Local Radio switchboards lit up last night and Internet forums have swollen with posts calling for Paulo Sousa’s head. It’s an understandable reaction to Leicester’s biggest league defeat since a 6-1 thrashing at Ipswich in August 2002.
Even accounting for a sending off which was at best extremely harsh and at worst completely at odds with the laws of the game, Leicester were outplayed in every area of the pitch. It was humiliating to watch.
But should this be the end for Paulo Sousa? No.
Reacting to this result with anger is understandable. Calling for the manger to be sacked is overreacting. It’s amazing how quickly the display at Coventry and the victory over Cardiff have been forgotten. They say any society is three meals away from revolution but, judging by last night’s histrionics, Leicester managers are only ever two games away from the sack.
This is not the time to make excuses for the performance we’ve just witnessed, but Foxes fans demanding a change need to ask themselves the following questions.
Who would be the replacement? As much as we might wish, Martin O’Neill is not coming back. So who’s on the short-list? Ian Dowie? John Gregory? Phil Brown? Alan Pardew? Do these names really whet the appetite? Would Alan Curbishley even consider the position? Would Tony Mowbray’s approach be any different to Sousa’s?
Why would a new manager agree to take on the Leicester job when some of their employers still remain anonymous? The club are scheduling trips to Thailand at the expense of resting players during the international break. There are reports about signing Chinese and South Korean players during the next transfer window. Which self-respecting managers would not see these reports as red flags?
Finally, if eight league games is all you get at Leicester City, how many candidates would take one look at the Leicester job and think better of it?
These are still disrupted times at City. Sousa has not been able to select from a full squad and nor, it should be said, have the Foxes had any luck so far this season. Chris Weale has managed just two full matches, Miguel Vitor has only just reached match fitness and now faces an undeserved suspension, Yuki Abe’s work permit took an age to process and he will take time to adjust to the Championship.
Tactically tonight was wrong, but even then it’s difficult to blame the manager for one centre-half inexplicably flinging his arms around in the penalty area in a moment of madness and the other being dismissed for what was a cautionable offence. Once Vitor had gone, the match was a lost cause.
The position of this blog remains the same. Performances like the one we saw last night are unacceptable, but City have three very winnable home games in October against Scunthorpe, Hull and Preston. Paulo Sousa and his team have every opportunity to turn this around.
Let’s look at the situation when the clocks go back. There will still be 32 games remaining (more than enough to dig City out of any holes they might dig) and the six games between now and then will show us how well Sousa can get his players to react to adversity.
There were slumps under Pearson last year; a run of four straight defeats near the end of the season, two points from four games in January, that match at Forest followed by 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City. What mattered is that City recovered from each of these setbacks. We haven’t see enough to know that Paulo Sousa can’t do the same.