Rossoneri’s Revenge: AC Milan’s Memorable Road To Athens In 2007

Article courtesy of These Football Times

Should and team succumb to a dramatic cup final defeat and be forced to watch on as a precious trophy slips tragically through their fingers, in domestic competition to a common rival at least, some small fragment of solace can be cherished in knowing there will likely come a chance for redemption some day on the next occasion the two teams meet, be it weeks, months, or even years down the line.

But when two clubs hailing from opposing nations compete for a prize of immeasurable magnitude and one finds themselves on the wrong side of history, just as Milan did in 2005, when opponents Liverpool rose seemingly from the grave to claw back a three-goal deficit and claim the Champions League trophy against all expectation, there is no such safety jacket with which to cling onto in order to stay afloat in the swirling waters of regret. The only partial antidote to be prescribed is patience and, even then, waiting does little to numb the pain.

Fortunately for the walls of all tally-making Milanesi, spared after just two short seasons in purgatory, their club’s name was called again as Carlo Ancelotti’s men reached the Champions League showpiece in 2007, destined to conclude another memorable European adventure in the most delectable fashion, with revenge over the very team that had bested them in their last final.


Drawn into a so-called ‘easy’ Group H, after having surpassed Red Star Belgrade in the qualification round, Milan were lined up alongside French side Lille, Belgian champions Anderlecht, and Greek outfit AEK. Consequently it was with few doubts that Milan were expected to ensure their safe passage into the Champions League knockout phase.

Three wins and a draw from their first four fixtures looked to prove early suspicions correct but, satiated by the clear daylight between them and their group stage rivals, Milan saw fit to ease off the gas, to conserve their collective powers for the following round, and in the process fell to consecutive losses away in Athens and at home to their French opponents. Fortunately Milan’s points advantage proved insurmountable and the Italians proceeded to top the group despite the late hiccup.

Onto the next leg of their long-distance race to the Greek capital, as winners of Group H, Milan were tasked with hurdling the runners-up of Group F. Awaiting Milan, having finished beneath Manchester United but above Benfica and Copenhagen, was the cream of the Scottish crop, Celtic.

In Glasgow, despite ample opportunities for both sides, neither team could breach the other’s defence and the game ended 0-0. In Milan a fortnight later, that same story was given a second rendition, this time with the woodwork and Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc’s fingertips playing starring roles, and the tie was forced beyond 180 minutes into extra time. There Milan’s main man answered his team’s desperate call for inspiration.

Three minutes beyond the restart, Kaká received a pass from teammate Massimo Ambrosini just a few paces inside his own half. Controlling the ball on the turn and shrugging off a despairing challenge from Neil Lennon on the halfway line, he surged forward.

As Kaká bore down on the penalty area, Celtic centre-half Stephen McManus assessed his surroundings and back-peddled rapidly in the hope of shielding his goal from the marauding Brazilian. But his hopes quickly vanished as Kaká’s pace surged into top gear and he breezed beyond McManus before delicately slipping the ball beyond his attempted block and between the open legs of the beaten Boruc. The solitary goal was enough. On his back, Kaká carried the people of his adopted city into the quarter-finals.

The last eight demanded Milan defeat reigning German champions Bayern Munich but allowed them the privilege of hosting the first leg of the tie amidst the home comforts of the San Siro. Home advantage, though, would prove superfluous on the night.

From the unlikely source of Andrea Pirlo’s head, a nonchalant nod beyond the reach of the young Bayern goalkeeper Michael Rensing, Milan were given the lead late in the first half. The score stayed 1-0 until a little over 10 minutes remained, when the home team failed to clear a hopeful cross and Daniel van Buyten swept home a hard-fought equaliser.

Milan re-established their lead on 84 minutes thanks once more to Kaká, who coolly dispatched a penalty he himself had earned, but deep into stoppage time Van Buyten struck again with a back-post volley that left Milan goalkeeper Dida straddling his near post in anguish. Munich departed the San Siro with a confidence-boosting draw that gave them two away goals to treasure.

Eight days later, Ancelotti and his men touched down in Munich and set off in search of a win. Thanks to the scintillating combination of awareness, movement and technique that aided Seedorf in scoring Milan’s first goal and assisting Filippo Inzaghi for their second, Milan found what they were looking for. A semi-final showdown with Manchester United beckoned.

