The boos that rang around King Power Stadium, as well as manager Brendan Rodgers’ pointed words, said it all about Leicester City’s mounting problems.
“This isn’t the club it was a couple of years ago,” Rodgers said after a 1-0 loss to Manchester United, which marked the end of a frustrating summer transfer window for the Foxes manager.
Leicester City has achieved so much in recent seasons, including the glorious Premier League title triumph in 2016 and the FA Cup win under Rodgers in 2021, but there is an air of stagnation and discontent that suggests the end of an era.
Under Rodgers, the Foxes had two close calls with the Champions League, slipping out of the top four on the final day of the season, and perhaps the financial and footballing consequences are finally being felt.
Leicester have defied logic by punching far above their weight, but those successes and raised expectations have made the current underachievement more acute and painful.
A dismal Premier League start of one point from five games has left manager Rodgers exuding anything but satisfaction, supporters voicing their displeasure, and the owner providing a detailed explanation in the programme notes of the current strategy, which is not just keeping the club afloat but sinking to the bottom of the table.
Thursday’s miserable defeat only increased the mood of pessimism around King Power Stadium.
Rodgers, a fine manager and coach, didn’t sugarcoat anything when outlining the current situation in what some may regard as a high-risk strategy of delivering brutal reality.
Rodgers expressed his appreciation for the Leicester owners’ decision to tighten the purse strings, but there was no hiding his disappointment at not being able to renew his squad and compete at the top end of the Premier League, echoing Scott Parker’s similar criticism that cost him the Bournemouth job this week.
He said: “I understand the fans’ frustration. They see all their rivals getting players in and we’re not getting any.”
Rodgers, who lost keeper Kasper Schmeichel and then defender Wesley Fofana in a £70m move to Chelsea, added: “With the greatest respect, we have not had the help in the market this team needed.
“To watch clubs in the top five leagues add players and we haven’t been able to do that has been difficult. We needed help and we haven’t been able to do that.
“I came to Leicester to compete and initially I was able to do that. You have to add quality but in the last two [transfer] windows we haven’t been able to do that. I would have loved to have added five or six players but if you can’t do that you have to respect it and work with what we have.”