Brendan Rodgers described his Leicester side as “a jigsaw with pieces missing” but vowed to fight on as manager after a 5-2 defeat at Brighton kept them bottom of the Premier League.
Brighton deepened the crisis at Leicester with an emphatic victory at the Amex Stadium on Super Sunday to increase the pressure on Rodgers after a summer of discontent at the club.
Leicester have one point from their opening six games having lost five in a row and despite taking the lead inside a minute on the south coast, they were completely outplayed by their opponents.
Asked if he has had assurances from the Leicester board about his future, Rodgers said: “I’ve never asked for it. Or wanted it. I’ll continue to do my work, come in and study and do as much as I can.
“I’ve never turned work down, coming in early and late at night. And until someone tells me differently I’ll continue to do that. I’m not going to shirk the challenge.
“I never lose any belief in what I do. It’s a challenge but I am responsible for results and they haven’t been good enough.
“Football can change very quickly. I’m more concerned about playing well as when we play well we can get results. But we can’t sustain the performance level for long enough.
“We have the players that we have, that have the skillset they have and we have to maximise what we can get out of them. It’s like a jigsaw, we’ve got pieces missing and it’s a constant challenge to try and fill the gaps where the pieces are missing. But it won’t stop us trying and working to get the best results we can. Football can change very quickly. One result can breathe a lot of confidence into the players.”
Rodgers calls on fans to get behind Leicester
Kelechi Iheanacho put Leicester in front against Brighton at the Amex and Patson Daka drew them level at 2-2 before half-time, but an own goal from defender Luke Thomas and strikes from Moises Caicedo, Leandro Trossard and Alexis Mac Allister – one from the penalty spot and the other a superb free-kick, sealed victory for the home side.
Reflecting on the performance, Rodgers said: “We started well like we have done for a lot of the games, scored a good goal but too many mistakes with and without the ball. The players were fighting but in the second half, the confidence was low as we’re not getting the results and we made mistakes. A tough afternoon. Brighton were the better team.
“We don’t manage the ball. We give it away too frequently so we suffer. And when you do that the opposition can have more opportunities to score. As a team, we need to defend better to play better football.
“We need to continue to work hard. It’s a big challenge, but a great challenge. It’s been a tough summer for us but we need to stay focused and look to get confidence up in the week. You can see in spells we look a good team but we need that collectively for 90 minutes. It’s a harsh league if you are not at the top of your game.
“It’s a difficult moment for the supporters. All I encourage is that when it is 0-0 or 1-0 behind that they keep pushing and supporting the players. It’s so important to feel that support otherwise they feel the anxiety and if the support isn’t there it can get nervy. And that is not what you want.
“You need the supporters to be supportive. And then the players can be their very best. There aren’t too many players that will improve and get better if they don’t have that support. It’s important for the supporters to get behind the team.”
Potter: Brighton were incredible
As for Brighton, they are enjoying their best start to a top division season after six games. They remain fourth, one point behind Tottenham and Manchester City above them.
“It was a great performance and an amazing win,” Brighton head coach Graham Potter told Sky Sports.
“The players were incredible to recover like we did and we were the better team. The second-half performance was fantastic.
“The boys stuck to the task and played well over the game. I’m a little disappointed with the goals we conceded, but I’m not going to be picky when we scored five.”
Analysis: Ward and leaky defence all of Rodgers’ making
Sky Sports’ Lewis Jones at the Amex:
When a team is conceding a hatful of goals it is easy to point the finger at the goalkeeper. And to solely blame Leicester’s woeful defensive record this season at the gloves of Danny Ward would be harsh as Brendan Rodgers needs to take most of the flak – but it’s fair to remark that the Welsh goalkeeper is hardly helping matters.
Ward holds the unfortunate statistic of now conceding the same amount of goals this season (16) as saves he has made (16). He has yet to keep a clean sheet in his nine Premier League appearances either and looked a goalkeeper on the edge in the 5-2 defeat at Brighton. One playing with no confidence or authority in his output.
But this horrendous defensive record goes back further than Ward’s introduction to the side after the departure of Kasper Schmeichel to Nice. And perhaps the decision from Rodgers to install Ward as the replacement is proving to be the wrong one.
Rodgers’ side have now kept just one clean sheet in their last 29 Premier League away games. “I never lose any belief in what I do,” the Leicester boss said. But this continued art form of shipping goals at will surely is obvious to Rodgers. The buck stops with him in that regard and he can complain all he wants about not having “the right pieces of the jigsaw” but ultimately it is his responsibility to make Leicester much harder to play against than they have been for over 18 months now. It’s probably time for a change of philosophy and judging by the reaction of the fans at full-time perhaps a change of manager too.
Brendan Rodgers will now have to plan for a reunion with Steven Gerrard, who he coached at Liverpool and came up against in Scotland when they were in charge of Celtic and Rangers, respectively.
Leicester will host Aston Villa on Saturday September 10, with kick-off at 3pm, before travelling to Tottenham on Saturday September 17, live on Sky Sports, with kick-off at 5.30pm.
Brighton‘s next game is away to Bournemouth on Saturday September 10 – kick-off 3pm – before they face rivals Crystal Palace at the Amex Stadium on Saturday September 17, with kick-off again at 3pm.