Smith knows just how big an achievement keeping Leicester up will be
Leicester boss Dean Smith knows he will have fulfilled a “big ask” if he can guide his side to Premier League survival on Sunday.
The Foxes must beat West Ham at the King Power Stadium and hope Everton do not win against Bournemouth if they are to avoid relegation to the Championship.
Smith was parachuted into an eight-game SOS mission following Brendan Rodgers’ sacking at the beginning of April but has recorded just one victory from his first seven games and accepts that his side have not done as well as he thought they would.
The 52-year-old has experience of producing the great escape as he led Aston Villa to seven points from their final four games of the 2019/20 season to beat the drop and says something similar would be required.
Smith said: “When you first come in you look at games and I looked at Man City, Liverpool and Newcastle and knew they were going to be tough to get points out of. I expected us probably to win our home games and nick points away from home, with probably the exception of Liverpool.
“We are a few points short of where I expected to be and that’s why it has come down to the last one.
“This would be a very proud day if we do it, but we have to win our game and rely on other results. Each escape will have its own merits, the one at Villa with four games to go was seven points. That in itself was a big ask, this has been a big ask and hopefully we can do it.”
It is only two years ago since Leicester were winning the FA Cup and fighting for Champions League qualification, but they have dropped quickly after having to balance the books in the league.
And Smith says that shows just how tough the league can be for those outside the traditional ‘big six’.
“This league is precarious. You’ve got to have really good models now to stay in the league,” he said.
“You look at Brighton and Brentford, two really good models of clubs, one I know very well because I worked there.
“It is hard. You need the finance behind it but it’s not just about finance as you can see in Brentford’s case.
“There are many different ways to stay in the league but it’s a real tough league. Very quickly you can go and lose two or three games on the spin. All of a sudden that just drains the confidence of players.”