It’s been a tale of two seasons for Leicester City. At this time last year, the Foxes were riding high in first place in the EPL, in the midst of their fairy-tale title run. This season, however, they are currently in a 6-team relegation battle with Middlesbrough, Swansea, Hull, Crystal Palace, and Sunderland. While many of us have been trying to avoid this for as long as possible, it’s time to take a look at the possibility of a relegation of the reigning champs, and what this would mean for everyone involved.
First of all, how likely is the club to go down? Leicester currently sits in 16th place, just one point off the drop zone. However, they have managed just one point over their last 5 games, while the other 5 teams around them have earned an average of 5.4 points in that span. But it hasn’t just been a case of unlucky results; their form has been awful as well, as opponents can pick their defense apart at will. As we enter the final third of the season, this is around the time teams in the relegation battle start playing with real fire and spirit. So, unless Leicester finds a way to replicate their magical 2014/15 survival campaign, it looks as though they may be on their way to the Championship.
What would this mean for their manager, Claudio Ranieri? At first, I thought there was no way Leicester would sack a man that has done so much for the club. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is exactly the type of thing managers get sacked for. The Foxes’ fall from grace can’t all be attributed to Kante’s departure; a lot of it rests on Ranieri. Surely he was provided with enough funds to provide an adequate replacement, especially considering powerful center mids like Victor Wanyama were sold for only around €10 million. And while many people thought that Leicester would be unable to replicate their title run, few thought that they would drop down this far. So as much as Claudio Ranieri has helped this club, I think a relegation would come with a definite firing.
Along the lines of Kante’s departure, who else would push for a move this summer? Role players like Leonardo Ulloa have already declared a desire to leave, even if Leicester stay up. And especially considering that there were already exit rumors surrounding Jamie Vardy last summer, I’m sure that there will be plenty more this summer. Even though the striker just signed a huge extension, I don’t think he’d want to spend a season in the second division if he didn’t have to. But while Jamie Vardy may be more likely to stay, one player I think will leave for sure would be Riyad Mahrez. Despite not playing anywhere near his potential (considering he won PFA Player of the Year last season), Mahrez would have high demand from multiple Premier League sides. There have already been rumors of a potential move to Tottenham Hotspur, who are currently looking for a clinical winger. So while the Foxes will do their best to keep hold of youngsters like Demarai Gray, they may have to say goodbye to the key pieces of their title-winning team.
Leicester City are currently on pace to set the record for the worst Premier League title defense in the history of the competition (which was just set by Chelsea last season). Their fans have definitely not been the problem, as they have taken 18 of their 21 points at home. The problem, then, is that they are yet to rack up a win away from home. And with other relegation battlers, like Swansea City, starting to pick up their form, it’s starting to look more and more like we’re going to have a case of champions to Championship.
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