Sunday People

Foxes are a species in decline


- By Neil Moxley

BRENDAN RODGERS knew what was heading towards Leicester City a long time ago – a fact Dean Smith is finding out the hard way.

The fairy tale the Foxes penned during the past decade now looks set to end with a wicked twist of relegation – and the Northern Irishman understood exactly where this campaign would end up.

He signposted it nine months ago by claiming the club is not what it was after a desperate transfer window which saw yet another asset cherry-picked away from the East Midlands club – and now his successor Smith is reading from the same sorry script.

Rodgers, with two fifth-placed finishes and the first FA Cup triumph in Leicester’s history sitting proudly on his CV, attempted to set expectatio­ns a lot lower.

Only Belgian centre-half Wout Faes was signed – and he was a cut-price replacemen­t for £70million Chelsea-bound stopper Wesley Fofana.

All the wrong signals were being sent out. And they could well come home to roost tomorrow at St James’ Park.

“We have not had the help in the market that this team needed,” said Rodgers. “I came to Leicester to compete and, initially, I was able to do that.

“You have to add quality and in the last two windows I haven’t been able to.”

All of a sudden, the mood music changed. Rodgers’ talk was not about challengin­g in Europe any more – the Foxes had been knocked out of the Europa Conference League in the semifinal by Roma just last season – but instead reaching 40 points.


With an ageing Jamie Vardy still in the ranks, but with influentia­l keeper Kasper Schmeichel now living the high life in Nice, the spirit of the incredible title-winning season had been diluted.

The grip on that insane reality was slowly being loosened to the point where


League status was slipping through Rodgers’ fingers. He knew. But he was powerless to stop it – and so is Smith. Ironically, it was after a slow start to the campaign that Leicester served notice they might yet make a fist of it – but a rush of injuries and the World Cup put the brakes on. Yet more inertia during the January window sucked the life out of the club. Set against a backdrop of horrendous losses – the 2022 financial year saw the club £92.5m in the red – little help came from above. Rodgers felt like he was being cut adrift.


Goals were being shipped at a rate of knots. They still are despite the arrival of Smith and assistant John Terry.

Current press conference­s are littered with talk of individual mistakes and how much they cost.

The theme has not changed. Smith can’t eradicate errors. The players are either up to it, or they aren’t. The conclusion will hurt, but this collective simply isn’t.

With a worrying financial situation, eight players out of contract and several others set to jump ship back into the Premier League, the reset button will be pushed at the King Power this summer.

And no one – neither Rodgers, Smith nor the fans – can say it hasn’t been coming.

 ?? ?? GOOD TIMES: Schmeichel & Rodgers with 2021 FA Cup
SORRY STATE Vardy is one of few survivors from side that won the title
GOOD TIMES: Schmeichel & Rodgers with 2021 FA Cup SORRY STATE Vardy is one of few survivors from side that won the title

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom