When Leicester misplaced at Tottenham in September, Brendan Rodgers knew one thing needed to be performed.
A late Heung-Min Son hat-trick had taken the sport away from the guests in north London and despatched Spurs to a 6-2 win. It was a sixth defeat in a row for Leicester and one other bruising scoreline for a aspect which had shipped 22 objectives of their first seven matches, the worst defensive begin by a prime division membership in 57 years.
However what made it much more irritating for Rodgers was that he had seen loads of positives in his workforce’s show. Positives undermined by a expensive openness out of possession.
“I felt, in a humorous means, after the Tottenham recreation that we performed rather well,” he tells Sky Sports activitiesa few months on.
“We conceded two objectives from corners, which was one thing which dissatisfied us, however our precise recreation was good. By a little bit of naivety within the workforce we misplaced the objectives late on, simply by our willingness to go and chase the sport.
“After that we talked about how we had to make sure we might shut the door from behind. We all know we are able to rating objectives however we now have to play with that wee bit extra tactical self-discipline in our recreation. We labored on that after the worldwide break and from Nottingham Forest onwards we have been a lot better.
“We needed to slender our concentrate on our solidarity with out the ball and ensuring we had been collectively as a result of except you’ll be able to defend effectively, you’ll be able to’t win video games. That is one thing we did with our analytical workforce and as coaches, all of us sat down and narrowed the main focus in on that.”
The advance has been stark. Leicester have let in simply three objectives of their final six video games, saved 4 clear sheets and produced a wonderful defensive show towards Manchester Metropolis on Saturday – though in the end got here unstuck by a beautiful free-kick from Kevin De Bruyne.
The ten factors they’ve picked up throughout that run hasn’t been sufficient to raise them out of the relegation zone solely nevertheless it’s clear there may be now extra optimism and positivity across the Leicester camp.
“It was all the time going to be a course of, I reiterated the workforce would get higher,” says Rodgers as we sit down on the membership’s first-class coaching facility, the place morning rain has made means for heat autumn sunshine.
Leicester’s collective enchancment defensively has additionally been aided by the arrival of Wout Faes, the £15m deadline day signing from Reims. That defeat to Tottenham was a painful debut for the 24-year-old Belgian. However since then he has emerged as a key determine within the Leicester backline, setting the usual for the restoration.
Considered one of simply two signings made by Leicester in the summertime – the opposite being back-up goalkeeper Alex Smithies on a free switch – Faes has rapidly made his mark on this workforce and his supervisor, with Rodgers filled with reward for the centre-back’s understanding of the game.
“I have been very impressed,” says Rodgers. “He performs as if he is a lot older. He is aware of soccer – and having guys in your backline that know the sport makes an enormous distinction.
“He is well-educated in soccer, you’ll be able to see that in how he performs and his recreation is suited to the Premier League. He is aggressive for us. The varieties of defenders I like – he defends ahead, he presses the sport effectively, he is good when he comes into the field, he will get his head on it and he can play soccer. He is performed very, very effectively and I have been actually happy along with his begin.”
For all the Foxes’ frustrations in the summertime window, Faes seems to be a unbelievable addition. A rising star in his nation, Faes’ high quality and potential was confirmed by compatriot Youri Tielemans in a chat with Rodgers earlier than the deal was performed.
“It was an important discover by our recruitment workforce,” mentioned Rodgers. “He is clearly come from being a captain along with his workforce in France, so he has management qualities. I spoke to Youri about him and Youri spoke very extremely of Wout.
“He’ll in all probability be in Belgium’s nationwide workforce very quickly. After I met him he got here throughout as that kind of man. However you all the time get judged by what you do on the sector and on the sector he is been excellent.”
The uplift Faes has given to Rodgers’ protection is an instance of why the supervisor was so eager to herald extra new faces through the switch window, to refresh and drive a workforce which has loved loads of success in latest seasons to go once more.
The World Cup break will give Leicester’s teaching and recruitment workers a possibility to evaluate precisely the place they should strengthen subsequent – however plans are already effectively below means for January’s switch window.
“We would have liked that freshness, so as to add that power to the workforce. The thought was to have three-four gamers to come back in,” Rodgers says with a wry smile.
“I do know as a membership we’re trying ahead and hoping we are able to do some enterprise in January and hopefully these guys can have an analogous impression.”
Rodgers: I could not have performed like we did towards Man Metropolis 10 years in the past
The speedy focus for Rodgers and his gamers, although, is to capitalize on their latest enhancements and end this primary part of the season strongly, with Premier League away video games towards Everton and West Ham sandwiching a Carabao Cup tie at residence to Newport.
Rodgers is able to assault the problem. After feeling compelled to go to a 5-4-1 and attempt to shut up store towards Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Metropolis, he’s relishing the prospect of his aspect taking part in front-foot, dominating soccer once more at Goodison.
“It is the evolution of myself as a coach. The arrange towards Man Metropolis, is one thing that 10 years in the past I might by no means have performed,” says Rodgers. “The sensation of compromise.
“My recreation has all the time been based mostly across the attacking intent and once I’m speaking about attacking I imply defending as effectively, urgent ahead, urgent excessive. However the expertise and evolution of me as a coach – and I do know I by no means must do it too typically – with a workforce as distinctive as Man Metropolis, with the extent of participant they’ve, you wish to be within the recreation so long as you’ll be able to.
“You possibly can open up and press and do all of the issues usually related to my groups however due to their expertise you will discover your self down within the recreation and you’ve got seen that with so many groups towards Man Metropolis.
“I will not play that means too many occasions in my profession. However I do get pleasure from that problem. Most video games we’ll look to essentially go and convey our authority to the sport and impose our means of taking part in on a recreation.”
Rodgers feels his growth as a coach has additionally been enhanced by the powerful occasions he and his gamers have been by this season. He is confidant Leicester would be the greatest for it in the long run.
“It is an space of the league the place I have never been in since my first job as a supervisor once I went into Watford within the decrease finish of the Championship,” says Rodgers. “It has been an important teaching problem to take the workforce regularly away and that is what you need.
“It is simple if you’re successful and difficult for trophies however the problem is completely totally different if you’re down on the backside finish. As a supervisor you’ll be able to solely enhance from it.
“You are relying in your information of the sport and gamers and the teaching. You retain your endurance, which is essential. These gamers, since I have been right here, have given me every thing. They have been so good for me and it was about re-enforcing to them and maintaining the composure so they might discover that confidence once more after the tough begin.
“I am fairly positive they and the followers will get rewarded by that and are available the tip of the season, we’ll be in a a lot more healthy place.”