What’s gone wrong for Leicester City this season?

By Liam Harris

Leicester City fans watched on nervously as their side took on Italian footballing giants AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday night.

A tough test awaited Rodgers and his side who had to try and better footballing genius Jose Mourinho in the second leg.

Leicester’s King Power Stadium

Following a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium a week prior, it was always going to be a challenge.

Unfortunately, on what was the Foxes’ first ever European Semi-Final, they came up short when Tammy Abraham headed the Romans into the lead in the 11th minute.

Despite going 2-1 down on aggregate, City looked to fight back with a stronger second half performance but it wasn’t to be. Thus, missing out on the Conference League Final and all but confirming another year without European football for the blues following an underwhelming domestic campaign.

Any cup exit is disappointing, but when you pin all of your hopes onto the only remaining route into it for the next season, going out becomes all the more bitter.

Many Leicester fans can’t help but feel deflated at what they have seen this season with many calling it a ‘write off’. Questions have been asked for many reasons by Foxes fans. So what has gone wrong? Why has it been such a challenging season? Let’s break it down.

Injuries

Ah yes, injuries. Let’s just get this one out of the way. After all, we were all thinking it. One thing we can all agree on is that Leicester may have had one of the most abysmal seasons ever on the injury front.

There have simply been too many to count for City this season with seemingly every matchday squad being plagued with absentees. This crisis seemingly peaked around the turn of the year and has slowly improved since.

However, it has certainly left damaging effects on the side’s league position, sitting 14th at the time of writing this. Re-injuries have been a regular occurrence with players such as Castagne and Maddison falling victim.

Possibly more crucially though, a number of City’s key figures have missed out throughout the campaign with Vardy, Barnes, Fofana and Ndidi all repeatedly being unavailable, among others.

With this sort of constant burden forced upon Rodgers, it has to be said that he’s done the best he can with what he’s had at his disposal.

With the end of the season nearing, many will feel relieved at the chance for some much needed rest for the team.

We can only hope that when the 2022-23 Premier League season kicks off in August, a fully fit squad will be available for the first time in almost 3 years.

Tactics

A common opinion felt by Leicester fans this season has been that at times, perhaps too often, tactical decisions have not paid off.

In fact, many of Rodgers’ decisions have been rather puzzling to some, especially when they have backfired. Strange substitutions and tactical mishaps have happened all too often this season.

Sitting back on a one goal lead and bringing on defenders despite no pressure from the opposition has cost City many points.

One example that comes to mind is substituting on Vestergaard and Bertrand at Liverpool despite a 2 goal lead back in December. As many will remember, Liverpool went on to win on penalties despite a considerably weakened lineup.

That isn’t even the worst example as many will recall Leicester threw away a 2-1 lead against Spurs back in January to lose 3-2 in stoppage time. Something that should never happen when your side is ahead with 2 minutes to play.

Another common criticism from City fans has been the style of football that Rodgers has had his side playing. Many believe the tempo has been too slow and performances have been passive.

November’s 1-1 draw to Leeds, December’s 2-1 loss to Aston Villa and more recently the 2-1 defeat to Everton are just some of the games that many believe City had played with a lacklustre style.

Corners and Stoppage Time

Two of the biggest talking points from Leicester’s season has been their inability to defend set pieces, more so corners.

What began seemingly as bad luck began to be exposed as a bad tactical set up for Rodgers’ side.

Fans picked up that Brendan was assigning zonal marking to his side which left many puzzled. Why were players leaving the opposition’s best headers of the ball free?

Of course, this didn’t work and following Abraham’s winner on Thursday night, the marking came under more scrutiny, with Rodgers seemingly suggesting after the game that he ran out of taller players to mark Abraham and so assigned 5’9 Ricardo to do so.

With one of the worst goals conceded from corners rates in the league, this issue urgently has to be sorted out in pre-season season once and for all.

Finally, stoppage time. Leicester’s other biggest problem has come in the final stages of games, with stoppage time being a nightmare for the Foxes.

