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04th Feb 2017

Only nine months since winning the league, Ranieri has lost the Leicester City dressing room

What a horribly fickle sport football can be.

Robert Redmond

It sounds as though there is a lot of tension behind the scenes at Leicester City.

This time last year, Leicester had 47 points and were three points clear of second place Manchester City.

They would end up winning the Premier League by 10 points. Claudio Ranieri won the FIFA coach of the year award. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were voted among the 10 best players in the world in the Ballon d’Or voting.

They lost N’Golo Kante to Chelsea, but added several players to their squad in the summer, and looked capable of securing at least a top half finish in the league.

No-one expected them to win the league, but few expected them to be in a relegation battle. However, as they prepare to host Manchester United on Sunday, that’s exactly the situation facing the club.

The Premier League champions are in 16th position with 21 points, two points above the relegation zone, and without a goal in the league since New Year’s Eve.

Vardy and Mahrez, last year’s star players, have failed to continue their stunning form, opposition teams have found ways to counter Leicester’s deadly counter attacks and they badly miss the industry of Kante.

The regression to the mean has turned into a slump which may lead to relegation. It would be the first time a defending league champion has been relegation since Manchester City in 1938.

According to The Guardian, there are several internal problems behind the scenes.

The report by Stuart James claims that:

  • Ranieri is in danger of losing the dressing room due to a number tactical and selection decisions which have confused players. The players are said to have been “bewildered” with some of his decisions.
  • The Leicester manager is also said to have become an isolated figure, and distant from his backroom staff.
  • When Leicester played Copenhagen away in the Champions League, they played a 3-4-3 system. The newspaper report that the players only discovered this less than two hours before kick-off.
  • The players are said to be worried that the team have become “too preoccupied with opponents rather than playing to their own strengths,” and have moved away from what made them so effective last season.
  • James writes that: “It is understood there was a strange incident after one match when the players were told that their opponents had been briefed beforehand about problems with egos and bad attitudes in the Leicester squad. That story caused a storm because it was alleged that the information had initially come via someone in the Leicester camp.”

Ranieri’s position is not understood to be under immediate threat from the club’s Thai owners.

However, if the poor results continue, they may be prompted to take drastic action and sack the man who helped lead them to the most improbable league title victory in the history of English football.

It would be desperately sad if it came to that for Ranieri and Leicester.