Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers and the club’s loyal fanbase would have been understandably very frustrated when they discovered that several of their first-team stars broke the Premier League’s strict coronavirus protocols as they attended a party hosted by one of their teammates.
As a result, Ayoze Perez, who organised the gathering, defensive midfielder Hamza Choudhury and creative spark James Maddison were all left out of Rodgers’ matchday squad for the West Ham United game last weekend. Explicably, frustrations were high amongst both the manager and the fans, as it really was a must-win encounter for the Foxes.
A victory over David Moyes’ side may have taken the spotlight away from the rule-breaking trio. However, they were left with even more egg on their face as West Ham ran riot at the London Stadium. The Hammers fired themselves into a three-goal lead and whilst a Kelechi Iheanacho double restored some pride, it wasn’t enough and Leicester’s place in the top four is now in jeopardy.
Maddison was arguably the side’s biggest miss and given that Rodgers was ready to welcome him back into the side following an injury, which left him side-lined for six matches, at such a crucial time of the season, he must now bounce back immediately and win back the trust of the manager and the fans.
For someone of Maddison’s extreme talent, that shouldn’t be too hard of a task. With eight goals and five assists in 24 Premier League matches this season it’s clear just how important he is to Rodgers’ plans, and he could be the key to Leicester securing a place in the top four.
If Maddison’s creativity can start swaying results in Leicester’s favour, especially at a time when the Foxes have seemed somewhat inconsistent, then all will be forgiven rather quickly. Rodgers insisted that the players would re-join the group after the West Ham game. So, it looks like the chance to bounce back from his stupid decision will start with this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against out-of-sorts Southampton.
With the Premier League title odds firmly in Manchester City’s favour, and Leicester’s hopes of winning the Europa League dashed by Salvia Prague, the FA Cup presents the midlands side with a great chance of winning a rare trophy. 1982 was the last time Leicester were in an FA Cup semi-final, and if Maddison can work his magic to book a trip to Wembley for the final, he could reaffirm his hero status at the club.
Of course, it isn’t just Rodgers and the Leicester fans Maddison needs to prove himself too. With the European Championships on the horizon, the midfielder certainly won’t be in Gareth Southgate’s good books either, and, with just one cap for the Three Lions to his name, he could have spoilt his chances of earning more at the major competition this summer.
Then there is Maddison himself. Before a hip-injury halted his progress this campaign, the 24-year-old was enjoying his best season in the Premier League yet. All he has achieved could now be overshadowed and the slap in the face of Rodgers and the club’s fans could be hard to recover from should he not find the same form he possessed earlier in the season.
Maddison has never shied away from a situation and his self-confidence is immense. With loads still to play for, the opportunity to bounce back is there – he just needs to take it!