Football: To be, or not to be the Foxes' manager

Craig Shakespeare, who began his second spell as an assistant manager at Leicester in 2011, knows the Foxes squad well.
Craig Shakespeare, who began his second spell as an assistant manager at Leicester in 2011, knows the Foxes squad well.PHOTO: AFP

Hodgson ponders Leicester job as caretaker Shakespeare aspires to be the leading man

LONDON • Craig Shakespeare is set to be given the opportunity to prove he is capable of taking charge of Leicester City until the end of the season, despite the English Premier League champions holding talks with Roy Hodgson about the prospect of becoming their manager.

Hodgson is understood to have been sounded out before Monday's 3-1 league win over Liverpool, a result that eased the pressure on the club's Thai owners to bring in a permanent replacement for Claudio Ranieri.

The victory also strengthened Shakespeare's chances of landing the job for the remainder of the campaign. Ranieri's former assistant has made no secret of the fact that he would like to become manager. And there is a feeling within the club that it would be hard to look beyond him for the final 11 league matches if he masterminds a win over Hull City at home on Saturday.

As well as enjoying the support of the players, Shakespeare is highly regarded by the club's director of football, Jon Rudkin, who has the ear of the owners. And everyone at Leicester has been impressed with the way the 53-year-old has handled himself in the wake of Ranieri's dismissal last Thursday.

Giving him the role for the rest of the season would also allow Leicester to reassess their options in the summer, when the managerial landscape may look very different, especially as some potential candidates would be reluctant to walk away from jobs until then.

 

Hodgson is in the frame as part of the exploratory discussions that Leicester have held with a number of people, including Guus Hiddink, with a view to an immediate appointment. Yet the former England coach, who is keen to return to management and was disappointed to miss out on the Crystal Palace job to Sam Allardyce, is unlikely to get a chance at Leicester unless things unravel under Shakespeare.

There is also the question of whether Hodgson, 69, would be willing to take on the job if more weeks slip by. He has experience, including a proven track record, when it comes to keeping struggling clubs in the Premier League. But he had more time to get to grips with the players at Fulham in 2007-08 and West Bromwich Albion in 2010-11.

Shakespeare, who began his second spell as an assistant manager at Leicester in 2011, knows the Foxes squad well and knows that much could hinge on the Hull match. Leicester, who climbed out of the relegation zone and up to 15th place on Monday, are only three points and four places above Hull. A win would give them breathing space.

Defender Danny Simpson reckons Shakespeare is a strong contender to land the role full-time.

"He is a top coach, a top guy and he has taken it on naturally," he said of the caretaker boss. "He has kept it simple and told us what he wanted to do, which was simple and basic, and we've done that so let's hope we can carry it on for him."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2017, with the headline 'To be, or not to be the Foxes' manager'. Print Edition | Subscribe