David Preece: Ranieri needs to get a grip or it’s destination Championship for Leicester City

Leicester City captain Wes Morgan and manager Claudio Ranieri lift the trophy as the team celebrate winning the Barclays Premier League last season.
Leicester City captain Wes Morgan and manager Claudio Ranieri lift the trophy as the team celebrate winning the Barclays Premier League last season.
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Momentum moves with great force in both directions. Claudio Ranieri and his Leicester City are finding that out this season.

They are also finding out that it’s like the tide; far easier to go with it, than fight against.

Last season, the tide of momentum brought them to shore and they rode the waves to the Premier League title like a pod of dolphins.

This season though, they’ve found that the currents are much stronger as you get dragged back out to sea. Once you see the Championship on the horizon, panic sets in. And it has.

On the field, the reasons why a harsh winter has followed Leicester’s glorious summer are myriad.

There was the injury to Kasper Schmeichel. Robert Huth and Wes Morgan developed an inability to defend robustly as they did last season. The severing of the Mahrez/Vardy link.

Opposition have backed off, closing off space behind defences that were exploited to devastating effect with passes from Drinkwater and Mahrez to Vardy.

This has also stopped Leicester from making the same forward passes that took the opposition out of the game. They are now making more sideways and backward passes allowing the windows of opportunity to move forward close up.

N’Golo Kante cantered off to Chelsea where he has underlined his value in all but securing consecutive titles, this time under Antonio Conte.

Much has been spoken of Kante’s ability to break up play, but his use of the ball has been missed too.

Andy King has always been great at getting forward, joining in and bursting into the box rather than initiating breaks and they need more from him.

It’s amazing what one game can do to change the whole complex of a season and last week’s fixtures proved it.

The manner in which Sunderland tore apart Crystal Palace has rejuvenated the club and placed Big Sam’s team in jeopardy.

Hull’s resurgence continues apace with their win over Liverpool and now the unthinkable is becoming stark reality for the champions.

Actually, come to think of it, from the moment Leicester City clinched the title, relegation the next season became very much a possibility.

To everyone’s disbelief, they’d won the Premier League so now anything was possible. Aliens swooping down and beaming the Leicester players up to their spaceship? Sure, why not?

They won the Premier League. Leicester City, winners of the 2018 Champions League final? Sure, they won the Premier League.

Leicester City to finish bottom of the Premier League the season after becoming champions? Of course, it’s more likely than them winning the Premier League.

And now the rumblings from the dressing room aren’t just being overheard, they’re being broadcast.

The disgust in Kasper Schmeichel’s public address didn’t need words. His face said it all. The cracks are starting to show. And why wouldn’t they?

There was no talk of fight, of sticking together, of belief in one another. Only of embarrassment and shortcomings.

You have to take into account the raw emotion of post-match interviews after such defeats.

Yes, losses can prove acutely embarrassing when they are one-off humblings, but this season has been a series of them for Ranieri’s men.

There isn’t time for punctured personal pride to be repaired, you lick your wounds and march on. Save the feelings of embarrassment for when they might be required, should the worst happen.

And what of Claudio Ranieri, Europes best manager? Could his position really be under threat? Why not?

The prospect of returning to the Championship will be sending shivers down the spine of Leicester’s owners. Nothing and nobody could take away from the achievements of last season, but football moves at rapid speed.

When Ranieri arrived at Leicester, it’s fair to say the players were hardly bowled over. His ‘masterstroke’ was to not change things too much. That can be seen in two ways.

He either identified the last 10 games of the previous season as proof nothing needed fixing, or he had a group of players used to playing a certain way and didn’t think he could change that.

Ranieri will always have a job in some capacity at Leicester. When the end comes, another office awaits him upstairs at the blunter end of the game.

He deserves that as much as the players deserved their new contracts, but if Leicester have any hope of slamming their runaway train into reverse, change is needed.

There is no question Ranieri is a good manager. You don’t create a CV like that from carrying a rabbit’s foot around with you. But there’s a phrase that keeps bouncing around in my head: “The more you are in control of success, the less likely that failure can get out of hand.”

Unless Ranieri gets a grip of this season’s failure and turns it around, I’ll never believe that he was truly in control of last season’s success.

They say every cloud has a silver lining. Well, it looks as if this Claud is only going to bring rain at the minute, and the silver lining might just be to Sunderland, Hull or Crystal Palace’s advantage.