McAllister: Leicester struggles compare to Leeds in 93

Date published: Monday 6th February 2017 9:34

Gary McAllister has discussed Leicester’s struggles to beat the drop and feels there are strong similarities with the botch job Leeds made as defending the title in 1992/93.

The shock Premier League winners are just a point above the relegation zone with their title defence in tatters.

It echoes Leeds’ campaign in 1992-93 after McAllister helped them win the old First Division in 1992, only for their own defence to unravel in the debut season of the Premier League.

They finished 17th in the new top flight, which included 22 teams, failed to win away and sold Eric Cantona to Manchester United.

In comparison, Leicester are two places above the relegation zone, yet to win on the road and sold N’Golo Kante to Chelsea for £32million in the summer.

Leeds beat the drop by two points despite winning just one of their final 10 games and McAllister, who moved to Elland Road in 1990 after five years with the Foxes, wants Claudio Ranieri’s side to repeat the feat after last season’s 5,000-1 triumph.

“It (relegation) would waste the story. It would be a better story if they won the league and just survived this season,” McAllister, who made 225 appearances for the club, said.

“I would hate to see them get relegated. It would be horrendous, for all that good work of last year, the fairytale. Leicester gave me my chance in England and I owe them a lot.

“In general when Leicester are in the top division they are one of those teams who you’d think would be in the fight at the bottom. To win the league, you think ‘wow, how on earth?’.

“At Leeds we were reacting to bad results away from home because we kept winning at home but it wasn’t good enough. Leeds had only been up in the top division a couple of years after a spell in the old second division – like Leicester – but every performance was analysed.

“The only thing I think back on is how special other teams were. The great Liverpool sides or the Manchester United teams which dominated. Once one is won that’s pushed away and it’s about winning again.

“That’s going to be the massive lesson this year, Danny Drinkwater has played at a big club (United) and he knows those players who have produced relentless performances. You can’t let your guard down.

“They can say ‘I don’t like being under the microscope’ but it’s part of being a champion. I can remember people saying ‘Leeds aren’t doing what they did last year’ and that’s exactly what they’re saying about Leicester now.

“People will say ‘they’re too good to go down’ but they can’t sit on that. Every time Claudio Ranieri picks the side they have to go out and fight, run, bite and scratch like they did when they were winning games.”


McAllister on Leicester’s Kante loss

The Foxes romped to the title by 10 points leading to Kante joining Chelsea and Riyad Mahrez, Drinkwater and Kasper Schmeichel being linked with moves while Jamie Vardy rejected a move to Arsenal.

And McAllister, who joined Leicester from Motherwell in 1985, can see similarities between the squads, including the summer speculation which unsettled the Leeds players.

“There’s no doubt Kante leaving has been a massive void because he was instrumental but he was part of a midfield four who performed brilliantly,” said the 52-year-old former Scotland skipper.

“I played in a midfield which took a lot of praise in winning the league, like Leicester’s, and the following season Gordon (Strachan) was a wee bit older, I was linked with other clubs and David Batty and Gary Speed were as well so that was a bit unsettling that the four might split up.”

Leicester have struggled to replace Kante with Nampalys Mendy having missed four months with an ankle injury and Wilfred Ndidi only just arriving from Genk.

The France international has continued to shine with Chelsea top and McAllister saw him as more important than former team-mate Cantona, who joined Manchester United for £1million in 1992 after less than a year at Elland Road.

“Eric wasn’t as pivotal as Kante was for Leicester,” he said. “He came late, in the February, but was crucial in games that were very tight. It was a phrase that wasn’t used back then but teams would come to Elland Road and ‘park the bus’. Eric would come on as an impact player and he’d unlock a defence.

“There was no doubt he influenced but there were (Lee) Chapman, (Rod) Wallace and (Gary) Speed. It was a team which didn’t get recognition for winning the league.”

Leeds only suffered one home defeat – 4-1 at home to Nottingham Forest – but lost 14 and drew seven away from Elland Road.

The Foxes have lost four, drawn three and won five at the King Power Stadium and go to Swansea on Sunday having lost nine of their 12 away games.

Kasper Schmeichel: Linked with Liverpool

Goalkeeper Schmeichel has called their season “embarrassing” but McAllister believes the champions need to be truthful.

He added: “Leicester, having did what they did the season before (winning seven of their final nine games to survive), were used to winning and we were the same having finished fourth in 1991. Then losing becomes a bit of a habit as well, you think ‘here we go again’.

“There’s always a series of meetings whether it’ll be with or without the manager, you cannot look for excuses and have to pull together.

“Within that dressing room everyone has got to be brutally honest.”

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