Dilly ding, dilly gone: the five fateful failings that sent model club Leicester City to the Premier League scrapheap

They were the club revered around the world for overcoming the 5,000/1 odds to win the Premier League. The team of upstarts who lifted the FA Cup and the Community Shield. The underdogs who came within a whisker of the semi-finals of the Champions League. The footballing punks who shook up the established order, and threatened to establish themselves as an annual thorn in the side of the ‘big six’. And now Leicester City have gone from the giddy highs of European football to the crushing lows of relegation in a little more than a year.

Make no mistake, City deserved to be relegated this weekend. But how did it go so very wrong for the Foxes? DMU Journalism student Alice Wright picks out the unforced errors that sent the former champions of England spinning into the Championship.

The inspirational Kasper Schmeichel is allowed to leave

Kasper Schmeichel’s exit was strange and sudden: a true legend of the club never really got to say goodbye to the fans, and the supporters didn’t get a chance to say thanks for all the golden memories. Rumours of the Dane’s departure had been ongoing during the summer transfer window in 2022, but nothing came of it until August 3, when he announced his move to OGC Nice. Leicester City were left with four weeks to find a replacement. They decided to stick with long-term bench-warmer Danny Ward.

Kasper Schmeichel in action against Spartak Moscow in the Europa League https://www.soccer.ru/galery/1287367/photo/932250 Антон Зайцев

But Schmeichel was more than a shot-stopper: he was also a leader, someone you could count on to rip into the players if they weren’t putting in a shift. That leadership, passion and responsibility is something Leicester City have sorely missed this season.

Brendan Rodgers stubbornly refuses to change tack

Banking on a big summer rebuild, Brendan Rodgers made it publicly known there were players he didn’t see as part of Leicester’s future. When the club tightened the purse strings, he was left with players who knew their manager didn’t rate them.

His reluctance to play Caglar Soyuncu in defence and obstinate decision to stick with leaky Danny Ward in goal for too long compounded the issues at Leicester City. After shining in cup games, Daniel Iversen finally got his first-team chance against Brentford. He impressed in the games he played, despite his poor distribution, with fans questioning why Rodgers stuck with Ward for as long as he did.

Dean Smith obviously saw something in Soyuncu that the Northern Irishman didn’t or couldn’t. The Turkish defender started his first game under the former Norwich manager and reminded fans what they’d been missing. Rodgers’ unwillingness to play Soyuncu surely forced his move away from the East Midlands, which is a crying shame.

The board sleepwalk towards disaster

Ultimately most of the blame has to lie with the board. They took far too long to sack Brendan Rodgers. In mid-September, City suffered a heavy defeat at Tottenham, their sixth defeat in a row, having shipped 11 goals in two games and … nothing happened. Leicester City had an uplift in form before the World Cup and it felt like the team had turned over a new leaf, but a hammering at home to Newcastle on a cheerless Boxing Day brought everything back to reality. After been given far too much time in charge, Rodgers was sacked following a last-minute defeat at Crystal Palace in April.

But the board, it seemed, had no concrete plan for replacing him. Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell were temporarily put in charge for two vital games, and lost both of them. Initially it seemed Jesse Marsch would take over at the King Power, to the alarm of many fans, but eventually Dean Smith was appointed as manager. He brought with him John Terry and Craig Shakespeare. There were hopes that Terry could transform the fortunes of a defence unable to keep a clean sheet and Shakespeare was a familiar face who knew the club. Was it the right appointment? Well, it didn’t work. Was it the right appointment, but at the wrong time? We’ll never know.

Another poor decision from the board was agreeing to play Liverpool and Tottenham, in Singapore, a week before the start of the Championship season. This was most likely agreed months ago, which almost shows the club’s blindness to how quick Leicester were spiralling towards relegation.

❌ Players’ contracts are allowed to fizzle out

One massive mistake that the club will be kicking themselves over is allowing good players’ contracts to run out. Caglar Soyuncu and Youri Tielemans, two highly valued players, are able to walk away for nothing this summer. Jonny Evans, Daniel Amartey, Ayoze Perez, Nampalys Mendy and Ryan Bertrand are others out of contract in June. Soyuncu and Tielemans, along with Mendy, could’ve brought in a lot of money for the club to help them with their inevitable Championship squad rebuild. This seems like a massive failure to secure extra funds at a time when they’re needed most – not to mention the fact that City’s future was partly in the hands of players who knew they would be leaving.

Complacency sets in

Leicester City are the most expensive squad, with the highest wage bill, to get relegated from the Premier League, according to sport finance expert Kieran Maguire. To the pundits who didn’t watch them week in week out, they were a team packed with internationals who were too good to go down.

And maybe the players believed it too. ‘Play like that and we’ll be absolutely fine’ Leicester’s star midfielder James Maddison said back in March.

They did continue to play like that. No passion or desire, at times not looking interested. Everyone knows how it ended. They weren’t fine, and Rob Tanner deserves an apology.

Clearly the number 10’s infamous tweet isn’t a direct reason for Leicester’s downfall, but it feels like a telling insight into the team’s mindset. It appears the ‘too good to go down’ mentality infected them and they didn’t wake up to Leicester City’s true fate until it was too late.

