What goes up, must come down – an old adage Leicester City fans are learning the hard way this season.
Although most Foxes supporters would more than happily accept the woes of the current campaign as a trade-off for the purely miraculous title-winning heroics of 2015/16, none will be exactly pleased to see their side plummet out of the Premier League – becoming the first reigning top flight champions to do so since Manchester City in the 1930s.
Indeed, the East Midlands outfit now find themselves just one place and one point above the relegation zone and after remaining fiercely loyal to his title winners for the vast majority of the season, a 2-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Swansea City last weekend forced manager Claudio Ranieri to admit changes now appear essential in the bid for survival.
But which Leicester heroes have become the biggest zeroes? Who’s still resting on last season’s laurels? Who’s no longer fit for purpose? Or, to put it another way, which Leicester title winners should Ranieri drop to turn his side’s form around?
We posed that exact question to Foxes supporters earlier this week in our exclusive poll – here’s a look at who made the top three.
As the most potent attacking influence in the Leicester starting XI last season, Riyad Mahrez’s failure to replicate his PFA Player of the Year winning form of 2015/16 has inevitably drawn criticism throughout the campaign. Unquestionably talented, the Algerian international just isn’t producing at the moment, without a goal since November and managing just three in the Premier League so far this season. Some claim Mahrez was a one-season wonder, others that his head was turned during the summer. Either way, he’s run out of chances with the Foxes faithful.
His heavy-handed approach at set pieces was instrumental in Leicester’s efforts last season, giving them a gritty reputation at corners and free kicks that benefited them hugely at both ends of the pitch. But Robert Huth walked into 2016/17 discovering a clampdown on such practices and the rest of his form has suffered as well, although losing the protection of N’Golo Kante just in front has also been a huge factor. Rather than superhuman, warrior-like performances, however, Huth is starting to show his age – the 32-year-old just isn’t up to speed and was absolutely ripped apart by Henrikh Mkhitaryan a few weekends ago.
Well, you certainly wouldn’t have expected this at the same stage last season – Leicester fans voting for their captain since 2012, who went on to lift the Premier League trophy last summer, to be dropped from Ranieri’s starting XI. Much like centre-back partner Huth, however, Morgan’s inevitably failed to reproduce those man-possessed performances from last season and just hasn’t been able to keep up with the pace this term. Still clearly an important figure in the dressing room and throughout the club’s recent history, but with Leicester’s Premier League status in the balance, it appears the Foxes fans don’t have much time for sentiment.