In recent weeks Leicester have thrown away points against Everton, Newcastle, Tottenham, Brighton and West Ham in the closing moments of games.

Whether it is down to tactical issues or simply a mental problem is something that can be up for debate but it is clear that hanging onto leads has been a major challenge for City this season.


So what next?

Fear not though Foxes, for the summer is almost upon us. This means a chance for the players to get that well needed rest after a long gruelling campaign. For Rodgers, it is a chance to sort his squad out and get it back to where he wants it to be. He certainly needs to address some issues such as the corners and defending as a whole. That alongside fixing his side’s mentality is a must in the coming months. He will have the summer transfer window to do what he feels he needs to in order to strengthen and one can only assume that Khun Top will allow him to do so following the last 12 months.

A fresh start is something that everyone connected with Leicester City will be keen on and it is certainly needed. A chance to put this campaign in the past and put full focus into the 2022-23 season. A fresh mentality with a fresh squad is to be desired. Rodgers will seemingly look to trim his squad down for the upcoming campaign with the absence of mid-week football for the first time in 2 years. Fresh faces are a must for City come July.

Despite everything though, there have been some positives. The emergence of Dewsbury-Hall in the midfield and Luke Thomas improving spring to mind. This alongside Maddison’s great return on goal contributions has given fans some optimism for the future. Every team goes through bad spells and Leicester are no different. One off season does not define a club. They will bounce back from this and there is no doubt about it. The summer will prove crucial for City, but one thing that won’t change is the belief from the stands. The club prides itself on doing the unimaginable and they will look to do it once more next season. Be optimistic City fans, things will get better. In the words of Jersey Budd, ‘When you’re smiling’.

7 simple ways Leicester City could improve the atmosphere at the King Power Stadium

By Jayden Whitworth

Leicester atmosphere
Atmospheric: Small safe standing singing section at Leicester’s Europa Conference League clash with Rennes

What do you love most about the football? Is it the air littered with smells from the burger van? Is it the opportunity to engage in some light-hearted friendly banter? Is it that ice-cold pint of lager that beckons every weekend? Or are you just a sucker for pain and heart ache and enjoy the Leicester City rollercoaster of emotions? 

For some people it might be the atmosphere.

The opportunity to feel a sense of togetherness and unity.

People ramming themselves in like sardines – equipped with a vocal cord-warming hot cup of Bovril – set to belt out those iconic chants.

On good days, the King Power Stadium is bouncing.

Packed to the rafters. Entertaining football. Chants ringing round non-stop.

On bad days, the King Power can be flat.

Boring, lethargic football. People not quite up for it. It can be toxic.

This season the atmosphere has been far too inconsistent. The bad days outweigh the good days. 

The boring, sideways football we have seen at points this season is partly to blame.

But I think there are some changes that can give the atmosphere a little boost. A bit of a lift.

It is all put into perspective when you see the atmosphere created at Rennes. It’s a whole new ball game when it comes to European atmospheres.

I’ve put together a list of seven changes I would make, given the chance.

1. Bring in Safe Standing

This one feels like a slightly obvious shout. With the club beginning to experiment and test singing sections this season (in games against Watford and Rennes), the likelihood of Leicester City introducing safe standing in the future is increasing.

Safety first: Safe standing in operation at Wolves during their Premier League fixture against Leicester City

Safe standing isn’t a novel thing with some Premier League clubs having already introduced safe standing. Liverpool have built safe standing into their ‘kop’ and the away section. Wolves have incorporated it into their ‘kop-like’ stand. Both stadiums are notoriously loud. 

The atmosphere at home to Rennes was the best I have seen in a long time.

It was booming.

It is no coincidence that the atmosphere was this good at a fixture with a standing singing section.

As I’m writing this, the club have yet to announce a singing section for the PSV game, after the success of it against Rennes. One step forward, two steps back. Odd.

With the legal safety requirement of having an all-seater stadium loosening, I think we will see them more and more often. It will be a good thing.

