It’s been three days now since the Foxes put up a very disappointing effort against relegation favourites Hull City. I’ve been out and had a look and I can confirm that the sky has not yet fallen.
On the first weekend of last season, Arsenal lost at home while Aston Villa won away. If you judge anything on a single game you’ll see some very strange results and the first week of the season, when teams are still figuring themselves out, is probably the least representative of a full season.
The start of the season always gets blown out of proportion because we have so little to go on, but these things happen all the time in other weeks. Last year defending champions Chelsea lost to Sunderland, who would finish 17th. The year before defending champions Man City lost to Burnley who were eventually relegated.
Hull City’s preseason relegation may have also been a bit overstated. Yes including by me. If they can keep up that hard work, they’ll keep games close. Snodgrass’ set pieces look like a real danger too, so they’ll struggle but they aren’t completely doomed.
There are 37 more matches to go. Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.
That being said, that was AWFUL. And the sky only hasn’t fallen yet.
I think we showed a lot of rust and we were second best throughout - Wes Morgan
If you want to know why it feels so much more than one loss, you only have to look back to last year (yes, I’m aware we’ve all been doing nothing but think about last year since Saturday).
Yes, we won a lot last year and boy did that feel good, but equally this is about just how we won those games.
The two things last year’s team was constantly praised for were their their incredible tenacity and the way they played as a team, while the collectives of individuals fell apart.
As far as the work rate goes, I think it’s fair to say we were comfortably out-worked by Hull. Throughout the preseason there was a lingering worry that we didn’t look up to full speed and it seems to have continued into the season. Especially disappointing considering just how much of a strength our fitness has been for the last 3 seasons.
And as for teamwork, Claudio said it himself. It just wasn’t there like it was last year.
I told the players we need to be strong together. Last season we were a great team, but today we played individually - Claudio Ranieri
At the back I can understand it to an extent. Huth was a big miss. I’m not saying Hernandez can’t be great for us, but the understanding might not be there yet. With the big german to return soon, his opportunities might just come at right back. Simpson made a number of mistakes and never looked comfortable. Hernandez’s throw is also a real weapon from the right.
More worrying for me was that the defence was tested in a completely different way to last year. The solid middle of the field has gone soft. Where last year opponents were forced out wide, to cross the ball into the box and play to our biggest strength, on Saturday, and in the Community Shield, they walked through the middle and were allowed to run at the defenders. Not our strength.
As much as I love King and Drinkwater, we’ve tried them together in a 2 plenty of times now over several years and it’s really never worked at all. Somebody needs to come in and break up the play more than King can. If Mendy isn’t in to start soon, then we’ve got something else to worry about.
Demarai Gray got a slightly unexpected start and showed again that he does have talent, and that front 4 did show real flashes of danger. If they could’ve taken their chances, the game would have been over before Hull scored their first.
The shape and fluency was of some concern, however. Mahrez and Vardy were both lacking in the final ball and some of the precision we’re so used to seeing from them just wasn’t quite there. They could and probably should have won us this one, even with the leak at the back.
While Musa and Gray both threatened, I felt like they were both trying to play the same position. Against Arsenal it really wouldn’t surprise me to see Marc Albrigton return. The stability he brings to the team, at the expense of some attacking potency, is clear now.
In conclusion, oof. Unpleasant at best, that one. We made a number of changes from last year’s settled team, half of them by choice, and they all fell completely flat. Where everything fitted together seemingly perfectly last year, several decent individual performances completely failed to mesh this time.
A big test of Claudio’s abilities upcoming then. He’s almost certainly going to have to make tactical changes and for the first time since he’s joined us, he’s going to have to pair that with picking up a team who must be shaken after being completely outplayed by strong relegation favourites who only had 13 fit players.
And it’s against the only team to beat us twice last year.
Hopefully a return to the King Power will be a boost for the boys. Going back to being underdogs will also probably help, but there’s plenty of work to be done after what was, in fact, just one game.
...We’re only 3 points off the top.