Leicester appoint Dean Smith as manager | The Express Tribune


LONDON:

Dean Smith insisted that Leicester can avoid relegation after the Premier League strugglers hired him as their manager until the end of the season on Monday.

Former Aston Villa and Norwich boss Smith replaced Brendan Rodgers, who was sacked on April 2 after his side’s slump into relegation trouble.

Smith will take charge for Leicester’s last eight games of the campaign as they battle to avoid dropping into the Championship for the first time since 2014.

The Foxes sit second bottom of the table and are two points from safety after Saturday’s damaging 1-0 home defeat against fellow strugglers Bournemouth.

“I’m really happy to have the opportunity to lead the team during these final weeks of the season,” Smith said.

“The challenge in front of us is clear, but it’s one myself and my coaching team have experienced before and, with the quality in this squad and the number of games remaining, it’s very much achievable.

“Our first job is to rebuild confidence and instil belief in the team and I’m looking forward to getting to work with the players this week.”

Leicester have lost both matches since Rodgers was sacked, with first-team coaches Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell taking charge on an interim basis prior to Smith’s appointment.

Smith’s backroom staff will include former Chelsea and England captain John Terry, who previously worked for him as an assistant coach at Villa.

Craig Shakespeare also returns to the King Power Stadium as Smith’s assistant manager.

Shakespeare was part of Claudio Ranieri’s coaching team when Leicester stunningly won their fairytale Premier League title in 2016, and also briefly managed the club after the Italian’s sacking.

Smith, who was sacked by second-tier Norwich in December, faces a daunting assignment for his first game, a trip to in-form champions Manchester City on Saturday.

“Saturday will be a big test, but it’s the kind of occasion that reminds us all what it means to be a Premier League club, competing on the biggest stages against the best players in the world,” Smith said.

“I know we’ll be well supported by our travelling fans. We have to connect with that and give them a performance they can be proud of. We go there positive, looking for points.”

Leicester chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha believes the 52-year-old Smith can save them from relegation despite their dismal form in 2023.

The Foxes are without a win in their last nine games in all competitions, losing eight of those matches to plummet into the relegation zone.

“His leadership, coaching and motivational qualities will be vital assets for us in the coming eight games as we fight to secure our Premier League status,” he said.

“We’ve endured a challenging season, but I have no doubt that we have the quality in our squad to win this fight.

“Dean’s experience will be key to unlocking that potential, helping the team rediscover its confidence and channelling the support of our fans, who will be so important during these final eight games.”

Rodgers spent four years at Leicester and led the club to their first ever FA Cup triumph in 2021.

But despite finishing a respectable eighth last season, Leicester sold key defender Wesley Fofana to Chelsea, with Rodgers gradually falling out of favour after complaining publicly about a lack of backing from the board over new signings.

Now Smith has just a handful of games to arrest the slide and avoid relegation, something he was unable to do while in charge of Norwich last season.

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