London – The decline in Leicester’s fortunes was summed up by a frustrated Brendan Rodgers following Thursday’s 1-0 defeat by Manchester United as the Foxes boss moaned: “This isn’t the club that it was a couple of years ago.”
Thai-owned Leicester sit bottom of the Premier League with just one point after their first five matches.
Rodgers’ angst at Leicester’s plight has been exacerbated by a lack of recruitment during the transfer window, leaving him to admit avoiding relegation is now their main aim.
“Our objective this season is to get to 40 points,” Rodgers said of total which is regarded as enough to preserve a club’s Premier League status.
“I’m happy that the window’s shut, if I’m being honest. There were huge distractions.”
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It is a far cry from the positivity around the King Power Stadium in recent years.
For two successive seasons, Leicester performed so far above expectations that they only missed out on the Champions League places in the last match of the campaign.
They also lifted the FA Cup for the first time in their history in 2021.
Rodgers’ biggest gripe at present is over the lack of new signings he was allowed during a summer window when Premier League clubs set a new spending record.
Leicester suffered two damaging departures as goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel – one of the last of the team that delivered the 2016 Premier League title under Claudio Ranieri – moved to Nice and French defender Wesley Fofana joined Chelsea for £70 million.
Boos rang out
Rodgers was permitted to replace Fofana, but spent just £15 million for Reims’ Belgian defender Wout Faes.
That was not nearly enough investment to placate the former Liverpool and Celtic boss.
The boos that rang out after their loss to Manchester United – who spent £202 million in the close season – could have been directed as much at Leicester’s owners as Rodgers.
Having made clear his frustration at the lack of transfer activity, the only consolation for Rodgers was Youri Tielemans and James Maddison eventually stayed despite interest from other clubs.
“I understand the fans’ frustration. They see all their rivals getting players in and we’re not getting any,” Rodgers said.
“With the greatest respect, we have not had the help in the market this team needed.
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“To watch clubs in the top five leagues add players and we haven’t been able to do that has been difficult.”
The 49-year-old’s remarks came after club chairperson Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha had defended his family’s stance in the match programme notes.
He insisted their commitment to the club – which his late father Vichai bought in 2010 – remained as strong as ever.
“Sometimes that commitment means making difficult short-term decisions that protect the club’s long-term interests, such as our approach to this summer’s transfer window,” he wrote.
Despite their turbulent start, Rodgers optimistically believes a single win could see a change of fortunes for Leicester now the transfer window is finally closed.
“These are a good bunch of guys,” he said. “Once we get the win confidence will grow and they will be fine.”