Eleojo Audu ’24
In the 2015-2016 Premier League season, the impossible happened. A team that spent almost all the previous season struggling at the bottom of the table was now at the top, crowned the champions of the Premier League. This team was Leicester City F.C., a small club when compared to the English footballing giants of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur. When Leicester City, the underdogs with a 5000 to 1 chance of winning, won the league, it was known as “the miracle” by fans and analysts from that day on. But when you look at Leicester City now, it is quite apparent that the team is only a shell of its former self.
The team took a heavy hit when goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel transferred to OGC Nice, a French Club, for £1 (about $1.5 million CAD) this summer. As the club was recovering from the damage, defender Wesley Fofana left for Chelsea for a £70 million (about $107 million CAD) contract. Even with strong players, including Jamie Vardy, James Maddison, Patson Daka and Youri Tielemans, Leicester City lost 1-0 to Manchester United. Although this was not a game that Leicester saw itself winning, the loss was not surprising. What really showed fans the true state of their team was a 5-2 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion, a small team relative to Leicester’s size, one they should have defeated.
Leichester’s losing streak continued with a 6-2 loss to Tottenham. This loss was more hurtful because Leicester had scored the first goal, and by the end of the first half the score was 2-2 with Leicester still hoping to win the match. However, after halftime, Tottenham made a crucial change, subbing in Son Heung-min, that destroyed the game for Leicester. Within 14 minutes of being on the pitch, he scored a hat-trick and put the nail in the coffin for Leicester. The next game was against Nottingham Forest. If Leicester lost this game, there would surely be pressure on manager Brendan Rodgers as Nottingham Forest and Leicester were neck-and-neck on the points table. Leicester managed to come out on top with a 4-0 win, moving them to 19th place in the league.
Many fans were hopeful that Leicester would not be in a relegation spot much longer, but this hope was quickly dashed when A.F.C Bournemouth beat Leicester 2-1 the very next day. With the latest game against Crystal Palace a 0-0 draw, it was quite evident that there was something very wrong with Leicester City. The club has already tried to solve this problem by signing Belgian defender Wout Faes for £15 million (about $23 million CAD). Even though Wout is not a bad centre-back, it is quite apparent that he cannot replace Wesley Fofana and is not the solution Leicester needs.
The problem lies with Leicester’s current keeper, Danny Ward. The Welsh goalkeeper was transferred from Liverpool to Leicester 4 years ago, acting as backup while Schmeichel was with the club. Ward only became the primary goalkeeper after Schmeichel’s departure. During this season, Danny Ward has conceded 24 goals with only 2 clean sheets in 10 games played.
Though Leicester has been relegated multiple times before, the last time they were relegated was way back in the 2001-2002 season. Since then, Leicester has established itself as a sturdy Premier League team. If Brendan Rogers cannot fix the issue at the back of the net, then he should start looking for his next job, as he will be fired. Rogers has the rest of the season to fix this problem, and Leicester City fans all over the world are praying that he does.
Photo credit: AFP