Saturday 21 September 2019

Leicester now have to press reset button after tragedy

Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha saluted the fans on Saturday (Joe Giddens/PA)
Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha saluted the fans on Saturday (Joe Giddens/PA)

John Percy

Now, Leicester have to move on. After two weeks of unimaginable grief following the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester's immediate future comes into focus as the club address what happens next.

In an unprecedented move, around 200 members of staff will be given today off "to recharge" - a decision made by chief executive Susan Whelan.

Vichai's son, vice-chairman Aiyawatt, has flown back to Thailand and will discuss how Leicester's board continue his father's legacy.

Known as 'Top', he could now become chairman. Talks are scheduled with his family, King Power and Whelan this week over a restructure.

Further negotiations are also expected soon over the club's move to a new £100m state-of-the-art training ground.

Leicester's tribute to Vichai, including a five-minute montage dedicated to him and a two-minute silence, was beautifully judged, and supporters stood as one to honour 'The Boss'.

Former managers, including Claudio Ranieri, Nigel Pearson, Craig Shakespeare and Martin O'Neill, were in attendance on a hugely emotional day, when the 0-0 draw with Burnley was secondary.

Dream

There was also a clear sense at the final whistle, as 'Top' made his way around the pitch to thank supporters with his brother Apichet, that Leicester now have to press the reset button.

"Our responsibility is to continue his dream and work," said manager Claude Puel.

"I have confidence because my players have grown up and learnt a lot from this. I know their strength and character since the beginning of the season, but I saw their new maturity facing this event.

"It was a terrible situation, but we must manage it to continue to grow.

"We need this solidarity, and for myself, I need this focus and concentration for my players."

After the tragedy, and then a long flight to Thailand to attend the funeral earlier last week, many Leicester players were clearly running on empty by the end of Saturday's match.

Marc Albrighton admitted that the international break will be a period of reflection.

"It's a good time to have a break and refocus. Everything's still quite raw, but it's important to take time out and take in what's happened," he said.

"We are absolutely drained, mentally and emotionally, and everyone looks at the players because we are the ones who are out there, but it applies to the whole club as a family." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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