It’s not often that a player’s role as the team’s primary provider is challenged.
That’s what happened in the aftermath of Leicester City’s 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.
And it was exactly what Leicester’s new-look manager wanted.
“If I’m not getting on the scoresheet, I’m probably not getting anywhere,” Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri told the BBC.
“I have to make sure I don’t take my eyes off the ball, I have to do the same on the defensive side of the ball.”
That’s a mindset that was drilled into Ranieri during a two-year stint at Juventus, and it was reinforced during his time as a youth team coach at Juventus.
But Ranieri’s experience with the youth team at Juventus was more about his work with the senior team.
“My role is to provide leadership, to make them feel comfortable,” Ranieri said.
“The players don’t always know who they’re talking to, but when they do, they’ll know who I am.”
This was the message that Ranieri gave the Leicester players as they left the stadium in the final minutes of the game.
“We need to make it easy for them to score goals and win games,” Ranini said.
This was what Ranieri was trying to instil into his players when he came to Leicester.
“When you look at our performance, we scored a lot of goals,” he said.
So, what did Ranieri do?
He played the same 4-4-2 formation he had used in the summer of 2014, but with one change.
Instead of using the 4-3-3 formation that was popular with the players in the first half, Ranieri switched the back four into a 4-2-3, which is more like the 4, with one more central defender.
This change helped Leicester get the ball into their own half more frequently and allowed them to dictate the pace of the match.
“He’s been doing this since he was in the youth squad,” Riyad Mahrez, a Leicester youth player and now a professional, said.
“[Ranieri] has given us that freedom.”
Mahrez had also been impressed with the new formation, saying: “It’s a little bit different to the 4-, 4-1-4.
It’s a bit more aggressive, a bit different.
That, Mahrez added, was the main difference between the two sets of players at Leicester, and the team that won the league. “
There are a lot more players here, and we know that, so we can just be a bit stronger.”
That, Mahrez added, was the main difference between the two sets of players at Leicester, and the team that won the league.
“It [the change] was very easy to adapt to,” Mahrez said.
Ranieri has been criticised for his approach, but he has his defenders’ backs to the wall, so he knows that if he wants to be successful, he will need to be consistent.
“His tactics are very good,” Riyadh Mahrez told BBC Sport.
“You can see how much they trust him, he knows exactly what he needs to do to get his players playing the way they want to play.”
And when the players had played well in the opening half-hour, Leicester’s lead was never threatened.
“With the ball at their feet, Leicester won the game, it was easy to take,” Mahresaid.
“But [when the players] did have the ball it was hard for them, because they wanted to play and play.”
It’s easy to say that Leicester’s performance at the weekend was a sign of the strength of Ranieri and the quality of the team.
It was, however, the opposite.
That is the main criticism that Ranetti had in his squad.
The problem was that the players didn’t have a proper plan to respond to what was happening in the second half.
“After the second goal we didn’t really have a plan,” Leicester’s youth team manager Mahrez was quoted as saying.
“They came to the game with the mentality that we have to score more goals and score more.”
Leicester won both their games at the Stadium of Light.
They also finished the season with the best defensive record in the Premier League.
But, when you look back at what they achieved last season, it’s hard to understand how it was possible for them not to finish above the relegation zone.
“To me, the best result in this league is to be above the second-placed team,” Ranaldo said.
The result was a 2-0 win at Swansea City on Saturday night, which shows that Leicester can be better.
But it’s still early days, and Ranieri needs to work on the structure of the side that he’s brought in.