Leicester’s comedown from their (still) unfathomable Premier League title triumph has seen them settle into a relatively mellow slump – but could that all change in 2019/20?
The Foxes finished ninth either side of a 12th-placed finish, not awful, just not competitive enough to enthuse the fans who have tasted true victory and crave more.
Brendan Rodgers replaced the reserved Claude Puel and fans saw notable improvement as the former Liverpool boss de-shackled his inherited attacking stars.
Leicester have thrown big money at reinforcements this summer and will hope to edge out the competition in the ‘best of the rest’ category – could they go even higher?
RadioTimes.com has rounded up everything you need to know about Leicester ahead of the 2019/20 season.
Where did Leicester finish last season?
9th. Puel left Southampton in 2017 after guiding the Saints to eighth place and an EFL Cup final appearance in the previous season.
Puel left Leicester in 2019 after guiding the Foxes to ninth place in the previous season.
The Frenchman could only guide Leicester to 12th in the league in 2018/19, and his turgid brand of football lost him the benefit of the doubt after a dismal run of mid-season form.
Puel handled himself with dignity during the aftermath of the tragic helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium which caused the death of chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four other people on board the aircraft.
Many fans won’t forget him for that, but ultimately results weren’t good enough for a side with lofty ambitions.
Rodgers came in and very quickly got the Foxes firing, a glimpse of what to expect in 2019/20.
Who is Leicester’s key player?
Jamie Vardy. He equals goals – pure and simple.
His wild Premier League title-winning form was no fluke, he has maintained a strong flow of goals ever since, with 51 top flight strikes in the three seasons since.
He was restricted under Puel, leading to rumblings of behind-the-scenes discontent.
Vardy scored eight goals in 27 games last season under Puel, but Rodgers knew exactly how to unleash unfiltered Vardy and extracted 10 goals from 11 games to finish the season in terrific style.
If Rodgers can continue to get the best tune out of Vardy, he could be on course for another 20+ goals this time around.
Who is Leicester’s biggest summer signing?
Youri Tielemans (£40m). It’s near-impossible to achieve good value in such a grotesquely inflated marketplace, but Leicester have knocked it out of the park.
It’s hard to describe any player as a ‘bargain’ at £40m, but the Tielemans deal is as close as any Premier League team will come this summer.
The former Anderlecht and Monaco man recorded 250 appearances in all competitions – including the Champions League – before his 22nd birthday. He became the youngest player in Champions League history when he started for Belgian giants Anderlecht at the age of 16.
Tielemans impressed on loan at Leicester last season, but remarkably, the Foxes were unchallenged in chasing his signature.
He will continue to be a box-to-box presence but Tielemans’ vision, his eye for a killer pass or long range drive, is where he will be most effective.
Tielemans will thrive with a range of attacking stars around him, and Leicester know that if they ever have to part with him, they’ll double their money – no sweat.
Who is the Leicester manager? Meet Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers became an object of ridicule following his time at Liverpool but he really did deserve more credit for his work on Merseyside.
Several seasons in the refuge of the Scottish Premiership have served as a confidence-builder ahead of returning south of the border, and his opening spell with the Foxes is all positive.
He won six out of 11 to finish the season, got Vardy firing again and has done enough to persuade Tielemans into staying.
Rodgers sets up for a strong possession-based game with emphasis on pressing high up the pitch, though with Vardy leading the line, expect a few direct balls to be drilled through for the menacing forward to feed off.
Leicester fixtures – The Start
10th August: Wolves (H)
18th August: Chelsea (A)
24th August: Sheffield United (A)
Leicester fixtures – The Run-In
2nd May: Sheffield United (H)
9th May: Tottenham (A)
17th May: Manchester United (H)
Full Leicester fixture list and TV details here
The fans say…
CHRIS FORRYAN, LEICESTER TILL I DIE
What is the mood like among fans going into 2019/20?
Compared to this time last year – 1000% better. Since the appointment of Brendan Rodgers the optimism of Leicester fans has improved significantly. I think since the title win we have hoped that each new manager than has come in could give us that push to get back into Europe. We truly believe we have that in Brendan Rodgers.
Who will be your key player this season?
Youri Tielemans without a doubt. Showed us signs of what he was capable of on loan last season, and of course we all know how good he’s been for the Belgian National Team. The fact that he was also linked with Man Utd and Tottenham to name just two shows how highly he is thought of, not onlu in Leicester.
Any young talents to look out for?
Definitely Harvey Barnes, looks a threat everytime he has the ball. I dont think he is scared of anyone and that makes him dangerous for defending teams. Hamza Choudry could also break through this season if Tielemans or Ndidi get injured or suspended.
Brendan Rodgers seemed to have a great impact at the start of his time at Leicester. How confident are you that he’s the right man for the job?
Want to have a bet? Since Ranieri was sacked we have hoped for a manager that could take us back into Europe. Rodgers left the chance to take Celtic to the treble treble to join us so his short term commitment to Leicester cannot be questioned. If he does well with us his reputation will only be enhanced so he has a point to prove. I will just ask how many other Premier League teams outside the top 3 would have taken him? Probably all of them (with the exception of Everton) and that says it all.
The Youri Tielemans deal, with his talent and experience, at his age, at that price, in this marketplace seems almost too good to be true. Just how talented is he, and how good can he become?
Personally I think he could eclipse Mahrez given time. Give it a few years and I think Tielemans will spark another will he wont he sags along the lines of Mahrez and Maguire. The fact that he had games under a defensive manager in Puel says it all. Rodgers can take him to the next level, and hopefully that will include many seasons at Leicester.
Where will you finish in the Premier League?
With Chelsea’s transfer embargo and new manager, Arsenal’s faltering fortunes and Manchester United’s team problems who’s to say we could’t break into the top 6? I would really fancy us for that final 6th place this season if not I’ll take 7th.
Check out the latest Leicester news and views on LeicesterTillIDie.com
Where will Leicester finish? RadioTimes.com says…
The top half battle is set to be a fascinating watch this season with Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea experiencing tricky summers, while Everton, Wolves and Leicester garner attention.
Wolves are being tipped to break the top six, but a shifted focus to Europe may temper expectations. Everton and Leicester appear to be the most likely to break the establishment at the top.
Leicester have invested well this summer, bringing in Tielemans and Ayoze Perez to add more fire to their attacking line-up which already contains Jamie Vardy, the effervescent James Maddison, wildcard Demarai Gray and blossoming star Harvey Barnes.
Even if they lose Harry Maguire, Lewis Dunk is a seamless replacement ready to step in for half the cost.
Leicester have a lot going for them ahead of 2019/20, and even if they fail to dislodge United, Chelsea or Arsenal, they’ll give them a few sleepless nights and close the gap on the top six.
Predicted 2019/20 position: 7th
NEXT: Will Liverpool lift the Premier League trophy in May?