TOM COLLOMOSSE: Leicester’s relegation is a result of sheer carelessness and downright incompetence from their hierarchy… several botched decisions have left the Foxes in the Championship
- Leicester were relegated to the Championship despite victory on the final day
- The relegation is the culmination of several poor decisions from their hierarchy
- They must now communicate with the fans to explain what went on this season
Forget West Ham in 2003. Forget Leeds United the following year or Newcastle in 2016. For sheer carelessness and downright incompetence, the masterminds of Leicester’s relegation this season will take some beating.
How can a club with a wage bill that ranks in the top half of the division, a squad packed with internationals and a training base envied around the world end up in the Championship, just seven years after lifting the Premier League title? Answers on a postcard addressed to director of football Jon Rudkin, chief executive Susan Whelan and chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, better known as Khun Top.
Just as those who run this likeable club deserve huge credit for a period of unprecedented glory – an FA Cup, a Community Shield and two impressive European campaigns as well as the title – so they must take responsibility when things go wrong. There will be the inevitable review, of course, but those who conduct it must also be brave enough to look in the mirror.
Because where other clubs have acted, this trio have simply crossed their fingers. When Aston Villa found themselves in a tricky spot last autumn, they moved Steven Gerrard on and brought in Unai Emery. Next season they will play in the Europa Conference League.
Leicester no longer have the cachet to attract a boss with Emery’s pedigree but it had long been clear that Brendan Rodgers’ tenure was approaching its natural end. So why on Earth did Leicester wait until April 2 to dismiss him?
Leicester’s relegation is the culmination of sheer carelessness and downright incompetence
The club’s hierarchy, including chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha (second right), director of football Jon Rudkin and chief executive Susan Whelan have got serious questions to answer
Rodgers demanded a squad overhaul in January 2022 and was clearly angry and demotivated when Leicester’s problems with financial fair play rules meant it never happened – but Leicester stuck with him anyway, even as performances deteriorated.
It does not help that, beyond Khun Top’s column in the programme, supporters hardly ever hear from the hierarchy. Whelan writes a few lines to accompany Leicester’s annual financial results, while Rudkin remains largely silent.
They are far from the only English club who behave this way and the culture is different overseas. But if Giuseppe Marotta, who receives ferocious scrutiny as chief executive of Champions League finalists and global giants Inter Milan, communicates regularly with fans via media interviews, why cannot Whelan or Rudkin?
Because while keeping quiet during times of success looks classy, in tough times it smacks of panic and weakness. Adults who paid a minimum £295 for a season ticket have been treated to unrelenting dross and the least they deserve is some sort of explanation.
These figures rarely communicate with supporters and must look at themselves in the mirror
Brendan Rodgers’s reign had long been coming to an end but it took way too long to sack him
Why did they persist with Rodgers for so long? Why were seven players allowed to run out of contract this summer, with a further eight next? Why were players like Youri Tielemans, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes over-valued to the extent that the Belgian will leave for free and Leicester may have to accept a cut-price offers for Maddison and Barnes? What was the thinking behind leaving coaches Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell in charge for two huge home games against Aston Villa and Bournemouth after Rodgers left?
As early as September this season, at least one player lamented that the atmosphere at the club’s £95million training base was ‘like a holiday camp’. Others were baffled to see a team-mate who was on the injury list playing golf with staff at the course adjoining the training ground.
Though interim boss Dean Smith spoke positively about the unity within the squad, Mail Sport understands that the group had divided into different cliques, with tempers said to have become particularly frayed after the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in Smith’s first game in charge. Smith did what he could to revive team spirit but it had nosedived well before he arrived, with a number of players clearly having one eye on their next moves.
Smith does not know what the future holds for him but he is positive about Leicester’s. ‘The raw materials of an elite club are here,’ he said. ‘The support is there for the club to bounce back.’ Everyone here must hope he is right.
Interim boss Dean Smith did his best to save the club, but the damage had already been done
Several players are likely to leave, such as Harvey Barnes (centre) and James Maddison (right)
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