Dean Smith

Smith Sees Late Encouraging Signs In Man City Reverse

Manager Dean Smith pointed to positive elements of Leicester City's performance after a 3-1 loss at champions Manchester City on Saturday.
More on this story...

- Dean Smith reflects on Leicester City's 3-1 reverse at Manchester City
- John Stones netted before an Erling Haaland brace for the hosts at Etihad Stadium
- Kelechi Iheanacho got one back for the Foxes, who improved in the second half
- Smith was pleased with some elements of his maiden match in charge

On his debut as the Club's new Manager, Smith's Foxes encountered a Man City side in rampant form at Etihad Stadium. John Stones' excellent hit from range was followed by an Erling Haaland double before the half-hour. The Foxes dug in, though, and resisted the Premier League champions' later advances, also scoring themselves through Kelechi Iheanacho.

A series of opportunities in the final moments could have even handed Leicester an unlikely point in Manchester, but Pep Guardiola's men had done enough in the first half. Smith's side remain 19th in the Premier League, two points from safety, with seven games still to play – many of which put them up against their direct relegation battle rivals.

"The game was lost in the first half," Smith told LCFC TV. "We came with a plan to stay in the game as long as we could. I felt we could change the game from the bench as well and that we could create some opportunities, but then John Stones strikes a left-foot volley in the top corner after six minutes and then there’s an unfortunate penalty to put them two up.

Manchester City are a top team and they had a lot of the ball, but they didn’t really make Dan [Iversen] make that many saves.

Dean Smith

"We lost a 50-50 and Haaland goes through to score for three. You worry at 3-0 whether they’re going to go and score a lot more, but I thought that was important then to see the character of the players when they’re suffering.

"Manchester City are a top team and they had a lot of the ball, but they didn’t really make Dan [Iversen] make that many saves. He’s made a really good one at the start of the second half (denying Riyad Mahrez), where he’s tipped it over the bar, but he wasn’t forced into too many saves. I thought we defended our box reasonably well despite the three goals."

It was an uncomfortable end for Man City, who had to rely on Ederson's talents in goal to help them see out the win. Iheanacho also struck the post in front of over 3,000 members of the Blue Army behind the goal. 

"We made changes, tactically, in the second half that I thought helped us," Smith added. "The midfielders and our outside centre-halves were a lot more aggressive and got us up the pitch a lot better. All the subs who came on made a difference and had an impact, which is what you want. The goal, I felt we deserved it after that second-half performance.

"It would have been interesting had one of the other chances gone in. [Iheanacho] hit the post with one, Madders (James Maddison) went through. There was another one where [Maddison] put Kel through to put it over the bar.

I thought the travelling fans were great today. It was very easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves at 3-0 down, but they were there clapping us at the end.

Dean Smith

"Dennis [Praet] had one as well on a cut-back from Tim [Castagne], so we’ve created some really good chances and moments in the game. I’ve got to work out now, watching it back, whether it us being that good in the second half, or Man City putting the brakes on a little bit. I think it was a little bit of both. Going forward, we’ll be better for this.

"It wasn’t to be but there’s a lot of teams that have suffered here and our season won’t be defined by that. I can take an awful lot of positives from the game and the way we finished it especially. We spoke at half-time about the need to keep our goal difference down but also to try and get back into the game and create more opportunities.

"They do make you suffer with their ball possession, but we created some big chances in that second half. The way we finished the game is hopefully how we can start the game next week."

City are next in action next Saturday with Wolverhampton Wanderers due at King Power Stadium. Smith is excited for his home debut as the Club's new Manager and is certain that the fans can play a big role in Leicester's bid for survival. 

"I thought the travelling fans were great today," he explained. "It was very easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves at 3-0 down, but they were there clapping us at the end. We need them and they need us. That togetherness is going to be a part of what keeps us up. This season, now, will be about the games to come."




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