Scarcely six minutes beyond the referee’s starting whistle, the ball was being already plucked out of the Milan net by their aggravated goalie. Dida had jumped to block Ronaldo’s goalbound header but had conspired only to delay its breaching of his line as the ball was bundled into the goal by a collaboration of goalkeeper, attacker and defender upon its return from orbit.

One-nil down so early at Old Trafford, with the hosts looking hungry for more, Milan needed to respond quickly or risk being swept aside by their opponents. Thankfully for the visitors, their swashbuckling Brazilian also happened to be in devastating mood.

Just as the words “[Manchester United] mustn’t let [Milan] have a sight of goal” were spoken into the microphone of the knowing commentator, Kaká evidenced exactly why. Galloping between three defenders, he fired the ball low and hard into the far corner before Edwin van der Sar could even think to halt it.


In idiosyncratic celebration, the Milan maestro lifted his hands and pointed to the skies in pious thanks. The footballing gods, if none more noble, witnessed his dedication and 15 minutes later smiled upon him again.

Kaká chased a long pass forward and out-muscled Darren Fletcher to retain possession. Tailed by Gabriel Heinze, Kaká nodded the ball down to the turf only to then quickly flick it up again, over the Argentine defender’s head with the outside of his right boot. On the other side of Heinze, Kaká headed the ball once more, this time to steal in ahead of both Heinze and Patrice Evra, who were left to clatter into one another as the Brazilian strode into the penalty area. With his next touch, Kaká brushed the ball neatly beyond Van der Sar for a second time. One-nil to United had become 2-1 to Milan at Kaká’s humble behest.

But Kaká’s teammates couldn’t match his exploits and United battled back. Wayne Rooney forced his way through a crowded Milan penalty area to smuggle Paul Scholes’ neat flick into the net before completing his own brace, by smashing home a winner from the edge of the box, late into stoppage time.

Kaká’s tricks had been exposed, his magic bested, and Milan had it all to do again in Italy. With Chelsea and Liverpool contesting the other semi-final, anything less than a home win at the San Siro would ensure an all-English final in late May. The Italians were desperate to prevent the rewriting of Champions League history.

In Milan the two teams were made to wait just 11 minutes before learning of the next chapter’s opening scene. Kaká assumed the role of the protagonist yet again.

The ball was sent forward with purpose, from defence to attack in one fell swoop; a searching up-field knock aimed towards the run of = Seedorf, who had stolen a march on = Fletcher and was heading for the United area. Making the ball’s acquaintance just inside the line, Seedorf, with his back to goal and under increasing pressure, headed it back across the box in the hope of teeing up a teammate better equipped to test Van der Sar. The ball dropped to Kaká and before completing so much as its second bounce was sent skidding across the turf by the Brazilian’s left boot. Scarcely a second later it lay motionless, snug, in the far corner of the Dutch goalkeeper’s net. Advantage Milan.

The aggregate score read 2-2. As it stood, by virtue of away goals, Milan were through to the final. But they had little intention of spending the subsequent 80 minutes defending a one-goal lead.

As the half-hour mark approached, Milan’s provider turned goalscorer again, just as he had in Munich, as Seedorf breached the opponent’s backline. The ball was curled into the area by Pirlo only to be bucked away by the head of Nemanja Vidić. Far from extinguishing the danger, though, his attempted clearance became an inadvertent assist as Seedorf brought the ball under control, faked a shot to work an extra yard of space, bundled his way beyond a hopeful sliding tackle and between two United bodies, before thumping the ball into the very spot his teammate Kaká had made use of just minutes before. Milan’s advantage doubled.


If any still dared to doubt Milan’s ability to keep a firm grasp on their tickets to the final with the score at 2-0, when Alberto Gilardino’s finessed strike made it three with barely 10 minutes remaining, all Milanesi apprehensions were allayed in the very moment Mancunian dreams were destroyed.

Six days later, before a capacity Anfield crowd, Liverpool matched their opponents’ exploits from the preceding week in defeating Chelsea by a solitary goal, meaning extra-time and penalties would be required to part the Premier League rivals. On the night, Chelsea’s nerve deserted them and Liverpool triumphed in the shootout, confirming the conclusion many had crossed their fingers for. The unforgettable 2005 Champions League final would have its sequel.


No strangers to the occasion, the Athenians had played host to a Champions League final once before, in 1994, on the night Milan defeated Barcelona 4-0 to claim their fifth European Cup. As such, it appeared the omens may well have pointed in Milan’s favour.

