Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is a man in the middle of a major transition, as a number of his mature group of players are on the way out. Christian Fuchs and Wes Morgan, leaving this summer, two major personalities and both with a great influence on life at the club, soon it will be risky to just rely on Jamie Vardy to score goals with more striking options needed, but will a big money signing, as we have seen in the past, be willing to wait on his real chance or on his wait be able to fill the gap without games in his preferred position as we have seen in the past.
This is a heavy burden for a manager to have players waiting in the wings as they prepare for a chance they really don’t know when will be happening, instead depend on the understudies and possible youth team players to be used in emergency, that you have around and that would look at a first team possibility as a major boost.
Leicester City have parted company with a great group of first teamers over the past years, players that surely would have been leading the dressing room and given more mature players a softer way out and without leaving doubtful gaps of leadership behind.
A football club is in a continues change and to make the changes too fast in certain areas can be fatal, and often end in struggles you can’t really see when you look at a team sheet or just being a fan that loves FIFA and believe football is about in’s and out’s and forgetting that this is so much more. This is a real dressing room of human beings that shall find their place and tone, and be seen in the group as they see themselves.Embed from Getty Images
We have gone down memory lane to look at those strategic moves made by former and the current Leicester City manager as the club move forward or if you like backwards. Certainly Brendan Rodgers is doing a grand job, but we all know that he wasn’t in favor of selling Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell who were pivotal players. He will also have a grand problem the day Jamie Vardy calls it a day and you start to see a slide in his performance or if injuries again strikes, at the age of 34, turning 35 in January, those questions must certainly be asked.
Brendan Rodgers is in search for a new forward, but not really after the replacement of Jamie Vardy, just yet, that’s why a big money move for a striker looks a bit strange, because you are not really yet clear in your head about what this new signing should be, and that’s why a big money gamble can turn sour, as we have seen in the past with the additions of Ayoze Perez and Kelechi Iheanacho, none really seen as clear alternatives as a Vardy replacement, but both being forwards that can of course lead the line. They are seen as options of emergency and as covers on a day that you don’t play Jamie Vardy, else they are played out of position or just switched around and not really getting a perfect treatment.Embed from Getty Images
Claudio Ranieri made a huge mistake when he added Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani to the squad, surely knowing their past, being fondly adored at their current clubs, knowing that not playing them steadily week in and week out would just give you a big problem, and that can also be the case with Patson Daka. A new target that is said to be brought in for a major fee, and with the progression of Kelechi Iheanacho what is the clear idea?
We all remember the signing of Ade Akinbiyi. He was a player seen as a replacement for Emile Heskey who had left the club in a big money move to Liverpool. The current manager at the time, Peter Taylor, was eager to get a man in to do that job, and made a massive blunder as he left other players out, and missing a grand point in his team building. The fall was massive as other strikers such as Paul Dickov and Brian Deane was brought in for minor fees as emergency alternatives, at that time doubtingly being seen as top forward alternatives in a Premier League top 10 club.
Les Ferdinand and Marcus Bent came in afterwards when the club again gained Premier League status. Both were short term alternatives, Ferdinand added on a free transfer and Bent coming in on loan. None of them were able to lead the line and to score enough to keep Leicester City in the top flight. After that relegation in 2004 the club had a long and dreadful period with chops and changes leading to just downfall after downfall.
A number of years after, Nigel Pearson, then the manager, made a decision to bring in a totally unknown non-league player from Fleetwood Town. A player that had scored massive amounts of goals at that level, but the start for Jamie Vardy was problematic and he almost quit the club with problems to adapt to a life as a footballer at a higher professional level.
In the chase for a top forward alternative alongside or beside Jamie Vardy or as a clear alternative in front of him, Leo Ulloa and Andrej Kramaric were both signed by Nigel Pearson to be something he surely didn’t see Jamie Vardy as. Claudio Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare and Brendan Rodgers have since made it clear who they preferred as their top forward alternative and all money used for his cover or partners played out of their best positions makes it difficult to see what the grand plan was.
Ranieri adding Slimani, replacing Okazaki, or just brought in as a replacement for Jamie Vardy if he had decided to move out or the club would try to sell him, might be a reason. Kelechi Iheanacho brought in by Craig Shakespeare surely nothing else than a cover option and Brendan Rodgers signing Ayoze Perez, not really getting the best out of him, given the fact that he is a forward type of player. Strangely big money is in gamble also this time trying to bring in a player that isn’t yet a totally given certainty in a team with Jamie Vardy still in massive demand, remembering him being the golden boot just one season ago.
What TCF would like to see is a more offensive approach a bolder strategy that will not see Leicester City splashing out heavy fees for players they don’t really are able to play in their best positions and in a system they are not used to, it will never work well as players and club should have balanced expectations of what the deal is, and as we have seen before managers are of course happy to alternatives and can say things to just get the player to sign on the dotted line.
If you don’t have a clear idea of how to use a player, or have better options in the squad already, why bring in a “problem” for yourself, as you probably haven’t seen the real face of your new signing and what his expectations are, and if you tell a story that lands him, and that looks to be “not the case”, then you are in a massive and colossal difficult situation. Last season the addition of Cengiz Under was a disaster, and his contribution was probably not just down to the fact that he didn’t become what Brendan Rodgers would have thought, lack of options, a few injuries and such might have been the real reason and not really a player needed as his type might be a bit to lively and unpredictable than what you were looking for, but at the time the best option on your hand.Embed from Getty Images
You have players like Josh Eppiah and Admiral Muskwe who are options behind and of course Ali Reghba and George Hirst both signed up to be someone for the future, why you then decide to splash out big money on players that looks like covers or to be played out of their best positions is a bit awkward.
Muskwe is a Zimbabwe international, been on loan at Wycombe Wanderers this season, in a league probably of a better quality than Austria’s top division. Muskwe was offered a new deal at the club, 1.83 m, forward option, and one who can be seen as a possible cover and at the same age as Daka, and given a new contract probably seen as a possible option for a first team spot in the future, not just a player worth rotated between loans and playing in the U.23’s?