2. Just get rid of the clappers, please

Hoarder: At least a few years back they gave some player information, remember that?

I don’t want to milk this too much. I feel like I spend half my life moaning about the clappers. But like a poor-man’s Ebenezer Scrooge, I too am being haunted by the past, so here we go again. There is no doubt the atmosphere would improve if the clappers were gone. 

It has almost become part of my match day routine to trundle up the stairs to my seat on row Z, grab the clapper and chuck it down the back of my seat. Out of sight, out of mind.

Make them optional. Put them in the concourse and give people the choice of taking one up to the stand.

Kill two birds with one stone. Better for the atmosphere. Better for the environment.

If you want more of this clapper-bashing chat, check out this article dedicated entirely to the clappers. It’s a good read, I promise.

3. Adopt a powerful club anthem

Trust me – I know I’m waxing lyrical about Liverpool here.

I don’t want to.

But again, they get this right. Everyone knows ‘You’ll never walk alone’. It has been adopted by Liverpool fans. West Ham’s ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’. Leeds’ ‘Marching on together’. Sheffield Utd’s ‘Greasy Chip Butty’.

The list goes on. 

It’s an opportunity to rally the troops. Get the vocal cords warm.

There is an obvious option here with Leicester’s very own – Jersey Budd. ‘When you’re smiling’ is already largely recognised as a Leicester chant and for a period was the anthem.

We miss a trick here. Make this the club anthem. Get rid of the electronic tripe. Blast it out just before kick-off. Get the scarves up. Get the atmosphere buzzing. Sell scarves with ‘when you’re smiling’ on one side. Sell as much merch with this plastered on as you like. 

It’s a song that encapsulates the city of Leicester. 

Make it ours.

4. Move L1 and SK1 together

I could be wasting my time here. This might be a logistical nightmare.

It has been a debate across Leicester social media for a few years now, as to who does it better? L1 or SK1? 

As I see it, it seems completely counterproductive to have a section of ‘die-hard’ Leicester fans in SK1 at one end of the ground. And another group of ‘die-hards’ at the other end next to the away fans. 

I guess the problem here is where you put them. 

Historically the ‘die hard’ fans usually congregate near the away fans. The back-and-forth abuse is usually what makes them ‘die-hard’. So, you probably don’t want to move them away from the away support. So, do you move SK1 fans over to L1? But that leaves a Kop with no vocal fans.

Could you move the away fans? Over to the Kop. Away from the family stand. I don’t know.

I’m not as confident in this suggestion. Hypothetically, it would improve the atmosphere. Logistically, I’m dreaming.

5. Give more freedom to dedicated fan-led supporter groups

When the likes of Union FS have been given the freedom to create organised displays, they’ve looked amazing. They were a regular fixture in our dazzling Champions League campaign back in 2016/17. But, they have fizzled out in recent times. 

The displays are now few and far between. With any display usually confined to the corner in SK1.

Newcastle supporter groups have shown what they can do now they have been released from the shackles of Mike Ashley. Creating stunning displays and having a bit more control over what happens on matchday. Creating a better atmosphere.

We don’t see it as much at Leicester anymore. Very rarely are their flags or banners. Or mosaics. There should be more.

They just help to give people a bit of a buzz.

My five picks for best atmosphere at the King Power Stadium:

5. Leicester City vs Liverpool (1-0, 28th December 2021)

This was the hardest one to pick, the others just fall into place. Perhaps a surprise inclusion, but this was the best atmosphere I’ve heard at the King Power since our glory days in 2015-2017. I found myself cheering every tackle, every block. They worked really hard that day. This game came a few days after they knocked us out of the cup, even better.

4. Leicester City vs Manchester United (5-3, 21st September 2014)

It almost feels criminal to put this so far down. It was the day that this Leicester City side announced themselves to the Premier League. I remember this being the first time I could walk into school with my head held high, knowing I wasn’t going to be berated for supporting Leicester. Little did I know it was a feeling I needed to get used to. I couldn’t believe we had beaten Manchester United.