Despite being drawn as the home team on the night, Milan chose not to don their famous red and black stripes but instead their lucky kit, their maglia fortunata; the all white strip. Though they had lost European Cup finals on two occasions while wearing it – most recently in their ill-fated loss of 2005 – they had been crowned European champions on five occasions while adorned in white, so it was decided they would wear it once again.

As German referee Herbert Fandel attempted to sound his whistle above the deafening roar that seemed to be lifting the Olympic Stadium from its foundations, the game was given life.

Having been absent from the 2005 final – forced to relinquish all influence and instead watch on from the sidelines as his team appeared to have all but encased the trophy in the Museo Mondo Milan only to give it away – this particular occasion meant more to Inzaghi than most. The look in his eyes as he watched the ball’s first journey across the pitch told you he would be the one to decide the game and he gifted Milan the game’s opening goal just before the first half’s conclusion.

When Xabi Alonso bundled Kaká over on the edge of his own penalty area, conceding a free-kick within shooting distance, the prospect appeared, to Liverpool, all the more perilous as it became clear either Pirlo or Seedorf would take it. Pirlo elected not to lob the wall, or bend it around its right side away from Pepe Reina’s corner of the goal, but instead to hit it towards the Spaniard. Before it could reach the Liverpool ‘keeper, though, it had cannoned off of Inzaghi’s chest and redirected into the unguarded centre of the goal.

The deflection had about it more than a hint of serendipity but, given the experience, prestige and aptitude of the striker responsible, there is good reason to believe it was entirely intentional. Pirlo may not have been aiming for Inzaghi’s chest when he struck the ball, but the forward’s movement was made with purpose. From the moment it connected with him the ball was destined for the net. Inzaghi had drawn first blood, and Milan led.


The game was without a second goal for almost 40 minutes more as both sides toiled without reward. Both ‘keepers were tested but neither goal was breached until eight minutes from time when the ball was played to Kaká in a world of space in the Milan midfield. He took two touches then appeared to be preparing an explosive effort from distance. But instead of unleashing a shot, the Brazilian fed a cunning pass through the lines, between defenders and into the path of the advancing Inzaghi.

The pass would prove an artful assist as Inzaghi beat a belated offside trap, took a single touch to steer Reina just a little wider of his goal, before dismissing the tight angle and prodding the ball underneath him into the far corner of the goal. If Inzaghi’s first goal had been auspicious, his second was immaculate.

The Italian hitman ran to the corner flag, turned to face his teammates scattered throughout the pitch, and fell to his knees. Kaká joined him on his knees and cupped his head in his hands, embracing each other all the while shouting. Together, it seemed, they had done it.

The strength of Milanesi hearts was tested once more when Dirk Kuyt nodded a Liverpool corner beyond the outstretched arm of Dida and into the Milan goal shortly before stoppage time. The Dutchman grabbed the ball from the net and sprinted back to his half, he and his team desperate to beat both Milan and the clock, but on this occasion there would be no twist, no collapse, no thrilling comeback. The final whistle sounded.

Kaká lifted his shirt to twirl it joyously above his head, revealing the vest he so often wore beneath his jersey. In bold black lettering it read: ‘I belong to Jesus’. Fans of Milan across the globe sighed, beholden to the Brazilian, in the delight of knowing that he too belonged to them. Without his 10 Champions League goals, this dream would have remained just that.

Stood triumphantly in the Guest of Honour’s box, UEFA President Michel Platini handed to Milan’s captain, Paolo Maldini, the immense trophy who in turn thrust it into the air. Number seven; better late than never.

After the heartbreak of two seasons before, when vast swathes of the footballing world had come together to laud Liverpool’s unfathomable comeback and toast the making of history, while Milan sat on the periphery of the memorable tale, awkward and sore, I Rossoneri had earned their redemption.

In the city of ruins, to that day still bearing the weight of their failure in Istanbul, Carlo Ancelotti’s men were able to pick up the pieces and together build a landmark equal in stature but unmatched in significance. From the rubble they had risen, and Milan were champions of Europe again

By Will Sharp

The Dramatic Redemption of David Beckham

Article courtesy of These Football Times

By Will Sharp

Why won’t Newcastle spend much this summer?

Article courtesy of These Football Times


After a superb season in the Championship and a real feeling of camaraderie finally permeating the club, why does Rafa Benítez have to struggle so hard to convince the board and the owner to spend some money in this summer transfer window? Is there something going on that we’re unaware of?

