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Leicester: Shakespeare’s second act needs more than Vardy in leading role

Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare looks on during the preseason friendly match between Leicester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach at The King Power Stadium on August 4, 2017 in...

Star man: When Leicester play well Jamie Vardy is their rapier thrust, their razor-sharp defensive balloon-burster.

On the pitch

When they play poorly he is their one-man get-out clause, capable of turning hopeful punts into perfect through balls and games of few chances into victories. On the downside, this can encourage them to try hopeful punts.

Biggest summer buy: Kelechi Iheanacho’s £25m move from Manchester City was massively delayed by a spat between agents about which of them should earn most from his image rights, a contretemps that says a lot about the state of modern football. He scored with 12 of only 19 shots on target in the league for his former club, which as chance-conversion goes makes him not so much dangerous as actually radioactive.

Breakthrough season: Sam Hughes has signed as one for the future but the 20-year-old has already made 64 appearances for Chester, becoming the youngest captain in their history in the process, and is considered a centre-back of great promise.

Bad boy: With 72 yellow cards last season but only one red, Leicester seem to know which side of the line to stay on, but Danny Simpson’s nine cautions before the turn of the year make him a prime candidate. Three booking-free months followed but four in his last eight games hinted at a return to form.

Boo boy: Ahmed Musa’s agent memorably insisted in April that “everyone knows he is a jolly good fellow”, but Leicester fans are far from convinced that he’s a jolly good footballer, and police being called to deal with an argument with his now-divorced first wife in April didn’t help his reputation.

Destination Russia: Claudio Ranieri said that Shinji Okazaki’s international exertions meant “he loses his energy” and “isn’t the true Shinji” when he returns to England, but with 50 international goals to his name, a third World Cup on the horizon and a season of bench‑based relaxation apparently in store for the forward the club’s loss could be Japan’s gain.

Glass half-full: The last season that fans approached so pessimistically ended with them winning the league.

Glass half-empty: Lightning doesn’t strike twice.

Off the pitch

The manager: Craig Shakespeare has been rewarded for last season’s successful relegation swerve with a three-year contract, but many fans are yet to be convinced that he is the long-term answer. The club’s former performance psychologist says: “If his coaching career ever goes wrong he could be a stand-up comedian.”

The owners: The duty-free magnate Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, known for landing his helicopter on the pitch before matches and buying everyone in the stadium beer and cake on his birthday, has been a model owner so far, but recent investments in racehorses and the Belgian club Leuven show the Thai is starting to spread his sporting splurges.

Chris Whiting’s fan’s view: There’s no reason why we can’t be the best of the rest. It’s in our hands: if the players stick to their high-octane style they can beat anyone – which Ranieri didn’t quite get. Prediction: 7th. Follow Chris @ChrisRWhiting

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Simon Burnton, for The Guardian on Friday 11th August 2017 12.00 Europe/London

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