Premier League club Leicester City on Tuesday parted company with manager Craig Shakespeare-that’s putting it nicely. The English coach who replaced erstwhile manager Claudio Ranieri in interim capacity in February was handed a three-year deal in May, but not surprisingly was sacked just ten games into the new contract.
It brings to three the number of managers the Foxes have parted company with in the past 27 months, inclusive of Nigel Pearson-who impressively kept them up on their return to the topflight, and Ranieri-a league champion against all odds.
By the time Leicester City expectedly appoint a new manager in the next couple of days, Thomas Tuchel top of the wanted list; it will bring to four the number of managers on the clubs payroll by the Thai led-management in four seasons in the Premier League, provided they do not end up appointing a third manager before the end of the season.
That surely dwarfs the figures of even the trigger happy Roman Abramovich, but only surpassed by five managerial appointments made by the Steve Parish owned Crystal Palace who have employed five coaches-Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, Frank De Boer and Roy Hodgson- since the start of the 2014/15 season.
What possibly went wrong with Shakespeare? who at some point was seen as the messiah and best thing to have happened to the Foxes last season, following a disastrous campaign which saw them struggle at the bottom end of the table, creating unpleasant records as defending league champions and majority of their key players from the title winning campaign suddenly going AWOL on the pitch, only experiencing a revival with the coming of the English manager.
Shakespeare’s record in reality wasn’t totally bad. He managed 26 games, won 11 games, drew six and lost nine, and averaged a win percent of 42.3 in the period under review. The management funded his transfer shortlist during the summer window, recruiting the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho, Harry Maguire, Vicente Iborra and a few others, but in reality the English manager at 53 was never good enough for a permanent coaching gig, the damage control role which he executed to perfection, perhaps his best coaching strength in the topflight.
Curiously, like it was the case the previous season, the new recruits save for Wilfred Ndidi and Maguire all struggled to earn starting places in the lineup, which throws-up the question: Are Leicester City too complex, compact, and superior for new signings to earn a starting shirt?
The wide players-Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez- have consistently proven to be untouchable, hence limiting the game time of superb talents and options such as Demarai Gray and Ahmed Musa. Upfront, Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki remain favourites to bang in the goals as a striking pair, thereby condemning the duo of Iheanacho and Islam Slimani, who both possess individual specialist goal scoring attributes largely underutilised.
Leicester City fans and management might argue they have a competitive squad, which only two seasons ago were league champions, but in reality they remain hung-over from the victory and success of that campaign, making them find it impossible to improve a very average squad.
Ranieri, Shakespeare and the incoming manager might not necessarily have the antidote to the recent alarming slump and decline in fortunes. What the club have to do together in unity is agree to parade only the best at every given time, eliminate squad mutiny and forge ahead from the tag of 2016 champions, a rare modern day miracle which obviously is the Foxes greatest undoing after two seasons.