We all know that Benítez is a man of his word. There’s no doubting his loyalty to the cause, and once he’s on board, he’s in for the long haul. He’s also a tactically astute manager who, at some of his previous clubs, didn’t really get a fair crack of the whip. So when he took over at Newcastle and agreed to stay on even after they had gone down, Toon fans knew they had finally struck gold with a manager. So why is it that Mike Ashley has dragged his heels on summer signings when doing so could lose Newcastle one of the most experienced managers they’ve had in recent memory?

The recent news that a Chinese consortium could be about to take over the club could have a lot to do with that. As it stands, the club is in pretty good order. Coming off the back of a good season on the pitch and with a world-class manager at the helm, the club makes for an attractive investment. Certainly more so than the likes of Sunderland or Villa.

Ashley remains coy on the matter, but it would seem to us that he has the air of a man that is about to sell up and move on. When a manager like Benítez, who likes to keep all his business in-house, is reduced to publicly rebuking the club and owner for not backing him in the transfer window, you know things have reached a breaking point.

Interestingly, Rafa said that he could move to China and make some money if he wanted to but would prefer to stay on and see the job through. Does this suggest that Ashley has intimated to people at the club that the manager is all about the money? It’s also interesting that Rafa should choose to mention China at a time when rumours are rife of a Chinese takeover.

Whatever is going on behind closed doors, it’s painfully obvious that the team needs to invest on the pitch. While the current squad is by no means poor, there needs to be more depth if the team is going to stay up and possibly make a push for a European place.

A historic club with a massive fan base that is both passionate and loyal, and the chance to work with a Champions League-winning manager, should be enough of a lure to any player that is prepared for a year without European competition. And while it might not be as cosmopolitan as London, there are still plenty of things to do in Newcastle for the bored footballer. 

Rafa’s experience along with his continental connections should help Newcastle attract a different calibre of player this season. And while the Spaniard does like to recruit youthful English players (Jacob Murphy being the perfect example), Milan’s Suso may make the move to the Premier League.

Of course, Murphy’s signing could just be the start of a pretty active window, but it seems more likely that Ashley ratified the bid just to keep Benítez happy before the expected Chinese bid. As a bargaining chip, he is certainly worth more than an interim manager, or worse, Sam Allardyce.

Hopefully for Toon fans, the takeover will happen sooner rather than later because as it is, the club is in a state of transfer limbo and we can only see new ownership rectifying this. Either way, we certainly hope Benítez stays in charge if only for the catty press conferences from his arch nemesis, José Mourinho.

How Tottenham took advantage of 2v1’s in wide areas to exploit Arsenal 3-4-2-1

by Michael Stauber


Tottenham 4-2-3-1

Tottenham took advantage of Arsenal’s new 3-4-2-1 shape by reverting back to an old favorite of Pochettino, the 4-2-3-1.  The main advantage of changing to this shape would come through the extra man they would have on the wings in attack.  This was mostly evident on the left hand side, where Oxlaide-Chamberlain struggled with either picking up the extremely stretched Ben Davies, or staying more central to help combat arguably player of the match Wanyama or Dele Alli. More times than not, Oxlaide-Chamberlain stayed central, leaving Gabriel Paulista with both Heung-Min Son and Ben Davies to deal with.

Spurs repeatedly took advantage of this tactical mismatch, as evident in the stat that 47% of their attacks came through the left-hand side.  The movements were simple enough.  As the ball was moved to the Left-Sided CB, Jan Vertonghen, Son would move inside of Paulista to force him to tuck in.  Here is one example of this happening:

Here you can see Son inside of Paulista (who is out of shot), while Davies sits extra wide on the touchline (also out of shot), forcing Paulista into a decision.  Also, you can see that Oxlaide-Chamberlain has been asked to stay tucked in centrally, to block balls into Son’s feet.

Here the ball is played wide into Davies feet, which immediately creates a 2v1:

The ball is played in first time for Son, who’s cross doesn’t find a target.


Only 2 minutes later we see this repeat itself.  Vertonghen receives the ball, and looks to find Davies, as Son moves central:

The ball is knocked down for Son, which immediately makes another 2v1 wide:

Paulista wrongly steps into Son, which leads to a penetrating pass.  Davies cross hits the side net, but it illustrates clearly the idea Tottenham were looking for.

