You turn up for work and take two steps forward and three steps back? A bad day at the office? If you are honest, you will say yes to that. Well was that what Leicester City had yesterday at Liverpool?
Possibly. But the problem is we didn’t have that many bad days at the office last season. In fact, we had 35 very good ones and of the three bad ones, only one (home to Arsenal) I would call bad.
So it’s the old problem with football; the better you do, the more is expected. Living up to expectations can be difficult.
Let me say I am a huge Claudio Ranieri fan and love the man for what he did for us last season. But as I have previously posted, this is the season when he has to earn the big big bucks he so richly deserved when he signed his new contract. It is easy to manage when you are doing well, hard as hell when things are going badly.
But take last season’s success and put it together with this campaign’s poor start (by last term’s standards) and you could start to feel a bit deflated after the 4-1 loss at Anfield. Maybe on another day had Robert Huth’s header been a little bit lower, had Jamie Vardy’s taken an extra touch on his one-on-one with Simon Mignolet it could have been all so different.
But take nothing away from Liverpool; as bad as Leicester were at times, and for 30 minutes we were awful, the Reds were a joy to watch. Unfortunately by the high standards we set ourselves last season, we weren’t.
They say one man doesn’t make a team. But even Raneiri admitted N’Golo Kante was like two men on the pitch. A player in a hurry to make it big, he deemed Chelsea to be a better chance of silverware in the long-term, and who’s to say he’s not wrong looking at the table today. But whatever your thoughts on how he left us, there is not doubting we are missing him.
A difficult man to replace no doubt. Without him, Danny Drinkwater is having to be more defensive, meaning he can’t get forward to support the front players like he did last season.
As much as I love Andy King, he is no replacement. Daniel Amartey looked the business against Swansea City when he filled the role, but came up wanting against a much stronger Liverpool side. He is possibly the man to fill Kante’s boots, but will need time and support from the fans.
Let’s not forget we also have Ahmed Musa, who unfortunately got injured before we could really tell what he could do. We also have Islam Slimani to start a wise decision not to play him yesterday after his lack of time with the team, but he could be let loose in the Champions League.
This season was always going to be harder. Expectations were always going to be higher. Teams have worked us out now and we need to be on top of our game all the time. We need Plans B and C ready.
We needed new additions to strengthen the squad, we got them, but we have to give them time to bed in with the squad. The squad we had last year, on the whole, was the squad that had battled the great escape. They had been together a long time, new players need to be integrated into that and that takes time. Unfortunately that is not something you always get in football.
Let me finish with this thought. Let me take you back 12 months. Having just survived relegation with the greatest of great escapes. A new manager comes in. We start the season with a loss at a newly promoted side, play well and are unlucky not to beat a top four side in Arsenal, beat Swansea then lose away and a newly refurbished Anfield where the atmosphere for the first home game was amazing, would you not be adequately pleased?
Like I say; it’s all about expectations and with that in mind, bring on Brugge in the Champions League. But I do know one thing – In Ranieri I trust.