What is about teams managed by Brendan Rodgers letting things slip? There was no Steven Gerrard involvement this time, but Leicester City’s form in the second half of this season represents quite the collapse to allow Manchester United to overtake them on the final day.
The Red Devils won 2-0 away to the Foxes, while Chelsea beat Wolves at home to give us the kind of top four that we all might have expected before the season started, but not one that is consistent with how the table looked for so much of the campaign.
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Leicester were fancied as outsiders for a top four finish before the season got going, but after 16 games they were looking the closest title challengers to league leaders Liverpool, with a 4-1 win away to Aston Villa putting them second, six points above Manchester City and eight behind the Reds.
Rodgers’ side even made history earlier in the season with their 9-0 win against Southampton – the biggest ever away victory in the Premier League.
If one stat sums up their collapse, however, it’s this one from Opta in the tweet below…
44 – Since Southampton lost 0-9 against Leicester City on October 25th 2019, they went on to earn a further 44 points – two more than Leicester managed to win since that night (42). Trust. pic.twitter.com/nw8OaOdmw7
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 26, 2020
Few would have seen that coming given the state of the two teams at that point in the season, but perhaps more remarkable is the manner of their total collapse in the race for a top four spot with Manchester United.
On the 22nd of January, both teams had played 24 games and all hope looked lost for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who were beaten 2-0 at home by Burnley, while Leicester beat West Ham 4-1.
That put Leicester a whopping 14 points ahead of United, and they were still also eight points above Chelsea, sitting in third place and looking comfortable. Few could have imagined they would win just three more league games all season
By contrast, from that point onwards Man Utd went unbeaten in their final 14 matches, which included a record-breaking four wins in a row with a margin of three goals as Bruno Fernandes seemed to play a key role in turning the club’s campaign around.
Since making his debut following his January move from Sporting Lisbon, Fernandes has contributed eight goals and seven assists for United. There was so much hype about LCFC ace James Maddison earlier in the season, but he finished with just six goals and three assists in the entire season, and none at all since New Year’s Day.
Mason Greenwood also sparked more life into United’s attack, starting more games since the restart in June and contributing five goals and one assist in that time. By contrast, Jamie Vardy may well have won the Golden Boot this season with an impressive final tally of 23 goals, but only six of those came in the second half of the season.
It looked like it might just be enough for the Foxes, however, with MUFC not in the top four at any point since September, though their strong record against the big sides saw them through on the final day. Their 2-0 win yesterday meant they’d beaten Leicester home and away this season, something they also did against Chelsea and Man City.
Rival fans, however, might also point to a huge slice of luck that favoured Solskjaer’s side, who made history by winning 14 penalties in the league this season, more than any team had ever received before. One of those in the recent win at Aston Villa was particularly contentious, and it’s contributed towards Fernandes’ impressive goal tally, with just three of his eight goals coming from open play.
Overall, this will be a very bitter pill for Leicester to swallow, but on balance they have no one else to blame but themselves for letting such a commanding lead slip, with United taking full advantage.