So, how can you get your teams to take advantage of these same tactical ideas?  Here we will break down a practice session, where you can teach your team how to create 2v1 situations on the wings, through tucking in Wingers.







Farewell, Claudio

by Edikan Umana


When Football Twitter found out Claudio Ranieri had been sacked from Leicester City FC, the uproar and frenzy was instantaneous. From hot-takes to think pieces, a lot has been said about the game losing its soul and whether or not Leicester’s owners made the right decision. On one side, some couldn’t believe Leicester parted ways with a man who despite experiencing previous failures in reaching the Promised Land, led one of the most unlikely clubs to win the English Premier League. On the other side, others claimed “this is just the way it is” and how football is a business and we should be used to such managerial treatment.


Of course, on any topic, you tend to have your extreme sides, those in the middle and others who fall somewhere in between. To say the least, for those who say “this is just the way it is”, the data would suggest they have a point. Pellegrini’s been let go. Mourinho was sacked last season and now Ranieri. Assuming Chelsea win this season under Conte, we’ll see how he fares the following season.


What’s fundamental to understand is Leicester City’s owners have a bottomline, otherwise Ranieri probably wouldn’t have been sacked. A bottomline that drove them to schedule meetings to gauge player morale and eventually relieve Ranieri of his duties. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Cut-throat, swift and a bit of two-faced backstabbing. According to Daniel Taylor, “barely a fortnight earlier, before deciding they had to cut him free, the people in charge at Leicester promised Ranieri their ‘unwavering support’“ (click here to read more).


Something which Taylor noted even happened with the late Sir Bobby Robson when he was at Newcastle in 2004. You know one of the cited reasons for his dismissal? That’s right, “alleged discontent in the dressing room”.


That was in 2004. Fast forward to 2017 and similar has transpired in Ranieri’s case. Numerous rumours circulated about the atmosphere at Leicester throughout the season and it certainly didn’t come across as rosy. Something broke for Leicester this season and there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut reason or chain of reasoning capturing what that was.


On the surface, the unity once enjoyed within the club last season, didn’t seem to have translated to the current season.

Simon Gleave, head of analysis at @GracenoteSports, tweeted about how from an analytical point of view, Leicester’s performance scores were fairly normal until end of October 2016.


In the graph above, the Euro Club Index (ECI) calculates results in all competitions and factors in the strength of the opponent. For example, an away win at Manchester City is weighted more than an expected home win to Sunderland (courtesy of Simon Gleave)


Leicester’s results form in the league leading up to October 2016, 2W 1D 3L (7 points, 6 matches), not horrible but not great either. For comparison sake, Swansea City’s results form over same time period was 1W 1D 4L, who now sit in 15th.


In October, Leicester had 1W 2D 1L (5 points, 4 matches) which again isn’t great but not horrible either. Following October and up til the end of December, Leicester had 2 wins, 2 draw, and 5 losses (8 points, 9 matches). Now we can see a slide appearing.


As Simon Gleave wondered, what happened towards the end of October and afterwards to influence such a drop off in results form? Did their focus on doing well in the Champions League hinder how they handled the subsequent league matches?


Leicester became the first team in UEFA Champions League history to keep a clean sheet in their first four group games and finished top of the group. While the biggest team in the group was FC Porto, Porto have much more experience navigating the Champions League group stage, thus for Leicester to perform as they did and finish top of the group in their first time being in the Champions League, is quite impressive.


Unfortunately such form didn’t transpire to the Premier League and by the end of November, Ranieri admitted “we are in the battle of relegation”.

For players, fans and a club which just recently won the Premier League title, let alone made history, it’s not something which would reach your ears with delight. Perhaps this was one of many moments where some of the players and Ranieri didn’t see eye to eye. After reaching the promised land, it’s easy to let it go to your head and to think you are more than what you are.

However, one of the more difficult questions for Leicester is what are they? Was their title win last season just a fluke? Are they just underperforming? Is it a case of post-title win hangover? What’s going on here? Other clubs you can look at and easily bracket them at nominally finishing at the top, middle or bottom of the table.


With Leicester, it has not been so clear cut because even though they lost N’golo Kante, they still made signings and kept Mahrez and Vardy. Given the circumstances coming into this season, one would think even if they weren’t top 6, they wouldn’t be in or near the relegation zone yet now they are in the relegation zone.


