Leicester City manager Dean Smith was presented with a tough task when he took over the reins at the club with eight games to go but he could not manage to find the spark that would keep the Foxes in the Premier League.
Sunday’s 2-1 victory over West Ham United was only his second win in those eight games, and that coupled with three draws was not enough to save them from the drop as Everton pulled off a 1-0 win over Bournemouth to stay up at their expense.
“When I came here with eight games to go, I thought we probably needed 11 points. We’ve fallen two short of that with nine, and it ended up being 11 points,” a dejected Smith told Sky Sports.
“I failed on my part, because I felt we needed 11 points. (In the) Leeds and Everton games, two points got away from us … I’m sure there will be a club review but it’s disappointing.”
On his appointment, Smith spoke of the need to “rebuild confidence and instil belief in the team”, and they certainly looked confident as they took a 2-0 lead over a West Ham side that had one eye on their Europa Conference League final with Fiorentina on June 7.
But in truth, it was too little, too late.
A 3-1 loss to Manchester City was followed up with a win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, but the results that followed were plagued by the same inconsistency that saw Brendan Rodgers relieved of his duties to open the door for Smith.
Draws with Leeds United, who were also relegated, and Everton, a 5-3 loss to Fulham and a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool left them hanging on at the bottom, and in the end it was Everton who were able to stay up.
“There will be a review from people who have been here all season and will understand it. Mine was a remit to come in for seven weeks and eight games and try to keep the club in the Premier League. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen a little bit short,” Smith said.
That review will likely be part of a tough period of reflection as they seek to bounce back, and there is no guarantee that many of the players will be back next season, club captain Jonny Evans said.
“You never know what way the club will see things. We will have to deal with the uncertainty. A lot of players are out of contract and I’d guess there will be a lot of changes at the club,” he told Sky Sports.
That might also apply to Smith, who has not made a decision about his future.
“It’s not a question for now. I’ll have to think about it. At the moment it’s raw because we’ve been relegated,” Smith said.