Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Has The Sun Set on Leicester?

After two consecutive fifth place finishes, Leicester’s descent to eighth in the table and a fall from the European places caught many followers by surprise last season. The Foxes stumble in the league was accompanied by a 4-1 fourth-round loss in the FA Cup to now promoted Nottingham Forest and a group stage elimination from the Europa Conference League. Advancing to the semi-final in the European Conference League before losing to eventual champion Roma provided little solace to supporters and Leicester Manager Brendan Rodgers who claimed he had never heard of the third-tier tournament before his team entered the fray.

There will be no European distraction this year for the Foxes. Unfortunately, that might become a multi-year reality based on the current trajectory of the club. Often considered among the elite of British (World?) managers, Rogers has come under criticism for the fall of the Foxes. In fairness, Leicester was handicapped with injuries, particularly on the back line, from the very beginning of last season. The club’s actions this offseason, however, have ratcheted up concern. The news this week that long time captain Kasper Schmeichel is finalizing a move to Nice raises question as to whether the sun has set on Leicester’s time in in the sun. Young talents such as James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Wesley Fofana are rumored to be targets of interest by other Premier League teams. Center back Jannik Vestergaard, signed just last year, is already in the shop window. Meanwhile, the Foxes entered this week as the only club in the five major leagues of Europe to not yet make a summer signing. Tielemans, the talented Belgian international, has declined an offered extension to stay with the Foxes beyond this season and is one of ten Leicester players entering the final year of their contract. Even should some of the possible departures not materialize, there is far more talk of players leaving Leicester than seeking it as a career destination.

One player not approaching the door is club legend Jamie Vardy. Remarkably for a player dependent on speed, the 35-year-old Vardy remains an elite player but is missing more time with injury each passing year.

Six seasons have passed since Leicester won its miracle Premier League title. Just two years ago the club captured its first FA Cup title. Those heady days seem to be fading quickly as Rodgers has now managed the Foxes for three more matches than he helmed Liverpool before the manager entered exile in the Scottish league. Rodgers, with the help of striker Luis Suarez in his prime, had lifted Liverpool to great heights before falling short and leaving ultimate success for the Reds to a German named Jurgen Klopp. Rodgers could once again be nearing a disappointing end to a good run. 

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