foxes are showing the truth of that saying right now.

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