Claudio Ranieri has made it onto FIFA's 'coach of the year' shortlist for his 5000/1 leadership of Leicester's burst to the Premier League crown last season. But the Italian, a veteran of thirty years in management, faces a title-hangover this term as the Foxes have looked a pale shadow of the side which rocked the world of sport in May.
Speaking in his press conference yesterday, Ranieri is anticipating a tough match tomorrow as he brings his faltering stars to the Stadium of Light:
Whenever we play we try to win. We know on Saturday Sunderland has a chance to win. It will be a fight for all the 90 minutes.
And Ranieri has clearly watched the video of Sunderland's fixture at Anfield last week, with a nod to the manner in which David Moyes set up his team in an attempt to thwart Liverpool:
They [Sunderland] play so strong defend well and deep. We both want to win so it will be an open match I think.
Ranieri will select from an almost-full squad but with two notable omissions from the title-winning team of last season. Kasper Schmeichel is sidelined until Christmas and Danny Drinkwater is suspended. Midfielder, Nampalys Mendy, will likely not start having just returned from ankle surgery.
Last season's best Premier League player, bar none - Riyad Mahrez - has pledged that Leicester City will 'get back on track' at some non-determined point in the future:
It is true it is a little bit tough because we know we're not winning games but it isn't as though we are playing badly.
The Foxes have not won in five games and will be just two points ahead of us if David Moyes can fashion a win on Saturday, but Leicester's star midfielder isn't talking in crisis-terms just yet:
We know we can react and I am confident. Nothing is wrong. It's just that sometimes in football you can play good and lose.
But Mahrez has taken a leaf out of the Rafa Benitez school of excuses by claiming Leicester's poor form is a result of everyone wanting to beat his team:
This season all the teams are hungrier. Everyone wants to win now and everyone wants to beat Leicester.
Same here, Riyad mate. Everyone just wants to beat us too.
Meanwhile, teammate Wes Morgan believes the reason Leicester won the title last season, and are struggling this term, is that opponents hadn't realised that Riyad Mahrez was any good before now:
Everyone is watching Vardy, everyone is double or triple on Mahrez.
I think obviously those players haven't found it as easy as they had last season and it could be they've found extra focus on them this season.
We've a fancy for Jason Denayer being put on Mahrez on Saturday after he stuck to Philippe Coutinho like a limpet before the Brazilian was withdrawn through injury at Anfield.
The Local Newspaper
This week it's the Leicester Mercury which leads with a wonderful piss-take of the county it represents. The Mercury is positively reveling in the glory that is the Leicestershire Tourism Awards crowning The Foxes' Premier League victory parade as the "best free event of the year".
Leicester's open-top bus tour only narrowly beat the Market Harborough Food & Drink Festival into second place. Excellent.
Meanwhile, the Mercury led this morning with an article by Leicester fanzine stalwart, Gary Silke, on how his team's last two trips to the Stadium of Light have been momentous - first in Nigel Pearson's Great Escape from relegation which begrudgingly competes with our own assortment in recent years for the title of Greatest escape. And, second in Ranieri's march to the title last season.
For us, that match is solely memorable for Jack Rodwell's contender for Greatest Miss as the Sunderland midfielder came over all Jozy Altidore-ish and spooned his shot high and wide from about 30cm from goal. Relive the horror:
For me - that was the day I finally gave up on Jack Rodwell. For Jack - another small part of him surely died.
Leicester are merely the latest team to face Sunderland believing the fixture will enable them to 'turn-a-corner'. We've had Stoke City, West Ham, Bournemouth and Hull City, rocking up claiming we would give them a break - and in two cases we did!
Sunderland dare not lose tomorrow. We've only just opened the second window on our advent calendars, but time is already running out in the quest to keep in touch with the rest of the league until the January window opens and Moyes tries to work some magic in the market.
24 Galaxy Bars for a Fiver? Blow Me - Leicester looks a good place to be after all.