Leicester City lost the opportunity to progress from their 2021/22 UEFA Europa League group with a loss to Napoli on Thursday night, sending them down into the European Conference League.
Leicester matched their hosts’ high intensity in a high-tempo first half which ended 2-2 but failed to take their chances in the second half.
Napoli’s Eljif Elmas punished Leicester’s poor finishing in the 53rd minute to clinch the second place spot for the Parthenopeans at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona and send Leicester to the Conference League.
The Foxes manager, Brendan Rodgers, has now come out to say that he knows nothing of Leicester’s new tournament in a statement to journalists after the game.
“I have to be honest – I don’t even know what the competition is in all fairness,” Rodgers said. “I was focused on the Europa League and winning this group.
“At the very least, finishing second, so with all due respect to the competition, I’m not sure what it is. I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.”
Leicester City, however, could be out of European competitions this season altogether as new UEFA rules require teams that drop to lower competitions to take part in a playoff.
A bad night for Leicester’s travelling fans
Leicester City’s traveling fans will feel hard done-by after their club’s poor showing against Napooi on Thursday night.
The 600 and some Foxes supporters who made the trip to Naples were first misdirected by the police escort assigned to them, which made them miss the first 25 minutes of the match at which point their club were two-nil down.
Then they witnessed the fight back late in the second half which gave them renewed hope, which was dashed by Eljif Elmas’ second goal of the night and poor finishing from their club’s forwards.
Prior to the match at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Thursday night, the group was wide open with all teams competing for the first and second places in the group.
Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers took full responsibility for the situation. “I think there’s a lot of naivety in our team and we’ve got a lot of young players,” Rodgers started.
“There’s been a bigger demand from them this season, and we’ve played a number of different systems and shapes. Individually it then comes down to having that mentality to track our runner or to stop a cross.
“That can be in whatever shape it is, but it’s my responsibility to find that solution. Tonight, we were good offensively but we were nowhere good enough defensively. I said to the players [at half-time] if we could just tighten up the gaps, and do the dirty side of the game.
“We’ve got to do more to block the shot for their first goal from their first attack. We needed to be more aggressive, the second goal we jump at the wrong time and that opens up the space and for the third goal, you’ve got to track the runner and stop the cross. These are the basics of the game we aren’t doing so well.”