23 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

Leicester’s latest loss leaves them lurching on the edge of the abyss

By Andrew Warshaw

February 13 – It surely won’t happen – or might it? This time last year Leicester City were on their way to becoming the most unlikely champions in English Premier league history, a remarkable feat that reverberated around the globe.

Now, they are in danger of achieving a somewhat more dubious and inglorious distinction: becoming the first top-flight English titlist since 1938 (Manchester City) to be relegated the following season.

No-one outside Leicester’s diehard fans (and maybe not even them) expected the club to be challenging for honours again this term given the fact that most of English football’s usual suspects under-performed last season and are back with a bang this time round.

But the decline has been astonishing.  Leicester have yet to win – or even score – in six league matches in 2017, their latest setback coming at the hands of Swansea City on Sunday.

All kinds of theories have been expounded as to why Leicester are in freefall especially since only one of last season key performers, N’Golo Kante, has moved on: manager Claudio Ranieri has lost the faith of his players; confidence is wafer-thin; workrate has plummeted; too many players are living on their laurels.

Whatever the reason, the latest defeat in a miserable run of results leaves Leicester just one point above the relegation zone. They may be facing a glamourous Champions league fixture against Sevilla later this month but the priorities are suddenly somewhat different.

Ranieri is now suggesting he is ready to drop some of those who won the Premier League title. When asked if he had been too loyal to some of them, he said: “It could be. Of course it is difficult when you achieve something so good, you want to give them one chance, two chances or three chances. Maybe now, it is too much.

“Of course I must change something because it’s not possible to continue in this way.”

“It is important to be strong. Now it is 10 hours without scoring a goal and we have to find a solution because it is not possible (that) everything is wrong this season.

“The machine is not broken but when you don’t play at a maximum level it is a difficult battle. We stick together. I’m confident with my players because it only takes one moment for it to turn.”

Last week the Italian received the dreaded vote of confidence from his bosses, who insisted he had their “unwavering support”.  But British bookmakers are shortening the odds on him becoming the next Premier League manager to be sacked and the noose will tighten further unless he can stop the rot.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1544606052labto1544606052ofdlr1544606052owedi1544606052sni@w1544606052ahsra1544606052w.wer1544606052dna1544606052