3. Leicester City vs Atletico Madrid (1-1, 18th April 2017)

The King Power has never quite been the same, since this night. For 15 minutes we had the best defence in Europe on the ropes. A night full of if’s and but’s. An unbelievable night.

2. Leicester City vs Everton (3-1, 7th May 2016)

This was just one big party. The result didn’t matter, no one cared. All that mattered was Leicester City was going to lift the Premier League trophy for the first time. An outpour of emotion. What a day.

1. Leicester City vs Sevilla (2-0, 14th March 2017)

An out-an-out obvious winner. The night we all asked ourselves, we couldn’t, could we? We dared to dream. Goals from Morgan and Albrighton had the King Power bouncing. Nothing comes close to those Champions League nights. Unreal. Will never be topped.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Leicester vs Norwich (1-0, 27th February 2016) – Earth-quaker
  • Leicester vs Manchester United (1-1, 28th November 2015) – Record breaker
  • Leicester vs Liverpool (2-0, 2nd February 2016) – Absolute screamer

You might notice all these games fall into the 2010s. Am I a glory-hunter? Not quite. You were more likely to find me in front of the TV, watching Postman Pat, with my lips-locked around a dummy in 2005. If I have missed your favourite. I’m sorry. I might not have been born.

What would you say was the best atmosphere? Have your say below.

6. Stop the goal music

I don’t understand how I’m having to write this. Why is the goal music back?

For a couple of seasons the goal music had disappeared. How it should be. ‘Fire’ by Kasabian had gone. I have nothing against the song, of course not. That would be like shooting myself in the foot. But not as goal music.

There is a serious problem if you need goal music to lift atmosphere. The raw emotion of the joy of scoring a goal should do the job.

7. Stop leaving 10 minutes before half-time and full-time

Disclaimer: if you are absolutely bursting for the toilet or you are seriously going to miss the train. This does not apply.

This might be mostly born out of jealousy at the fact that some people missed the painful last few minutes against Spurs and West Ham, and I had to soak it all up. But I don’t really understand the benefit of heading to the concourse 10 minutes early to beat the queues, when the whole stadium has the same idea as you. 

8pm on a Monday night. Fair enough. I can understand that slightly.

2pm on a Sunday afternoon. Really. I think your Sunday roast can wait 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, I sit on the end of the row and usually spend the last 5-10 minutes of each half staring into someone’s backside. So, I might be very much in the minority on this topic. It just irritates me.

Bare: Empty seats during the second-half of Leicester City’s Europa Conference League clash with Rennes

Whilst I’m in full-on rant mode. It baffled me as to how both the games against Rennes and Randers failed to sell-out. I know it’s the Europa Conference League. I get it. On the same night we played Randers at home, we could have been jetting off to Catalonia to face Barcelona. I get that it isn’t a glamorous competition.

It’s still a European competition. One that we probably won’t have the luxury of playing in next season. European nights are why we do it. They’re the big nights, under the lights. It might be because I have grown up in a generation where Europe is the pinnacle and competitions like the League Cup and the FA cup fall by the wayside.

I just hope that those who don’t turn up for the games against Randers and Rennes in the early rounds, aren’t expecting a ticket for the trip to Albania for the final (if we get there of course).

It makes sense that if there are more people in the stands, there will be more noise, right?

After all, it could be worse. We could be stuck in administration. Sat in the EFL Championship relegation zone. Facing the frightening truth that soon enough we could be owned by Mike Ashley. Sorry, Derby. 

Khun Vichai statue unveiled outside Leicester’s King Power Stadium

By Jayden Whitworth

Leicester City FC has unveiled a Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha statue on what would have been the late chairman’s 64th birthday. 

Construction began at the beginning of March just outside the Leicester City fanstore.

The club unveiled the statue at a ceremony yesterday(MON,APR4).

