TOM COLLOMOSSE: Dean Smith’s gamble to drop James Maddison and Harvey Barnes was the move of a Las Vegas high roller… but Leicester players FINALLY seem alive to relegation threat and that should give supporters hope
- Dean Smith made the bold call to drop two of Leicester’s stars on Monday
- The Foxes boss relegated James Maddison and Harvey Barnes to the bench
- And finally got a fighting performance out of a Leicester side that took notice
Dean Smith does not strike you as the gambling type but his decision to drop Leicester’s two top scorers for their most important game of the season was the move of a Las Vegas high roller.
With the Foxes’ Premier League status on the line, ‘Casino Deano’ made the biggest call of his seven games in charge.
Out went James Maddison – 10 goals and nine assists – and Harvey Barnes – 12 goals and a single assist – as Smith dispensed with finesse and went for the dogged approach. Five at the back, men behind the ball, scrap your lives.
Leicester did just that in the first half and while they offered little in attack, at least they showed some of the battling qualities so badly missing recently. Both Maddison and Barnes were on by the hour mark with the score still level.
After the defeats by Fulham and Liverpool, fans chanted ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ and sang sarcastically about travelling to Ipswich and Hull in the Championship next season.
Dean Smith made a bold decision to drop two of Leicester’s star players at Newcastle on Monday
James Maddison (left) and Havey Barnes (right) were both dropped to the bench for Monday’s trip to Newcastle
High in the gods at St James’ Park, Leicester supporters at least saw some pride from the players during the opening phase of the game – even though they needed some luck along the way, with Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron hitting the post and Alexander Isak putting an easy chance wide.
If Leicester – Premier League champions only seven years ago – are relegated, Smith will ask himself why he did not take this approach in the Fulham and Liverpool games. But really, Smith should be nowhere near top of the list when blame is being handed out.
What about this squad of players, good enough to win the FA Cup two years ago? What about director of football Jon Rudkin, who took his eye off the ball so much that seven players are out of contract this summer?
What about owner Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, who stuck with Brendan Rodgers for so long even when it was clear his reign had run its course?
If Leicester get out of jail from here, it will be through luck rather than judgement. Yet with time almost run out, the players finally seem alive to the predicament. If anything gives Foxes fans cause for hope, it should be that.
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