From Rob Harris’ point of view, Leicester didn’t prepare well for this season after the title win, which set the course for where they are now. Harris also remarked on how players who regularly tweet about sponsors and promotional activities, didn’t have anything to say after Ranieri’s dismissal.


The first player to say something was Kasper Schmeichel, more than 24 hours after Ranieri was let go. Mahrez and Vardy followed suit but instead of seeming genuine, it came off as a response to protect their reputations from being seeing as pivotal characters in Claudio’s demise.


Numerous details, leaks and narratives followed suit after it was announced Ranieri and Leicester parted ways. If anything, it further drives home the point how the media is used as a tool for various parties to attempt to control the narrative and protect themselves from scrutiny. As Mark (@ETNAR_uk) eloquently wrote here, the narratives which have come out conflict more than they align.


Despite the competing narratives, one thing is for sure, players had some influence in Ranieri’s sacking. In this video, Kasper Schmeichel would have you believe otherwise. However, at the end, Geoff Shreeves asks Kasper if those meetings did not happen and Kasper didn’t answer directly but instead repeated the line players had no say in Ranieri’s sacking.


It’s quite clear what’s happening here. Kasper is covering for himself and the other players. To admit the meetings did take place is admitting culpability in the overall decision making process for the owners. To tow the line and say players had no say or influence in Ranieri getting sacked is a reflection of the supposed selfishness Jose Mourinho referred to in his comments on Ranieri’s dismissal.


The Manchester United manager commented, “The season started with selfishness, people wanting new contracts or to leave. But this is our world now.”


In Schmeichel’s case, it makes sense he has something to protect in not admitting responsibility seeing as he signed a new contract last summer.


It highlights what Daniel Taylor referred to as a “culture of fear and impatience” due to amount of money in the game where no one wants to be left behind. Potentially, not wanting to be left behind was weighing heavily on Leicester’s owners and getting wind of discontent from players was enough to change their tune on a manager they seemed so eager to back. Thus, it implies the owners’ bottomline, not being left behind. Even though it’s not even March yet, fear and impatience can throw any additional call for perspective or patience out the window.


Arguably, the owners gave Ranieri a decent amount of time to turn it around, but how his sacking was handled, came across as if what he did for the club prior didn’t mean much of anything. Ranieri himself knew the odds were stacked him. He knew who betrayed him and that some players were led by staff who were still more loyal to Pearson than him. That is ultimately a toxic situation and one which indicates the only inevitable outcome for Ranieri was being dismissed by the club.


In business, it’s common to look out for one’s self interest, make sure you don’t fall behind and do your best to stay afloat given the circumstances. From a business standpoint, the owners saw a need for the ship to be steadied and no longer felt Ranieri was the man for the job. Scheduling a meeting with players without the manager present already signals something is amiss. The manager and players are meant to work together and in a typical organizational structure, players tend to be a level below the manager. Along with the fact they made their decision days ago to let Ranieri go, scheduling a meeting with the players seemed to be an opportunity for the owners to cash in on whatever discontent was there, whether Ranieri really had “lost the dressing room” or not.


The precedence set here gives more preferential treatment to players’ discontent than actually backing the manager beyond a PR statement. Since no one wants to be the bad guy, once news leaked of players’ voicing their displeasure to the owners about Ranieri, players began to distance themselves from having any part in his sacking.


It breeds a culture not based on unity, but a lack of harmony and every man out for himself. It’s what makes a manager’s job, especially at clubs with no sound support structure for the manager, a difficult task to bring everyone together and achieve a common goal or objective. With this added difficulty, is there any surprise across football there’s high manager turnover?


It’s become a cycle which seems like there’s no end in sight and it won’t end until each vested party (manager, owners, staff, players etc.) takes more ownership in what they’re responsible for and make working together the primary goal and mindset. Until then, we will continue to see players respond as Leicester players have and a denial of rifts when in a highly competitive environment, it makes sense for the occasional rift to occur.


Managers are left hung out to dry, the best they can hope for is a nice compensation package and history remembers them fondly. While they are responsible for leading the team, they can’t make the players follow their lead. That comes down to each player’s individual choice along with how each choice manifests collectively. Something players have decided to distances themselves from rather than remaining committed until the end.

A house built on a fragile foundation will not stand in troubled times. Too often at football clubs, it doesn’t take much for whatever display of unity to collapse, derail progress and look like a house built on quicksand.



Thanks for reading and major thanks to Simon Gleave’s statistical insight on Leicester’s slide down the table.