Bristol City 1-0 Leicester: 3 Foxes Talking Points after another defeat

Leicester’s nine-game run-in started after the international break at Ashton Gate on Friday lunchtime. A 1-0 defeat added to the club’s woes after a troubling few weeks on and off the pitch.
Jamie Vardy. Four clear chances missed
Jamie Vardy. Four clear chances missed / Ryan Hiscott/GettyImages

The Foxes went into the game in the South West on the back of a poor run of form – one win in six games in all competitions – and black clouds hanging over the club’s future. The chance to overtake Leeds, for at least a few hours, at the summit of the Championship was a chance to reassert some optimism. However, the opportunity was missed as the Foxes went down to a 1-0 defeat against an average Bristol City side.  

A Distraction?

Players say they are not troubled by off the field matters, but it is difficult to know whether to believe them or not. We will never know and the players themselves probably don’t know. The Leicester Mercury football writer Jordan Blackwell reports that when asked about the player’s reaction to the charges hanging over the club’s head, Enzo Maresca said ‘they’re not talking about it, to be honest. Probably some of them didn’t even know about it!’. The Foxes boss is well aware, however, that his job is to prevent his players from being distracted by things they cannot control.

It is certainly the case that Friday’s performance was poor by the standards set earlier in the season. The negative publicity produced by the Premier League’s charge and the decision by the EFL to impose a transfer embargo clearly won’t have done the players any favours. However, the defeat at Bristol probably reflects the recent poor form which began before the off-field events became centre-stage.

Familiar problems and a not so familiar problem

The latest defeat for the Foxes reflects, to some extent, familiar problems. These include complacency in defence, a tempo that isn’t high enough and a reluctance to alter tactics when plan A isn’t working. After Bristol scored, the Foxes made no impact in forward positions and Maresca failed to make adventurous changes that might have rescued a point. A loss of form, too, is a factor. Since Christmas, Stephy Mavididi, Wout Faes, Kiernan Dewsbury Hall and Abdul Fatawu in particular haven’t reached the heights achieved earlier in the season.

 A less familiar problem at Ashton Gate was the rare sight of Jamie Vardy missing what were, by his standards, four relatively easy chances. On another day, Leicester would have been 3-0 up before their opponents scored. It is difficult to think of anything else to say about this. Just one of those days.

Not winning promotion will be a disaster 

At the risk of piling more misery on Leicester fans, it is difficult to underestimate the impact a failure to return to the Premier League would have for the Foxes. Not only will the parachute payments be reduced but the club will also be hit by sanctions from the EFL. It is quite clear that the EFL have it in for the Foxes and a points deduction and significant financial retrenchment would be inevitable. Key players would have to be sold and new contracts for Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy not offered. It is also questionable whether the manager would want to stay in an environment where he is unable to recruit players with the ability to play in the way he wants. All of this makes the final eight games very, very important for the cub's future.