When it was announced that Dean Smith was the man tasked with steering Leicester City away from relegation last month, there wasn’t much optimism from the fan base. The season before he had been unable to prevent Norwich City from dropping down into the Championship and he was let go by the Canaries earlier this season after a 2-1 defeat to Luton Town.
Norwich were fifth in the table but the fans never took to the coach or his style of play and he was dismissed just after Christmas. So for Leicester to turn to him in their hour of need, when all the hard work of the last seven years was at stake, it was hardly an inspiring appointment.
Smith has only won one of the six Premier League matches he has overseen in charge of the Foxes, drawing two and losing three. As a caretaker manager in a situation such as this, Smith was appointed to be a strong leader and motivator. His initial appointment didn’t provide a lift for the players or the fans, and last night showed that his words on the training ground or in the dressing room haven’t had any positive effect.
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Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of their 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool on Monday, Smith made a ridiculous statement that did not go down well with fans and it wouldn’t have impressed his players either. "It'll be an achievement If we can stay up with the group of players we’ve got," he said.
At this stage of the season, the manager needs to show that he is the one with belief in his players - Smith didn’t seem to get the memo. If there is such a thing as a managerial handbook for a club in crisis, comments like that would be a huge ‘don’t.’
Dean Smith is hoping his Leicester City side have enough power to beat the drop 💪
The Foxes boss seems to have a short-term memory because in the previous three seasons Leicester finished in the top 10, including two consecutive fifth-placed finishes in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Not to mention their FA Cup win during this period as well as contesting a European semi-final, all this achieved with most of the players at his disposal.
Jamie Vardy’s veteran status may have caught up with him this year but he is still one of the best forwards this league has ever seen. James Maddison’s instrumental contributions in the first half of the season earned him a place in England’s World Cup squad. He has been involved in 19 goals in the top flight and has certainly played his part in trying to help the Foxes stay up. Then there is bright winger Harvey Barnes, who is their top scorer with 12.
Leicester have been let down in certain areas this year but the key players have still contributed to the team and Smith was supposed to organise the team so that they could further add to their tallies and guide the club to safety. The manager cannot hide behind the poor results before him, he was brought in to turn their fortunes around. The fact that he was so open to making such a kamikaze comment would suggest that he took the short-term gig for the easy payday rather than to actually have an impact.
Sam Allardyce has gone to Leeds United for four games for an easy payday but he has still instilled some fight into his players and got them believing they can dig themselves out of trouble. It is night and day to the current state of affairs at the King Power Stadium, and Smith’s comments about having no confidence in his squad might just be the final nail in the coffin.
This Leicester team shouldn’t be in this position but here we are. Any coach with anything about them would have loved to manage this group of players after its recent accomplishments. Smith’s stint has made it very difficult and now it seems like he and the players are resigned to their fate with two tough games left to attempt a highly unlikely great escape.