What Leicester boss Dean Smith got right and wrong at Man City

John Terry and Dean Smith, Manager of Leicester City (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
John Terry and Dean Smith, Manager of Leicester City (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Leicester City
A tattoo on the neck of James Maddison of Leicester City reads ‘fearless’ (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images) /

What Smith did wrong was to be too defensive while not having a forward-looking plan from the start. You cannot just plan to defend, you must plan to score. Our initial formation which saw a glut of players staying far back and only two or three going forward made Leicester weak to a high press: with little forward-looking passing options, long balls were the only choice, leading to cheap turnovers to a much superior side.

As said, the second half saw changes. Kelechi Iheanacho came on. Eventually, Papy Mendy, Dennis Praet, and even Patson Daka came on. In the end, the King Power club had two differently styled strikers upfront, a defensive midfielder, a progressive midfielder, a creative midfielder, and showed a balance between defensive resilience, ball retention, and final third creativity. Clearly, we should have started two up front.

Furthermore, the English head coach relied on an aging, out-of-form, no longer dangerous striker to offer our sole attacking outlet in the first half. They could have at least played the in-form Nigerian, even if you left it as one up front initially. Jamie Vardy should not be starting a Premier League match anymore, as much as it pains me to say it: Daka and ‘Nacho’ are good enough.

Finally, there was a lack of inventiveness from the gaffer. We could have expected a defensive attitude, but to simply prioritise that and throw more midfielders in there is not an innovative or creative solution to our problem: which is balance. Under Brendan Rodgers, we would either be intent in attack and weak at the back, or strong defensively but impotent up front. Throwing more bodies in the centre does not solve that issue.