For most football fanatics, the 2015-16 Premier League season has been erased from the memory. Yet, for Leicester City fans, there is a contrasting story.
Some dubbed it ‘the impossible’, some labelled Leicester as ‘fearless’ in their pursuit of a maiden Premier League title, others simply still suggest it was pure luck that the Premier League title went to the East Midlands that year.
Nevertheless, Leicester fans well and truly lived the dream. The essential assets to this dream were the men pulling the strings day to day at Belvoir Drive, and the men who had sleepless nights planning their next step towards the illustrious title. Claudio Ranieri and Craig Shakespeare are names which will live on eternally in Leicester. However, they are names that will not be heard regularly from now on at the King Power Stadium.
After the controversy of Ranieri’s sacking in February this year, Craig Shakespeare was promoted from his coaching role to first team manager. He drove Leicester to safety last season and had success in the Champions League, beating Sevilla and losing out 2-1 on aggregate to Atletico Madrid. In spite of this, after Leicester’s 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion on Monday night, his short reign at the club was put to an abrupt end by the club’s officials.
Arguably, the decision to appoint Shakespeare on a permanent basis following his early success was questionable. Whilst Craig was an exemplary coach, it was his relationship with the players that gave such prosperity to the club and his ability to coach coupled with his experience that made him so influential for the Foxes. Yet, Shakespeare admitted himself he struggled to adapt to managerial duties such as pre-match and post-match interviews and found the switch from coach to manager demanding.Embed from Getty Images
Nonetheless, Vichai and son, Aiyawatt, felt Shakespeare was no longer capable to deliver what was expected from him and the performances were not of the calibre that many, including the owners, have come to expect from the Midlands outfit. For many, Leicester’s problems lay deeper than the man at the helm and he had to bear the brunt of Leicester’s current headache.
Leicester’s downfall arguably began in the Summer when on deadline day, they lost Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea and in their search for a replacement, they were 14 seconds late in securing the services of Adrian Silva from Sporting Lisbon. A rather embarrassing story for the Foxes, especially after spending almost £23 million on a player who can’t play for the club till January.
Alongside this, Leicester’s most expensive summer signing, Kelechi Iheanacho, has struggled to get the ball rolling since his move from Manchester City for £25 million and Vicente Iborra has only begun to have some influence in the Midlands. This recruitment nightmare is possibly due to the departure of Steve Walsh to Everton. Walsh was responsible for the capture of Vardy, Mahrez and Kante – three critical assets to ‘that’ season. Now Walsh is gone, do the club have the recruitment they need in order to be successful in the best league in the world?Embed from Getty Images
Having constantly mentioned the title winning season in this article, it is possibly this constant talk of the title winning season that has made the Leicester City manager role, a role many would not fancy undertaking. You have to be extremely imaginable to believe any Leicester manager will complete this feat again and therefore, there is almost a need for Leicester fans and owners alike to return to the real world and be realistic about their club’s chances in the Premier League.
Aiyawatt stated “our early promise under Craig’s management has not been consistently evident in the months since and the board feels that, regrettably, a change is necessary to keep the club moving forward – consistent with the long-term expectations of our supporters, board and owners.”
So, who is likely to replace Shakespeare at Leicester? Early contenders are Sam Allardyce, Chris Colman and Sean Dyche. Though importantly, whoever takes charge of Leicester City has to very much aware: they will not be given long to turn the club’s fortunes around and the owners expect big things from their football club.
Written by Eamon Kitching.