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Whilst many were shocked by Leicester City’s decision to dismiss Craig Shakespeare on Wednesday, the fact that the club had won just one of their opening eight Premier League matches can’t be hidden.
Leicester City were always going to be in a difficult position after they bungled the Claudio Ranieri dismissal.
The coach who had taken them to unprecedented glory was dismissed although I suppose there is some level of sense around this given the fact the team were in a domestic nosedive, yet the inability to appoint a proper successor has cost them.
Never a long-term appointment
English coaches deserve chances, of course, but only if they are the best candidate for the job. Shakespeare did an acceptable job in keeping the Foxes in the Premier League last season, yet it was clear he wasn’t of the requisite quality to hold the post long-term.
The end of the 2016/17 season was the perfect time to take stock, look to bring in a manager who could start to build something from a fresh starting point and move forward from there. It is worth remembering the quality of candidates available last summer, Marco Silva being right at the very top of that list.
There is no argument you can make that Watford is a more attractive job than Leicester. They don’t have players as good as the Foxes do, their board make equally as regular managerial changes and there is a lot less money to spend.
Whether or not you feel the money has been spent well, there can be no suggestion that Leicester haven’t tried to build on their Premier League title victory by spending in the transfer market. Since the end of their glorious 2015/16 campaign, the club has brought in eight players all for more money than their record signing before the title winning campaign.
A sense of realism must be injected at the club
Yet the decision was made to stick with their former assistant and now Watford find themselves flying high in the Champions League places, whilst Leicester are searching for a new coach at the worst possible time with the club sitting in the relegation zone.
The next step is absolutely crucial for Leicester, but they must be realistic in their managerial appointment strategy. Winning the Premier League title boosted their global reputation immeasurably, yet Carlo Ancelotti will categorically not be interested in the job.
Sam Allardyce would be a perfect candidate to keep the club in the division, although they should have more than enough quality for that, and the experienced coach is believed to only be interested in returning to management at international level.
Michael Appleton has been placed in temporary control of first-team affairs, and whilst he has a burgeoning reputation as a coach, it would be a mistake to appoint him after the Shakespeare fiasco.
It does however remain that the Midlands club are able to attract talented coaches from Europe, there are several names that you would imagine would be interested in taking the job given the reputation the club now holds.
Andre Villas-Boas remains a hugely talented coach and the Premier League never truly saw the best of him, he remains an option although is currently enjoying a very sizable contract in the Chinese Super League with Shanghai SIPG F.C.
Lucien Favre has done an outstanding job at OGC Nice and was the first choice to replace Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund in the summer. After having lost key players in the summer, Nice haven’t been able to reproduce their form of last term and suffered the disappointment of failing to progress past the playoff round of the Champions League.
Again, it is unlikely the French club would allow their coach to depart at this point, but he would be a fantastic appointment and a realistic one at that for the Foxes.
Sean Dyche is not an attractive name, he has no European experience and wouldn’t lift supporters off their seats, yet he too would represent an appointment with long-term thinking.
His work with Burnley has been tremendous; whilst he has kept things working well on the pitch he has also been instrumental in driving the club’s infrastructural development as well. As we saw in 2015, Burnley now have things in place to ensure relegation doesn’t see the wheels come off completely, that is down to Dyche.
As bizarre as it sounds, since their title win Leicester have struggled to find an identity. They have enjoyed the fruits of Champions League football and their players will want to experience that again, yet they remain a club with a modest standing in England, compared to the elite clubs at least.
Appointing Dyche would be a long-term commitment and one which would likely be rewarded with stability and an identity. Dyche isn’t a defensive coach, he is a results coach and this is something that gets underappreciated all too often in the modern Premier League.
Playing like Manchester City isn’t the only way to win, if anything it can be catastrophically counterproductive if you attempt it without the players of such a high standard and a lack of understanding of the intricacies of their system.
Dyche, the realistic option?
Dyche knows how to get results and can set his team up accordingly, just looking at talents like Wilfred Ndidi, Riyad Mahrez and Kelechi Iheanacho; this is a level of ability that the English coach has never even come close to working with before.
This is not even considering the impending January arrival of Adrien Silva.
He would be able to play an attractive brand of football with these players and would get results, it is the logical next step of progression for him and Leicester would be wise to give him a chance. It is also a realistic option and that is what the club’s owners need to look towards.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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