TOM COLLOMOSSE: Injuries to key players, in a relegation battle, growing fury at the owner and manager and Brighton up next… Brendan Rodgers and Leicester owner Khun Top had plenty to discuss at lunch this week
- Brendan Rodgers met Leicester owner Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha for lunch
- The club’s Thai owner will be at the King Power for the game against Brighton
- The Foxes will try to break a run of five straight defeat against the Seagulls
- A large section of the fanbase have been frustrated with Rodgers and results
- Failure to invest in the transfer market has left Leicester in a fight for survival
- Youri Tielemans and James Maddison both look likely to depart inside 18 months
When Brendan Rodgers met Leicester owner Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha for lunch this week, it is not difficult to imagine what was on the menu.
The pair sat down on Wednesday at the club’s swish training ground canteen for a bite to eat ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Brighton, where the faltering Foxes will try to end a run of four straight defeats.
Leicester are in a fix. Since the Premier League returned after the World Cup break, they have been deprived of numerous players including – at different times – Ricardo Pereira, James Justin, Jonny Evans, James Maddison, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Boubakary Soumare and Patson Daka.
Pressure is growing on Brendan Rodgers following Leicester’s recent run of defeats
Foxes fans are growing increasingly angry at the club’s lack of investment and direction
They are only two points above the relegation zone and though Leicester boss Rodgers called for calm at his press conference on Thursday, the next league fixtures after Brighton are against Aston Villa, Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal. Life is not about to get any easier.
A significant section of the fanbase have been frustrated for some time about Rodgers, though it is hard to argue with the manager’s thoughts on the need to refresh the squad.
Srivaddhanaprabha – known as Khun Top – is expected to attend the Brighton fixture and if the match goes awry, the board are likely to feel the anger of the supporters. Boos at half-time and full-time have become a regular occurrence.
As Leicester slipped to defeat at Nottingham Forest last weekend, some fans held up a banner bearing the words: ‘Missing! LCFC board.’
They have been unsettled as much by the inertia off the pitch as the inconsistency on it. Wout Faes was the club’s only outfield signing last summer (Rodgers had wanted six new players) as Leicester sought a sounder financial footing, with the next set of accounts, covering 2021-22, set to show significant losses.
Rodgers held talks with Leicester’s owner Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha on Wednesday
Even though Leicester believed they had assurances he would re-sign, Youri Tielemans is set to leave for nothing when his contract expires in the summer. James Maddison’s deal runs out the following year and the playmaker has shown little interest in extending it, with Newcastle awaiting developments after having two bids rejected last summer.
With every poor result, Rodgers’ own position will become more fragile as he approaches his fourth anniversary at Leicester. He looked extremely vulnerable at the start of the campaign when Leicester took only one point from their opening seven matches, particularly after a chaotic 5-2 defeat at the Amex Stadium by Saturday’s opponents on September 4.
But Khun Top kept faith and was rewarded with a rapid improvement before the World Cup, when the Foxes took 16 points from a possible 27. Yet the old fragility has crept back in. With Jamie Vardy on the wane, Leicester have missed chances, and look brittle again at the back.
Leicester’s story is proof that outside the Premier League’s financial elite, no club is ever too far from a crisis. It is less than a year since Leicester were in a European semi-final; less than two since they won the FA Cup and Community Shield; less than seven since they won the Premier League.
Leicester are now just two points above the drop zone after a run of four straight defeats
Yet all it takes is a few poor signings, some slack planning on contracts to create a domino effect that now leaves Leicester fighting for survival and their fans as disgruntled as they have been at any stage since the title win.
‘He is a great man,’ said Rodgers when asked about his meeting with Khun Top. ‘He is just here to support. We had some lunch and he is in good spirits. We were just talking in general. He understands where we are at and he was fine.’
The imminent arrival of Danish left-back Victor Kristiansen for about £17m should lift the mood a little, and Leicester will try to add a right-winger and a centre-back before the window closes.
With Fiorentina demanding £40m for wide man Nicolas Gonzalez, the Foxes are now looking closely at Tete, the Brazilian on loan at Lyon from Shakhtar Donetsk. The probable departure of Ayoze Perez to Real Betis could free space for his arrival.
Stoke defender Harry Souttar is another player admired and if a deal can be agreed, it could open the door for Caglar Soyuncu or Jannik Vestergaard to depart.
Rodgers believes Leicester are due for a ‘refresh’ of their squad after their recent struggles
Leicester have made an approach for FC Copenhagen defender Viktor Kristiansen (above)
‘The chairman is so determined and ambitious for club to be the best it can be,’ said Rodgers. ‘This season has been a challenge but it doesn’t lessen ambition of him and the board, which should be great news for the fans.
‘I understand we’re in a position where we haven’t been for a few years and that can be tough [for fans] to take. We have to do things in a different way because the resources are not the same.
‘You have to be clever with recruitment, strategy and overall vision and whilst I’m here I’ll fight for that. The ambition when I joined (in February 2019) was to disrupt the market at the top end of the table.
‘The pandemic and some of the other invisible challenges, which people on the outside wouldn’t see, has made it very difficult for us but we have to find a way.
‘Over the next year there will be change naturally and that allows the team to grow again. For this moment there’s a challenge to embrace. The players will fight and everything will be OK. We need to get over this period by constantly working and fighting together.’
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