Leicester are not the first team to flirt with relegation a year after winning the league. Are there lessons to be learned from Leeds' dreadful title defence in 1992/93? Gary McAllister, who moved between the two clubs in 1990, speaks to Sky Sports about the parallels…
Leicester's demoralising 3-0 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday plunged the Premier League champions deeper into crisis. They sit one point above the relegation zone having lost more games in the last four weeks than in the whole of last season, and reports of player unrest prompted the club to issue a statement in support of Claudio Ranieri on Tuesday.
The latest setback came almost a year to the day since their stunning 3-1 win at Manchester City last season. That memorable win at the Etihad Stadium sent them on their way to their historic title triumph, but the memory now serves as a grim reminder of the speed and scale of their collapse.
t also stirs memories of Leeds' plight in the inaugural season of the Premier League. Like Leicester, they had won the title just two years after ending a long spell outside of the top flight, and, like Leicester, their slide was just as dramatic in the following campaign.
The only hope for the Foxes, in fact, is that Leeds ended up avoiding the drop by two points. "I'm a wee bit surprised people haven't mentioned it up until now," says McAllister, who moved from Leicester to Leeds in 1990. "I can remember back to it and it was a horrible defence of the title."
Under Howard Wilkinson, a Leeds side captained by Gordon Strachan had beaten Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United to the title by a four-point margin in 1991/92. Eric Cantona helped them over the line after arriving from Nimes midway through the season, and McAllister featured in every one of their 42 games.
They claimed the crown with a 3-2 win over Sheffield United on the penultimate day of the season, but the next campaign was only a few weeks old when things began to unravel. By the start of November, they had only won four Premier League games out of 15. A few weeks after that, the enigmatic Cantona had departed to Manchester United.
"To think of what we went through to win the league," says McAllister, who was speaking on behalf of the LFC Foundation in his current role as a Liverpool ambassador. "It's amazing how winning becomes a habit but on the flip side of that, losing can also become a habit and you've got to snap out of it."
That's something Leicester have been unable to do this season. N'Golo Kante has been a significant loss, and from front to back, the other players who inspired their title triumph have failed to hit the same standards. The loss of confidence is a familiar sight to McAllister, who describes the prospect of Leicester getting relegated as a "disaster".
So what's the key to Ranieri's side fighting their way out of trouble? Leeds' escape was not exactly spectacular, but they sealed it by losing only three of their final 13 games, and McAllister believes determination and resolve made all the difference.
"There were most definitely times when Howard was trying loads of different things, but ultimately we came together as a group of men and said, 'Come on, we just need to get ourselves safe,'" says McAllister "That was the target after it became pretty clear that our title defence was poor."
Leeds were helped by the presence of strong, experienced personalities in the group. "That's what stood us in good stead," McAllister adds. "Howard trusted us to sort it out ourselves. He had some good captains and good leaders in that dressing room, and that definitely helped us.
"I remember back to the run-in to winning the league as very calm, and the run-in when we were dragged into relegation the following season remained pretty calm too. Being together, being calm [in our heads] and just showing loads of fight got us through."
Leeds were not subjected to the same level of scrutiny as Leicester are now. It makes their task harder, but McAllister insists pulling together is vital. "All the things that worked the season before, the togetherness you need to win the league, Leicester need to show that now," he says. "They need to trust the manager like we trusted Howard Wilkinson.
"It's important that they get together and stay together. I think they will be OK. It would be a horrible story, but I just think Leicester will get enough to stay up. I think their league win last year is the greatest ever, as far as winning leagues is concerned."
The euphoria of last season feels like a distant memory for Leicester now, but it could yet end on a high note, according to McAllister. Because while Leeds' title defence took some of the sheen of their achievement, McAllister insists keeping them up in 1992/93 was as just as satisfying lifting the trophy 12 months earlier.
"The season before it was only Leeds United's first season back after a nine-year absence from the top division," he says. "After all the hard work that had been done to get back up there, it was imperative to stay in the league." Fourteen years later, Leicester's mission is the same.