Tuesday 24 April 2018

Monk on the brink after Foxes savage his listless Swans

Swansea 0 - Leicester city3

Leicester's Riyad Mahrez celebrates after completing his hat-trick
Leicester's Riyad Mahrez celebrates after completing his hat-trick

James Corrigan

In the best horror movies there is invariably an "Oh my God, there are two of them" moment, and after Riyad Mahrez emerged from Jamie Vardy's shadow with such menace, Leicester City are convinced they can carry on scaring their Premier League rivals witless.

In truth, it was a bloodless return to the top of the division. Swansea were simply wretched, and their captain, Ashley Williams, compounded the misery by losing his cool with the match-winner in the dressing-room corridor after the game - an incident the FA may well investigate.

For Garry Monk, this was the final indignity in what was probably his final match as manager. If only his men had shown similar fight on the pitch.

Instead, Monk is left desperately trying to defend his corner. There was something of the soon-to-be jilted boyfriend in his plea to recall the days last season when he led the club to a record points tally and eighth place.

"I'm a far better manager now than I was then, having gone through this," Monk said.

The problem is he is still going through it and has yet to come out the other side.

And with fans baffled as to why England midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was not included in the match-day squad, despite having completed a suspension, Monk is the overwhelming favourite to become the Premier League's next managerial casualty.


The sense is that this grand servant to the Swans - as a player he joined in 2004 and captained them through the divisions in their fairytale rise into the elite - will not last the week.

If Monk does remain, then Manchester City away beckons next Saturday and, regardless of their defeat at Stoke, that is no place for the forlorn.

David Moyes is reported to be on the Swansea radar and, although his philosophy may differ from the celebrated "Swansea way", the need for Premier League survival is the must.

This could be a watershed week for Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, with Rangers' Mark Warburton and Everton No 2 Graeme Jones more befitting the previous Liberty identikit of the young and ambitious leader.

In the meantime, the Leicester way will only gather momentum.

Who would have thought Claudio Ranieri would return to Stamford Bridge, where he managed from 2000-2004, having entered the weekend with his side on the first rung on the ladder and Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in 14th?

With five wins out of their last six games and with Mahrez proving there is so much more to Leicester than Vardy, the positives abound.

Naturally, they yearned for their marksman to score for a 12th consecutive top-flight game, and so equal Jimmy Dunne's 83-year-old record, but it says plenty about the current mindset that they left South Wales hailing the fact that another outlet had burst forth.

Granted, Mahrez's talent has been screaming out for months, but he did underline that the opposition have to do rather more than stop Vardy (not that Swansea began to manage that).


That Monk barely mentioned Mahrez's second being clearly offside, or that the first had a hint of handball, proves how many chances they created.

This was the 16th game in a row in which Leicester have scored. They couldn't, could they?

The bookmakers have brought them in to as low as 28/1, and if that seems ungenerous then the oddness of this campaign is strengthening the suspicion that if ever it happens, then maybe now is the time.

The Foxes now sit two points clear at the top of the table before a four-game run which will provide the clearest indicator yet of their title credentials - games at home to Chelsea and Manchester City either side of successive trips to Everton and Liverpool.

"It is very important because I want to see how we play against big, big champions," Ranieri said.

"We have to play very well to get through this period against the big dogs. It will tell us a lot.

"We made some mistakes against Swansea and, if we make those mistakes again, we will pay for them against the big teams.

"It is not important how the top sides see us; it is all about Leicester and continuing to improve.

"Sometimes you can improve in football and lose."

© Daily Telegraph, London.


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