Many familiar faces were in attendance including former managers Nigel Pearson and Claudio Ranieri, plus ex-players Andy King and Christian Fuchs, who made the trip across the Atlantic from where he is playing in the USA for Charlotte FC.

For many Leicester City fans their first opportunity to catch a glimpse of the statue will be at the Europa Conference League semi-final against PSV Eindhoven this Thursday (APR7).

DMU Women’s Football take on UoL in tough Varsity match

By Liv Messum

De Montfort University (DMU) has been competing in a variety of Varsity competitions throughout this week and last week, and the women’s football match did not disappoint.

Pictured: DMUWFC Committee

On Monday (MAR 28), DMU faced off against University of Leicester (UoL) to see who would win the title of Varsity women’s football champions. 

Coach Neil Butterworth said: “There is good spirit within the team and if we can match that spirit with high work rate and work for each other, then the team will be competitive.”

The team battled hard but suffered an unfortunate loss with an end result of 5-0 to UoL.

Neil said: “I think the team played very well and I’m very proud of each of their performances.

“I think if we had scored when we put UoL under pressure in the first half of the game, then the result may have turned out differently.”

DMU suffered from not being able to maintain consistent team selection due to a lack of numbers in training throughout the year.

Neil said: “The commitment to women’s football has been awful this year, meaning that our better players have been missing for matches and we have suffered heavy defeats.”

Captain Maddy Proctor added: “This year we’ve felt the effects of Covid, so numbers haven’t been as good as they could be.

“Hopefully in a year’s time we get that drive back, that motivation to want to play sport back that we’ve lost thanks to Covid.”

As a result of the lockdowns put in place in previous years, Maddy was the only team member who had previously competed in Varsity.

She said: “We’ve not had Varsity for the past two years so people this year were a bit more unsure of what it is, what it’s like, and what to expect.

“But Varsity is such a good experience, it’s not just your average football game. It’s the entire atmosphere, having the crowd there – you don’t get that with every football game.”

Captain Maddy Proctor showing off her skills

Maddy is currently in her final year at DMU, meaning that Varsity was her last match with the team.

She said: “Being on women’s football is probably the best thing I ever did, purely because it made me meet my friends that I’ve got now. 

“Without having that sport, I don’t think I would’ve made such good friends. 

“It’s also been great to have friends from different backgrounds, different ages, and to meet people from all over the world that I wouldn’t normally have made friends with.”

Even with the Varsity loss, both Maddy and Neil have high expectations for women’s football in upcoming years.

Neil said: “If the balance moves towards good commitment next season, then we can work at progressing players quicker and improving our chances when playing the league matches.

“I certainly hope this happens.

“Either way I will still be looking forward to coaching and improving those footballers joining the 1st Team next season.”

Star striker outraged at new drinking ban rule for DMU Women’s football team in Leicester

By Liv Messum

Alicia King on holiday in Spain, doing her favourite thing.

A drinking ban has been put in place for the DMU women’s football team for the next two weeks but star striker Alicia King isn’t happy about it. 

Alicia, 19, said: “I think it’s a good idea if it was more serious but being uni students and having social commitments, it’s hard to not drink around already drunk people.” 

Alicia has been playing for the team for two years and this is the first time a drinking ban has been put in place due to the upcoming Varsity matches against University of Leicester. 

She said: “I understand we need to condition our bodies for Varsity, but I personally don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference in the team’s performance. 

“It’s really only going to affect the day after.” 

Usually, team social events involve drinking games to help everyone loosen up and make friends with their teammates in a more relaxed environment. 

Alicia, who recently returned from playing for the British Virgin Islands women’s international team in World Cup qualifiers in Honduras, said: “Drinking socials are more of a night out and they are fun, but I think there should be more non-drinking ones at other points for those who don’t drink – but on other days. 

“But if this is what we have to do to win, then I’m excited to play the match and train well.”

For more information on the women’s team and fixtures, please visit: www.dmu.ac.uk/current-students/sport/sports-clubs/football.aspx