Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers took aim at his club’s owners for their lack of transfer activity after the former champions suffered their fourth straight loss against an improved Manchester United.
Leicester’s slow start to the new season continued on Friday morning (AEST) as they went down 1-0 at home.
Jadon Sancho fired United to a third straight win as the England forward showed he still has a role to play despite the big-money signing of Brazil winger Antony.
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Sancho netted with a clinical finish in the first half to seal United’s third successive Premier League victory.
It was a well-timed contribution from Sancho, coming just hours after United officially confirmed their £82 million ($A139m) swoop for Ajax’s Antony.
United manager Erik ten Hag worked with Antony in Amsterdam and the 22-year-old looks likely to be a regular in the right wing role currently occupied by Sancho.
If there are doubts in his mind about retaining his place, Sancho did his best to remind Ten Hag of his qualities with his second goal of the season.
United moved up to fifth place and sit just one point adrift of the top four as Ten Hag begins to make an impact after a nightmare start to his reign.
The result heaps more pressure on Rodgers with the Foxes currently last on the ladder with just one point from their five matches so far this season.
After winning the league in 2016, Leicester rose to prominence as one of the most competitive and feared clubs in English football.
But a quiet transfer window, which has seen them sign just two players, has clearly taken its toll on both Rodgers and the scoreboard.
“With the greatest respect, we have not had the help in the transfer market that this team has needed,” Rodgers said after the match.
Rodgers also told BBC 5 Live Sport that “this isn’t the club that it was two years ago. That’s the reality.
“We haven’t brought any new players in, bar one late on, in the last two windows and that’s a replacement.
“So these players need the supporters. It’s a moment that’s really important.”
Manchester United hadn’t beaten Leicester since July 2020, when they left the King Power Stadium with all three points after a 2-0 win.
Since then, the two clubs have gone head-to-head on five occasions before this morning, with the Foxes winning three of those matches in a row.
But it’s a new-look Leicester City squad this season, with stars Kasper Schmeichel and Wesley Fofana having departed to pursue opportunities with other clubs.
The Red Devils were also under pressure coming into this clash, as they continue to recover from a disastrous start to their campaign, losing their first two games.
But they’d turned their fortunes with a win over rivals Liverpool last month, before backing that up with a 1-0 win over Southampton just four days later.
United somewhat controlled the match early on, and had the better chances to break the deadlock – which is what they eventually did mid-way through the first-half.
Winger Sancho ran around goalkeeper Danny Ward in the 23rd minute, and tucked away the opener with a tidy finish.
That’s exactly how things stayed throughout the entire contest, although United appeared as if they could double their lead later on in the match.
Disgruntled star Cristiano Ronaldo came on for Sancho with just over 20 minutes to play, and nearly made his mark on the game shortly after.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner got in-behind the Leicester defensive line, and attempted to send a pass to Christian Eriksen across the face of goal, but the ball was intercepted and cleared.
But shortly after, he nearly sent the football world into a frenzy with an attempted bicycle kick which didn’t quite connect.
Ronaldo had hoped to leave United before the transfer window shut on Thursday, but the Portugal star was unable to find a suitor willing to meet the club’s asking price and his desire to play in the Champions League.
Ten Hag says he is “on the same page” with the 37-year-old striker about his role, but Antony’s arrival could further limit Ronaldo’s playing time.
Leicester had two good chances in stoppage time to steal a point from their English rivals, with defender James Justin missing a golden opportunity.
Justin had time and space to steady himself as he lined up a shot, but ended up sending the attempt way off the target in the 93rd minute.
A chorus of boos echoed throughout the stadium as the full-time whistle sounded, and the Leicester fans continued to come to grips with the reality that they could be in a relegation scrap this season.
Premier League great Michael Owen believes that the Foxes are already “in danger” of being relegated, even though it’s only five games into the new campaign.
“It is worrying,” Owen said.
“As I said before the game, I don’t really rate them at the moment. They’re low on confidence, they’ve got a decent enough starting eleven but every time they tend to get to a good player they have to sell them at the moment.
“The other thing is (for) these Leicester fans, success is fresh in the memory, so to have to stomach they’re not a very good team anymore compared to who you’re playing against, it’s quite tough getting used to that again.
“Tough times for Leicester. They’re at the bottom of the league, they’re in danger, no question about it.”
United have continued their surge up the Premier League ladder, and now sit fifth with nine points to their name – one point ahead of Liverpool.
Next up for the Red Devils is a game at Old Trafford against ladder leaders Arsenal on Monday, who have had a perfect start to the season so far with five wins from as many games.
Meanwhile, Leicester are set to come up against Brighton, in what might already be deemed a must win game.