So what now? The future looks very uncertain for the Foxes. A big summer reset lies ahead, and it won’t be easy. Valued players like Maddison and Barnes will move on. Soyuncu, once linked with a reported £38m move to Manchester City, is heading to Atletico Madrid, on a free transfer. The club will start the Championship with a new squad, and maybe a new manager, and a very old feeling of footballing exile. The bookies have already installed them as 6/1 favourites to win the league, considerably shorter odds than that 5,000/1. But it took City a decade to return to the Premier League last time round. An instant return is by no means guaranteed.

Koulibaly: Stats show why age is just a number to Chelsea

Ageing defenders are in vogue for the Stamford Bridge side https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koulibaly.jpg, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thiago_Silva,Al_Hilal_SFC_vs_Chelsea_F.C.,_9_February_2022-_02.jpg, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inside_Stamford_Bridge.jpg

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

Chelsea’s transfer policy of only offering players over the age of 30 one-year deals has been part of the footballing discourse for some time.

In the past, the Blues have stuck to their guns and allowed big-name players like Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas to all move on once they hit the big three-oh.

Fabregas was probably the biggest miss, opting for a multi-year deal at French side AS Monaco rather than a further year of uncertainty at Stamford Bridge.

It has also cost the club potential transfer targets, players such as Edin Dzeko, a target in 2018, choosing to go elsewhere or stay at their club due to the promise of financial stability.

However, more recently the policy seems to have shifted.

Thiago Silva has been a revelation for Chelsea in defence since arriving as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 35-year-old in 2020.

And the imminent arrival of 31-year-old Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli on a reported three-year deal, suggests new Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly has officially scrapped it.

Although Silva has been subject to the same policy, signing two more 12-month deals in subsequent years, his success at such an old age in footballing terms has probably had some bearing on the decision to go for long-time target Koulibaly despite his ‘advanced’ vintage.

Ageing like wine

Like Silva, Koulibaly does not rely solely on pace to defend well. Speed and power may naturally decrease as players age, but this matters less for defenders who can instead rely on experience and intelligence to make a smart block, tackle at the right time or make an important interception.

WhoScored.com, created with Microsoft Excel
WhoScored.com, created with Microsoft Excel

Knowing where to be and when to block is an art for older defenders.

Outgoing centre-back Antonio Rudiger will be a big miss for the team, but last season the elder Koulibaly made three times as many blocks per 90 as the German, while making just as many tackles.

WhoScored.com, created with Microsoft Excel
WhoScored.com, created with Microsoft Excel

A comparison to John Terry is not new for Thiago Silva.

Both he and Koulibaly bore a striking similarity in their 2021-22 defending stats to the then 35-year-old during the title-winning campaign of 2014-15. Koulibaly will be turning 34 before the end of the deal if reports are to be believed.

WhoScored.com, created with Microsoft Excel

Could this mean a title charge for Chelsea? Fans will at least be hoping for an eased transition at the back and a continuation of the downward trend of goals conceded.

Premier Leagoe.com, created with Microsoft Excel

Coventry-based Chelsea fan Kyle Brassington said: “[Thiago] Silva has proved if you’re clever at the back it doesn’t matter how old you are.

“It’s been frustrating getting rid of older players just because they’re past 30. We need some leaders in the team and that only comes with age.

“[Koulibaly] is going to be really good for Chelsea. I was gutted when [Rudiger] left but looks like we’ve found a replacement straight away.”

The Senegal international has been capped 62 times for his country and if the signing goes through, he will join compatriot Édouard Mendy in Chelsea’s defence. 

Although going forward seemed to be the Blues’ biggest issue last season, the departures of stalwart Rudiger to Real Madrid and Danish youth product Andreas Christensen to Barcelona had left many fans worried.

The club have also been linked with Nathan Ake from Manchester City and 22-year-old Dutch captain Matthijs de Ligt, currently playing for Juventus.

It’s unknown if the potential signing of Koulibaly will affect these deals.

Chelsea kick off their 2022-23 campaign away to Everton on August 6.

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.


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.


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’.

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

Fractured foot fails to stop DMU student joining up with British Virgin Islands national team for World Cup bid

By Azim Saiyed

A journalism student went back home last week to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) national football team so she could feature in the upcoming CONCACAF qualifying fixtures despite still recovering from a fractured foot. 

Hopeful: Liv Messum

Liv Messum, 21, said: “I was devastated to find out I could potentially miss out on the fixtures because of my injured foot. 

“It has always been my dream to play in the Women’s World Cup for my country and one day I hope to lift the trophy.” 

The BVI national women’s team will play against Cuba on Saturday(February 19) and then will play Honduras the following Tuesday(February 22) in order to qualify for the CONCACAF women’s championship. 

Liv picked up an injury in December when training with the DMU women’s football team. 

She accidentally slipped on the wet turf and twisted her ankle. Scans showed it was fractured and doctors estimated that she would be out for at least ten weeks. 

She said: “I wasn’t going to let a small foot injury hold me back so I was determined to make a fast comeback.” 

Her cast was taken off in early February which meant that she could start her rehab and slowly begin physiotherapy sessions. 

The second-year journalism student aims to regain match fitness and can be in contention for the away game against Honduras. 

If you would like more information on the team news or fixtures, please visit: www.bvifootball.com 

SOCCER STARS: The BVI women’s football team.